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Trail Blazers Down Sixers For 11th-Straight Home Opener Victory

12/26/11
  1. Written by: trailblazers

    LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points and seven rebounds and the Portland Trail Blazers opened their season in front of 20,509 fans with an 107-103 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night.

    “I definitely felt confident," said Aldridge, who is just over a week removed from undergoing a minor heart procedure. "I wasn’t trying to take all those shots but the ball kept finding me and I was always open. I think I definitely felt good the whole game, I just couldn’t make a shot in the fourth quarter. But I think overall, I felt good tonight.”

    "We want to play through (Aldridge)," said head coach Nate McMillan. "We want him to get deep in the post and play through him. I thought he established that early in the game.”

    Gerald Wallace added 21 points and nine rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who let an early lead slip away but regained the upper hand in the second half by going small and picking up the pace. Wesley Mathews added 16 points.

    "Tonight was about trying to figure out the rotation and look at the combinations," said McMillan.

    Reserve Lou Williams had 12 of his 25 points in the second quarter and two clutch 3-pointers at the end for the Sixers, who open the season with a five-game road trip. Andre Igoudala had 22 points and eight rebounds. The Sixers shot 48 percent from the field, but the Trail Blazers took 97 shots to Philadelphia's 83.

    The 76ers got within 72-70 on Elton Brand's jumper near the end of the third, but the Blazers got a spark from their small lineup, sliding Aldridge and Wallace to center and power forward and picking up the pace. Jamal Crawford, Wallace, Matthews and Nicolas Batum all hit 3-pointers to put the Blazers up 95-80.

    The Sixers weren't dead, though. Williams scored 10 straight for Philly, including back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the lead to 106-103 with 16 second remaining. The game wasn't over until Igoudala missed a 3-pointer and Raymond Felton made one of two free throws to ice it.

    “I thought we did a good job to control that game for the most part," said McMillan. "They started to make some shots late. We needed to finish and execute down the stretch, make some free throws, and we did that. You’re going to be in games like that. There’s a lot of room for improvement for us but we got this win and it’s better to win off of a win than a loss.”

    Philadelphia overcame a 3-13 start last year to finish 41-41. The Sixers lost to Miami in the first round of the playoffs last season. Leading scorer Igoudala returned despite rumors that he might be traded.

    The Trail Blazers went 48-34 last season and were bounced in the first round of the playoffs by Dallas. After losing Roy, the Blazers strengthened their team by signing veterans Kurt Thomas and Crawford, who finished with 12 points, 4 rebound and 4 assists in 22 minutes.

    “(Crawford) was big because our second unit was kind of stagnant for a while and he kind of got them going," said Aldridge. "He started getting to the basket, started making plays and started getting guys involved. He got guys easy shots and that was big for us tonight.”

    The Trail Blazers get right back to it, hosting the Sacramento Kings (1-0)
    Tuesday at the Rose Garden. Tipoff is schedule for 7 PM.

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