Aldridge leads Blazers to 99-93 win over Hornets

LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points and 12 rebounds, and the Portland Trail Blazers pulled away from short-handed New Orleans and beat the Hornets 99-93 on Thursday night.

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

Marco Belinelli had 27 points and Carl Landry had 24 for the Hornets, who sit in last place in the Western Conference.

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.

The Blazers have won four straight against the Hornets.

New Orleans, coming off a 102-87 victory at Golden State the previous night, had just eight available players for the game.

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.

Earlier in the day, Aldridge underwent an MRI on his right hip. The Blazers' leading scorer did not injure his hip, but said it's bothered him at times this season. The MRI was negative and Aldridge started against the Hornets.

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.

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 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.