portland trail blazers basketball

Blazers own Houston

Portland destroys the Rockets on the road, 96-79
Feb. 6, 2016 / Associated Press

HOUSTON - The Portland Trail Blazers were determined that this trip to Houston would end much better than their last visit here when they were stung by a tough overtime loss to the Rockets.

That was clear from the beginning of this one. Damian Lillard had 21 points and 10 assists and the Trail Blazers built a big lead early and rolled to an easy 96-79 win over the Rockets on Saturday.

In their last game here they led by 15 in the fourth quarter before Houston rallied to force overtime and got a 108-103 win on the day coach Kevin McHale was fired in November.

“We talked about it for a little while after and we was sick about that one,” Lillard said. “We talked about it. Especially coming into tonight, we said to remember what happened last time.”

On Saturday, the Trail Blazers were up by 19 at halftime and scored the first six points of the third quarter to make it 61-36 with about 10 minutes left in the quarter.

James Harden made four quick points after that before the Trail Blazers used a 13-2 run -- with 3s from Lillard, C.J. McCollum and Al-Farouq Aminu -- to push the lead to 74-42.

The Rockets scored the last 11 points of the quarter, with the first nine from Harden, to cut the lead to 74-53 entering the fourth. But Portland opened the fourth with an 8-2 spurt.

“That was a really good win,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “Defensively we were solid all (game). For the most part we took away and they didn’t get 3s or transition.”

Harden led the Rockets with 33 points.

“We’re just a slow step on everything,” Harden said. “When you get a slow step, you give guys confidence early on in the game. They kind of rode that wave out and were making shots.”

The Trail Blazers had six players with 10 or more points. McCollum and Gerald Henderson had 16, Maurice Harkless had 14, Aminu had 11 and Mason Plumlee had 10.

The Rockets made a bit of a game out of it when they scored 11 straight points to get within 89-78 with about 3 minutes left. But Portland used a 5-1 spurt after that to fend off the late charge.

Houston entered the game shooting 35.5 percent from 3-point range but made just 7 of 36 for a season-low 19.4 percent. But it wasn’t just the Rockets’ long-range shooting that was terrible on Saturday -- they shot just 32.5 percent overall, which is also a season-low. They were also outrebounded 54-43.

“It’s disappointing the way we came out and played this game,” Houston coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “As important as this game was it’s disappointing to say the least.”

The Trail Blazers led by six at the end of the first quarter and opened the second quarter with a 13-2 run to extend the lead to 42-25.

The Rockets got within 44-30 after an alley-oop dunk by Dwight Howard with about 7 minutes left in the second quarter. But Houston couldn’t do anything on offense after that, making just one field goal the rest of the first half to trail 55-36 at halftime.

Houston made four free throws in that span but missed 11 shots and had five turnovers.

Blazers rout Love-led Cavs

Portland returns from the road and thrashes the Eastern power, 105-76
Dec. 26, 2015 / Associated Press

PORTLAND - Portland coach Terry Stotts came armed with a witty opening statement for his postgame press conference Saturday night following the Trail Blazers’ 105-76 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“Anybody see that coming?” Stotts said.

Hard to imagine many raising their hands. Portland came into Saturday with a five-game losing streak, while LeBron James-led Cleveland had the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Almost from the opening tip, Portland was in control. Allen Crabbe scored 21 of his career-high 26 points during the first half to lead the Blazers (12-20) to their most lopsided win of the season.

C.J. McCollum had 16 points, while Mason Plumlee had 11 points and 14 rebounds for Portland.

The Blazers ran out to a 34-12 first quarter lead and were never threatened, holding Cleveland to a season-low 76 points. James, playing only 27 minutes, matched his season low with 12 points.

“One of the things you love about the NBA, anything can happen,” Stotts said. “Obviously we played a very good game. Our defense allowed us to get into transition and took a little pressure off our half-court offense.”

Crabbe hit 4-of-6 from 3-point range. He said returning home after the recent 0-5 East Coast trip gave the Blazers a spark.

“I think it was good for us to get back home, see family. It was great to get back and play a good team like that. Everybody was up and excited to play them,” Crabbe said.

Stotts saw a different team than the one he coached during the winless trip.

“Having two days off was good. We had a lot of energy. We were pushing the ball after stops. We seemed to have a little extra bounce,” Stotts said.

The Cavaliers have lost two consecutive games, this one on the heels of an 89-83 defeat to Golden State on Friday night. The 76- and 83-point performances are season lows for Cleveland.

