Playing their fourth game in five nights, all on the road, the
Blazers opened a big lead in the third quarter and cruised to a
91-74 victory over the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. The Bulls
hadn't played since Monday.
Portland continued to enjoy the return of Aldridge, who produced
five points and 13 rebounds. He returned Thursday against Atlanta
after missing seven games with a back injury.
After going 4-9 over a 13-game stretch, the Blazers (47-27) are now
winners of two in a row.
"His presence on the court puts pressure on everyone," Portland
coach Terry Stotts said. "He does a lot more to help us win than
just his field-goal percentage. I liked his demeanor out there
tonight. When he rebounds, he is a force for us."
Guard Mo Williams led Portland with 18 points off the bench. Guard
Damien Lillard added 16, while forward Nicholas Batum and center
Robin Lopez scored 13 each, while Lopez added five blocks.
"Even if he (Aldridge) didn't have a big point night, he puts
pressure on everyone," Lopez said. "When he gets the ball on the
block, they have to double-team him. Everyone else benefits."
The Blazers' biggest advantage was in 3-point shooting. They knocked
down 10 of 22 attempts from long range, compared to 3-for-17 by the
"We were flat. They had something to do with it," Chicago coach Tom
Thibodeau said. "We didn't cover the line the way we needed to. It
just seemed like we were a step behind the play."
Portland was in good shape at halftime, leading 47-36, then turned
up the heat in the third quarter. In the first three minutes of the
second half, Batum hit a pair of 3-pointers, guard Wesley Matthews
hit one and the Blazers put together a 13-2 run in less than three
minutes of playing time.
When Aldridge added a layup, Portland led 62-38 with 7:56 remaining
in the third quarter and Chicago never got back in it.
"I'm really proud of the way we played tonight," Stotts said. "We
stayed locked in and our defense was solid. We didn't give up easy
baskets to them. It also helped that we came out in that third
quarter and made shots."
Forward Carlos Boozer led the Bulls (40-32) with 16 points and 12
rebounds after scoring 10 in the first quarter. Two other players
recorded double-doubles — forward Taj Gibson had 13 points and 10
rebounds, while center Joakim Noah finished with 11 points and 10
boards. Guard D.J. Augustin added 15 points for the Bulls, who shot
39.3 percent from the field.
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Chicago has now lost six in a row against Portland. The Blazers beat
the Bulls in Portland 98-95 back on Nov. 22, the night guard Derrick
Rose suffered torn cartilage in his right knee and was lost for the
The first quarter moved slowly, with a score of 9-6 until the
Blazers became the first side to hit double-figure points with 5:05
remaining. After taking an early 6-2 lead, the Bulls missed their
next seven shots and finished the first quarter going 8-for-23 from
the field (34.8 percent).
"I thought we got some good looks early on that didn't go down and
it sort of snowballed rom there," said Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy,
who went 1-for-9 from the field. "Just one of those nights, not our
best. Not our best, for sure."
Lillard's 3-pointer with 38.6 seconds left gave Portland its largest
lead of the first half at 11 points, which carried into
NOTES: Portland coach Terry Stotts did not give much thought to
sitting F LaMarcus Aldridge for the second of back-to-back games.
Aldridge returned Thursday from seven games off with a back injury
and delivered 25 points and 16 rebounds in 32 minutes at Atlanta.
"We evaluated him after the game," Stotts said before facing the
Bulls. "Then this morning, he's still sore, but we'll try to go with
the same plan we did last night." ... Heading into Friday's game,
Chicago G Kirk Hinrich had made a 3-point basket in 14 straight
games, his longest streak since 2007. ... Flying into Chicago early
Friday morning after playing in Atlanta, the Blazers apparently had
a rough landing. Play-by-play announcer Mike Barrett tweeted,
"There's new No. 1 on my personal list of scariest landings ever.
... That was no fun. Pilots earned their money in this wind." ...
Since Feb. 1, the Bulls' leading scorer has been F Taj Gibson (15.3
ppg), who did not average in double figures during his first four
years in the league.
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