The Portland Trail Blazers are one of the best home teams in the NBA with a sensational 9-1 mark.
The problem is Portland is one of the worst squads on the road. The Blazers brings a 1-7 away record into Wednesday’s matchup with the host Sacramento Kings in the opener of a three-game road trip.
Portland’s only successful result on the road was a 104-92 victory at Houston on Nov. 12. The Rockets own an NBA-worst 1-16 record.
Portland will face two of the league’s better teams on this trip: the Golden State Warriors on Friday and the Utah Jazz on Monday.
The trick is packing the stellar home play and bringing it on the trip. The Trail Blazers routed the Denver Nuggets 119-100 on Tuesday night to complete a 4-0 homestand.
“We’re 9-1 at home,” guard CJ McCollum said after the win over the Nuggets. “We got to take this show on the road, understanding what (coach) Chauncey (Billups) and the staff want from us defensively.”
McCollum scored 32 points and Damian Lillard added 25 points in the win over the Nuggets. Both players knocked down five 3-pointers.
Lillard has now scored at least 20 points in eight straight games as he has fully shaken his early-season slump.
Denver was short-handed with reigning MVP Nikola Jokic (wrist) among the missing, but Billups liked the way his club played on the defensive end. Portland had 12 steals while forcing 19 turnovers.
“I thought our activity was great,” Billups said. “Our pressure was really good. We took the challenge knowing, obviously with no Joker that there was gonna be some guys really kind of stepping up and try to take up for the loss. And they got some really capable dudes there, so you had to fend off a letdown, and I thought we did a good job.”
Interestingly, Portland’s only home loss of the season was in the season opener against the Kings. Sacramento forward Harrison Barnes established career bests of 36 points and eight 3-pointers in a 124-121 victory.
However, the Kings are reeling now with four straight losses and eight defeats in their past nine. They also will be playing their second game under interim coach Alvin Gentry after the firing of Luke Walton.
The first game under Gentry looked a lot like most Kings games. Sacramento fell 102-94 to the Philadelphia 76ers, a team missing four starters, including star big man Joel Embiid.
Gentry was highly displeased following the contest.
“I do think our confidence has been rattled a bit,” Gentry said. “You do have a tendency to go through that somewhat. The one message I said from Day 1 is that the only thing and the only one that’s going to rescue us from this is us.
“There’s nobody in this league, not in the 35 years I’ve been in it, that has any sympathy for us. So you have to come together and you have to find a way to bail yourself out of this.”
Another thing Gentry is distressed about is Sacramento’s 2-7 home record, including three straight losses on the current four-game homestand.
“The thing that’s really disturbing right now is that we’re having trouble winning games at home, and in this league, you have to win your home games,” Gentry said. “You have to be good at home and then you have to be decent on the road, and we have not been good at home. We’ve got to find a way to get that changed right away.”
De’Aaron Fox led the Kings with 23 points against the 76ers. Buddy Hield added 21 and a team-high nine rebounds off the bench.
–Field Level Media