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Trail Blazers Cruise To 92-74 Victory Over Raptors

12/10/12
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    LaMarcus Aldridge had a dominant performance against the Toronto Raptors (4-18), scoring 30 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, leading the Trail Blazers (9-12) to a 92-74 victory. Tonight, the Trail Blazers were without both Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews. JJ Hickson came up with a big performance of 16 points and 11 rebounds. Also, tonight was the first start of the season for Sasha Pavlovic (10 points, seven rebounds, five assists) and the first career NBA start for Victor Claver (four points, five rebounds, two steals).

    The first half of this game was as ugly as could be. With both teams dealing with injures, the game went at a crawling pace. The time went off the scoreboard very quickly but the points were not going in at all. Both teams scored under 20 points in the first half and it seemed like nobody on the court could get anything going. However, the Trail Blazers continued to dig in. The Raptors offense was having trouble already, but matters only got worse when Andrea Bargniani went out with an elbow injury in the first quarter.  Both teams shot at or near 35 percent for the quarter.

    With Batum and Matthews, arguably the team's two best perimeter defenders out, the Trail Blazers had to find away to help defend against the Raptors. Sasha Pavlovic drew the assignment on Toronto's leading scorer, DeMar DeRozan and made him work for every point.

    "I thought Sasha Pavlovic played a terrific game, defensively more than anything else. " Stotts said. "Sasha made DeRozan work for his points and I thought that was a key for us."

    Stotts, who has credited Pavlovic for his play since training camp, trusted in him to log big minutes (42) in a tough defensive assignment. DeRozan still had a good game statistically, going seven for 16 for 20 points, but none of those came easy.

    Stotts said that both Claver and Pavlovic were chosen because he wanted to play a young player and a veteran. Claver, who had been dealing with an elbow injury and many stints on the inactive list before that, was given the start after returning from his D-League stint with the Idaho Stampede. Stotts said that Claver "played the right way" in Idaho and even though Claver started 0 for 6 and only shot 2 of 12, he was active defensively and on the glass.  

    "Victor sees the game really well, I like the way he moves around," Stotts said. "I thought his shots were good shots, he just didn't make them. I don't think that had any impact on my opinion of how he played."

    "I knew I had to be prepared, because Nico and Wes were having their problems," Claver said. "I just tried to do what Coach is always asking of us; be intense, more than anything on defense. That's where you win minutes."

    Claver also said that his time in Idaho helped get him in a game rhythm after sitting so long with his injured elbow.

    Claver and Pavlovic were not the only ones to bring big contributions. Nolan Smith (11 points, three assists) started getting to the cup in the second quarter and so did Meyers Leonard (six points), including this slam on a lob from Smith. Damian Lillard (nine points, six assists, five rebounds) had a rough shooting night, as did most of the team, going two for 14, but the Trail Blazers were able to survive. Portland led by four at halftime.

    The third quarter was tight. However, the Raptors lost their starting point guard Kyle Lowry early in the third. Jose Calderon still managed to have a good game in Lowry's stead with 12 points and six assists. Also, Amir Johnson was thrown out of the game in the third quarter. With Johnson getting ejected and Bargniani out to injury, the Raptors' front line was decimated and Aldridge took advantage. Aldridge scored 10 of his 30 in the third quarter and seemed like he was the only Trail Blazer in an offensive rhythm for the entire night.

    The fourth quarter blew the game wide open. JJ Hickson started to find his offense as well as he scored seven of his 16 points in the final period including a couple of highlight dunks. Aldridge continued his fantastic second half, pouring in eight more. He scored 18 of his 30 points in the second half. As the game started to get away from the Raptors, Luke Babbitt provided the punctuation mark on the game with a slam over Toronto's Ed Davis.

    However, what was likely the most impressive thing about the Trail Blazers victory was that they did while setting a bizarre NBA record. The Trail Blazers broke the record for most attempted three-pointers (20) without a make and still somehow won by 18 points. Their 54-26 advantage in points in the paint had a great deal to do with that. With the Trail Blazers being a perimeter oriented team normally, Coach Stotts said he was "speechless," with regards to Portland's 28 point advantage in the paint. Also, the 74 points scored by the Raptors was an all-time low for an opponent against the Trail Blazers.

    "It was a good win. We dropped one against Sacramento that we didn't feel good about," Aldridge said. "We knew they were coming in on a long road trip, back-to-back, and they hadn't won much on the road so we wanted to come out early and try to take their life from them."

    Despite the poor perimeter shooting and the injures, the Trail Blazers stepped up to get a home win they badly needed. They now have a few days off before the best team in the Western Conference.

    The Trail Blazers next game is Thursday night against the San Antonio Spurs. That game will tip off at 7:30 and will be shown on TNT. It can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.

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