Late Portland Surge Too Much For Deron-less Nets
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PORTLAND, Ore. (WFAN/AP) — The Trail Blazers have alternated wins and losses for the past 10 games, which is not exactly getting them to the playoffs.
Facing a Nets team without Deron Williams certainly helped on Wednesday night.
“We gotta figure it out,” guard Raymond Felton said about the team’s seesaw stretch. “We gotta figure out how to go on a roll for like five games.”
Time is running out for Portland, which rallied with a 17-3 run after falling behind in the fourth quarter to beat New Jersey, 101-88.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 points and nine rebounds for the Blazers, who led by as many as 16 points in the third quarter before a late surge put New Jersey in front in the fourth. Nicolas Batum added 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Batum said the Blazers are still working for the playoffs, even though they were 3½ games back of eighth-place Denver in the Western Conference with just 11 games left.
“That’s the goal for us,” Batum said. “It’s why we play the game.”
Portland’s turnaround came when Kris Humphries was called for goaltending on J.J. Hickson, making it 86-85 for the Blazers with 5:16 left. Batum added a 3-pointer to extend it and New Jersey never recovered.
The Blazers (26-29) have gone 6-6 over the past 12 games under interim coach Kaleb Canales, who took over when Nate McMillan was fired at the trade deadline. Portland hasn’t won back-to-back games since January.
Humphries had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Nets (19-37), who were coming off a 91-87 loss to the Lakers the night before.
Williams was a late scratch because of the stomach flu, disappointing Blazers fans who are hoping the team will target him this summer in free agency. Williams is leading the Nets with 21.6 points per game.
Gerald Wallace was traded to the Nets from the Blazers at the deadline, the same day the Blazers fired McMillan. Wallace was greeted by cheers from the fans at the Rose Garden during pre-game introductions.
“It felt good. I didn’t want to hear any boos, so I was glad for the cheers,” he said.
But after averaging 20.3 points and nine rebounds over his past three games, Wallace had eight points and nine rebounds against his former team.
Coach Avery Johnson said the Nets tried to keep things simple without Williams.
“They came out like a team desperate to make the playoffs, and they put us on our heels,” Johnson said. “But then, because this team is not a bunch of quitters, they fought some more and we get the game back and we’re battling. Then we just kind of ran out of gas.”
The Blazers saw the return of Jamal Crawford, who missed Portland’s 102-97 loss to Utah on Monday with right knee tendinitis.
Portland jumped to a 21-13 lead early, but the Nets rallied to go ahead 23-21 on two consecutive 3-pointers from DeShawn Stevenson.
The Blazers pulled back in front 41-32 on Aldridge’s layup and free throw late in the second quarter, but a late run by the Nets narrowed it to 46-44 at the half.
Aldridge went on a tear to start the second half, giving the Blazers a 64-48 lead on a fast-break dunk and a tip-in. Luke Babbitt closed the third quarter with a 3-pointer to make it 76-64.
The Nets chipped away at Portland’s lead and Anthony Morrow’s jumper with 8:32 left tied the game at 80-all before Gerald Green’s running layup gave New Jersey the lead.
The Nets clung to the lead until Humphries’ goaltending call and Portland took off.
“Defense was huge in those five minutes,” Batum said of the final run. “Control the rebounds, give them one shot every time, no second shot, no second-chance points. And don’t let them score in the paint. So we controlled the pain. On offense, the last five minutes we just made good decisions.”
Morrow and Green each finished with 20 points for the Nets.
Notes: The Nets have dropped three straight to Portland. … A fan in the stands held a sign reading “Rip City Loves Wallace.”… The Nets had a three-game winning streak snapped with their loss to the Lakers on Tuesday. … The Nets fell to 3-5 in back-to-back road games, and 1-3 on the back end of back-to-backs. … New Jersey is 11-12 against teams with a sub .500 record.
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