The Portland Trail Blazers attempt to extend their winning streak to six games Sunday, when they begin a home-and-home series with the struggling Kings in Sacramento. Portland is looking to avenge a 99-80 loss to Sacramento on Dec. 8 that began a six-game homestand. The Trail Blazers have taken out their frustrations on every opponent since as they completed the stretch of home games with five straight victories. The final triumph came on Saturday, when Portland defeated Phoenix 96-93 in a hard-fought battle.
The Kings enter the contest having lost six of their last seven. They snapped a five-game slide with a 131-127 home triumph over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday but dropped a 97-85 decision to the Clippers in Los Angeles two nights later. Sacramento will be without center DeMarcus Cousins, who was suspended Saturday for "unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team." Tyreke Evans has missed the Kings' last three games with a sore knee and is questionable for Sunday's contest.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, CSN (Portland, Sacramento)
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (13-12): Rookie Damian Lillard led Portland over Phoenix as he scored a game-high 26 points. LaMarcus Aldridge returned to action after missing one game with ankle injury and added 17 points and nine rebounds. J.J. Hickson has recorded a double-double in each of his last seven contests. He contributed 19 points and 15 boards against the Suns. The Trail Blazers climbed above the .500 mark for the first time since they were 2-1 on Nov. 3. Lillard believes the winning streak has the team believing in itself. "I think it says a lot about where we're headed," he said. "I think we're capable of being a playoff team as long as we keep doing what we're doing."
ABOUT THE KINGS (8-18): Cousins earned his third suspension of the season after arguing with coach Keith Smart during halftime of Friday's loss to the Clippers, an incident that resulted in the center remaining in the locker room for the second half. Cousins, whose behavioral problems date back to high school, was banned for two games by the NBA in November for confronting a San Antonio announcer and one game earlier this month for hitting Dallas' O.J. Mayo in the groin. The status of Sacramento's games at halftime has been pretty indicative of how the contests will end. The Kings are 1-16 when trailing after two quarters but own a 7-2 record when leading at the half.
1. The Kings are 1-17 when outshot by their opponent.
2. Sacramento has reached the 100-point plateau only twice over its last games and is 1-1 in those contests.
3. The teams complete the home-and-home series Wednesday at the Rose Garden in Portland.
PREDICTION: Trail Blazers 93, Kings 81.