The Portland Trail Blazers believe their defense was the difference. They could certainly make a case for themselves after holding the Kings to a season-low output in Thursday night's 88-78 victory.
"We're doing a good job defensively this year, particularly at the end of games," Portland coach Mike Dunleavy said. "We're hanging our hats on that. We have a lot of defensive focus late in the game."
The Kings can't argue. They were held to one basket in the game's final 5:15 and made just 31-of-95 shots for a season low 32 percent.
"Usually if we hold a team to 88 points we would be winning by 20," said Kings forward Chris Webber, who finished with 16 points and 20 rebounds. "We have to execute better late in the game. In the last three or four minutes we have to get good shots."
Rasheed Wallace was getting high quality shots all game. He had 25 points, 13 rebounds and was also a factor on defense, getting six of the team's 10 blocked shots. He was more proud of the Blazers' defense.
"Our defense was a team thing," Wallace said. "We watched a lot of film and saw how they operate. We tried to slow their offense down and get in their face on shots."
It was Portland's third straight victory over the Kings, whose previous low point total came in a 94-81 loss at Philadelphia.
Still, the Kings had a chance to win. Vernon Maxwell made a 3-pointer, giving the Kings a 75-74 lead with 5:15 left. Portland responded with 14 straight points to reclaim the lead. Sacramento's only basket in the final 5:15 was Jason Williams' 3-pointer.
Sacramento's shot selection bothered coach Rick Adelman. Led by Williams, who missed seven of eight, the Kings ent 6-of-28 from 3-point range.
"We've got to go inside first, that's something we've looked at all year long," Adelman said. "We've shot a lot of threes all year, but tonight it was in excess."
Brian Grant had 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Blazers. Isaiah Rider, who didn't start because he was late for a morning shootaround, scored 14 points and Arvydas Sabonis had 10.
"Three losses to Portland and in each game we were right there," Webber said. "It's frustrating. I don't know what to say after a game like that."
Vlade Divac added 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Kings. Williams had one of his poorest games, finishing with five points and five assists.
Notes: Rider was called for a flagrant foul after shoving Jon Barry early in the second quarter. ... Williams missed his first seven 3-point attempts and shot 2 for 13 overall. ... The Blazers made 5-of-20 shots in the third quarter after shooting 50 percent in the first half. ... Webber had seven rebounds in the third quarter.
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