Portland beats Suns 96-93 for fifth straight win
- Article by: ANNE M. PETERSON
- Associated Press
- December 22, 2012 - 11:54 PM
PORTLAND, Ore. - J.J. Hickson had 19 points and 15 rebounds for his seventh straight double-double, and the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night for their fifth straight win.
Rookie Damian Lillard had 25 points, including 18 in the second half.
Sasha Pavolic and Lillard made consecutive 3-pointers as Portland pulled in front 92-85 with 4:02 left. The Suns got to within 94-91 on Marcin Gortat's layup with 1:24 to go.
After Lillard's 19-foot, step-back jumper, Jared Dudley had a layup for the Suns to make it 96-93. Phoenix furiously tried to get a shot off in the final seconds, but Goran Dragic missed a 3-pointer, and Shannon Brown missed a short jumper.
Gortat had 18 points and nine rebounds for the Suns, who led by as many as 12 points in the first half. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for Phoenix.
The Blazers haven't won five straight since February 2011.
Portland welcomed back LaMarcus Aldridge, who leads the team with an average of 21 points and eight rebounds per game. The All-Star forward sprained his left ankle in the final minute of a win over New Orleans last Sunday. He missed the Blazers' 101-93 victory over Denver on Thursday.
Shooting guard Wesley Matthews also started for the Blazers, despite ongoing hip pain, but played only a short time. Matthews said that had the game been scheduled for Friday, he wouldn't have been able to go.
Matthews came out of the game with 2:11 left in the first quarter and headed for the locker room. The Blazers announced a short time later that he wouldn't return.
Former Blazer Sebastian Telfair's steal led to a pull-up 3-pointer that gave the Suns a 41-35 lead midway through the second quarter. Another former Blazer, Jermaine O'Neal, pushed the lead to 47-35 with a jumper and a pair of free throws to cap a 14-2 Phoenix run.
Luis Scola's 19-foot jumper made it 53-44 for the Suns at the break, but Portland jumped out in the second half and got as close as 63-62 after a long jumper from Damian Lillard.
The Suns answered with a 10-1 run to make it 73-63, but the Blazers again caught up. Lillard's hook shot tied it with 20 seconds left in the third quarter.
Lillard, the No. 6 pick in the NBA draft out of Weber State, went into the game leading rookies with 18.5 points per game.
Hickson's dunk and free throw to open the fourth quarter gave the Blazers a 78-75 lead. Ronnie Price's layup gave the Blazers an 84-83 edge with 6:28 left, and Lillard added pair of free throws.
The Suns were coming off a 121-104 victory over Charlotte on Wednesday night.
NOTES: Hickson's seven consecutive double-doubles are a career high. The last Blazers player with seven straight was Arvydas Sabonis, from Nov. 4-17, 1997. ... Portland has won seven consecutive regular-season home games against the Suns. ... The Suns beat the Blazers 114-87 earlier this season.
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