“Offensively, we are in a funk right now,” said James, who also had four rebounds and five assists. “Our energy was lacking at the beginning of the game. It picked up, but at some point it got so out of hand that it didn’t matter.”

Kevin Love had 13 points to lead the Cavaliers.

Blazers shoot past Lakers

Lillard scores 30 in win over other slumping Los Angeles team
Nov. 22, 2015

LOS ANGELES - Damian Lillard saw potential in the Los Angeles Lakers’ talented young guards. The Portland star guard also demonstrated just how far D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson have got to go to catch up with the Trail Blazers’ brilliant young backcourt.

Lillard had 30 points and a career-high 13 assists, and C.J. McCollum added 19 points in the Blazers’ sixth consecutive victory over Los Angeles, 107-93 on Sunday night.

Mason Plumlee added 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Blazers, who have won two straight after a seven-game skid. Portland has won a franchise-record five straight road games against the Lakers after maintaining a steady lead throughout the second half.

“We got ourselves together,” Lillard said. “The position we’ve been in, we know it’s a game of runs. We tightened down defensively and got it done.”

The Lakers trimmed Portland’s lead to three points with four minutes to play, but Portland scored eight straight points capped by four from Lillard, who made up for an inconsistent outside shot with exceptional playmaking throughout.

Kobe Bryant scored 18 points on 6-for-22 shooting, missing all five of his 3-point attempts in the Lakers’ third straight loss. Los Angeles’ 2-11 start is one game behind their pace from last season, the worst year in franchise history.

“It’s just that we’re making little mistakes at the wrong time,” Bryant said. “Defensive balance and the wrong rotation here and there, that’s really been caving the roof in on us in the last five minutes of the ballgame. Our rotations weren’t up to snuff, and they just killed us all night.”

Jordan Clarkson led the Lakers with 19 points.

Portland forward Ed Davis returned to Staples Center after spending last season with the Lakers and playing well enough to earn a $20 million free-agent contract. Davis had nine points on 4-of-5 shooting along with three assists and three rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench. “I had a great time here,” Davis said. “The fans were great to me. Everybody took care of me.”

Blazers ready for LMA greeting

Aldridge pays his first visit to the Moda Center since signing with San Antonio
Nov. 11, 2015 / Stats LLC

Although LaMarcus Aldridge will go down as one of the great Portland Trail Blazers in history, his return to town could be acrimonious.

Aldridge will face his first NBA team for the first time Wednesday night when his San Antonio Spurs look to hand the Trail Blazers a third straight defeat.

The power forward spent the first nine seasons of his career with Portland. He’s second on the franchise’s all-time list in points (12,562), first in rebounds (5,434) and fourth in games (648).

Aldridge was generally a fan favorite with the Trail Blazers, though that may change after he signed a four-year contract worth $84.1 million with the Spurs this offseason as a free agent. The deal came one year after he vowed to local reporters he would sign an extension with Portland because he wanted to surpass Clyde Drexler as the club’s all-time top scorer and play his entire career with one team.

Instead, a persuasive pitch by Spurs general manager R.C. Buford and coach Gregg Popovich convinced Dallas native Aldridge to return to his home state and help San Antonio chase its fifth title in 14 seasons.

The transition hasn’t exactly been smooth, with Aldridge averaging 15.1 points after he averaged a career-high 23.4 last season for Portland.

His departure came in the same offseason the Trail Blazers (4-4) banked their future on Damian Lillard, who signed a five-year contract worth more than $120 million. Lillard is among the league’s leaders with a 27.5 scoring average, though he has found it difficult shouldering the scoring load without Aldridge.

Lillard has totaled 56 points and 18 assists in consecutive defeats entering this contest.

“I am not frustrated,” Lillard said. “As a competitor, after you lose a game, you sit there and you think about everything you could have done better as a team. You aren’t happy with it. But I’m happy with where we are as a team.”

The Blazers have one of the league’s top offenses, averaging 103.8 points and shooting 46.7 percent.

San Antonio (5-2) is shooting 48.8 percent after connecting at 52.9 percent in Monday’s 106-88 victory at Sacramento. Kawhi Leonard, who has made 20 of his last 29 shots, scored a team-high 24 points.

The Spurs showcased their depth by outscoring the Kings 34-19 in a fourth quarter in which Tim Duncan and Tony Parker did not play. Their bench scored 24 points in that period, with former Blazers guard Patty Mills compiling seven points, six assists and four steals.

