Blazers roll past Kings as Aldridge, Oden shine

PORTLAND — As critiques go, Greg Oden's assessment of his exhibition opener was brief — and fitting for the preseason.

"It was OK, you know," he said. "I still have a lot to work on."

Oden had 18 points and nine rebounds in the Portland Trail Blazers' 98-86 victory over the Sacramento Kings in the preseason opener for both teams on Tuesday night.

A trainer wrapped both of Oden's knees in ice afterward and he quickly answered a few questions before hurrying off. The teams were headed down to Sacramento for another preseason game on Wednesday night.

"It felt good to get some of the kinks out," Oden said.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 points for Portland and Andre Miller, signed as a free agent in the offseason, came off the bench to score 16 and heat up the competition with Steve Blake for Portland's starting point guard spot.

Miller, who had five assists, seemed especially effective in getting the ball to Oden.

"He's a big guy," Miller laughed. "I'm going to give him the ball whenever I can."

Rookie Tyreke Evans started for the Kings after bruising his left knee at the start of training camp. The fourth overall pick from Memphis had 12 points and five rebounds in 24 minutes.

"He looked like a veteran out there," said new Kings coach Paul Westphal, who took over in the offseason. "I thought he fit right in. ... I think for a first game on the road in a place like this against a team like this, there are a lot of good things to take away from this."

Westphal hasn't coached in the NBA since 2001, but has 22 years of coaching experience and led the Phoenix Suns to the 1993 NBA finals.

The Kings went 17-65 last season.

"I'm encouraged by some things. I'm discouraged by some things," Westphal said. "But in general it was a good first step."

Kevin Martin and Jason Thompson also had 12 points apiece for Sacramento.

The Blazers won 54 games last season as the second-youngest team in the NBA. They fiddled with their roster a bit in the offseason, adding experience in Miller and Juwan Howard, and are hoping to take the next step after returning to the postseason.

"Basketball is back," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "The leaves are falling off the trees. It's getting cool. You take all that summer stuff and put it in the closet, get out all the winter stuff. It's time."

Aldridge and two-time All-Star Brandon Roy, the anchors of the team, played the most minutes against the Kings. Aldridge played 28 minutes, while Roy played 27.

McMillan said Roy had asked him for some extra time on the court during the preseason, because "he felt he wasn't really right," going into last year's regular season.

Portland forward Martell Webster, who missed all but five minutes of last season with a foot injury, received a hearty ovation when he came into the game midway through the first quarter.

Kings swingman Desmond Mason did not play because of back spasms.

There was one scary moment when Sacramento forward Francisco Garcia went up to shoot over Joel Przybilla and kneed the Blazers' center in the rib cage. Przybilla was prone on the court for several minutes but eventually resumed playing.

Oden, playing his second season, is competing with veteran Przybilla for a starting job.

"He looked pretty good out there," McMillan said about Oden. "We were able to get him the ball and allow him to make some decisions. I thought he had a pretty good game."

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