Lillard puts up 50 points to lead Trail Blazers past the Kings 118-100

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by Charlie O. Mallonee

Sacramento – NBA teams can be divided into tiers. Different reporters and analysts will use different systems and different numbers of tiers to breakdown the league. This reporter is a simple kind of guy, so I go with a 3-tier system:

  1. Tier One is for those teams that have a realistic chance to fight their way into the NBA Finals. In the Eastern Conference, that would include Toronto, Boston, Cleveland (if the new roster comes together) and Washington if everyone stays healthy. Western Conference tier one teams are the Warriors, Rockets and Spurs in my opinion.
  2. Tier Two is reserved for organizations that make the playoffs and some will make to the second-round, but they are still at least one star player away from jumping into tier one. In the East, that would be teams like the Bucks, Pacers, Heat, Sixers and maybe the Pistons. Western Conference teams that can claim tier two status are Minnesota, Portland, OKC, Clippers and Denver.
  3. Tier Three means welcome to Draft Lottery in June. Eastern Conference teams that occupy that status are Charlotte, New York, Chicago, Brooklyn, Orlando and Atlanta. Out West, tier three members are the Kings, Pelicans, Jazz, Lakers, Grizzlies, Suns and Mavericks.

On Friday night, the tier two Portland Trail Blazers – currently tied for fifth-place in the West – came to Sacramento to face the tier three Kings who are currently in the 14th slot in the conference. Sacramento is contending for the worst record in “the Association” and chance to have the number one selection in the 2018 NBA Draft.

The final outcome of the game was predictable given the talent and experience difference that exist between the two teams. Then, add a “lights out” 50 point game by Damian Lillard and the young Kings were doomed.

The contest was an entertaining “see-saw” battle until just under two minutes remained in the first half. The Blazers went on a scoring burst that allowed them to open up a 10 point – 62 to 52 – halftime lead and they would never trail in the game again. Lillard scored six points in those final two minutes.

Sacramento fought hard in the third quarter and eventually cut the Portland lead to just one point – 75 to 74 – with 4:25 remaining in the period. The Trail Blazers regained their motivation and went on a 17-0 run to end the quarter and for all practical purposes the was over. Lillard scored 15 of those 17 points in the run to finish the quarter with 22 points scored in the third.

Lillard did not play in the fourth quarter. The Kings did cut the Portland lead to 13 points midway through the period but the game never really became competitive again. The final was Portland 118 – Sacramento 100.

Coach Dave Joerger’s take on the game

Reporter’s note: True fans of the game – listen closely to his opening statement

Award winning performanceLillard 50A

Portland’s Damian Lillard gets his own top billing for his performance in this game. The veteran guard put up 50 points in just 29-plus minutes of playing time and he accomplished it in just three-quarters of the game. He became the third NBA player to score 50 or more in just three quarters this season. The other two players – James Harden and Lillard’s teammate CJ McCollum.

Lillard shot 16-for-23 from field and hit 8-of-13 from behind the 3-point line. He also converted 10 of 10 free throw opportunities. If scoring 50 points was not enough, Lillard also dished out six assists and made three steals in the game.

Top Performers

Kings

  • The Starting Five: all five of the Sacramento starters finished scoring in double-figures. Beyond the starting five, the Kings used nine players in the game and seven of them scored in double-digits.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein was the Kings top scorer with 19 points. He also recorded six rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots and one steal in the contest.
  • The “old man” – Zach Randolph – put 17 points in the book playing just over 26 minutes in the game. Z-Bo also hauled in nine rebounds while going 2-for-2 from 3-point land.
  • De’Aaron Fox was the Kings only true point guard in the game with George Hill shipped off to Cleveland and Frank Mason III still out due to injury. Fox played almost 34-minutes scoring 13 points and distributing nine assists.

Trail Blazers

  • Maurice Harkless was the number two scorer for the Blazers with 15 points. Harkless shot 6-for-9 from the floor went 2-for-3 from behind the 3-point arc.
  • Shabazz Napier recorded 13 points coming off the bench. Napier shot a perfect 5-for-5 overall with three of those baskets coming from downtown.
  • CJ McCollum – one of the other players to score 50 points in three-quarters this season – was credited with 11 points shooting 5-for-13 from the floor.

Key Stats

Portland (31-25)

  • The Blazers shot 48.9-percent (43-for-88) overall in the game and hit 15-of-35 (42.9-percent) from 3-point range.
  • The Trail Blazers love the charity stripe. The converted 17-of-18 opportunities from the free throw line on Friday night.
  • Portland made 10 steals in the game. The Kings had a good night and they had five thefts.

Sacramento (17-37)

  • The Kings posted a 42.2-percent (38-for-90) field goal percentage versus Portland but hit only 9-of-23 attempts from long-range.
  • SAC went to the free throw line 21 times in the game and were successful 15 times (71.4-percent).
  • The Kings scored 20 second-chance points while Portland scored just two points when given an additional opportunity.

Up Next

Sacramento

The Kings will close the unofficial “first half” of the season off on the road. They will play their next game on Sunday in Minnesota versus the T-Wolves. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:00 PM PST.

Portland

The Trail Blazers will head back home and host the Utah Jazz on Sunday.

 

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