Blazers come through with another loss

Playoff hopes all-but-extinguished after falling at Milwaukee
April 7, 2012

With a chance to move a game closer to eighth place in the Western Conference, the Portland Trail Blazers ran into a team that's had it's number this season - the Milwaukee Bucks.

A night after beating Dallas in overtime on a last-second shot, the Blazers fell at Milwaukee 116-94, snapping a rare two-game sin streak.

LaMarcus Aldridge, whose jumper at the end of overtime beat Dallas, had 21 points to lead the Blazers, and Raymond Felton added 10 points and 10 assists, but only one player besides Aldridge scored 14 points or more - Wesley Matthews, who had 14.

Portland got outscored 62-31 after heading to the lockerroom at the half with a 63-54 lead.

Milwaukee shot 50 percent from the field for the game, and had a 49-33 edge in rebounds and 31-20 edge in assists. The Bucks continue to chase New York for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

Portland plays host to Houston, Golden State and Dallas beginning Monday night.

Blazers, Aldridge finally come through in the clutch

LaMarcus hits a shot at the buzzer to beat Dallas in overtime
April 6, 2012

The Portland Trail Blazers finally put together a two-game win streak and LaMarcus Aldridge finally hit a game-winning shot - all at the same time Friday night.

With the game tied and headed to a second overtime, Aldridge connected on a 17-foot jump shot at the buzzer to beat the reigning NBA champions 108-106 in Dallas, where they lost in double overtime Feb. 11.

Aldridge finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds to support Raymond Felton's big night - 30 points on 12-of-18 shooting from the field. Felton also had seven rebounds and six assists.

Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 23 points and 14 rebounds.

Portland's win continued its slim hopes of reaching the playoffs, improving the team's record to 27-29 to remain 3.5 games behind Denver for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference with 10 games remaining.

The Blazers are at Memphis Saturday and then at home against Sacramento Tuesday. Dallas plays at Portland Friday.



Portland survives return of Wallace with late run

Blazers keep slim playoff hopes alive with 101-88 victory
April 4, 2012

After blowing a 14-point lead, the Portland Trail Blazers rallied with a 17-3 run to close out a 101-88 win over the New Jersey Nets Wednesday at the Rose Garden.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds, and Raymond Felton dished out nine assists as the Blazers continued their trend of not putting wins or losses together.

Portland has altered wins and losses since March 20, and hasn't won consecutive games since Jan. 23, 24 when it beat Sacramento and Memphis, respectively, and sat at 11-7.

The Blazers, who lost to Utah on Monday, are 6-6 under interim coach Caleb Kanales.

Gerald Wallace, traded to New Jersey in mid-season, had eight points and nine rebounds in his return to the Rose Garden.

Portland improved to 26-29 and is 3.5 games from a playoff spot with 11 games remaining. To finish five games above .500, which the eighth-place team in the West is likely to need, the Blazers would have to close the season with 10 wins in their remaining 11 games.

Portland plays at Dallas and then at Milwaukee Friday and Saturday, respectively. It has another game with Dallas and a game at conference-title contender San Antonio in the final week of the season.

Blazers lose yet another close game

Utah survives a Portland rally to win 102-97 at the Rose Garden
April 2, 2012

In a game of wild swings, the Portland Trail Blazers settled into a familiar role with the Utah Jazz Monday night - they lost by a narrow margin.

Portland lost the first of three meetings with the Jazz 102-97 at the Rose Garden, basically ending any hope the team had of reaching the NBA Playoffs for a fourth straight year.

The Blazers rallied from a 94-87 deficit with a 10-0 run to take a 97-94 lead with 2:34 left, but then didn't score again and lost for the 12th time in 16 games that were decided by five points or less this season.

Wesley Matthews scored a game-high 33 points for the Blazers, but Paul Millsap had 31 points, including a dunk with 20 seconds left set up by a steal from Jamaal Tinsley on an inbounds play by the Blazers, who were trailing 98-98 and inbounding the ball.

