Blazers look to continue dominance of Raptors
After kicking off their four-game road trip on a winning note, the Portland Trail Blazers take aim on Wednesday night at a fifth consecutive victory in Toronto as they visit the Raptors.
The Blazers had won just four of their first 14 road games this season prior to kicking off their swing on Tuesday in New York against the Knicks, who saw the return of both Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire to the lineup.
Portland, though, used a balanced effort to snap a three-game road skid and win for the eighth time in its past 10 games overall thanks to a 105-100 decision.
Nicolas Batum knocked down a season-high six 3-pointers and scored 26 points, while rookie Damian Lillard added 21 points, six assists and five rebounds. Lillard also hit a key 3-point to hold off a late Knicks charge in the final minute.
"We withstood their run and were able to make some big plays down the stretch to win," said Blazers guard Wesley Matthews, who returned after missing six of the previous nine games with a left hip injury.
LaMarcus Aldridge chipped in 19 points and 14 rebounds, while J.J. Hickson added 18 points and nine boards.
"Obviously it was a great win for us," noted Portland head coach Terry Stotts. "We've been struggling on the road and to get a win like this in the Garden against a good team like this was something that we haven't had yet this year. We had a lot of good efforts."
The Trail Blazers' effort from behind the 3-point line was record bad the last time they faced the Raptors, a 92-74 home victory that saw the club go 0- for-20 from long range. That set an NBA record that has since been broken by the Denver Nuggets.
Batum did not play in that game and Aldridge paced the offense with 30 points and 12 rebounds as Portland extended its winning streak over Toronto to eight consecutive games. Hickson added 16 points on 7-of-7 shooting and 11 rebounds to the win.
DeMar DeRozan had 20 points for the Raptors, who have not beaten the Blazers since a home victory on Jan. 13, 2008,
No team in the Eastern Conference made more 3-pointers than the Raptors from Dec. 14-31. Toronto made good on 77 shots from behind the arc in that span and made a season-high 15 3-pointers in Saturday's 123-88 win over the Orlando Magic.
DeRozan had 21 points, Ed Davis added 18 and Jose Calderon notched 15 points and 10 assists for Toronto, which has won seven of its past eight. Kyle Lowry and Terrence Ross chipped in with 16 point apiece in the triumph, with Ross hitting a career-high four 3-pointers.
"It's about sharing the ball and finding the wide-open guy," Calderon said. "We know if we make that extra pass, then the next play will result in that guy making the extra pass. It's about trust."
Toronto kicks off a six-game homestand on Wednesday night and will play 10 of its next 15 at home.