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

Aldridge, Miller Pave Way For Trail Blazer Win

02/09/11
  1. Written by: Grant Lucas  / avg. rating: 5.0

    For the third time in three weeks, LaMarcus Aldridge has set a career high in points, this time with 42, as the Portland Trail Blazers (28-24) sealed a 109-103 win against the Chicago Bulls (34-16). "It was a gut check for our group tonight," Head Coach Nate McMillan said. "Again, being short-handed with Dante (Cunningham) not being able to go, we had to step in and play some different roles.

    "{Aldridge} was great," he said. "Going up against Boozer tonight, we started on him defensively. I thought he was patient in the post, making good decisions. We did some good things against Cleveland and I thought that carried over into tonight's game with our spacing and our ball movement."

    Along with 42 points, Aldridge also pulled in eight rebounds, becoming the first Trail Blazer to put up at least 40 points in back-to-back home games since Clyde Drexler did it in 1989.

    "It was fun," Aldridge said. "We came out, played with confidence. I think early, we had a really, really good start as far as offensively executing. I thought we started a little slow defensively, but we picked it up as the game went along."

    Helping out the cause was Andre Miller tallied a season-high 27 points and 11 assists, as well as recording six boards and four steals. Rudy Fernandez finished with 18 points off the bench, and Nicolas Batum rounded out the double-digit scoring with 12 points.

    "We put the game in slow motion for us," Miller said. "We didn't hurry it up. That's one of the better defensive teams as far as rebounding and just defensive field goal percentage so we found ways to mix it up getting to the basket - transition and the three-point game, we didn't have to do that too much. When we're able to get to the free throw line 40 times, it helps."

    The Trail Blazers never dipped below 50 percent shooting in the game, ending with a 51.5 percentage, as well as hitting 37 out of 40 free throw attempts.

    The Trail Blazers seized control of the game in the second half and never gave up the lead, as Aldridge and Miller combined for 46 of Portland's 59 points in the closing quarters, with Aldridge pouring in 28.

    "'Dre, he's just a great decision maker," Aldridge said. "He was making his shots, he was giving me passes that were easy shots for me to make. So I think 'Dre made it happen for us tonight."

    For the Bulls, Derrick Rose led the way with 36 points and six assists, while Carlos Boozer chipped in with 17 points and 12 boards. Luol Deng and Kyle Korver added 15 and 14 points, respectively.

    Chicago shot nearly 50 percent from the floorand outscoredthe opposition 26-2 on second-chancepoints, but only four three-pointers found the bottom of the net on 16 tries while also committing 14 turnovers that were converted into 18 Trail Blazer points.

    "I think our offense is there, but defensively we're terrible right now," Rose said. "It seemed like we were just going point-for-point with them, especially at the beginning of the game. That's where it started, and it just continued throughout the whole game. It's hurting us right now, where a lack of communication and not bringing intensity to the defensive end is killing us."

    Batum tallied Portland's first four points of the game, but Chicago answered and capitalized on three-straight Trail Blazer turnovers, stringing six consecutive points to take the lead.

    With the shot clock winding down, Fernandez loaded up a three-ball and buried it to put the Trail Blazers ahead 22-20, as Portland received balanced production from its players. Chicago, on the other hand, saw Rose and Boozer total 18 of its 20 points with a little more than two minutes remaining in the quarter.

    Portland shot the lights out in the opening period, hitting 11 of 14 attempts, but the Trail Blazers committed six turnovers that resulted in eight Chicago points, as Portland led 28-26 after one quarter of play.

    The Bulls opened the ensuing period in a physical manner, muscling their way to the quarter's first nine points, capped off by a putback lay-in by Ronnie Brewer that propelled Chicago to a 35-28 advantage.

    Portland began to attack the basket and suffocate the Bulls on defense, storming back to grab a 46-45 edge thanks to a 12-4 rally that was polished off by a Batum lay-up.

    Aldridge tallied 14 points and two boards to lead the Trail Blazers, while Batum posted 12 points and four rebounds. Rose and Boozer led the way for Chicago with 15 and 13 points, respectively.

    Although the Bulls gave the ball away five times in the frame for six Trail Blazer points, they made up for it with a 12-0 advantage in second-chance points, as Chicago dominated the offensive glass, outrebounding Portland 9-1 in that department.

    While the Bulls struggled from the field, making just one of seven shots and missing all four three-point attempts, the Trail Blazers began to build a lead, stringing a 7-2 run together to lead 57-52.

    Aldridge accounted for nine of Portland's first 13 points, including a thunderous jam to increase the Trail Blazers' lead to 63-56 and force a timeout by Thibodeau.

    The third quarter continued to be the Aldridge and Miller show, as the two combined for the Trail Blazers' 19 points in the frame, emphasized by a Miller to Aldridge alley-oop that gave Portland a 69-62 advantage with a more than three minutes to go in the period. The two tallied 23 of Portland's 25 points, with Aldridge recording 15 points and five boards and Miller adding eight points to go along with three helpers.

    Chicago chipped away at the lead to end the period, as Rose's 10 points helped the Bulls remain within three points at 75-72 after three quarters.

    Portland kept earning trips to the charity stripe, as the Trail Blazers hit 11 free throws in a row to build a 91-83 advantage with a little more than five minutes remaining in the game.

    Rose kept the Bulls within striking distance, driving to the hole and powering a two-handed slam home to trim the deficit to four points.

    Chicago reached to within three, but the Trail Blazers began to pull away, as an Aldridge throw-down propelled Portland to a 98-91 lead with around two minutes remaining.

    Another Aldridge dunk put Portland ahead by seven, but after a timeout, Rose pocketed a three-pointer to cut the lead to four. On the other end, Aldridge nailed a fallaway jumper then stepped in front of a slashing Taj Gibson to take the charge and give Portland possession.

    Seven made free throws later, including a pair that reset Aldridge's career-high mark, and the Trail Blazers picked up their 28th victory of the season.

    "I think the last win was big for us, momentum wise," Aldridge said. "We watched film on that and we played great. We executed down the stretch. We got every shot that we wanted late in the game, I think that carried over for us tonight."

    Portland returns to the road later on this week, facing off against the Toronto Raptors (14-37) on Friday night.

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