SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -Brandon Roy is starting to feel good again, one reason why recent opponents have been left feeling badly after facing the Portland Trail Blazers.
Back in a groove after missing considerable time with a hamstring injury, Roy scored 28 points on Friday night for the Blazers, who led practically from start to finish in beating the Sacramento Kings 110-94 for their third straight victory.
It was the 400th career victory for Blazers coach Nate McMillan, but perhaps a bigger cause for celebration in Portland is Roy's confident play. The result is showing up in the win column, where Portland has an 8-2 record since losing to Utah on Feb. 21.
Coming off his fourth career 40-plus game Thursday night when he scored 41 points to halt a nine-game losing streak at Golden State, Roy got going early against the Kings. He had 13 points in the opening quarter, overshadowing Tyreke Evans, the Kings' heralded rookie.
``Coming back from the injury, some games you feel on and some games you feel nasty,' Roy said. ``My confidence is coming back and so is the swagger, which gives the team some swagger as well. We're starting to get healthy and teams are seeing that we are dangerous.'
Roy had 20 points by halftime and was content to let his teammates carry the offensive load in the second half. A smooth-shooting, fourth-year guard, Roy made 10-of-13 shots, both 3-point attempts, and connected on all seven free throws.
``He played at his own pace,' said Evans, who had a rare off-game with 10 points, 10 rebounds and five turnovers. ``He's an All-Star and that's what he's going to do.'
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 18 points, Andre Miller had 15 and Nicolas Batum added 11 for Portland, which never let the lead dip close to single digits in an uninspired fourth quarter by both teams.
Ahead by 15 at the half, the Trail Blazers came out strong in the third quarter in building the lead to as high as 26 points. Following a quiet first half with two points, Aldridge scored 12 in the period as Portland went ahead 87-66.
``The last two games I've had slow first halfs, so in the third quarter I was looking for my shot and trying to get going,' Aldridge said.
Carl Landry had 18 points and Francisco Garcia scored 17 for the Kings, who committed 20 turnovers and have dropped four of five. Jason Thompson scored 15 points and Beno Udrih had 13.
``I thought the Blazers' defense was very aggressive and took away a lot of our first options,' Kings coach Paul Westphal said. ``We responded like a team (due to trades) that's been together for 12 games, which is what we are.'
The victory kept the Blazers four games ahead of Memphis in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Blazers, who have won six of seven games, are a season-high 12 games over .500 at 40-28.
Although he knew victory number 400 could arrive against the Kings, McMillan didn't share the information with his team until after the game.
``I don't look at my record, I look at my team,' said McMillan, who is in his 10th season as a head coach. ``I just want to win and win big. I'm just happy to have the opportunity to coach in 400 wins.'
The Kings had a brief 7-5 lead in the opening quarter, but the advantage was fleeting. The Blazers frustrated the Sacramento defense repeatedly and also visited the free throw line frequently in building the sizable lead by halftime.
The frustration boiled over for Westphal late in the third quarter. Following a foul call against Kings reserve guard Garrett Temple with 1.1 seconds left, Westphal strolled up the sideline and told referee Derek Richardson that, ``You guys are worse than we are tonight.'
The Kings look at Portland and the team's progress under Roy and hope they can emulate it with Evans leading the way. Roy was Rookie of the Year in 2006-07 and has played a major role in the past three years in transforming the Blazers from a former lottery team to last year's Northwest Division co-champs.
A rookie from Memphis, Evans was coming off his first career triple-double, getting 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists Wednesday in a convincing win over Toronto.
``We shadowed him in transition and wanted to keep in front of him in the half court,' McMillan said. ``We wanted to keep in front of him not let him in the paint.'
The Blazers led 61-46 at halftime. Landry had 12 points for the Kings, who shot nearly 53 percent but committed 10 turnovers.
NOTES: The Blazers had just two turnovers in the opening half and made all 17 free throws. Kings rookie Jon Brockman has missed the last 12 games with a sprained right knee suffered in practice Feb. 19. The Blazers made 29 of 32 free throws.
The Associated Press News Service
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