Published April 15, 2012
| Sports Network
The Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings have nothing to play for except pride and will tangle tonight in California's capital.
The Trail Blazers will close out the season with two straight and five of six games on the road and completed a three-game homestand with Friday's tough 97-94 loss to the defending champion Dallas Mavericks. Nicolas Batum scored 20 points and Jamal Crawford had 18 off the bench for the Blazers, who nearly rallied from a 24-point deficit and lost for the third time in four games.
"We came up short, but we [didn't] give up so that's a good thing to come out of this game," Batum said.
J.J. Hickson had 13 points and 10 boards, while Wesley Matthews had 15 points and seven rebounds in a losing cause. Dallas won the rebound battle 51-38, including a 30-20 margin in the first half. Portland is without All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge due to hip surgery, and Hickson started in his place for a second straight game.
Portland is only 8-20 outside of Rip City this season and was already eliminated from postseason contention.
The Kings are mired in a seven-game slide and will kick off a three-game homestand tonight versus Portland, San Antonio and Oklahoma City. They have lost three in a row at home and are 14-15 as the host this season.
Sacramento completed an unsuccessful three-game road trip with a 115-89 loss at the Thunder on Friday, as rookie Isaiah Thomas led the way with 21 points and Marcus Thornton added 12. DeMarcus Cousins posted nine points on 3 of 14 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Kings, who shot 38.9 percent.
Jimmer Fredette and Terrence Williams scored 10 points apiece. Tyreke Evans had a career-worst two points in only 13 minutes.
"You've got to match their physicality. You've got to match it, and if you don't match it, you're going to be pushed all over the floor," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "And we didn't do that, so the tone was set early in the game.
The Thunder outrebounded the Kings, 58-41. Kings reserve Francisco Garcia missed his fourth straight game after sustaining a concussion April 7 against the Clippers, and is not expected to play tonight.
Sacramento has lost two of three meetings with Portland this season and 11 of the previous 13 matchups between the teams. The Blazers had won five in a row as the guest in this series until a 95-92 setback on Feb. 2.