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  • 22 Aug 2014

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Kings rule, and Portland's streak ends

SACRAMENTO — The Trail Blazers will have Christmas to think about how they let their winning streak get away. And to think about the Wednesday rematch with the Sacramento Kings, who scissored Portland's win streak at five with a 108-96 home victory Sunday night at Sleep Train Arena.

The inspired Kings — playing without indefinitely suspended star DeMarcus Cousins and fellow starter Tyreke Evans (sore knee) — turned the Blazers defense around to the tune of 31 assists and led most of the way.

"Everyone was into the game, cheering for one another," said Marcus Thornton, who led Sacramento with 22 points, 11 in the third quarter.

Various other familiar names also had a hand in the Kings win: former Blazer Travis Outlaw came off the bench for 15 points on 6-for-7 field-goal shooting, and ex-Oregon Duck Aaron Brooks sank a 27-footer in the closing seconds of the third quarter to boost Sacramento's lead to 80-71.

For Portland, LaMarcus Aldridge scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, Nicolas Batum had 17 points and eight assists, and J.J. Hickson, a former King, got his eighth consecutive double double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Rookie point guard Damian Lillard added 15 points in seven assists in 36 minutes — close to his season averages of 18.6 points, 6.5 assists and 37.8 minutes through 26 games. He didn't get to the free-throw line and had three turnovers, right at his season average of 3.0 per game.

The Kings had the better bench, with their reserves outscoring Portland's 43-26.

Portland led by 10 points early in the second quarter, but had problems on defense the rest of the way. Sacramento's largest lead was 18, three times, all in the final half of the fourth quarter.

The Kings shot 55.6 percent from the floor, while Portland hit at a 43.6-percent clip. Sacramento was 9 of 19 from 3-point range; the Blazers made 7 of 24 from beyond the arc.

Portland fell to 13-13, 4-9 on the road. The Kings improved to 9-18, 8-7 at home.

The two teams will meet again at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Rose Garden. It will be their fourth and final meeting this season. Sacramento leads the series 2-1.

As for the playoff race — such as it is with 56 games remaining on Portland's schedule — the Blazers ended Sunday a half-game out of the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference. Minnesota (13-12) and Utah (15-14) stood eighth. Then came Portland, followed by the Los Angeles Lakers (13-14), Dallas (12-16), Phoenix (11-17), Sacramento and New Orleans (5-22).