Thursday, April 24, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Cousins, Gay lead Kings past Blazers 123-119

Isaiah Thomas, Damian Lillard

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, right, drives against Sacramento Kings Isaiah Thomas during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SACRAMENTO — DeMarcus Cousins had 35 points and 13 rebounds, Rudy Gay scored 32 points and the Sacramento Kings held off a furious rally to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 123-119 on Tuesday night.

Cousins and Gay provided the spark for a 32-12 run at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarters that put Sacramento ahead by 19 points. Gay fouled out with 4:12 remaining, and the Blazers nearly rallied back.

Damian Lillard scored 26 of his 41 points in the final period to pull Portland within two in the final minute. But the Kings made just enough free throws to hold off the Blazers, who have lost four of their last six games.

LaMarcus Aldridge added 24 points and eight rebounds, and Nicolas Batum finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds and five assists while playing with a fractured left middle finger in Portland’s latest loss.

The Kings had dropped two straight after beating top contenders Miami and Houston. Sacramento held a players-only meeting on Sunday, and the Kings emerged to knock off another one of the NBA’s best.

Gay made consecutive 3-pointers, a three-point play and a layup during Sacramento’s surge in the fourth. Cousins also put back a rebound and hit a jumper to help the Kings go ahead 102-83 with 7:54 remaining.

Sacramento led 117-105 with 1:12 to play when Lillard began to bring Portland back.

The reigning NBA Rookie of the Year made three 3-pointers, a fast-break layup and was fouled shooting another from beyond the arc — which just rimmed out. He made all three free throws to slice Sacramento’s lead 121-119 with 16.5 seconds left.

Isaiah Thomas hit two free throws before Lillard missed from long range as the Kings escaped with the victory.

In a matchup between one of the best and one of the worst teams in the West, Sacramento flipped the script on a Blazers team that had cruised through most of its schedule.

The Blazers had beaten the Kings on consecutive nights in November, winning 104-91 in Portland and 96-85 in Sacramento. The Kings started three players who did not start in the two previous games against Portland — most notably Gay, who was acquired from Toronto in a seven-player trade in early December.

That included Marcus Thornton moving back in the starting lineup for Sacramento, replacing seventh overall pick Ben McLemore. Thornton finished with three points and eight rebounds, and McLemore had two points and two assists.

The Blazers still outscored Sacramento 35-24 in the first quarter and seemed ready to go 3-0 against. Portland shot 63.2 percent from the floor and made 10 of 11 free throws in the period.

The Kings opened the second quarter on a 14-5 run led by mostly reserves. The teams traded baskets for the remainder of the half, and the Blazers held a 60-55 lead at the break.

Thomas, who had 22 points and eight assists, hit a pair of 3s to highlight a 13-2 spurt for Sacramento to start the third quarter. Portland scored just 13 points in the entire period to fall into a hole too big to overcome.

NOTES: C.J. McCollum, the 10th overall pick in the NBA draft out of Lehigh, was in Portland’s active lineup for the first time this season after fracturing his left foot in training camp. He did not play. … The Blazers and Kings meet for the final time this season April 9 in Portland.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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