Team Records: Portland (13-12) at Sacramento (8-18)
Game Info: 6 PM-TV on CSNNW , Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM
Vegas Line: Pick ‘em.
Refs: Bill Kennedy, Bennie Adams, Nick Buchert.
The Skinny: The Blazers head south for a final game before Christmas as they face the Kings in the first half of a home and home. Portland is going in riding a five-game win streak, the longest since March 2011, while the Kings have lost six of their last seven since beating Portland at the start of Portland’s long home stand two weeks ago. Sacramento star DeMarcus Cousins has been suspended indefinitely by the Kings for “conduct detrimental to the team”.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers put together possibly their worst performance of the season as they simply didn’t show up, losing handily to the Kings at home.
Projected Kings Lineup:
PF-Jason Thompson (Rider-5th Season) 11.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.3 APG
SF-John Salmons (Miami (FL)-11th Season) 7.9 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 3 APG.
C-Chuck Hayes (Kentucky-8th Season) 2.9 PPG, 4.5 RPG,1.8 APG
SG-Marcus Thornton (LSU-4th Season)-13.5 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.3 APG.
PG-Aaron Brooks (Oregon-5th Season)-9.2 PPG, 2 RPG, 2.6 APG.
Player to Watch: Teach me how to Jimmer, teach me, team me how to Jimmer. Even before he was drafted Jimmer attracted a lot of attention, both for his play at BYU and for a music video titled “Teach Me How to Jimmer” (Linked here:bit.ly/hAMml9). When it comes to basketball, Jimmer is a solid scorer from deep with good passing skills. Although he has struggled with consistently making deep shots he has carved out a solid role as a bench scorer. Where Jimmer struggles most, however, is on defense. He gets easily beaten off the dribble time and time again, perhaps explaining why he hasn’t consistently earned a starting job.
Did You Know?: Kings head coach Keith Smart is perhaps best known for hitting the national-title winning shot for Indiana in the 1987 NCAA tournament.
Song of the Day: “Fire Water Burn” by Bloodhound Gang-A song that accurately describes what the Maloofs have done to Sacramento. They don’t need no water, let the Sacramento Kings burn, burn Sacramento Kings, burn. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-SG Elliot Williams (Achilles), SG Wesley Matthews (Hip), Questionable-PG Nolan Smith (Illness), Probable-PF LaMarcus Aldrirdge (Ankle).
Sacramento: Out-PF DeMarcus Cousins (Suspension), Questionable-SG Francisco Garcia (Back), SG Tyreke Evans (Knee).
Re-Evaluating Sacramento: Destroying a City’s Soul
As a fellow fan of a small market team I have always felt a special bond with other small market teams. In a one team city, like Portland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City or San Antonio, the team forms a large portion of the identity and I will readily admit the thought of the Blazers not playing in Portland anymore scares the crap out of me. Yet two years ago when Sacramento was about to lose their team I at least understood to the point that their arena was outdated and the city wasn’t ready to step up to fix it. Yet now they have and it was only two months ago that Kings fans celebrated the final approval of a deal that appeared to save the team. That was fine until the Maloofs announced last season that the deal was no good and they wanted out, possibly because they are broke and Anaheim offered an even better deal than the sweatheart deal Sacamento had put together. With David Stern admitting there is little he can do to stop the team from moving, all one can do is hope that some white knight steps in and saves the team from this move. The Kings, even as bad as they are right now on the court, have something special in Sacramento, and it would behoove the league to keep it that way rather than letting the Kings become just another LA area sports team, no more special than any other.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They are focused. This is a team Portland should beat if they are ready to go. There is no reason Portland can’t simply win if they show up with reasonable effort, something they didn’t do the last time these teams played.
Sacramento wins if: They score at least 20 fast break points. The Kings are not a great offensive team. They will need to get a lot of easy baskets to have a shot against Portland.