Kings ready for return visit from Trail Blazers

NBA Basketball

The Sacramento Kings were embarrassed by Portland last Saturday but get the opportunity to put up a better performance Wednesday night when they again host the Trail Blazers.

Sacramento enters the rematch with a bit of momentum after producing a convincing 127-122 home win over the Indiana Pacers on Monday.

“I thought it was a really solid 48 minutes of just competing at a high level,” Kings coach Luke Walton said of the victory.

But visions of CJ McCollum operating at will and scoring 37 points on 13-of-22 shooting in Portland’s 125-99 weekend triumph are still fresh in the memory.

McCollum followed up with 30 points, including the game-winning basket with 9.9 seconds left, in Monday’s 112-111 home win over the Toronto Raptors. McCollum has scored at least 20 in all 10 of Portland’s games.

Carmelo Anthony scored a season-best 20 points with 13 coming in the fourth quarter to overcome a slow start.

“I’ve been doing this for 18 years,” Anthony said. “Shooters shoot. At the end of the day, I’m a rhythm guy, I’m a rhythm-type of guy. When you don’t have rhythm you’ve got to figure out ways how to find a rhythm and tonight it was just me getting involved in other ways in the basketball game to find my rhythm.”

The victory was the third straight for the Trail Blazers, who will begin a seven-game homestand after the visit to Sacramento.

McCollum made six 3-pointers in the Saturday contest, when Portland’s lead topped out at 31 points.

Sacramento’s Harrison Barnes had just 10 points in that affair but bounced back with a season-best 30 on 10-of-14 shooting versus the Pacers.

Overall, Barnes is averaging 17.9 points and shooting 53.1 percent from the field. His career shooting rate is 44.9.

“From a straight consistency level of how he’s playing, this year he’s really doing a heck of a job,” Walton said of Barnes. “He looks explosive. He looks young. He looks spry out there. He’s doing so much for us. I don’t know the difference. He was good for us last year but he’s playing a very high level for us so far this season.”

Barnes had plenty of help from his teammates in a contest that was just the Kings’ second win in seven games.

De’Aaron Fox recorded 21 points and nine assists, Buddy Hield scored 18 points on a season-high six 3-pointers and Richaun Holmes contributed 16 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high six blocked shots.

The 27-year-old Holmes is averaging 13.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots and has started all 10 games in which he has played.

“He’s great. He’s all energy,” Walton said. “He’s been a journeyman in this league so he really likes that he feels part of this group …

“He just makes plays. He makes winning plays for us. Works extremely hard, never complains and is willing to do all the dirty work it takes to win in the NBA.”

Portland surely made the big plays in its win over the Raptors. The Trail Blazers recovered from a 17-point deficit and still trailed by 14 with 9 1/2-minutes remaining before delivering a stellar finishing back.

“I really thought the last five minutes of the first half and last five minutes of the second half were the difference in the game for us,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “We got down 17 in the first half and the way we got back into the game at the end of the first half, we showed some grit, we showed some toughness.

“I thought the last five minutes (of the game) were tough, hard-played minutes. We made some good plays defensively — obviously you’ve got to make shots as well. But I really liked our demeanor when we were down 14 in the fourth quarter.”

Damian Lillard scored 23 points against Toronto. He was just 5-of-16 shooting while scoring 17 points against the Kings on Saturday.

–Field Level Media

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