Trail Blazers vs Bulls Sunday, 11/18/12 AT 06:00PM

Portland Gets Third Straight Win, Defeating Bulls 102-94

11/21/12
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 4.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    A big fourth quarter from Wesley Matthews where he scored 10 of his 21 points helped the Trail Blazers (5-5) defeat the Chicago Bulls (5-5) 102-94 for their third consecutive victory. Matthews and Nicolas Batum led the Trail Blazers in scoring with 21 points apiece while LaMarcus Aldridge had a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds.

    The Trail Blazers played their best all-around game tonight. They had a very even point distribution and their bench played big minutes down the stretch and even scored some, too. Ronnie Price was the first Trail Blazers reserve to score in double-figures this season with 10 points as well as five assists in almost 20 minutes of action. Both totals were season-high's for bench players this year. Also, LaMarcus Aldridge answered the challenge on the glass against a very good rebounding front line in Chicago.

    "For the most part, that was probably one of our more complete games," said Terry Stotts. "I was kind of proud of the way we played a full game."

    Portland allowed the Bulls to get hot in the early going. Chicago shot over sixty percent in the first quarter en route to a 30 point quarter. Despite this, the Trail Blazers were only behind by seven as Aldridge got them off on the right foot off with nine points. That seven point lead would be Chicago's biggest.

    The second quarter was when the Trail Blazers made their run. After making a habit of storming their opponents in the third, Portland got on their opponents much earlier. Much of the reason for that was the solid play of Ronnie Price. He scored five points and had three assists in that second quarter as well as bringing the tenacious defense he always brings. Jared Jeffries continued to give Portland quality minutes off the bench, impacting the defense and the Trail Blazers held the Bulls to 13 points. It was the lowest amount of points Portland has given up this season in a quarter.

    "Those two guys, they've stayed in the league for a long time doing what they do," said Stotts about Price and Jeffries.

    "He was huge for us," said Damian Lillard about Price. "I got a lot of rest because he played well."

    The third quarter looked like it was going to be another lopsided one in favor of the Trail Blazers with Nicolas Batum starting the third quarters as he often does: on a tear offensively. Batum had nine points, all on three point shots, in the 5:02 of the third. Batum entered the game second in the league in three-pointers made and is the first Trail Blazer player to make at least 30 three-pointers in the first 10 games of the season since Cliff Robinson in 1995.

    "He busts out. He has a lot of confidence in taking those shots," said Stotts on Batum. "When he gets on a roll like he did against Houston, it's impressive. He can throw nine points up pretty quick."

    The Trail Blazers got the lead to as much as 15 points at the 8:29 mark of the third quarter but the Bulls are a team that never seems to go away and always plays hard. They did just that and they stayed in it. They buckled down defensively and started finding their offense. Richard Hamilton led them with seven points in the quarter but the man for Chicago tonight was Joakim Noah. Noah was, as he often is for the Bulls, their focal point offensively and he played a complete game to help bring the Bulls back. Noah finished the game two assists shy of a triple-double with 16 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists. He gave Portland trouble all night in the high-post, the low-post and on the defensive end, too. The Trail Blazers lead was only five going into the third quarter. Noah played what was probably his best game of this young season but tonight it wasn't enough.

    Ronnie Price, Sasha Pavlovic and Meyers Leonard were in the game to start the fourth with Aldridge and Matthews. After Meyers Leonard picked up his fourth foul, Stotts yanked him in favor of Jared Jeffries with 9:24 left. The Trail Blazers lead had dwindled to only two points but again, Jeffries came in and made a big difference on the defensive end and on the glass, even scoring, too. Jeffries had four points and three rebounds in the final period. His final stat line was four points and four rebounds. Price continued having a great game by scoring five points and getting 2 assists. Price's great play allowed Damian Lillard to rest until the 5:43 mark of the fourth quarter.  Pavlovic also had two steals in the final period. It was the best contribution all-around contribution Portland had gotten from their bench all season.

    Meanwhile, Wesley Matthews was getting loose from the three-point line and using that to get to the basket.  He hit what appeared to be a dagger three-pointer with 1:28 left to put Portland up by 12. It only appeared to be one because Portland made it interesting. The Bulls pressed and forced some turnovers cutting the Trail Blazers lead to as much as four points behind some hot shooting from Nate Robinson. Robinson had 13 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter but unfortunately for Chicago, he was the only one feeling anything offensively down the stretch. Portland made five of their six free-throws in the game's final 21.4 seconds to put the game out of reach for Chicago to complete their comeback.

    Portland has followed up four straight losses with three consecutive wins with this third one being their best performance.  Batum, Aldridge and Lillard put up gaudy numbers in their previous win but this game was won on both ends. In their previous win, they won with the youth and explosiveness of their stars, tonight they won with some shot making but mostly with their defense and the contributions of their veterans.  The game was completely different but thankfully for them, the result was the same. They scored over 100 points against one of the league's top defenses and held the Bulls to 38 percent shooting in the final period, holding them under 50 percent for the game.

    Portland has the next two days off and head to Phoenix on Wednesday night at 6PM where they will try for their fourth straight win. That game will be shown on CSNNW and can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.

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