Matthews scored 17 of his 28 points in the first quarter, Wallace had a terrific all-around game and the Trail Blazers beat the Philadelphia 76ers 110-101 Saturday night.
It was Wallace’s best performance since he was acquired from Charlotte at the trade deadline in February. The 6-foot-7 forward had 25 points, eight assists, six rebounds and four steals as Portland won for the seventh time in nine games.
“That team played as well against us as any team has played in a long time,” Philadelphia coach Doug Collins said. “I talked to (Blazer coach) Nate (McMillan) after the game—the addition of Gerald Wallace, he’s playing like he did when he was an All-Star at Charlotte.”
The Blazers led the whole way. Philadelphia was as close as 92-89 with 9:11 remaining after Brand hit three straight shots, but Portland responded with a 9-0 run.
Philadelphia was coming off a 102-80 victory at Sacramento on Friday night and wrapping up a five-game road trip. But the 76ers showed little fatigue, shooting 50 percent from the field and playing aggressive in transition. Still, they couldn’t capitalize on runs, and had costly fouls and turnovers at key moments.
“Some games you kind of beat yourself,” Brand said. “We felt like we made too many mistakes, but they played great. They beat us and they played great. Gerald Wallace was everywhere against us and running the floor and it hurt us.”
Wallace showed why he was nicknamed “Crash” in Charlotte, coming up with big plays on both ends of the floor and frustrating the much bigger Brand inside.
“He made big plays down the stretch,” McMillan said about Wallace. “A few loose balls, a couple of 3s—just in the right place at the right time.”
The Blazers, who beat Cleveland 111-70 on Thursday night, led 62-54 at halftime. Matthews had 20 points at the break after hitting six 3-pointers and seven of his eight shots.
Wallace converted a three-point play to increase Portland’s lead to 83-73, but Philadelphia closed the third with a 10-4 surge. Williams capped the spurt with a 3-pointer.
The Blazers improved to a half-game behind Denver for fifth place in the Western Conference playoff race. However, Portland does not have an easy schedule down the stretch, with 10 of its final 13 games against teams with winning records. Seven of those games are against the Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio, Dallas and Oklahoma City, the top four teams in the West.
The Blazers are at the Lakers on Sunday.
“We know it’s going to be a tough one,” McMillan said. “We haven’t beaten them this year—we had an opportunity right after the break—and they’re defending champions so we know it’s going to be a tough challenge.”
NOTES: The Blazers made 25 of 29 free throws, hitting their first 16 through three quarters. … The Sixers had beaten Portland in seven of their last 10 meetings at the Rose Garden. … Philadelphia leads the NBA in bench scoring with a 39.8 average.