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Trail Blazers win secures season sweep of Hornets

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

    The Portland Trail Blazers defeated the New Orleans Hornets Thursday, 99-93, securing the Trail Blazers first season sweep of the Hornets since the 1989-90 season.  

    Portland (24-27) trailed 54-51 at halftime after a back-and-forth offensive battle over the first 24 minutes, then made its defensive stand coming out of the break, holding the Hornets to 16 third-quarter points while chalking up 25 to lead 76-70 headed into the game’s final stanza.  

    “We needed to play defense,” said Portland coach Kaleb Canales of his halftime message to the team. “They came out with a 27 point first, a 27 point second, so at halftime we talked about it in terms of we needed to stay committed to the defensive end of the floor.”  

    A JJ Hickson dunk and a Luke Babbitt three-pointer pushed the Trail Blazers lead to its widest margin at 11 points, two minutes into the fourth period.  

    From there New Orleans (13-38) pushed back, using a 17-6 run capped by a pair of Marco Belinelli triples to even the score at 87-87 with five minutes remaining.  

    LaMarcus Aldridge was the Trail Blazers solution yet again down the stretch, hitting three of Portland’s final five field goals, (long-range strikes from Raymond Felton and Nicolas Batum accounted for the other two), as the home team pulled away for the final margin.  

    Aldridge led the Trail Blazers with 25 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for his 12th double-double of the season. Felton notched the game’s only other double-double with 12 points and 10 assists while pilfering a team-high three steals.  

    "I thought LaMarcus had a great game,” Canales said. “He’s our all-star, he’s our go-to player down the stretch. The thing with LaMarcus is he’s growing and improving and he’s making basketball plays. His reads from the post- he just keeps getting better."

    Babbitt finished with a career-high 16 points off the Portland bench on 5-of-8 shooting, including a career-best four three pointers, as six Trail Blazers scored in double figures.  

    “That’s huge,” Batum said of Babbitt’s performance. “We know he’s a great shooter, so if he can come in on the court, he can spread the court for us. What he did tonight was great.”  

    Belinelli led all scorers with 27 points for the Hornets, including all seven of his team’s three-pointers, as the Italian guard went 7-of-11 from long range while the rest of the team went 0-for-2. Carl Landry was next with 24 points and seven rebounds.  

    Portland hits the road to complete its back-to-back against the Clippers in Los Angeles Friday, 7:30 p.m., at the Staples Center. The game can be seen locally on Comcast SportsNet and nationally on ESPN. 750 AM The Game and NBA Audio League Pass will have the play-by-play call.

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