Don Ryan Associated Press DeMarcus Cousins maneuvers against Portland's J.J. Hickson during the second half of the Kings' 99-80 victory.

Outlaw to the rescue in Kings' third straight victory

Published: Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012 - 7:21 am

PORTLAND – After he watched the second unit squander a sizable lead in the second quarter, Kings coach Keith Smart's rotation became as unpredictable as ever.

In the third quarter he turned to Travis Outlaw.

Yes, Outlaw – who had appeared in only five games this season. The only King with fewer appearances is Tyler Honeycutt with zero because he has been with the Reno Bighorns of the NBA Development League most of the season.

Outlaw had the lowest shooting percentage of any King (33.3 percent), too.

None of that mattered Saturday night.

Outlaw checked into the game in the third quarter with the Kings up 63-59, and the Portland Trail Blazers never got any closer as the Kings coasted to a 99-80 win at Rose Garden.

The Kings are now on a season-best three-game winning streak. The win also ended a six-game road losing streak to start the season. That was the worst road start for the Kings since they lost their first nine away games in the 2007-08 season.

The Kings' first road win of the season was bolstered by Outlaw, the 10-year veteran who began his career in Portland but has struggled to find his game since being traded by Portland to the Los Angeles Clippers in 2010.

Outlaw scored 11 points. He missed only two of his seven shots, grabbed four rebounds and had a steal while playing the final 17:18 of the game.

The Kings outscored the Blazers 40-25 with Outlaw on the floor.

Outlaw said being in Portland (7-12) didn't make him any more comfortable.

"I like to shoot," Outlaw said with a laugh. "I like to shoot it no matter where I am. Being here, definitely helps (having) the fans."

Smart needed shooting from Outlaw after the bench wasted a 12-point first quarter lead. The second unit shot 1 of 13 in the second quarter and without Outlaw was 4 of 19.

"That second quarter really set the tone for the second half," Smart said.

"I told the coaches to get him ready in the second half because we didn't score a bucket, we didn't make a play. Nothing was moving, nothing was happening. I knew our starters were playing great."

So when it was time to go to the bench in the third quarter, Outlaw got the call.

Outlaw last played last Saturday in the Kings' 35-point loss at the Los Angeles Clippers. This time, he was given the opportunity to impact a close game.

"I really was just excited for the opportunity," Outlaw said. "To get to go out there, showcase, do what I can and hopefully buy myself more minutes."

All five starters for the Kings (7-12) scored in double figures, led by John Salmons and DeMarcus Cousins with 19 points apiece.

Since losing to the Clippers, the Kings haven't lost. And in winning three in a row, the Kings have begun to show signs of being a team that can share the ball and not rely on one-on-one play.

"I think after the L.A. loss we took a step back and we all took a look at ourselves in the mirror," Salmons said. "I feel like we have to play together to win games. That L.A. loss could have been a blessing in disguise."

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