Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/18/12
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge are the veterans, the guys who are supposed to do the yeoman work for the Portland Trail Blazers. That's precisely what happened Sunday night as the Trail Blazers held off every Chicago challenge in a 102-94 victory over the Bulls at the Rose Garden. Matthews and Batum each scored 21 points, and Aldridge collected 18 points and a team-high 13 rebounds as Portland (5-5) won its third consecutive game. "It's good to be .500," said Terry Stotts, Portland's first-year coach. "The important thing was winning at home and playing well, and the record takes care of itself." Bulls center Joakim Noah filled up the box score with team highs in points (16), rebounds (15) and assists (eight), but Chicago (5-5) lost for second straight night. Matthews score on a put-back and a 3-pointer to give Portland a 93-81 lead with 1:26 to go, but the Bulls clawed back to within 98-94 with 13.9 seconds left before the Blazers put the game away. "(The Bulls) are never going to quit," said Matthews, who made nine of 15 shots from the field. "They play hard every second of every game -- credit to them. "But it's something we have to get better at. We let them back in, made it more of a game than it needed to be." Batum scored 16 of his points in the second half, including nine on a trio of 3-pointers in a span of five minutes to start the third quarter. "He just busts out," said Stotts of Batum, who was 6-for-13 from the field but 5-for-10 from beyond the arc. "He has a lot of confidence in taking those shots. When he is on a roll, it's impressive. He can throw nine points up pretty quick." Portland led 64-49 midway through the third quarter, but Chicago rallied to draw even at 73-73. The Blazers responded with an 8-0 run and were in front 87-75 before the Bulls snipped the margin to 88-81 with 3:32 remaining. Portland shot well -- .494 from the field and .409 from 3-point range -- and got double-figure scoring from six players, including Ronnie Price, who had 10 points. The backup point guard, who added five assists in 20 minutes, became the first Portland reserve to score in double figures this season. The Blazers also got a strong performance off the bench from veteran Jared Jeffries, who contributed four points and four rebounds, played strong defense and took two charges. "Those two guys have stayed in the league for a long time doing what they do," Stotts said of Price and Jeffries. "Ronnie played his best game of the season. Jared is a solid player who does all the little things that go unnoticed -- or at least, they're not in the box score." Chicago shot .493 from the field but was only 4-for-16 on 3-point attempts and committed 19 turnovers that produced 26 Portland points. "We gave ourselves a chance, but we dug such a big hole that it was too much to get out of," Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. "The defense, the rebounding, the turnovers ... we have to get that part right." NOTES: Portland rookie Damian Lillard, who scored 16 points, is averaging 19.0 points and 6.1 assists. He is the first NBA player to average at least 19 points and six assists in his first 10 career games since Detroit's Isiah Thomas in 1981. ... Nate Robinson was big for Chicago, scoring 18 points in a 19-minute reserve role and spearheading the Bulls' charge at the game's end. ... Portland activated guard Nolan Smith and deactivated forward/center Joel Freeland. Smith did not see any action against Chicago. ... The Blazers have won five in a row at home against Bulls. ... Aldridge had 15 points in the first half. Thibodeau switched Noah onto the Blazers' All-Star power forward at halftime, and Aldridge had only three points in the second half. ... The Bulls entered Sunday having alternated wins and losses in their eight games in November. They dropped a 101-80 encounter with the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on Saturday night. Chicago continues its road trip with a game Wednesday at the Houston Rockets. ... Portland travels to Phoenix to play the Suns on Wednesday.
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