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Gay’s 40 lead Kings over Blazers

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — After an opening night stumble, the Sacramento Kings did the things that their coach anticipates seeing frequently this season.

Rudy Gay’s 40 points were a bonus.

The Kings forward put up the second-highest scoring effort of his career and Sacramento saved the game’s final surge for themselves in a 103-94 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers at Sleep Train Arena on Friday.

Even better for Sacramento coach Michael Malone: The Kings turned over the ball only 10 times and their defense held forward LaMarcus Aldridge to 22 points and the Blazers to 41 percent shooting while avoiding the team’s first 0-2 start at home in more than two decades.

“It’s amazing what happens,” Malone said, “when you don’t get careless with the basketball.”

The Kings finished with 27 turnovers and looked stagnant offensively in a season-opening 95-77 loss to the Golden State Warriors. That total surpassed their season high of 25 in 2013-14. The Warriors also scored on several easy shots in the second half in that one.

“Our ball movement and execution were much better,” Malone said. “Our defense was terrific.”

Gay was the primary beneficiary, canning 13 of 19 shots, including his first six. He also knocked down two free throws and made a 3-pointer after refs called Portland forward Nicolas Batum with an intentional in-the-path foul with just over seven minutes left in the fourth quarter.

“Rudy, at any given moment, is one of those players that can explode for 30, 40 points on any given night,” Sacramento guard Darren Collison said. “His athleticism, his ability to get to the paint, his ability to shoot the ball really well is what makes him really special.”

Gay’s five straight points after the intentional foul put Sacramento back in front 80-77, after Portland used a 19-6 run to erase a 69-58 deficit. Batun was called after stepping in front of Gay after he grabbed a defensive rebound and seemed to have an open court in front of him.

“It was a big call,” Gay said. “The biggest thing is that I was able to jump out (on defense) and be aggressive because I knew had help. We didn’t have that last year.”

Refs reviewed the foul call on replay for more than two minutes before finally concluding that the foul was intentional.

“The refs said it was a clear path, and it was a clear path,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “They don’t get a call wrong, when they look at the monitor.”

The Kings led 62-54 with 6:41 to go in the third quarter, when center DeMarcus Cousins left the game with his fourth foul. Sacramento briefly build its lead to 69-58, but Aldridge six points and guard Steve Blake knocked down a 3-pointers during a 13-2 Portland run that tied the game.

Cousins finished with 17 points and nine rebounds for Sacramento, and blocked shots on consecutive defensive possessions late in the fourth quarter to help cement the victory.

Aldridge, who scored 27 points in Portland’s impressive season-opening 106-89 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, converted just seven of 18 shots for the Portland and was harassed almost every time he touched the ball.

Portland guard Damian Lillard scored 20 points, guard Wesley Matthews had 16 and forward Chris Caman added 12. The Blazers did not score more than 24 points in any single quarter.

“We’re playing great defense,” Collison said. “That’s all we can ask for on any given night. We probably aren’t going to be consistent shooting-wise, but defensively, it has to be consistent. In the two games, the defense has been really good.”

Collison finished with 14 points, and forward Omri Casspi, back with the team that drafted him in 2009, added 10. Guard Ben McLemore, who kicked off his second NBA season by going scoreless in the Kings’ opener, didn’t make his first shot from the field until early in the third quarter and had seven points.

NOTES: The Kings’ last 0-2 start at home came in at the start of the 1997-98 season, when they opened up with three straight losses. Sacramento lost its first five home games during the 1990-91 season. … Portland G Damian Lillard scored a career-high 41 points on 13-for-24 shooting in Portland’s previous visit to Sacramento on Jan. 7, 2014. In the visit before that, he scored a career-low four points. … Sacramento’s 27 turnovers in the opener against Golden State surpassed its season-high total (25) from 2013-14. The Kings have never won (0-20) in their Sacramento history when turning it over that much. … Kings C DeMarcus Cousins, who entered the season as Sacramento’s all-time leader in double-doubles (53), averaged 33.3 points and 11.5 points in the Kings’ four games against Portland last season.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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