Trail Blazers vs Pacers Friday, 02/04/11 AT 04:00PM

Fernandez Hits 19, But Pacers Drill Home Win

  1. Written by: ShalamarClark  / avg. rating: 4.0

    Danny Granger snapped the Indiana Pacers’ five-game losing streak to the Portland Trial Blazers that spanned over two seasons after scoring 25 points, nine rebounds and hit 9-10 from the free-throw in Friday’s 100-87 showdown at Conseco Fieldhouse.

    The Trail Blazers had not lost against the Pacers since Feb. 9, 2008, but in the Friday night matchup, Indiana hot shooting kept them ahead of the pack to end the series split 1-1. 

    Rudy Fernandez scored a team-high 19 points off the bench for Portland, nailed two 3-pointers and dished five assists as the Trail Blazers dropped their second straight game on the road.

    “We have to play hard every minute,” said Fernandez. “Today Indiana was playing aggressive and going to the basket.  They shot a lot of free throws because they were aggressive to the basket.”  

    What’s more daunting for Portland is the significance of the loss. After entering the contest a half a game ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies in the eight spot in the Western Conference, the Trail Blazers have now slipped to the ninth seed, which is outside of playoff contention.

    “Teams have been the aggressors,” said Trail Blazer Head Coach Nate McMillan. “We haven’t showed that sense of urgency until we get ourselves down by a margin. You can’t play that way.”

    The Trail Blazers (26-24) just couldn’t surpass the Pacers (20-27), who shot 40 percent from the floor, especially without LaMarcus Aldridge, who fouled out of the game with 9:53 remaining in the final period.

    Aldridge, who scored a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, picked up his fifth and sixth foul on an offensive and shooting charge early in the fourth as the Trail Blazers looked for a fourth-quarter comeback down 14.  

    “If they take me out of the game at that time the game’s pretty much over,” said Aldridge of his late foul calls. “We are not playing with confidence right now. We need to play with more energy, especially on the defensive end. Guys are thinking too much, rather than just playing.”  

    Two other Portland players ended with a 14-point mark–Nicolas Batum recorded 14, four rebounds and shot 4-of-4 from the line, and Andre Miller posted 14 points, four rebounds and three assists to end the game shooting 36 percent from the field. 

    Roy Hibbert scored 15 points and six rebounds, while Tyler Hansbrough boosted Indiana’s reserve production with 13 points and eight rebounds as the Pacers reached their longest streak of the season with three games. 

    Hansbrough also went 11-of-12 from the stripe help Indiana complete 33-of-43 free throws,  a season-high in makes and attempts by a Portland opponent, while the Trail Blazers shot 18-of-22 from the line.

    “We kept them on their heels with our aggressiveness and hard play,” said Hansbrough. “And when Aldridge (LaMarcus) fouled out it really gave us a lift.”  

    Indiana had all the answers to any kind of run Portland could muster up. After going 5-of-17 to trail 24-15 in the first quarter, Fernandez contributed seven points in the period and hit one from long to ignite a 12-5 run to trail 32-25 going in the second.

    The Pacers would go on an 8-2 run to push their margin 40-27 to open the period. Fernandez struck again, finding five more points and connecting from three-range for a 15-2 run to tie up the game at 42-42. 

    However, Granger responded with a three-ball. 

    Miller gave Portland its first and only lead of the game, 48-46 with 3:45 before halftime, after attacking the rim and scoring an easy lay-in. The Pacers would match Miller’s bucket and then add some to go into the half with a 60-54 edge.

    “It’s tough to compete with—scoring off turnovers, transition baskets and freebies from the free throw line,” said Miller.

    The whistles were not kind to the Trail Blazers all night, ending the first half with a 15-8 margin in fouls and finishing with nine more calls, 29-20. Portland was also outshustled on the board 58-39, the most given up this season, along with 44 defensive boards hauled in by the Pacers.

    Miller gave Portland some confidence after maneuvering for six straight buckets to cut a 13-point deficit down to nine in the third. However, the Trail Blazers couldn’t cool down Indiana’s sharp shooting, which stretched its lead to 14 points heading into the last quarter.

    “We have to learn from it,” said Fernandez. “Forget this game and play hard tomorrow.”

    Portland will try to grab its first win on this three-game trip when it competes in a back-to-back in Cleveland on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:30 PM.

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