After a 3-point miss by Nicolas Batum, Utah added a pair of free throws for the final score and improved to 28-26 overall, while the Blazers fell to 25-29.

Had the Blazers won, they would have moved within a game of the Jazz and stayed three games from a playoff spot. Instead, they're four games behind Houston, which won at Chicago Monday.

LaMarcus Aldridge added 27 points and 7 rebounds for the Blazers, who got just 4 points and 5 rebounds from J.J. Hickson in a reserve role, a night after he had 15 points and 9 rebounds in a starting role.

Portland led by as many as 14 in the first half, but then trailed by as many as 11 in the third quarter.

The Blazers play host to New Jersey (19-35), which has won three straight games.

Aldridge returns and leads the way past Love

Portland beats Minnesota, 119-106, keeps slim playoff hopes alive
April 1, 2012

Minnesota might have evolved into a playoff-contenter during the 2011-12 season, but the Timberwolves haven't yet surpassed the Blazers, who've been to the playoffs the past three seasons.

Neither team is likely to qualify this season, but the Blazers at least kept themselves ahead of the T-Wolves Sunday night with a 119-106 win in a duel between the teams at the Rose Garden.

LaMarcus Aldridge returned from sitting out Friday's loss at the LA Clippers to score 26 points and grab eight rebounds for Portland, which moved to 25-28 and a half-game ahead of Minnesota, 25-29, which has lost eight of its last 10 games.

The Blazers pulled within three games of Houston, 28-25, for the eighth-and-final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Utah, 27-26, and Phoenix, 26-26, are also in the playoff hunt as the season heads to its final three weeks.

Nicolas Batum added 24 points and five rebounds for Portland, which shot 52 percent from the field and survived an 11-point disadvantage at the free-throw-line with a 22-16 edge in assists, including 11 from point guard Raymond Felton.

Recent acquisition J.J. Hickson started his first game at forward and came through with 15 points and nine rebounds. Using the league's new +/- ratings system, Hickson had a +24 while on the court.

Kevin Love had 26 points to lead Minnesota.

The Blazers begin the final 13-game run with home games with Utah Monday and New Jersey Wednesday, needing to finish with nine or even 10 wins to have a legitimate shot at reaching the playoffs.



Late score gives Clippers win over Blazers

Hickson's 29-pount outburst can't stop 98-97 loss for Portland
March 30, 2012

J. J. Hickson showed off some of his long-term potential for the Portland Trail Blazers Friday night.

But, the team still lost.

Chris Paul made a driving lay-up with five seconds left, and Wesley Matthews missed one in the final second to give the Los Angeles Clippers a 98-97 win over the Blazers at the Staples Center.

Hickson, picked up off waivers just two weeks ago by the Blazers, scored a game-high 29 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to help take the place of All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, who missed the game with an injured left elbow.

Portland's loss all-but assured the team will miss the playoffs for the first time in four seasons.

The Blazers fell to 24-28 and are four games behind Houston and Denver, both 28-24, for one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference. For the Blazers to reach the playoffs, they'll likely have to win 12 of their final 14 games to finish six game above .500, and leapfrog three other teams: Utah, Phoenix and Minnesota, in the process.

Portland dropped to 3-12 in games decided by 10 points or less this season.

Paul, Blake Griffin and Randy Foye scored 20 points each for LA, which won its fourth-straight game and improved to 30-21. The Clippers are in fourth in the West, but just a game behind the LA Lakers in the battle for the Pacific Division title.

Hickson's play Friday put him at 16.0 points per game for the five games he's played with the Blazers since being picked up from the Sacramento Kings, where he averaged 4.7 points per game in 35 games. The Kings acquired him from the Cleveland Cavaliers, who drafted him No. 19 overall in 2008 from North Carolina State. He averaged 13.8 points per game before moving the Sacramento.


Blazers get back to .500 under Canales

Aldridge leads 99-93 win over New Orleans in Garden
March 29, 2012

The season's playoff hopes continue to hang by a thread with every win for the Portland Trail Blazers in the hyper-competitive Western Conference, which showed itself again Thursday night.

