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Blazers down Kings

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POSTED January 24, 2012 1:39 a.m.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Jamal Crawford knew what had been holding him back: too much thinking and not enough shooting. His coach and teammates agreed.

Crawford scored a season-high 26 points and the Portland Trail Blazers returned home from a six-game road trip with a 101-89 win over the Sacramento Kings on Monday night.

“All these guys said, ‘just play’,” said Crawford, who joined the Blazers last month as a free agent. “(They said) you’ve got to be the person you were before you came here. You can’t try to fit it in.”

Gerald Wallace had 20 points and eight rebounds and LaMarcus Aldridge added 13 points and 16 rebounds for the Blazers, who were coming off a 2-4 trip. Portland improved to 7-1 at the Rose Garden, playing there for the first time since Jan. 11.

“It felt good being home with the fans — we got some home cooking in,” said Craig Smith, who had 10 points and seven rebounds for Portland.

A 13-year veteran, the 6-foot-5 Crawford has been tentative and inconsistent at times since joining Portland.

He is shooting 34 percent for the season, well below his career average. While Crawford is most comfortable at shooting guard, the Blazers have played him much of the time at point guard where he has had problems with turnovers. But there had been signs he was finding his range. He had 24 points Jan. 11 against Orlando and 22 against Atlanta on Wednesday.

“Coming into the game I just felt good,” he said. “It was a fresh start. I just cleared my head and said this is day one all over again.”

DeMarcus Cousins had 18 points and 13 rebounds, his 12th double-double of the season, for the Kings. Jimmer Fredette scored 13 points and Francisco Garcia added 12. Sacramento dropped to 2-9 on the road.

The Blazers beat the Kings 101-79 on Dec. 27 and have taken 11 of the last 12 in the series.

The last time the two teams met, the Kings were coached by Paul Westphal. He was fired after seven games and replaced with assistant Keith Smart, who is 4-7 since taking over.

Sacramento was missing second-leading scorer Marcus Thornton with a thigh bruise. The Kings had won two in a row but fell 128-95 to the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday, despite Fredette’s career-high 20 points.

Against the Blazers, Sacramento led early in the game but couldn’t sustain it. Returning from missing a game with a hand injury, Wallace had 15 points and eight rebounds in the first half for the Blazers. Portland went on a 20-7 run at the end of the second quarter, briefly opening a 20-point lead and took a 53-38 advantage into the break.

“The second quarter got away from us toward the end,” Smart said. “It only takes a couple moments in a game, or a quarter, for it to separate.”

Portland went up 76-56 and the Kings didn’t get any closer than 13 down until Isaiah Thomas and Fredette made 3-pointers in the last minute.

Notes: Portland was beginning its first back-to-back-to-back stretch of the season. The Blazers play Memphis Tuesday and Golden State Wednesday. ... Kings G John Salmons played after being hospitalized over the weekend in Memphis with food poisoning. He played 18 minutes and didn’t score. ... Blazers C Marcus Camby played just 12 minutes. He sat much of the first half with three fouls and then left the game in the third quarter with a mild groin strain. He had just returned from missing three games with a sprained ankle.

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