Portland vs. Sacramento: How Damian Lillard Helped Blazers Snap Skid
The Blazers (3-5) now possess more wins on the road (two) than they do at home (one). It was also a homecoming of sorts for rookie point guard Damian Lillard, who grew up playing basketball about 80 miles away in Oakland.
For one of the few times this season, the Blazers' bench actually came through with 19 points to alleviate some scoring pressure off the starters.
Here are the grades, analysis and breakdown of the Blazers' victory.
Player of the Game
Damian Lillard: 22 PTS, 2 REB, 9 AST, 7-10 FG, 5-6 3PT
It was arguably one of Lillard's most efficient performances of the season, nearly besting his career high in points despite taking the least amount of field-goal attempts in a game this season.
His nine assists tied for the second-most in a game, and his five three-pointers were the most he's made in a game this season.
It was a nice bounce-back performance after Lillard struggled a bit over the past four games, which were all losses.
After clinging to a 57-56 lead in the third quarter, the Blazers used a 17-2 run over the final five minutes, 11 seconds to take a 17-point lead into the fourth.
Lillard, J.J. Hickson and Nicolas Batum scored all 17 points during the run to bust the game open, and Portland never looked back to cruise in the fourth.
Lillard took a few steps back the past couple games before taking another big step forward on Tuesday.
His jump shot was back, and the Kings had no answer whether it was Aaron Brooks, Jimmer Fredette or Tyreke Evans guarding him.
It was the fifth time in eight games that he's eclipsed the 20-point mark. Not bad for a rookie.
Tweets of the Night
Much needed W
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) November 13, 2012
Gotta build and get use to this! #ripcity stay wit us!
— Wesley Matthews (@wessywes2) November 13, 2012
What They Said
The Kings might be regretting not selecting Lillard with the No. 5 pick. Instead, they selected Thomas Robinson.
“I wasn’t in the draft room when Damian was drafted, and I don’t know who was on the board, but I’m glad he’s with us,” said head coach Terry Stotts. (via Mike Tokito of The Oregonian)
"Damian is the perfect fit for us," said Batum. "He knows how to play and already plays like a veteran. He scores, he passes, he attacks and he plays defense." (via ESPN.com)
"Most guys don't come along that often that have the whole package already," said Kings coach Keith Smart. (via Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee)
Final Grade: B+
Oh, how much solid play from the reserves can help.
Ronnie Price and Sasha Pavlovic combined for 14 of Portland's 19 points off a much-criticized bench, and the Blazers won going away.
None of the starters had to play 40-plus minutes, which hasn't happened too often. If the Blazers can get that kind of production regularly, a few more victories could be in store.
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