“I understand you can’t live and die off your shot, so if my shot is not falling I have to do other things,” said Mills, who missed 6 of 7 shots through three quarters. “I’m trying to become more of an all-around player.”

The Spurs’ reserves average 36.4 points compared to 23.8 per game from the Blazers’ backups.

San Antonio has dropped 11 of its last 13 regular-season visits to Portland, including eight of nine in which Duncan has played. The veteran has missed four of the Spurs’ last eight games at the Moda Center.

Portland may have an extra big man to throw at San Antonio’s frontcourt since rookie Cliff Alexander could make his debut after being out with a knee injury.

Memphis wraps up Blazers

Grizzlies beat Portland on home court for 4-1 series victory
April 29, 2015 / Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The Memphis Grizzlies missed one chance to finish off their first-round series and get some much-needed rest before facing the Golden State Warriors.

They didn’t waste a second, especially on their own court.

And now the challenge of what the future holds for LaMarcus Aldridge in Portland begins.

Marc Gasol had 26 points and 14 rebounds as the Grizzlies advanced to the Western Conference semifinals by beating the Portland Trail Blazers 99-93 on Wednesday night, closing out the series 4-1.

“It feels great,” Gasol said. “It feels great to have a little time off to do some things around the house. I’m going to have a little time to be with my little girl. It’s actually great to be home.”

In the West semifinals for the third time in five years, the Grizzlies will play Game 1 on Sunday at top-seeded Golden State. Vince Carter said older players like himself appreciate the rest more than anybody.

“We wanted to go get the job done now, get some days of rest to get ready for the next tough series,” Carter said. “This is just a warm-up for the next one, and the next one and the next one.”

Memphis closed it out despite not having point guard Mike Conley for a second straight game as he recovers from surgery to repair broken bones near his left eye.

Courtney Lee scored 20 points for Memphis, Zach Randolph had 16 and Jeff Green added 10 off the bench.

C.J. McCollum led Portland with a career-high 33 points. Damian Lillard had 22 points, and Aldridge had 14 before fouling out late as they combined to shoot 13-of-37. The Trail Blazers lost in the first round for the seventh time in their past eight postseasons after reaching the West semifinals last year. It’s lost its past five Game 5s.

“The season was going to be a very special season,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “Unfortunately, some things didn’t turn out the way we wanted to.”

Aldridge, a free agent this summer, was 37-of-112 in this series.

McCollum became the first player in Portland history to score 15 or more off the bench in three straight playoff games since Mychal Thompson in April 1985.

The Grizzlies finished off the game hitting 10 of 14 free throws in the final 64 seconds.

“The guys were running on fumes,” Memphis coach Dave Joerger said of the fourth quarter. “I played guys a lot of minutes.”

Memphis led only 68-66 at the end of the third, and Portland had the seventh and last tie at 72 before Carter put the Grizzlies ahead to stay with a fadeaway jumper. Aldridge got the Trail Blazers within 76-75 with a three-point play before Memphis went on a 9-0 run, pushing its lead back to double digits.

“We’re one of the top offensive teams in the league, and we never felt that rhythm,” Aldridge said. “That’s disappointing for us. We know that this team is a lot better than what we played. I’m mad about going home so early. I’m disappointed in not getting to the second round.”

The Grizzlies hit seven of their first nine shots in taking a 12-point lead in the opening minutes. Memphis then missed 13 of its first 17 shots in the second quarter but took a 46-39 lead into halftime.

The Blazers erased Memphis’ 13-point lead in the third with a 22-6 run. McCollum’s fourth 3 in the quarter gave Portland a 61-58 lead, though Memphis led 68-66 at the end of the third.

Blazers play on to Memphis

A fourth-quarter rally gets Portland it's first win over the Grizzlies
April 27, 2015 / Associated Press

PORTLAND - After the final buzzer of their Game 4 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night, the Portland Trail Blazers all gathered in a huddle at midcourt and raised their clasped hands skyward.

All of them were smiling.

Portland had avoided elimination from the playoffs with a 99-92 victory over Memphis.

“I think since the last game when we went 0-3, the big thing we’ve been talking about is having heart and playing with pride -- and just not being swept,” said Blazers guard Damian Lillard, who had 32 points. “Everybody’s always saying, ‘Nobody’s ever done it, coming back from 0-3.’ We didn’t want to focus on that. We wanted to focus on just today, and doing everything we had to do to give ourselves a chance to keep playing.”

