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Blazers set NBA record in victory, and it's not a good one

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard gets a finger-roll shot in Portland's victory at home Monday night over Toronto.No NBA team has ever shot the 3-pointer as poorly as the Trail Blazers did Monday night at the Rose Garden.

Portland set a league record for futility by missing all 20 attempts from beyond the arc — and still won going away 92-74 against a Toronto team that ought to at least be a bit ashamed.

“I know — we broke the record,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said after the Blazers (9-12) handed the Raptors (4-18) their 11th consecutive road loss and their 11th in 12 games overall. “For that record to be broken in a win is even more impressive.”

Or, at least, head-scratching.

The previous record for most missed 3-point shots in a game without a make was 18 by New York against New Jersey in 2010.

“I didn’t notice what was going on until the fourth quarter,” said Portland’s Luke Babbitt, who contributed five misses to the record performance. “What’s amazing about it is we could have a decisive victory like that even with it. That’s actually a good sign.”

Many of the Blazers were oblivious to their march to history Monday night.

“Wow. I didn’t know that. We didn’t make no 3s tonight?” center J.J. Hickson said. “That’s crazy. But it’s all good. I wish I’d have shot one. I’d have probably made it.”

Hickson didn’t miss from 2-point range, though, going 7 for 7 en route to a 16-point, 11-rebound performance for his 11th double-double of the season.

LaMarcus Aldridge wore the look of a franchise player for the Blazers with 30 points and 12 rebounds, going 11 for 19 from the field and 8 for 8 from the free-throw line.

“We knew (the Raptors) were coming in at the end of a (five-game) road trip, playing the second of back-to-backs (after a 102-84 loss to the L.A. Clippers Sunday at Staples Center), and hadn’t won much on the road,” Portland’s All-Star power forward said. “We wanted to come out and take the life from them and play solid.”

The Blazers shot poorly from the field (.404) and in unprecedented fashion from beyond the 3-point stripe, but they took care of the ball (seven turnovers), ruled the paint and defended well.

This was a game that could have been billed “The Replacements.” Portland went without starters Nicolas Batum (back) and Wesley Matthews (hip), the latter missing the first game of his NBA career after 250 straight games in his 3 1/2 seasons.

Toronto opened without starting small forward Linas Kleiza (knee). By the time the game ended, the Raptors were without starting power forward Andrea Bargnani (elbow), starting point guard Kyle Lowry (back) and finally reserve forward Amir Johnson, who put on quite a show before escorted off the floor following his ejection in the third quarter.

Johnson got into it with referee David Jones, who quickly tossed the Raptor with a pair of technicals. In a hissy fit, Johnson threw his mouthpiece at Jones, hitting the official in the back before being herded to the locker room by coaches and teammates. A suspension surely looms.

“I don’t know what happened with Amir,” said Toronto coach Dwane Casey, who had plenty of other things to worry about on this night. “He kind of lost his mind there a little bit.”

The Raptors shot .351 from the field and were 3 for 21 from 3-point range. All that bad shooting from long distance seemed infectious, though Stotts understandably took it as good defense on the Blazers’ part.

The Raptors “were undermanned, weren’t at full strength, but it was still a really good team win,” Stotts said.

Stotts started rookie Victor Claver at small forward and 10th-year pro Sasha Pavlovic — a natural small forward — at shooting guard. Claver missed his first six shots and finished 2 for 12 from the field. The 6-7 Pavlovic — who carried a 1.8-point scoring average into the game — missed all five of his 3-point attempts but contributed 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists in 42 minutes. He also had primary defensive responsibility for DeMar DeRozan, who led Toronto with 20 points.

“I wanted to have a young guy and a veteran” start in place of Batum and Matthews, Stotts explained. “Victor has been on the short end of the inactive list but has gone about his business very professionally. He deserved an opportunity, and I liked him with the starters. His shots were good shots; he just didn’t make them.

“Sasha was an easy pick to start. I liked his all-around game. He made DeRozan work for his points.”

It was an odd night of NBA basketball, with so many starters out of action, Johnson’s epic meltdown and the Blazers’ etching their way into history.

“I don’t want to make records like that,” Aldridge said, grinning. “I knew we hadn’t made one (3-pointer). Toward the end, we were trying to get Nolan (Smith) to take one, and he airballed it, so that wasn’t even good for us. Hey, as long as we win.”

NOTES: Portland’s next outing is Thursday against San Antonio, third in a six-game homestand. ... Hickson said it wasn’t the best field-goal shooting performance of his career. “I went 12 for 12 in my first game in college” at North Carolina State, he said. “Can’t remember who it was against.” ... Portland held a 54-26 advantage in points in the paint. “Is that a misprint?” Stotts asked. “I’m speechless on that.” ... Portland’s Damian Lillard had the worst shooting night of his career, going 2 for 14 from the field, including 0 for 5 from 3-point territory. The rookie point guard finished with nine points, six assists, five rebounds and two turnovers in 36 minutes. “He had a tough night shooting the ball, but he just keeps playing,” Stotts said. “I don’t think he’s fazed by it.”

Stotts and Casey spent nine years coaching together — six years under George Karl in Seattle, three under Rick Carlisle in Dallas. “Terry’s one of my best friends in coaching,” Casey said. “When we walk onto the floor, it’s like playing your brother. You want to beat him. We run a lot of the same stuff. We use a lot of the same terminology, the same philosophy defensively. We know each other inside and out.” Said Stotts, with a laugh: “We’re both bad defensive teams right now, so we have that going for us, too. We have a great friendship and relationship.”

Jefferson High grad Terrence Ross, a rookie with Toronto, had two points on 1-for-5 shooting in 13 minutes off the bench. Ross went into the game averaging 5.5 points on .386 shooting. “Like most rookies, he’s had good days and bad days,” Casey said. “He’s a sponge. He’s learning. He has big-time athletic ability. He can shoot. He’s getting better every day, every week. He has to work on his consistency. Defensively, he’s much better than I anticipated. He has excellent hands, anticipates the cutter on the weakside, and is an above average rebounder. He was a good pickup for us. His future is great.”

Casey, on Lillard, the rookie out of Weber State: “It’s almost like he glides with the ball. He has a high basketball IQ. The thing you love about him more than anything else is he plays with a chip on his shoulder. He’s one of those underdogs who went to a small school who is out to prove to everybody he’s an NBA player. He’s had a fantastic season so far, and hee’s even a better kid than a player.” ... Batum is shooting .421 from the field, but has a streak of 10 straight games in which he failed to shoot 50 percent from the field. He is 33 for 100 (.330) over that stretch.

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