Blazers finally get a blowout victoryBy Kerry Eggers, The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Thu, Jan 24, 2013 1:20 AM EST
PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Portland Trail Blazers had played a franchise-record 10 straight games that were decided by six points or fewer. They had won the first four contests before dropping six in a row. Imagine their surprise, then, with their nearly wire-to-wire 100-80 blowout of Indiana on Wednesday night at the Rose Garden. "We've played so many two-point games, tonight was kind of weird for us," said LaMarcus Aldridge, who led Portland with 27 points. "But the guys played great." It was the most decisive victory of the season for the Trail Blazers (21-21). Damian Lillard collected 20 points and eight assists with no turnovers and J.J. Hickson picked up his 24th double-double of the campaign with 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Blazers. Paul George scored 22 points and David West tallied 15 of his 21 points in the second half for the Pacers (26-17), who had won 16 of their previous 21 games. "Tonight was refreshing, especially since we were on the good side of it," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "That 10-game streak was fun basketball, but it was tough. We needed a win like that. We haven't had a lot of wins like that. To have it at this stage was pretty refreshing." Portland shot a season-high .564 from the field against the NBA's No. 1 defensive team. It was the best shooting percentage all season for an opponent of Indiana, which entered the game leading the league in scoring defense (89.1 points) and opponent field-goal percentage (.413). "Give Portland a ton of credit," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. "(The Blazers) came out with great desperation. It's very difficult to play a really good team on a six-game losing streak. They brought the fight to us with their defense." The Pacers shot just .375 from the field, including 6 for 23 (.261) from 3-point range, and yielded 26 points on 13 turnovers. Indiana closed what was once a 16-point deficit to 48-42 early in the third quarter, but Portland answered with a 7-0 run to up the margin to 55-42. The Pacers got within 63-57, but the Blazers took a 70-59 lead into the final period. When Portland scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to go on top 76-59, the victory was on ice. Aldridge went off for 14 second-quarter points, sparking Portland to a 44-32 edge at halftime. "I made one or two and my teammates said, 'Keep shooting it,'" said Aldridge, who was 12 for 17 from the field for the game. "Coach (Stotts) kept drawing up plays for me to take jump shots, and I kept making them." Aldridge sank 8 of 11 shots and scored 16 points in the first half for the Blazers, who shot .571 from the field and got six second-quarter points off the bench from rookie Will Barton. Barton finished with eight points and grabbed four rebounds in 21 minutes. Indiana shot just .341 and made just 2 of 9 3-point attempts before intermission. NOTES: The Blazers have won four straight meetings with the Pacers at the Rose Garden. ... Hickson ranks third in the NBA in double-doubles behind Memphis' Zach Randolph (27) and Golden State's David Lee (26). ... Prior to the game, Vogel had this to say about Portland's six-game skid: "Hate playing teams on losing streaks. I know what it's like when we're on a losing streak. Everybody's a little bit edgy. Everybody's focus is sharper. Teams on losing streaks are harder to play against than teams that aren't. Losing is probably the best motivator there is in this game." ... Of Indiana's 16 wins over the past five weeks, seven have come in games in which they have scored fewer than 90 points. "Defensively, we've embraced the identity of trying to dominate on that end of the ball," Vogel said. "We've shown flashes of NBA championship defense. It's not there every night or every quarter, but we've gone through stretches where it's been that way." ... All-Star forward Danny Granger, who underwent surgery on his left knee in November, is on the current four-game road trip with the Pacers. "He's back in practice, doing all the shooting drills but not the contact stuff yet," said Vogel, who envisions Granger returning sometime next month. ... Vogel calls Lillard "my rookie of the year and everybody else's, too." ... "I joked a little bit (at shootaround) and put on the board, 'We have to contain Kyrie Lillard,'" Vogel said. "We have that level of respect for him. He can really play."
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