By Anne M. Peterson
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) LaMarcus Aldridge made the go-ahead dunk with 1:56 left and finished with 27 points, leading the Portland Trail Blazers to a 96-89 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Saturday night.
Brook Lopez scored 32 points for the Nets, who led by as many as 13 in the first half but couldn’t fend off the late rally by the Trail Blazers. It was New Jersey’s fifth straight loss.
Nicolas Batum had a season-high 23 points for the Blazers, who snapped a three-game losing streak, including Friday night’s 115-111 loss at Phoenix. Portland avoided its first three-game losing streak at the Rose Garden in nearly three years.
Sasha Vujacic’s long jumper put New Jersey in front 87-86. After Aldridge missed two free throws, he dunked to give Portland an 88-87 edge with 1:56 left. Batum hit free throws and Wesley Matthews scored on a fast-break layup to extend the Blazers’ lead to 92-87.
The game came as rumors continued to swirl over a possible trade involving the teams. The Nets have been in discussions with Denver and Detroit on a three-way deal that would send Carmelo Anthony to New Jersey, and there are reports that the Nuggets would like to expand the deal if they could land Batum.
Portland trailed by as many as eight points in the first quarter. The Nets extended the lead to 39-26 on Vujacic’s 3-pointer midway through the second. The Blazers narrowed it to 53-46 at the break.
Lopez was 8 of 11 from the floor for 18 points before the half for the Nets, who shot 60 percent from the field. They shot 50 percent for the game.
The Blazers closed within 55-53 early in the second half on Batum’s 3-pointer and a long jumper. They pulled in front on Aldridge’s hook.
Andre Miller’s jumper extended Portland’s lead to 60-55. But it was short-lived, and Lopez put the Nets back in front 70-65 with a jumper, a layup and a free throw.
Portland pulled ahead 82-21 on Batum’s layup midway through the final quarter, and it was back-and-forth until Vujacic’s long jumper.
The Nets, who have lost 10 of their last 11, were coming off coming off a 100-88 loss to the Lakers on Friday night.
Notes: Fifty percent of the proceeds from sales of Patty Mills’ jerseys and T-shirts from the Trail Blazers’ fan shop through January are going to help the victims of the floods in Australia. Mills is from Canberra. Twenty-six people have died and 14 others are missing because of flooding since November in the northeastern part of the country. … Portland hasn’t lost three straight at home since March 29-April 6, 2008.
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