The second half of a back to back in the early NBA regular season grind is always tough. That’s doubly the case when the exact same team trots out against you the second night. Fortunately for Portland in this case that team was the thoroughly sloppy and marginally prepared Sacramento Kings. Keyed by a monumental performance on the offensive glass (41% ORR led by Robin Lopez’s 6 caroms) Portland cruised out to a 20 point lead. Sacramento cut it to 6 late in the game when the Blazer offense became lazy and stagnant while DeMarcus Cousins racked up points, but Wesley Matthews and LaMarcus Aldridge were on hand to see out the win without too much trouble.
On the shotmaking side, the aforementioned pair were the clear heroes, as each topped 20 points. The Kings had no answer for Aldridge in the first half, and Matthews keyed the run in the third quarter where the Blazers put the game away. This wasn’t a vintage offensive performance, but Portland did enough on a night when Damian Lillard couldn’t even beat Jimmer Fredette on a pick and roll.
Defensively, while DeMarcus Cousins put up an efficient 35, the Blazers did an excellent job forcing the other Kings into contested jump shots and hoovering up the rebounds (80% DRR). The Kings seemed to struggle to generate any flow in their offense when unable to easily find Cousins in the low block, which is I suppose a natural consequence of paying John Salmons and Marcus Thornton way too much money. In the end this was a drab contest, and far from an advertisement for the NBA regular season, but the Blazers won it primarily on the glass by being more organized and slightly more interested in grabbing the ball than the Kings. Which is not exactly an accomplishment, but it’s a win either way.