Aldridge leads Trail Blazers over 76ers
PORTLAND, Ore. – LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points and seven rebounds and the Portland Trail Blazers opened their season with an 107-103 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night.
Gerald Wallace added 21 points and nine rebounds for the Blazers, who let an early lead slip away but regained the upper hand in the second half by going small and picking up the pace. Wesley Mathews added 16 points.
Reserve Lou Williams had 12 of his 25 points in the second quarter and two clutch 3-pointers at the end for the Sixers, who open the season with a five-game road trip. Andre Igoudala had 22 points and eight rebounds. The Sixers shot 48 percent from the field, but the Blazers took 97 shots to Philadelphia's 83.
The 76ers got within 72-70 on Elton Brand's jumper near the end of the third, but the Blazers got a spark from their small lineup, sliding Aldridge and Wallace to center and power forward and picking up the pace. Jamal Crawford, Wallace, Matthews and Nicolas Batum all hit 3-pointers to put the Blazers up 95-80.
The Sixers weren't dead, though. Williams scored 10 straight for Philly, including back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the lead to 106-103 with 16 second remaining. The game wasn't over until Igoudala missed a 3-pointer and Raymond Felton made one of two free throws to ice it.
Philadelphia overcame a 3-13 start last year to finish 41-41. The Sixers lost to Miami in the first round of the playoffs last season. Leading scorer Igoudala returned despite rumors that he might be traded.
Portland is adjusting to life without All-Star guard Brandon Roy, who was forced to retire this month because of recurrent knee injuries. Portland also begins the season without former No. 1 draft selection Greg Oden, who has undergone two microfracture knee surgeries and has not played in two years.
The Blazers went 48-34 last season and were bounced in the first round of the playoffs by Dallas. After losing Roy, the Blazers strengthened their team by signing veterans Crawford and Kurt Thomas.
The Blazers led by as many as 13 in the first quarter as the Sixers missed 11 of their first 16 shots, but Williams keyed a rally in the second quarter to cut the lead to 48-44 at the half.
NOTES: The Blazers have won 12 consecutive home openers. ... The teams split the series last year, with both winning at home. ... Philadelphia C Spencer Hawes had just missed a triple double for the 76ers, with 10 points, 14 rebounds and 9 assists.