Memphis led by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter, but Portland rallied to deny the Grizzlies their first playoff sweep. Lillard united the team in timeouts, then encouraged the hometown fans by gesturing for cheers late in the game.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 18 points and 12 rebounds for Portland, while C.J. McCollum added 18 points -- including two clutch layups and a 3-pointer down the stretch. The victory snapped Portland’s seven-game losing streak to the Grizzlies, including all four regular-season meetings.

Game 5 is Wednesday in Memphis. The winner of the series goes on to face the Golden State Warriors in the second round.

Portland went 0-3 against Golden State this season.

The Grizzlies were playing without starting point guard Mike Conley, who was inadvertently elbowed in the face in the third quarter of Game 3 and underwent surgery on Monday morning. His status for the rest of the playoffs is uncertain.

Marc Gasol led the Grizzlies with 21 points, and Courtney Lee added 19.

“When you’re up 10 points with six minutes in the game in this league, you got to finish,” said Zach Randolph, who had 12 points for Memphis. “Especially in these circumstances and what we’re playing for. So it’s frustrating.”

McCollum’s layup with 4:50 left knotted it at 82. Gasol’s hook shot on the other end denied Portland the lead, but McCollum made another layup to tie it again with 2:36 to go.

Gasol made two free throws but Lillard hit a 3-pointer and a free throw to put Portland in front 88-86 with 1:58 left. Randolph’s layup tied it again for the Grizzlies before McCollum’s 3-pointer put the Blazers up 91-88.

Lee’s layup closed the gap to 92-90 with 19 seconds left. After Lillard’s free throws, Gasol dunked, but Lillard and Batum made free throws as time wound down before Aldridge’s rebound and layup at the buzzer.

“Well, it was good to get a win, obviously. That’s an understatement,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.

Nick Calathes started for the Grizzlies in Conley’s place. It was his first career playoff start and first of the season. He finished with 12 points on four 3-pointers.

Memphis backup guard Beno Udrih, who had 20 points in the opener, hurt his ankle in the first half of Game 2 but returned in the third quarter and finished with 10 points. He warmed up Saturday night but didn’t play. He played in Game 4 and had 13 points.

Meyers Leonard hit a 10-foot jumper and added consecutive 3-pointers to put Portland up 35-30 in the first half. Aldridge’s layup gave the Blazers a 43-37 lead, and they went on to a 55-48 halftime lead.

Memphis opened the second half with a 10-2 run capped by Lee’s 3-pointer to go up 58-57.

Lee’s long jumper put Memphis in front 62-57 and Portland went cold, going 0-for-10 from the field until McCollum’s layup with 5:32 left.

The Grizzlies outscored the Blazers 27-13 in the third quarter and carried a 75-68 lead into the final period.

Jeff Green’s 3-pointer gave the Grizzlies the biggest lead of the game, 80-70, with 8:48 left.

Gasol was blunt about what happened from there:

“We stopped competing. We tried to trade buckets with them, and we played a little bit too fast. We did not execute as well as we could have,” he said. “They took away the momentum that we built and got away with a win. Got to give them credit.”

Blazers are playoff-building bound

Sun, 04/26/2015 - 10:03pm
Cliff Pfenning
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The Memphis Grizzlies haven't been a secret for some time in how they've been developed during a season - they're built for a playoff run. Incredible how that can be said when Zach Randolph is one of their starters, but the deliberate and physical style of play they have says "we want to make every possession count."

In the past four seasons, they've been past the first round twice, reaching the Western Conference Finals in 2013. The other two seasons, they lost in the first round - in seven games each time.

Heck, if they've had Greg Popovich as coach, the Grizzlies might have an NBA Title or two in the trophy case.

So, how can the Portland Trail Blazers create that same reputation around the NBA? That's going to be quite a challenge this summer for General Manager Neil Olshey with the team facing that prospect soon by trailing the Grizzlies 3-0 in their first-round series.

The Blazers have pieces of a playoff contender in LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard, but the third part of the planned threat - Nicolas Batum - has never played up to his role. Perhaps it's time to see what his value is on the open market. This summer.

With only one playoff series win in the past 14 seasons, and only two seventh games since 1990, Portland just hasn't gotten the playoff excitement its fans crave.

Somehow, there's a gameplan that hasn't gotten on the chalkboard that will get Portland into some form of playoff run it hasn't been in since the days of Clyde, Terry, Duck, Buck and Jerome.

Aldridge is a player. Lillard is a player. CJ McCollum appears to be one who can take his place in the building process.

