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Late Defense Helps Blazers End 3 Game Skid

Posted By Brandon Marcus On Jan 16 2011 @ 2:07 am In Portland Trail Blazers | No Comments

The Blazers held the Nets to just 13 points in the fourth quarter to end their three game losing streak on Saturday night at the Rose Garden. Wes Matthews didn’t get much done offensively in this one, but his defense down the stretch was key in allowing the Blazers to pull away late for the 96-89 victory.

The Nets came out with more energy and dictated the pace early, opening up as much as a 13 point lead in the second quarter in front of an agitated Rose Garden crowd. The Nets shot 60% from the floor in the first half, led by 18 from Brook Lopez, whose wingspan gave the Blazers issues in the paint. However Nic Batum kept them in it with nine second quarter points, and the Blazers trimmed the margin to seven at half.

Portland came out of the break and started to take control on the defensive end. A left corner three by Wes Matthews capped a 17-0 run to give the Blazers a 63-55 lead, however the Nets responded quickly with a 19-4 run of their own, and a that point you could hear some faint boos from the Blazer faithful.

The crowd finally came alive in the fourth when Aldridge took a backdoor lob from Camby for a dunk that gave the Blazers an 84-83 lead. Sasha Vujacic followed two missed free throws by Aldridge with a 20 footer jumper to put the Nets in front by one with 4:19 left, but that would be their last taste of the lead. As they have all season, Portland relied on their length to create second chance points, grabbing another 17 offensive rebounds in this one. Off a Nic Batum miss, Marcus Camby tipped the rebound directly to a wide open Aldridge under the hoop for an easy dunk, giving the Blazers the 88-87 lead. Wesley Matthews would take over from there.

On the next possession Aldridge tipped the ball out of Brook Lopez’s hands and Matthews scooped it up, driving in for a layup to stretch the lead to 92-87. Portland forced six New Jersey turnovers in the fourth, three of them by Matthews, whose on the ball defense smothered the Nets guards down the stretch. He took a charge on Devin Harris with 30 seconds left to put the finishing touches on the victory that snapped a 3 game skid.

Brook Lopez had 32 points for the Nets, but the Blazers did a good job of pushing him out of the paint in the fourth, holding him to just 4 points in the final quarter. Lopez finished with just 3 rebounds.

The Blazers held the Nets to just 36 points on 39% shooting in the second half. It didn’t look like a big night for LA, but he led the way again with 27 points and 9 rebounds, and did a good job of passing out of the double team with five assists. It was another stellar performance by Nic Batum as well, who scored 23 points on 9-15 shooting. Andre Miller added 19 points and 8 assists, including 3 free throws in the final minute to seal the game.

Rudy Fernandez continúes to struggle with his shot, going just 1-7 in 21 minutes.  This was the 10th consecutive game he’s shot 40% or less from the floor, and the Blazers simply must get more scoring out of him off the bench.

This game was the first in a stretch of six out of seven games at home for Portland, who will welcome the Wolves in on Monday night.

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