Trail Blazers vs Sixers Saturday, 03/19/11 AT 07:00PM

Lucky Number Three In Portland

03/19/11
  1. Written by: ShalamarClark  / avg. rating: 4.8

    The Portland Trail Blazers’ streak goes on to three.

    After crushing the Cleveland Cavaliers by 41 points on Thursday, Wesley Matthews torched the Philadelphia 76ers from long distance for 28 points and Gerald Wallace got dirty for 25 in Saturday’s 110-101 victory.    

    Matthews, who shot 9-of-15 from the floor, connected on six 3-pointers with five coming in the first quarter and ended the opening period perfect from the field, 6-of-6, as the Trail Blazers (40-29) split the series 1-1 for the second consecutive year.

    Matthews, who’s tied for fifth place in threes this season with 136, became the first Trail Blazer to hit at least three 3-pointers in his last five games since Damon Stoudamire did it in February of 2005.

    Gerald Wallace made 8-of-12 of his shots, including two deep balls, and recorded a season-high eight assists, six rebounds and four steals as he turned up the defensive pressure in the final quarter.

    “He made big plays down the stretch,” said Trail Blazer Head Coach Nate McMillan. “He was in the right place at the right time. He does a good job playing off of guys.”

    Lou Williams scored a team-high 24 points and added four assists, while Thaddeus Young finished with 19 points and six rebounds as the Sixers (36-34) shot 50 percent from the floor.

    Portland, which shot 51.4 percent from the field and made 25-of-29 free throws, went into the fourth with 87-83 lead, when Elton Brand, who had 10 points and nine rebounds, scored Philadelphia’s first six points pull within three. 

    The Trail Blazers clamped down on defense, holding the Sixers scoreless for four minutes after they missed six straight shots.

    “We wanted to pressure,” said McMillan. “Even though they had speed, we wanted to extend our defense and get Nicolas up there, and get our shadow going with Wallace taking the ball out of certain guys’ hands.”

    Wallace hooked up with Matthews on two steals after ripping the ball from Brand for a fastbreak bucket. He also picked Young and dove to the floor for the loose ball, dishing to Matthews for the 101-89 edge with 5:12 left as fans yelled for “Chalupas.” 

    Matthew scored on a lay-in and a pair of free throws and Wallace dropped in a three to cap Portland’s 13-3 run for the win. 

    “That’s what it’s all about,” said McMillan. “You’ve got to lock down, you’ve got to tighten up defensively, and you’ve got to make plays both ways.”

    The Trial Blazers also got good production from LaMarcus Aldridge, 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and Nicolas Batum, who had 16 points, two rebounds and two assists. 

    “He’s good,” said Aldridge of Wallace’s performance. “That’s what he does–he gets to the basket and gets fouled. He’s like that dirty player. He takes everything, he bumps into guys, and he finishes well. I thought he was huge for us.”

    The Trail Blazers went on an 8-0 run after Batum drained a three and Wallace converted a 3-point play for the 83-73 advantage.

    Philadelphia pulled within four after William’s three slimed the gap 87-83 with 35.7 seconds in the third. 

    Jodie Meeks and Andres Nocioni also finished with 17 and 10 points respectively for the Sixers, who outscored Portland' bench 49-14.  

    Wallace got busy for 11 points in the second quarter and nailed a three-ball to keep Portland on top after two quarters. Williams also scored 11 in the period.

    Matthews’ sixth three from the corner boosted a 10-point lead before going into the halftime up 62-54. Matthews led Portland with 20 points and three rebounds. 

    “Offensively, another good night moving the ball,” said McMillan. “Twenty-nine assists against and the guys are just sharing the ball.”

    Matthews hit 6-of-6 from the floor and made five threes in the first for the second time since Jan. 1, against Minnesota. Aldridge scored 11 as Portland completed 61.9 percent of its shots in the opening quarter.

    Andre Miller, who finished with nine points, seven assists and six rebounds, returned to Portland in time for tipoff after leaving the city to handle a family situation.  

    The Trail Blazers will swing to Los Angeles in a back-to-back and look to get their first win against the Lakers this season. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 PM. 

    “Tomorrow night we know it’s going to be a tough one,” said McMillan. “We had an opportunity to beat them here. They’re the defending champions so we know it’s going to be a tough challenge.”

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