Olshey is in need of being a player himself this summer. Portland is a wierd place that remains calm during the summer, making solid moves like bringing Robin Lopez in at center two summers ago. But, that move got only one playoff series win. Snagging Aaron Afflalo at the trade deadline this season didn't make an impact either.

Whatever the moves end up being, one of the playoff elements that can happen even off the court is in the court of public opinion. Portland has chased after big names, notably Paul Millsap one summer, but no big names seem interested in winding up in a nice, humble town. That's a factor that has to change this summer if the team's history is to change in the playoffs.

Blazers pushed to brink by Memphis

The Grizzlies dominate Portland for 3-0 series lead, Game 4 Monday
April 25, 2015 / Associated Press

PORTLAND - Stung by the loss of point guard Mike Conley, the Grizzlies gritted out their latest victory over the Trail Blazers.

Memphis took a 3-0 lead in its first-round playoff series against Portland with a 115-109 victory on Saturday night. But it came with a cost: Conley left the game in the third quarter with a facial injury and was hospitalized for further evaluation.

The Grizzlies were already without backup point guard Beno Udrih, who sprained his right ankle in Game 2 and sat out Saturday’s game.

Game 4 is set for Monday in Portland.

“Without Mike, without Beno, I know how competitive we are,” said Marc Gasol. “I’m sure guys will be ready.”

Gasol finished with 25 points and seven rebounds, while Courtney Lee had 20 points and Zach Randolph added 16 against the team that drafted him.

Conley had 14 points before he appeared to be elbowed in the face by Portland’s C.J. McCollum and fell to the floor. He was whisked to the locker room holding a towel to his face.

With Udrih also out, the Grizzlies turned to Nick Calathes, who finished with 13 points. Calathes averaged 4.2 points and just over 14 minutes in 52 games during the regular season.

The Grizzlies led by as many as 14 points, but Portland closed within 90-82 with 7:28 left after a trio of free throws from Nicolas Batum. Gasol responded with two jumpers to end the threat until Arron Afflalo’s 3-pointer pulled Portland to 94-87.

Batum’s 3-pointer got Portland as close as 94-91 with 2:23 left. But Tony Allen’s basket ended Portland’s 9-0 run, and Randolph added free throws.

Allen’s fast-break dunk with 1:14 left all but sealed it for the Grizzlies. Batum had another 3-pointer to make it 100-94, but Portland couldn’t catch up.

“We had the momentum, we hit some shots, the crowd was behind us and I thought it was going to be one of those games where we find a way to pull it out,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.

Batum finished with 27 points for the Blazers, who have dropped seven straight games, including four to wrap up the regular season. McCollum added 26.

Memphis made the most of getting home-court advantage for just the second time in the team’s playoff history, taking the first two games, including Wednesday’s 97-82 victory in Game 2. The Grizzlies have won seven straight against Portland, sweeping the four-game regular-season series.

Udrih, who had 20 points in the opener, hurt the ankle in the first half of Game 2 but returned in the third quarter and finished with 10 points. He warmed up Saturday night but ultimately didn’t play.

Kosta Koufos made a hook shot that gave Memphis its biggest lead of the first half, 40-28. Memphis went on to lead 62-49 at halftime, scoring 30 points in the paint and shooting 57.5 percent.

LaMarcus Aldridge struggled from the field in the first half, going just 1-of-10. He finished with 21 points.

Randolph’s layup midway through the third put the Grizzlies up 70-56.

“I’ve got to give credit to Memphis, they definitely forced us into some tough shots,” Aldridge said. “I was watching film from the first half: Every time I took a shot, they had a guy right there, and sometimes three guys. They have some defensive goals, and it’s tough.”

Afflalo returned to the Blazers after missing the first two games of the series with a right shoulder strain. After coming to the Blazers via a trade with Denver at the deadline, Afflalo was a key contributor when starter Wesley Matthews ruptured his Achilles in March and was lost for the season.

 

Blazers look for Game 1 response

Portland's 100-86 loss is vastly different from last season
April 19, 2015 / espn.com

MEMPHIS -- After a thorough thrashing, during which his team was smoked like some of the tasty barbecue that the locals here do so well, Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts was asked if there was anything -- anything at all -- he could take from Sunday that was even slightly positive.

“I’m sure I’ll find something,” he said with a smirk after his team’s 100-86 loss in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedEx Forum.

With that, his news conference ended, but his final words left their mark.

Any positives were hard to find for the Trail Blazers -- almost impossible, really, with Game 2 set for Wednesday.

