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Trail Blazers snap skid in Chicago

  1. Written by: KevinHudson  / avg. rating: 5.0

    One day after parting ways with coach Nate McMillan and trading Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby, the Portland Trail Blazers gave rookie NBA head coach Kaleb Canales his first victory, defeating the Chicago Bulls 100-89 Friday in front of 22,022 at the United Center.

    "I've been very blessed and fortunate to get this opportunity," Canales said. "This is a special time for us as a team and a family. What we talked about this morning and before the game was competing and playing together. Tonight the guys just got that done. I think when you're making baskets and playing together you control the moment."

    Portland (21-23) trailed 79-78 after three quarters, then started the final stanza with a 6-0 run to lead 84-79 with 8:42 to play.

    Chicago (36-10) pulled to within three points, 89-86, on CJ Watson's pull-up jumper with six minutes remaining but Portland would extend again, with back-to-back LaMarcus Aldridge buckets pushing the lead to seven points at 93-86.

    After a Luol Deng free throw, Wesley Matthews hit his fourth three-pointer of the contest to push the Trail Blazers lead to nine points, 96-87. Two Aldridge free throws and a Jamal Crawford jumper sealed the winning margin.

    Portland held Chicago to just 10 fourth-quarter points to earn its first victory of the season when trailing after three quarters.

    "Defense is in our DNA and you saw that out there tonight," Canales said. "We asked for (the players') commitment this morning. We asked them to compete and play together. They did that and now we are going to hold them to it for the rest of the season."

    Aldridge led the Trail Blazers with 21 points, followed by Matthews, who returned to the starting lineup with 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-5 from long range.

    "I just got the ball in the right spots," Matthews said. "We were playing with confidence out there. When you do that, it's just fun."

    Raymond Felton added 16 points and a game-high five assists for Portland and Nicolas Batum scored 15 points while grabbing a team-high nine rebounds.

    Canales' biggest departure from McMillan's coaching style was his penchant for playing the youngest Trail Blazers more minutes. The youth movement paid off, as Nolan Smith tallied 12 points in 17 minutes and Luke Babbit added eight points and four rebounds in 12 minutes off the Portland bench.

    All 10 Trail Blazers that were suited up played in the contest and nine scored as Portland's bench outscored the Chicago reserves 28-23.

    "It was just a great team effort all night. Someone stepped up each time down the stretch as we needed it. The odds were against us, but we played together," Crawford said. "It's started at our shoot around today. There was a different vibe there. Coach had a plan and a method which got us loose."

    The Bulls were led by Carlos Boozer, who logged the game's lone double-double with 22 points and 14 rebounds. Deng was next for Chicago with 19 points and Joakim Noah added 12 points and nine rebounds.
    Portland wraps up its 7-game road trip at the Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday, 6:30 p.m. The game can be seen locally on KGW (Channel 8) and nationally on ESPN. 750 AM The Game and NBA Audio League Pass will have the play-by-play call.

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