PORTLAND — Dorell Wright’s only three points ended up being the most important points of the game.
Wright’s corner three-poiner with 7.6 seconds left on Damian Lillard’s 10th assist gave the Portland Trail Blazers a nail-bitting 100-99 win over the Sacramento Kings Wednesday night at the Moda Center.
“That was crazy right there. It still feels fake to me,” Wright said after hitting his first game-winner in the NBA as his only other game-winner came when he was in high school.
Wright struggled with his shot the whole game, missing his previous four field goal attempts, making the game-winner even sweeter.
“That was pretty cool right there,” he said. “Especially sitting over there being mad at myself not making those shots the whole game, then Coach gave me an opportunity to go back out there. That was big time. That was a big win for us.”
Blazers head coach Terry Stotts wanted to put an extra shooter on the court so that the shooting threat could provide spacing for an pick-and-roll with Lillard and Aldridge.
The play wasn’t designed for Wright but it was designed in hopes that Lillard would make the right play, which he did after he saw Reggie Evans leave Wright in the corner.
Then, Wright had the “shooter’s got to shoot” confidence mixed with flashback to the days when he played baseball.
“Dame made a great pass. Since I used to be an All-American first basemen I didn’t have to read through it. I just caught it and shot with confidence,” he said.
Things were sluggish throughout the game for the Blazers and both the players and Stotts acknowledged it wasn’t a complete game.
The competition and the lack of a big name team may have had something to do with it according to LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
As an example of how the Blazers game on Wednesday wavered aggressive action and lulls of play, the Blazers got called for two defensive three-second violations in the first half.
Despite all of this, the Blazers had a first half lead as big as 15 and it looked like the Blazers were going to be able cruise to a big win.
The Kings, young, inconsistent and being the professionals that they are, had other ideas.
The Kings played on Wednesday without their second and third leading scorers in forward Rudy Gay and Tacoma-native Isaiah Thomas.
However, a quick 5 points from Sacramento’s Ray McCallum in less than three seconds–two free-throws and a buzzer-beating three-pointer–cut the Portland lead to a manageable 10 points heading into the third quarter.
DeMarcus Cousins continued his dominance against the Blazers scoring 30 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
Sacramento was plus-9 in offensive rebounds and plus-six in turnover margin which helped them stay with the Blazers.
Two free-throws by Sacremento’s DeMarcus Cousins after he forced a steal with 14.8 seconds gave the Kings a 99-97 lead, forcing the Blazers to get one final bucket.
With the win and a loss by Houston, the Blazers are now 1.5 games behind the Rockets for the 4th spot in the Western Conference and possible home court advantage in the playoffs.
Portland would have to win their final three games and hope that the Rockets lose three of their final games to jump them in the standings as Houston holds the season-series tiebreaker.