McCollum has 30 as Trail Blazers beat Kings 115-107
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) Inserted into the starting lineup late in the season for the Portland Trail Blazers, Maurice Harkless demonstrated once again that he belongs there.
CJ McCollum made five 3-pointers and scored 30 points, while Harkless had a season-high 20 points and a career-best 16 rebounds to lead the Blazers to a 115-107 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.
Damien Lillard had 22 points and eight assists as Portland won for the fifth time in six games and remained a half-game behind Memphis for fifth place in the Western Conference. The Grizzlies beat the Bulls earlier.
Getting big production from their guards is practically a nightly occurrence. But receiving significant numbers from Harkless is becoming a regular thing. The versatile forward entered the game averaging 6.2 points, but 14.3 points in the last six games, all as a starter.
''There is no question that he is playing better,'' Portland coach Terry Stotts said. ''I think there was an adjustment just like there was for (Gerald) Henderson coming into a new situation. You know he's taking advantage of the opportunity and I think just getting more comfortable with what we need from him.''
Harkless did a little bit of everything in the second half, when he scored all his points and had 14 rebounds, including seven at the offensive end. He made 8 of 16 shots, hit two 3-pointers, and added two steals.
''The first half didn't go the way we wanted. We knew we had to come out and be aggressors in the second half that's what I was doing,'' Harkless said. ''I was trying to make things happen.''
Henderson scored 13 points and Mason Plumlee had 12 points and nine rebounds before fouling out late in the game.
Portland got just its second victory in its last 11 road games and outrebounded Sacramento 49-34. The Blazers outscored the Kings 26-9 on second-chance points. The three offensive rebounds were the fewest by the Kings this season.
''They rebounded the ball with their bigs, they rebounded the ball with their athleticism, and they rebounded the ball with the bounces that gave them opportunities to get rebounds,'' Kings coach George Karl said. ''We didn't have a tremendous focus there.''
DeMarcus Cousins had 30 points and nine rebounds for the Kings. Rajon Rondo had his sixth triple-double with a season-high 27 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds, and Seth Curry scored 17 points.
''I think the majority of the game we played well,'' Curry said. ''We did enough offensively and our defense was pretty good half-court throughout the game. Toward the end of the game we didn't score as we should have and I think those rebounds caught up to us.''
Portland's final three games are at home against Oklahoma City, Minnesota and the season-finale April 13 against Denver.
''Road wins are hard to come by. Most of our losses (recently) were to playoff-caliber teams,'' Stotts said. ''It's been tough for us lately on the road.''
James Anderson made a jumper to pull the Kings within four points with 16 seconds left, but Lillard made two free throws and Harkless had a dunk off a steal to secure the victory.
After going scoreless in the opening half, Harkless scored 14 points in the third quarter, helping Portland outscore the Kings 33-23 to take an 84-80 lead into the fourth.
Although the Blazers revealed recently that they would definitely like to pass injury-plagued Memphis and match last season's fifth-place finish in the Western Conference, Harkless said the team would be fine with finishing a little lower.
''We'll see if we can get there (fifth). But we can only worry about what we can do,'' Harkless said. ''We're not afraid of anyone.''
Trail Blazers: Lillard shot 2 of 9 in the opening half, when he missed 4-of-5 3-point attempts. ... McCollum scored 19 points in the first half, but the Blazers still trailed 57-51.
Kings: Karl elected to rest Darren Collison, Kosta Koufos and Rudy Gay. Key reserves Marco Belinelli (sore foot) and Omri Casspi (strained hamstring) were also missing. ... Ex-Kings Mike Bibby, LaSalle Thompson and Brian Grant attended the game. ... Sacramento shot 63 percent in the first half. ... Cousins, who missed the previous two games, had an outstanding first quarter, making 7 of 8 shots and scoring 16 points. ... Cousins was called for his 17th technical midway through the fourth quarter and Quincy Acy got one a short time later.
Trail Blazers: Host Oklahoma City on Wednesday.
Kings: Host Minnesota on Thursday.