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Trail Blazers-Kings Preview
By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN
(AP) -- While the Sacramento Kings are the worst-shooting team in the NBA, only one team is allowing opponents to shoot better than the Portland Trail Blazers.
These teams are both 2-5 and looking for answers on opposite ends of the court as they meet Tuesday night at Sleep Train Arena.
Sacramento is shooting 40.1 percent from the field overall and shot 40.0 percent in Sunday's 103-90 road loss to the Lakers. Starting guard Tyreke Evans is emblematic of those woes at a career-low 36.9 percent - a big reason why his scoring average is also a career-worst 11.4 points.
"I'm working at it every game," Evans said. "I'm just trying to find a way to be aggressive and still play my game but I just got to do a better job of making shots and running our offense."
Portland's opponents are shooting 49.8 percent to rank ahead of only Cleveland. The Trail Blazers have allowed five foes to connect on at least half of their shots through seven games.
That defense improved a bit Monday when Atlanta shot 44.3 percent and closed the game on a 10-0 run in handing Portland its fourth straight loss, 95-87.
Offensively, the Trail Blazers shot 36.1 percent and finished with a season low in points. They rallied to take the lead after trailing by as many as 15 points.
"We keep putting ourselves in holes," guard Wesley Matthews said. "We can't keep doing that to ourselves."
Sacramento coach Keith Smart will once again have to improvise his lineup with DeMarcus Cousins finishing his two-game ban for confronting Spurs TV analyst Sean Elliott in a hostile manner following a 97-86 home loss to San Antonio on Friday night.
Smart was without Cousins and suspended rookie Thomas Robinson on Sunday. Travis Outlaw made his first start of the season and forward Jason Thompson had 15 points and 10 rebounds as he shifted to center in place of Cousins, and Smart will likely use that same lineup.
Robinson will come off the bench after completing his two-game ban for a vicious elbow to the throat of Detroit's Jonas Jerebko.
"We'll do the same thing, obviously not having DeMarcus Cousins for another game, but we'll get Thomas Robinson back, so that gives us another energy guy, and another big man," Smart said.
The antidote to the Kings' offensive woes could be Jimmer Fredette, who scored a team-high 18 points Friday, although most were after the outcome was decided. Still, the second-year guard's 64.0 percent shooting has made an impression on Smart.
"It's obvious that young man has worked his tail off," Smart said. "That young man's efficiency rating has gone up, and I've got to make minutes on the floor for him now because he's too positive right now with what he's doing."
While Smart is mulling his options without Cousins, Portland coach Terry Stotts has few options with his bench producing a league-low 11.9 points per game. Blazers reserves have been outscored 89-10 by their counterparts over their last two contests.
These teams split four meetings last season, with the home team winning every time.
Updated November 13, 2012