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New Orleans at Portland

Trail Blazers pull away from Hornets late

CBSSports.com wire reports
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PORTLAND, Ore. -- The grind of the season is wearing on LaMarcus Aldridge, although not enough to keep him off the court.

Aldridge had an MRI on his sore right hip hours before he had 25 points, 12 rebounds and five assists in the Trail Blazers' 99-93 victory against the short-handed New Orleans Hornets on Thursday night.

"It's something that has come with the short season and playing hard and getting knocked down out there," Portland's All-Star forward said. "I'm just playing through it."

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The MRI did not reveal any damage, and Aldridge suspects he just needs rest for it to feel better. The Blazers, meanwhile, are still hoping to make the playoffs even though the odds are against them.

"We've just got to do this every night," Aldridge said. "I feel like some nights we have it. Other nights, we don't."

Wesley Matthews added 18 points and Luke Babbitt had a career-high 16 points, including four 3-pointers, for Portland, 24-27 overall and 4-4 since the dismissal of head coach Nate McMillan.

Marco Belinelli had 27 points and Carl Landry had 24 for the Hornets (13-38), who sit in last place in the Western Conference. New Orleans had just eight players available for the game.

Landry's dunk with 4:09 left tied it at 89, Aldridge's fadeaway jumper put Portland back in front, and Raymond Felton and Nicolas Batum hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 97-90 with 58.9 seconds left.

"My guys fought and that's all you can ask. We've got eight guys going up against a talented team and it goes down to the wire, there's not much you can say about your team," Hornets coach Monty Williams said. "We had a chance to win and just didn't pull it out when we needed it."

New Orleans was coming off a 102-87 victory at Golden State the previous night.

Former Blazers guard Jarrett Jack was a late scratch with a sprained right ankle. He joined center Chris Kaman, out with the flu, forward Trevor Ariza, who has miss three games with a sore right ankle, backup power forward Gustavo Ayon, away from the team for the birth of a child, and Emeka Okafor, who has a sore left knee.

The Blazers were without reserve guard Nolan Smith, who has a left ear infection. But Portland saw the return of starting guard Raymond Felton, who missed a game to be with his mother for a heart procedure.

The game came amid a report earlier Thursday that Blazers owner Paul Allen had entertained offers for the team. Allen posted on Twitter that the report was "absolutely false." A spokesman for the Microsoft co-founder reiterated Allen's rebuttal of the report, which appeared on a blog for the Comcast SportsNet Northwest web site.

Rumors have swirled since the start of the season that Allen is positioning the team for sale. The Blazers are operating under an interim general manager and interim coach Caleb Canales, fueling speculation about the team's future.

The Hornets took a 21-17 lead in the first quarter on Greivis Vasquez's running jumper, but Babbitt hit a 3-pointer to tie it for Portland at 23. Babbitt made another 3 to put the Blazers in front 28-27 at the end of the quarter.

New Orleans went on a 13-2 run in the second quarter to take a 42-35 lead, and the Hornets led 54-51 at the break.

Batum's 3-pointer tied it a 61-all, and Felton's layup midway through the third quarter put Portland in front. The Blazers finished the quarter on a 9-0 run to go up 76-70 and it looked as though New Orleans was fading.

Babbitt's 3-pointer extended Portland's lead to 81-70. But the Hornets came back with an 11-2 run, capped by Landry's layup to get within 83-81 with 6:19 left.

After J.J. Hickson's dunk for Portland, Belinelli made a 3-pointer. Hickson's layup kept Portland ahead, but Belinelli made another 3 to tie it at 87 with 4:51 to go.

Babbitt, in his second year, didn't want to speculate whether his performance had earned him more playing time. He was averaging about 6.5 minutes a game before playing nearly 17 on Thursday night.

"I'm just worried about trying to play the best I can every minute I get out there," he said.

The Blazers have won four straight against the Hornets.

Notes

  • Former Oregon running back LaMichael James attended the game. James, a former Heisman candidate, decided to skip his senior season and make himself eligible for the upcoming NFL draft.
  • The Hornets will visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday before wrapping up their road trip at Phoenix on Sunday.
  • Portland plays the second of a back-to-back on Friday night against the Clippers.
  • Blazers guard Raymond Felton finished with 12 points and 10 assists.
  • Aldridge has 12 double-doubles this season.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Hornets forward Al-Farouq Aminu (0) takes to the sky, but Joel Przybilla rejects his shot.  (US Presswire)
Hornets forward Al-Farouq Aminu (0) takes to the sky, but Joel Przybilla rejects his shot. (US Presswire)

Scoreboard
New Orleans (13-38)2727162393
Portland (24-27) «2823252399
NO:M. Belinelli 27 Pts
NO:J. Smith 9 Reb
NO:G. Vasquez 6 Ast
POR:L. Aldridge 25 Pts
POR:L. Aldridge 12 Reb
POR:R. Felton 10 Ast
Players of the Game
New OrleansPortland

Marco Belinelli

LaMarcus Aldridge
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
273325125
New Orleans
M. Belinelli, SG459-182-233227
G. Vasquez, PG437-150-036314
C. Landry, PF369-136-770224
J. Smith, PF324-95-590513
A. Aminu, SF302-63-33257
X. Henry, SG271-70-03112
L. Thomas, SF180-04-43044
C. Johnson, PF91-30-03002
C. Kaman, CDid Not Play
T. Ariza, SGDid Not Play
E. Okafor, CDid Not Play
J. Jack, PGDid Not Play
E. Gordon, SGDid Not Play
G. Ayon, PFDid Not Play
Totals 33-7120-2134122293
 46.5%95.2% 
Portland
W. Matthews, SG417-151-202218
L. Aldridge, PF3611-183-4125425
R. Felton, PG335-100-2410112
N. Batum, SF305-111-143214
J. Przybilla, C170-00-04030
J. Hickson, PF296-100-060312
J. Crawford, SG220-62-20202
L. Babbitt, SF175-82-231316
J. Flynn, PG150-20-00310
K. Thomas, PFDid Not Play
C. Smith, PFDid Not Play
S. Williams, SFDid Not Play
N. Smith, PGDid Not Play
H. Thabeet, CDid Not Play
E. Williams, SGDid Not Play
Totals 39-809-1333261999
 48.8%69.2% 
Other Games
Wash 89 Final
Ind 93
Dal 85 Final
Mia 106
OKC 102 Final
LAL 93