“We got our ass kicked,” said Trail Blazers star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored a game-high 32 points on 13-of-34 shooting, his most ever field goal attempts in any regular-season or postseason game.

Forward Nicolas Batum found an interesting way to look at the glass as half-full.

“Nothing can be worse than that,” Batum said after scoring 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting. “That’s the only positive thing tonight.”

Trail Blazers star guard Damian Lillard, who had an abysmal night with 14 points on 5-of-21 shooting, said his team wasn’t terrible in every aspect.

“I don’t really feel like we laid an egg,” Lillard said. “The effort was there. I think we were locked in to everything that we went over on film, and they made shots.”

“Beno Udrih comes in and gets 20 [points] off us chasing him on pick-and-rolls and he’s knocking down shots,” Lillard said. “I think three or four of them, he double-pumped, made pull-up jumpers. Like I said, I think we did a good job for the most part staying with it defensively, but when they started making shots, we didn’t make shots, and you can’t win that way.”

Udrih was the star of the game. He made his first six shots, made 9 of 14 overall, and tallied a playoff career high in points while adding seven assists and seven rebounds.

“We might have let Beno get too many midrange shots,” Lillard said. “We know he’s probably the best in the league at that.”

Then Lillard reverted back to the Trail Blazers’ defense, which he said was solid.

“We covered the way we wanted to cover,” he said. “Some of the finishes that they made inside were tough. Some of the pull-ups were tough. They just outplayed us, period.”

Other Lopez leads Nets win

Portland's one-day road trip to Brooklyn ends with a loss
April 6, 2015 / Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Brook Lopez doesn’t speak to his twin brother on the court. Hadn’t spoken to him at all since a late-night McDonald’s run the night before.

His play did all the talking Monday.

He dominated Robin Lopez and the short-handed Portland frontcourt with 32 points and nine rebounds, and the Brooklyn Nets beat the Trail Blazers 106-96 in the only game on the NBA schedule.

Robin Lopez joked before the game that his brother was a “crappy center.”

“Well, it might have been a fluke,” Brook Lopez said.

No way. The two-time Eastern Conference player of the week is doing it regularly now that he’s back fully healthy again.

“He’s a stubborn guy,” Robin Lopez said. “No matter what people say about him, no matter what happens, he’s just going to stick with what he knows how to do. That’s what he’s been doing.”

The Trail Blazers left LaMarcus Aldridge and others home for the makeup of a game that was postponed by weather on Jan. 26 and couldn’t stop Brook Lopez, who shot 15 for 25 from the field.

Deron Williams added 24 points and 10 assists for the Nets, who strengthened their hold on seventh place in the Eastern Conference by winning for the ninth time in 11 games. Thaddeus Young scored 20 points as Brooklyn moved a game ahead of eighth-place Boston and two up on ninth-place Indiana and Miami.

“We’re trying to close the door on those other teams and the only way you can do that is by winning,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins said.

Damian Lillard scored 36 points for the Trail Blazers, who had won two in a row. Meyers Leonard had 17 points and 15 rebounds, while Robin Lopez had just eight points and seven boards.

Besides Aldridge, Portland was without forward Nicolas Batum and backup center Chris Kaman. With a five-hour flight Sunday just to turn around and fly back after the game Monday, Blazers coach Terry Stotts opted to let the players stay behind and rest some injuries before they host Minnesota on Wednesday.

Lillard made six 3-pointers but had only two assists.

“I didn’t put any pressure on myself but I knew that without LA, Nico and Kaman, I would have to probably raise the level of my play and try to do a little bit more,” he said.

The Blazers cut a 22-point deficit to six in the fourth quarter before the Nets pulled away again. Portland, guaranteed a top-four seed as the Northwest Division champion, isn’t assured of home-court advantage, which is determined solely by record.

The originally scheduled game was called off when New York was hit with snow, though not nearly enough to live up to the blizzard predictions.

Both coaches downplayed the inconvenience of the one-game, cross-country return trip, and in fact both said they had already done it. Stotts was an assistant to George Karl in Seattle when the SuperSonics had to play an April makeup in New York in 1996, while Hollins was a player in Portland in 1978 when the Blazers couldn’t get to a game in New York because of weather and had to return later.

The Nets outscored the Blazers 32-12 in the second quarter, limiting Portland to 4-of-18 shooting, and expanded their lead to 22 points in the third quarter. They won their season-high fifth straight at home and have won 11 of 14 overall.

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