Blazers buckle in fourth quarter
BROOKLYN, N.Y. For a long time Sunday at Barclay Center, the Trail Blazers looked as if they might pull off a big win without the services of LaMarcus Aldridge.
Then the bottom fell out for the Blazers in a 98-85 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
Portland led 68-63 late in the third quarter and the game was tied 74-74 with eight minutes to play. The Nets went on a 9-0 run and never looked back.
Joe Johnson scored 21 points to lead Brooklyn (8-4), which shot only .424 from the field but held a 48-34 advantage on the boards.
Wesley Matthews scored 20 points and J.J. Hickson contributed 19 points and 10 rebounds for Portland (6-7), which was left without its top scorer when Aldridge couldnt play due to a sore back.
Rookie Meyers Leonard pressed into starting duty when Aldridge was scratched made 6 of 7 shots and had 12 points to help Portland to a 50-46 halftime lead. Matthews and Damian Lillard chipped in 11 points apiece while Hickson added nine and Nicolas Batum seven in the half.
The Blazers rallied from an early 14-5 deficit to take a 27-25 lead on Leonards jump hook with 1.2 seconds left in the first quarter.
Portland built the lead to seven points before settling for a four-point margin at intermission, with Lillard and Hickson combining to score the final 10 points. The Blazers made 5 of 10 shots from 3-point range while the Nets were only 1 for 8 from beyond the arc in the half.
NOTES Portland continues its seven-game road trip Monday night at Detroit. ... Hickson picked up his seventh double-double of the season on the strength of 8-for-11 shooting and six offensive boards. ... Lillard had a mixed game statistically. The rookie point guard had 13 points, seven assists and six rebounds and made 3 of 5 3-point attempts, but also committed four turnovers and made only 4 of 12 shots from the field. ... Leonard finished with 12 points on 6-for-10 shooting and three rebounds in 29 minutes. ... Batum made only 5 of 13 shots and scored 12 points for the Blazers. ... Matthews went scoreless in the fourth quarter. ... Deron Williams finished with 15 points, 12 assists and four blocked shots but the Nets guard scored only three points on 0-for-4 shooting in the first half. ... Leonard had already tied his season scoring high late in the half. ... Portlands bench was outscored by the Brooklyn reserves 31-9 16-0 through the first three quarters. The Blazers reserves were a collective 0 for 11 shooting before making their final three attempts from the field. ... Ex-Blazer Gerald Wallace was 1 for 8 from the field and had two points and one rebound in 27 minutes for the Nets. ... Portland finished 7 for 17, Brooklyn 5 for 17 on 3-point tries.