Trail Blazers 100, Pacers 80

Kerry Eggers, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

PORTLAND - LaMarcus Aldridge scored 27 points as the Portland Trail Blazers took control early and buried the Indiana Pacers 100-80 Wednesday night at the Rose Garden.
It snapped a six-game losing streak for the Trail Blazers (21-21), who earned their most decisive victory of the season.
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.
Portland shot 56.4 percent from the field against the NBA's No. 1 defensive team. Indiana entered the game leading the league in scoring defense (89.1 points) and opponents' field-goal percentage (41.3 percent).
The Pacers shot only 37.5 percent from the field, including 6-for-23 (26.1 percent) from 3-point range, and yielded 26 Portland 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 to 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 sealed.
Aldridge went off for 14 second-quarter points, sparking Portland to a 44-32 edge at halftime. Aldridge sank 8 of 11 shots and scored 16 points in the half for the Blazers, who shot 57.1 percent 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 only 34.1 percent and made only 2 of 9 3-point attempts before intermission.
NOTES: The Trail Blazers entered the game on a season-high six-game losing streak. Not a good thing in the eyes of Indiana coach Frank Vogel. "Hate playing teams on losing streaks," he said. "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." ... The Pacers rank 29th in the league in scoring offense (91.2) and 28th in field-goal percentage (42.3). They entered Wednesday with a 16-5 record over the past five weeks, though, with seven of the wins coming in games in which they've 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 to 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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