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Final: Hornets Sting the Blazers, 98-96

Shortly after beating the NBA's top team, the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers lost to one of the worst, the short-handed New Orleans Hornets. Again.

Derick Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Blazers were led by JJ Hickson (14 points and rebounds), Wesley Matthews (24 points) and Damian Lillard (20 points, 8 assists). LaMarcus Aldridge (16 points on 6-14 shooting) struggled throughout the game. The Blazers were outhustled and outrebounded by New Orleans all night long.

First Quarter: Things started well, with the focused Blazers taking an 8-2 lead, but afterward they couldn't buy a bucket. After a few bad defensive plays, the Hornets led 9-8. Then things reversed again, as the Blazers took a 9 point lead on hot shooting... and yet again it reversed, as the Hornets scored the next 9 points to tie the game. Mercifully, the quarter ended afterward, still tied. Score: Tied at 22.

At least we scored more than last time in the 1st (14pts)
by Blazing Chargers

Second Quarter: The Hornets retook the lead, and as Lillard lowered his shoulder and drove, he collided and came up holding his arm. He seemed ok on the bench, but was removed from the game. And immediately, New Orleans took advantage. When their lead reached 8, the Blazers needed a timeout. They regained their focus afterward, but their inside defense struggled mightily, giving up repeated dunks. Down by 6, the Blazers brought Lillard back in. It didn't help, as the Hornets took a 9 point lead into the locker room. Score: Hornets 53, Blazers 44.

Why does Portland make the Spurs look like the Hornets and then make the Hornets look like the Spurs?
by El Undelador

Third Quarter: The Hornets lead quickly reached double-figures, but the Blazers finally stopped the damage. The defense picked up while New Orleans finally missed some shots, and slowly the Blazers crawled back into the game. New Orleans called timeout late in the quarter as their lead had fallen to two. Aldridge tied the game with two free throws afterward. But New Orleans outworked and outscored the Blazers by 7 points down the stretch to close the quarter strong. Score: Hornets 76, Blazers 69.

That's a whole lot of foot stomping for about 97 people in the stands. They must have a good PA system.
by Chuck Nevitt

Fourth Quarter: Eric Maynor and Matthews hit three-pointer to open the quarter, cutting the Hornets' lead to 3. They had a chance to get closer, but botched multiple possessions while New Orleans hit three straight three-pointers of their own. Within minutes, the lead was back up to 10. But Lillard took over again, shooting and passing through the Hornets defense to cut the lead back to 2. The teams traded three-pointers as the clock ticked under three minutes.

Down two, Matthews took a tough three for the lead... and it rattled in! However, New Orleans wasted no time regaining the lead. Batum swished a jumper with 75 seconds left to regain the lead. The Hornets missed a floater, giving the Blazers possession. But Batum missed a three, and the Hornets got a shot. They missed the shot, but got the rebound, and swung it around to Anderson for three. Swish. The Blazers, down by two, called timeout with 17 seconds left. Lillard and Aldridge played a two man game, but both players followed Aldridge, leaving Lillard open for three. Swish! The Blazers regained the lead by one. The Hornets drove to the hole, and Ryan Anderson was fouled while hitting a layup, giving New Orleans a 2 point lead with 1.8 seconds left.

The Blazers had one last shot to tie or win, but Matthews missed a jumper at the horn.

Box score | Portland Trail Blazers tickets via TiqIQ

Stay tuned for more analysis from Blazer’s Edge later tonight. In the meantime, check out the upcoming Blazers schedule. -- Tim