Kings upset Blazers, 96-81
Originally published January 24, 2011 at 9:44 p.m., updated January 24, 2011 at 11:12 p.m.
PORTLAND — Michael Jordan sat courtside in the Rose Garden on Monday.
Poor Trail Blazers. They always did struggle when he was in the building.
On a night in which it seemed to fall victim to identity theft, Portland fell to the Kings, 96-81.
The Blazers entered the game having won five in a row. They exited having shot 39 percent from the field while tallying one more turnover than they had assists.
LaMarcus Aldridge began the game as the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week. He ended it with nine points after going 4 of 14 from the field.
And before tip-off, injury-riddled Portland was touted as “The Little Team that Could” on a radio show. Afterward, they were the Little Engine that Stalled.
“That edge, staying hungry, which we've shown here recently, it just didn't seem like we had that,” Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. “We played as if we could flip a switch here and that team got their confidence. They've played in a lot of close games and we got on our heels and just didn't have sharpness tonight.”
The only praiseworthy Blazers stat Monday was the team's 18 offensive rebounds. But that was really just the byproduct of 52 missed shots. Rudy Fernandez's inaccuracy was particularly conspicuous —the Spaniard shooting a dreadful 1 of 10 from the field.
Yet despite Portland's myriad struggles, it still closed a 13-point second-quarter deficit to two by halftime, and managed to take a four-point lead early in the third quarter.
So what happened?
Offensively, very little.
Kings forward Samuel Dalembert shut down Aldridge, holding him to single-digit scoring for just the third time this year. Sacramento (10-32) took a five-point lead into the fourth quarter, and while the Blazers stayed within striking distance — in part due to Wesley Matthews' team-high 21 points — they never quite crossed the threshold of "threatening."
“We can't win when I play the way I played,” said Aldridge, who also had seven rebounds and five assists. “(Dalembert) played great defense. He just played good “D.” I never found my rhythm.”
Monday marked the first time the Blazers (25-21) lost at home to a sub .500 team this season. They were 13-0 previously.
The good news is that they won't be dropping to 13-2 in that department anytime soon. The bad news? San Antonio (37-7) and Boston (33-10) will be coming to town Thursday and Sunday, respectively.
The two teams own the Western and Eastern Conference's best records and certainly are capable of nudging Portland's record closer to .500.
So what has to be done?
“Just defend home court,” Matthews said. “No one had a great performance tonight, but we're still supposed to win.”
There was one rose abloom in that forest fire Monday. Blazers forward Dante Cunningham recorded four blocked shots and threw down a one-handed tip-jam following Matthews' missed jumper late in the third quarter. That cut the lead to two, but Portland got no closer.
Tyreke Evans led the Kings with 26 points. Andre Miller posted 18 points and five assists for Portland while Nicolas Batum added 16 points and nine rebounds.
The Blazers will take today off and practice Wednesday before playing the Spurs on Thursday.
The Oregonian's Jason Quick reported that Aldridge had X-rays taken on his right hip after the game.
Matt Calkins can be contacted at 360-735-4528 or e-mail email@example.com