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Wright’s late 3-pointer pushes Blazers past Kings

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Dorell Wright said his last game-winning 3-pointer came in high school.

“This one was a little bigger,” the Trail Blazers forward said after hitting a 3-point shot with 7.6 seconds remaining to give Portland a 100-99 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night at the Moda Center.

Guard Ray McCallum’s 20-foot jumper bounced off the front rim as time expired, sending the Kings to their fourth consecutive defeat.

Forward LaMarcus Aldridge contributed a team-high 22 points for the Trail Blazers, who won their second straight. Guard Damian Lillard scored 19 points and handed out 10 assists, and guard Wesley Matthews added 19 points for Portland (51-28).

Center DeMarcus Cousins had 30 points and 12 rebounds, while McCallum tallied 23 points and eight assists for the Kings, who rallied from a 15-point deficit to go ahead in the final minute.

“We made that a lot tougher than it should have been,” said Lillard, who made the pass to Wright for the game-winner. “Double-digit lead, but in the second half we didn’t come up with rebounds, didn’t make plays to finish the game out. And they made a huge charge.”

Cousins sank two free throws to give Sacramento a 99-97 lead with 14.8 seconds to go. After a timeout, the Blazers inbounded to Lillard, who worked a high pick-and-roll with Aldridge. When Lillard came around the screen, he fired a pass to Wright, who was wide open in the far corner and swished the 3-pointer for his only points of the game.

“That was pretty cool,” said Wright, who was 0-for-4 from the field prior to the Blazers’ final possession. “Especially sitting over there, being mad at myself for not making shots the whole game. Then coach (Terry Stotts) gave me an opportunity to go back out there. I’m just happy I was able to knock down the shot.”

Quipped Stotts: “Dorell picked a good time to make his (one) shot.”

After a timeout, the Kings got the ball to McCallum, who faked a drive and launched a step-back jumper that was short as the horn sounded.

“That’s a shot I just have to make,” McCallum said. “Unfortunately, I didn’t knock it down.”

Sacramento coach Mike Malone was particularly happy with his team’s second-half defense, limiting Portland to 44 points — and only 21 in the fourth quarter.

“Our guys played tremendous in the second half, with great energy,” Malone said. “We didn’t have great execution with the last play, but I appreciated how our guys played tonight.”

Sacramento forward Travis Outlaw’s free throw cut Portland’s lead to 93-90, and forward Derrick Williams converted one of two at the line with 3:40 to play, making it 93-91. Cousins’ reverse layup tied the score at 93-93 with 3:10 left.

Aldridge’s two-handed follow jam gave Portland a 95-93 lead, but Outlaw answered with a jumper to make it 95-95 with two minutes remaining. Cousins’ 18-footer gave Sacramento a 97-95 advantage with 1:24 to go.

Lopez made two at the line to tie the count again at 97-97 with 42.3 seconds to play. Cousins then missed a driving hook shot, and the Blazers rebounded. After a turnover, Cousins was fouled, and he put Sacramento ahead from the line.

That set up Wright’s late-game heroics and McCallum’s futile attempt to turn the tide back the Kings’ way.

Aldridge scored 12 points, center Robin Lopez 11 and Matthews 10 to stake the Blazers to a 10-point halftime lead. Guard Ben McLemore had 14 points at the break for the Kings (27-52), but he added just two points after halftime.

NOTES: Portland rested sixth-man G Mo Williams. … It was the sixth win in seven games for the Blazers, who moved within 1 1/2 games of the Houston Rockets (52-26) in the battle for the fourth playoff seed in the Western Conference. … Sacramento was without G Isaiah Thomas, who missed his ninth straight game with a deep thigh contusion, and F Rudy Gay, who missed his second consecutive game due to a sore back. Coach Mike Malone said Thomas could still return before the end of the regular season. “He’s working very hard to get back,” Malone said. “If he’s able to play, I’d love to have him out there for more games. He’s had a tremendous season for us. I owe that to him, if he’s healthy enough to perform.” … C DeMarcus Cousins scored at least 30 points in each of Sacramento’s four meetings with Portland this season. Cousins averaged 33.8 points and 11.5 rebounds in the four games.

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

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