Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 11/23

Game 1: Friday, November 23rd
Trail Blazers87
Game 2: Tuesday, February 19th
Trail Blazers94
Game 3: Thursday, March 13th
Trail Blazers85Final
Game 4: Friday, April 11th
Trail Blazers86Final

Trail Blazers 85

(34-32, 12-23 away)

Kings 96

(29-35, 19-12 home)

    Coverage: CSNW

    7:00 PM ET, March 13, 2008

    Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA

    1 2 3 4 T
    POR 27 17 19 2285
    SAC 34 24 14 2496

    Top Performers

    Por: B. Roy 21 Pts, 9 Reb, 6 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

    Sac: M. World Peace 22 Pts, 4 Reb, 3 Ast, 6 Stl

    Kings halt 2-game home losing streak with win over Blazers

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Uninspired defense had become the norm for the slumping Sacramento Kings in recent weeks.

    Ron Artest helped solve that problem Thursday night, playing high intensity defense, and scoring 22 points, for the Kings in a 96-85 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

    Sacramento had allowed 100 or more points to 11 straight opponents and lost seven of those games, including discouraging defeats to Miami, Atlanta, Minnesota and the Clippers.

    Following three days off after Sunday's victory over the Lakers, the Kings put the emphasis on defense and responded with a solid effort in forcing 20 turnovers and holding Portland to 38 percent shooting.

    "The defense was as good as I've seen us play in a long time," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "We had a couple of days to practice and concentrate on defense. It showed tonight. Defense had become a big concern for us."

    It was Artest getting after it in two practice sessions this week and continuing that effort against the Blazers, who have dropped two of three this season to Sacramento. He had nine points and three steals to help the Kings take a 34-27 first quarter lead.

    "I wanted to come out with energy and try to set the tone," said Artest, who had a season-high six steals. "This time of year you have to fight through fatigue, play hard, and see what happens."

    Portland's playoff hopes are dimming. The Trail Blazers are 10th in the Western Conference and have little hope of catching either Golden State and Denver. Still, Portland has 34 wins -- two more than all of last season.

    "I'm still going to go out Saturday [against Minnesota] and give it my best, I'm not going to say it's all over," said Portland guard Brandon Roy, who had 21 points, nine rebounds and six assists.

    Former San Antonio reserve Beno Udrih had 14 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Kings, who snapped a two-game losing streak at Arco Arena.

    "Beno has grown quite a bit in his first time in a starting role," Theus said. "The last three or four weeks he's gotten very comfortable and confident."

    Brad Miller had 14 points and seven rebounds, John Salmons scored 11 points and Mikki Moore added 10 for the Kings.

    LaMarcus Aldridge scored 20 points, Travis Outlaw had 13 points and Martell Webster added 10 for Portland.

    After trailing by double figures for much of the game, the Blazers pulled to within 82-75 on a jumper by Aldridge with 7:08 left in the fourth. But the Kings responded with eight straight points, including Artest's 3-pointer that put Sacramento ahead 90-75 with 4:54 remaining.

    "Right from the start we had no sharpness to ourselves at all," Portland coach Nate McMillen said. "We didn't defend and I think we started the game off with four turnovers. I'm lost with this one. I don't get this game"

    The Kings managed to stay in control, even though leading scorer Kevin Martin was failing to convert from the perimeter and misfiring on his flashy drives to the basket. He missed 9 of 11 shots and finished with six points. Last week in a home loss to Minnesota, Martin scored a career-high 48 points.

    "Everyone focused on Kevin and that opened up the court for all of us," Artest said.

    Despite being outscored 19-14 in a sluggish third quarter, the Kings still took a 72-63 lead into the fourth.

    The Blazers finished the five-game road trip 3-2.

    Artest and Salmons combined for 11 points for the Kings, who used an 8-0 run to start the second quarter in building a 58-44 halftime advantage.

    Game notes

    Greg Oden, the top pick in the 2007 draft, ran through a light practice for the first time all year on Wednesday. Yet to play a game following microfracture surgery on his right knee last summer, Oden won't play until next season. ... Blazers reserve F Channing Frye banked in a 3-pointer from near halfcourt to conclude the first quarter. ... Theus, complaining to referee Bennett Salvatore about a third quarter no-call on Martin. "You've got to protect the young fella."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 85 96
    FGM-FGA 30-78 (.385) 34-74 (.459)
    3PM-3PA 6-17 (.353) 4-19 (.211)
    FTM-FTA 19-25 (.760) 24-28 (.857)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 8-21 10-15
    Assists 13 18
    Turnovers 20 15
    Steals 5 11
    Blocks 7 3
    Fast Break Points 12 18
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 27 (1/0) 18 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 0 18

    Top Performers

    Brandon Roy Roy
    Points: 21
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 6
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 1
    Metta World Peace World Peace
    Points: 22
    Reb: 4
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 6
    Blk: 0