Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE
After a slow start, the Portland Trail Blazers led the Chicago Bulls for the entire second half, holding off a late charge for another home win.
The Blazers were balanced tonight, with six players scoring in double digits: Damian Lillard (16), Nicolas Batum (21), LaMarcus Aldridge (18), Wesley Matthews (21), JJ Hickson (10), and tonight's super-sub, Ronnie Price (10).
First quarter: Despite a lack of Blazer inside defense, the Bulls weren't able to pull away. Until late. With the rookies entering the game early, the Bulls quickly took advantage, pressuring the rooks into unforced errors and taking advantage, leading by 7 after one.
Second quarter: The Blazer bench struck back. The Bulls bench struggled against improved defense, and Barton, Price and Aldridge helped give the Blazers the lead with 6 minutes left. They eventually pushed the lead to 8 points, and an impressive Lillard drive for a layup maintained that at halftime.
Third quarter: Another hot third quarter stretch from Batum gave the Blazers a double-digit lead for the first time at the start of the third. The lead reached 15 before Chicago crawled back in, and Portland's shots stopped falling. They cut the lead to 5 after three.
Fourth quarter: The Bulls cut the lead to 2 early in the fourth quarter, before the Blazers' D settled down, and they regained a 9 point lead on a Matthews three. While Carlos Boozer sat on the bench, the lead reached double digits with less than 6 minutes left. Nate Robinson and Chicago mounted another comeback with 4 minutes left. They cut the lead to 7 with 3 minutes left, but a key Matthews offensive rebound and layup held them at bay. An increasingly-desperate Bulls team tried a last ditch run, but Matthews again struck, hitting a three with 100 seconds left. Chicago then bullied the Blazers in the backcourt, forcing two late turnovers to close the gap, but it was too late.
The next game is Wednesday night in Phoenix. Stay tuned later for Dave and Ben! -- Tim
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|Portland Trail Blazers||23||28||22||29||102|