Behind 22 points from LaMarcus Aldridge and 21 from Wesley Matthews, the Portland Trail Blazers completed a back-to-back sweep of the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena on Saturday, winning 96-85. The Blazers ran away with the game in the third and early fourth quarters. DeMarcus Cousins exploded for 17 in the fourth quarter as the game got competitive; he finished with 33 points on 13-24 shooting with 12 rebounds in 31 minutes.
Offense didn't come easy for the Kings. They had 59 points with 8-1/2 minutes left in the game before Boogie exploded. Sacramento ended up scoring just under a point per possession. Three-point shooting (3-12) and continued lack of offense from the usual suspects in the starting lineup contributed heavily.
Jimmer Fredette ended up getting 19 minutes -- more than ever Isaiah Thomas. He entered in the first quarter and played most of the fourth. He didn't shoot well (2-6 floor, no three attempts), but held his own defensively and had three assists and helped Greivis Vasquez set up Cousins late. With Marcus Thornton shooting missing seven straight shots after opening with two makes and offering basically nothing else, we might be seeing less M.T. and more Jimmer going forward.
Ben McLemore isn't going anywhere, though: he had 13 points in 28 big minutes for the Kings. He got mixed up a few times on defense and left Matthews open, but he's also one of the few Kings capable of making spectacular plays more than once. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised to see McLemore join the starting five over Thornton with Jimmer and M.T. fighting for the 20-plus minutes behind him.
The other starting position in the air -- small forward -- got a wrinkle Saturday, too: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute played 15 minutes. Much of it was at power forward and he offered nothing but some passing on offense. But he was the team's best defender by no small margin: the team is noticeably better on defense when he's out there. Johnny Salmons was horrible (surprise!) and Travis Outlaw did little in nine minutes.
The Kings are off until Wednesday.