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Portland snaps road losing streak in New Orleans

  1. Written by: KevinHudson

    The Portland Trail Blazers rallied from a nine-point third quarter deficit behind the hot shooting hand of Jamal Crawford to defeat the New Orleans Hornets 94-86 Friday, in front of 14,421 at New Orleans Arena.

    Crawford's 31 points were a season-high for the guard, who shot 10-of-16 from the field and added a game-high eight assists as Portland (15-12) won its first road game since Jan. 20, snapping a streak of four consecutive road losses.

    "We needed to get a win," said Portland coach Nate McMillan. "Sometimes it’s not about how you win, but the fact that you win."

    The contest was a low-scoring affair from the start, though New Orleans (4-23) got hot in the second quarter, hitting better than 52 percent of their shots to score 27 in the period. The Hornets stretched their lead to nine points with 4:48 left in the half on five consecutive points by forward Trevor Ariza, but the Trail Blazers would cut the gap to four, 46-42, by the break.

    Ariza led New Orleans with 23 points while grabbing a game-high nine rebounds and adding five assists and two steals. The Hornets were without the services of leading scorer Jarrett Jack, Chris Kaman, Carl Landry and Josh Smith, leaving coach Monty Williams with just 10 players suited up for the contest.

    The Hornets pushed their lead to nine points again after the break, when an Emeka Okafor dunk capped an 11-4 run that put the home team ahead 57-48 midway through the period.

    Three-pointers from Crawford, Raymond Felton and Nicolas Batum highlighted Portland's response, a 16-7 run that culminated in Crawford's running bank-shot in traffic. The resulting foul shot from Crawford capped the three-point play and drew the Trail Blazers level, 64-64, with 1:40 left in the period. 

    Crawford scored 20 of his 31 points in the second half; 10 in each of the final two periods.

    "It was a team effort...I was just playing my role. I was trying to spark the game from the bench," Crawford said. "I felt we just needed some energy. I just felt we were struggling scoring-wise and we shot from the perimeter and we needed to take the energy from them."

    The lead changed hands several times in the game's final stanza, and was tied 81-81 with 4:11 remaining. The ensuing 11-3 run by the Trail Blazers resulted in a 92-84 lead for Portland, it's largest of the game, with 22 seconds to play. The game-clinching run was comprised of a LaMarcus Aldridge jump shot and 9-of-10 from the charity stripe as the Trail Blazers cemented the final margin.

    "New Orleans played hard and they scrapped and played a good game." McMillan said. "We did the things we needed to do down the stretch. We had to work and execute. We did not rebound the ball well the first half. We had to rebound and get stops the second half, and we did that."

    Felton was 4-of-4 from the line during the late run and finished with 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the floor and 5-of-5 from the free throw line while dishing six assists.

    Aldridge and Wallace scored 14 points each for the Trail Blazers, the former adding seven rebounds and four assists while the latter notched six boards and three blocked shots.

    Batum contributed nine points and five rebounds off the bench as the Portland reserves outscored the New Orleans subs 42-30.

    Portland takes on the Dallas Mavericks Saturday, 5:30 p.m., to complete the back-to-back. The game can be seen locally on Comcast SportsNet (Comcast channel 37). 750 AM The Game and NBA Audio League Pass will have the play-by-play call.

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