Blazers' sizzling finish produces OT win at Charlotte

John Delong, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It would have been totally understandable had the Portland Trail Blazers folded down the stretch Monday night.
Instead, the Blazers turned the sixth game on a grueling seven-game Eastern road trip into a night to remember.
Portland rallied from an 18-point deficit in the final five-plus minutes of regulation, then pulled away for a 118-112 overtime victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.
The stunning comeback occurred after the Blazers trailed 92-74, but it was not out of character for the team, according to coach Terry Stotts.
"It was an exciting game, and it was a fun way to win it," Stotts said. "Obviously, being down 15 or 17 with five and a half to go was not where you wanted to be, but we had guys make big plays on both ends of the floor.
"We were resilient tonight. I think we've shown that from Day One. We've had some bumps along the way, but for the most part, they are resilient. They come back and fight, and they compete. From Day One, compete was the number one word."
LaMarcus Aldridge led the Blazers with 25 points and 13 rebounds, and Damian Lillard added 24 points and nine assists. However, Luke Babbitt made both of Portland's biggest buckets.
Babbitt's 3-pointer with 22.8 seconds left in regulation tied the score 102-102, which was enough to force overtime after Charlotte's Kemba Walker missed a 12-footer at the buzzer.
Another Babbitt 3-pointer with 1:45 left in overtime pushed a one-point Portland lead to 110-106, and from there the Blazers went on to lead by as many as seven.
Babbitt said that Portland's 28-10 run in the final five minutes of regulation was a tribute to the coaching staff.
"(Stotts) put in a small lineup, and we started blitzing their pick-and-rolls and got them out of rhythm offensively, and we were able to clean up the boards," Babbitt said. "It's a game of runs. We made the adjustments, and that's what turned the game around. We started scrambling on defense and we went small on offense, and that was the key to the game."
The Blazers (8-10) beat Cleveland in double overtime Saturday night after losing the first four games of the road trip.
"What you tell your team is a lot can happen," Stotts said. "I've been on the other end of it. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. Things like that occur in the NBA, and you have to believe it's going to happen for you."
The Blazers got 19 points from Wesley Matthews, and 17 points and 13 rebounds from Nicolas Batum. Babbitt finished with nine points, all on 3-pointers.
The comeback stunned the Bobcats (7-9). Charlotte seemingly had the game in hand after going on an 18-0 run late in the third quarter and early in the fourth, and it appeared to be en route to snapping a three-game losing streak.
Ben Gordon, who led the Bobcats with 29 points, set a franchise record with eight 3-pointers, including four in the fourth quarter.
"It's disappointing that we had that kind of lead and didn't do what it took to get the win," Gordon said. "One thing I said after the game was, it's not over till the fat lady sings.
"I know we were getting excited, were making some great plays on the offensive end. But that team on the other side, they stayed poised, they stuck with it, and they ended up pulling out the win. So my message is, the NBA game is long. I've seen a lot of crazy things happen, and it's never really over till it's over. When you get a team down, you have to put your foot on their neck and put them away."
The Bobcats received 22 points from Walker, 12 from Byron Mullens, and 11 each from Ramon Sessions and Jeffery Taylor. Gerald Henderson returned for the first time after missing 13 games with a strained left foot, and he scored five points in 15 minutes.
The Blazers close out the road trip Wednesday against the Pacers in Indiana, while the Bobcats finish out a three-game homestand Wednesday with a game against the New York Knicks.
NOTES: The Blazers took Sunday off completely after arriving in Charlotte. ... Gordon came off the bench to lead the Bobcats in scoring for the third consecutive game. He topped 10,000 points for his career Monday, finishing the night with 10,006. ... Lillard led all NBA rookies in scoring at 17.7 points per game before Monday. The Weber State product also led all NBA point guards with 10 games of 20 points or more.

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