Behind a 25-point, 12-rebound outing by All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, the Blazers beat New Orleans 99-93, which improved the team to 4-4 under interim coach Kaleb Canales and kept it just three games from seventh place with 15 games remaining in the regular season.

Wesley Matthews had 18 points and Luke Babbitt, getting more playing time since coach Nate McMillan was dismissed two weeks ago, had a career-high 16 points as Portland improved to 24-27 overall.

Portland outscored the Hornets 9-3 in the final 90 seconds.

The Blazers play at the Los Angeles Cllippers, 29-21, Friday night.




Thunder keeps up bad weather in Garden

Portland's rally falls short in 109-95 loss to Oklahoma City
March 27, 2012

Oklahoma City rolled through Portland again in an NBA game Tuesday night, although not with the controversy as last time.

The Thunder got 32 points and 8 assists from Russell Westbrook and powered through the Blazers 109-95 at the Rose Garden.

Portland got an impressive 21 points from newly-acquired J.J. Hickson and 20 points from LaMarcus Aldridge, but lost to the Thunder for the third time in their four-game season series.

The Blazers, the NBA ruled, actually should have won the last game between the teams - Feb., 6 when a last-second shot block was ruled goaltending then reversed the next day, after the call had allowed OKC to tie the game and then win in overtime.

Since then, the Blazers have altered much of their line-up and fired coach Nate McMillan, while the Thunder continue to lead the Western Conference.

Oklahoma City, which plays at the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, built an 18-point lead at halftime, which the Blazers cut to five before the Thunder rolled to another smooth win.

Portland trailed 65-47 at the half, but rallied to within 77-72 in the third quarter.

The Thunder, 38-12 overall, outshot the Blazers, 23-27, from the field in percentage points - 57-43.

Portland plays host to New Orleans Thursday.


Gritty Blazers narrowly miss upset in Los Angeles

Aldridge goes for 29 in 103-96 loss to the Lakers
March 23, 2012

With the public expecting regular blowouts, the Portland Trail Blazers continued to show the side of their game that's been lost the past two months, even though they didn't win Friday night.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds and the Blazers' bench outscored the Lakers 34-14 during a 103-96 loss at the Staples Center.

Portland trailed just 87-86 with 5:00 left before the Lakers went on a 9-3 run to create a scoring cushion.

J.J. Hickson, acquired this week, scored 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field and had a pair of assists off the bench.

Ramon Sessions, recently acquired by the Lakers, went for 20 points and 11 rebounds in a starting role. Andrew Bynum led the Lakers with 28 points, while Pau Gasol helped the team to a 53-29 rebounding edge with 16.

The Blazers, 22-26, begin a three-game homestand Sunday at 6 p.m. against Golden State.


Blazers defend home court against Memphis

Portland rallied late to win second game under Canales, 97-93
March 22, 2012

Another 30-point blowout failed to appear Thursday night at the Rose Garden, being replaced instead by a pride-filled victory for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Nicolas Batum scored 24 points to lead the Blazers past Memphis, 97-93, getting the win by outscoring the Grizzlies 31-24 in the fourth quarter.

Jamal Crawford added 17 points and the Blazers went 25-for-25 at the free throw line, setting a season-best performance for the NBA.

The win moved the Blazers to 22-25 on the season and kept them within 3.5 games of a playoff berth. Interim coach Kaleb Canales improved to 2-2 on the season.

Marc Gasol scored 23 points to lead Memphis, which is tied for fifth in the super-competitive Western Conference playoff race. Six teams: Dallas, Memphis, the Los Angeles Clippers, Houston, Denver and Utah, are within 1.5 games of fourth place with the Jazz as the hottest of the group having won five straight to improve to 25-22.

Portland is behind Phoenix, 23-24, and Minnesota, 23-25, with 19 games remaining on the 66-game regular season schedule.

The Blazers play at the Los Angeles Lakers tonight, then begin a three-game homestand Sunday against the Golden State Warriors.


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