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Blazers use strong fourth to down Pacers

Jan 23, 2011 - 7:01 AM Portland, OR (Sports Network) - LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points with 12 rebounds, and the Portland Trail Blazers extended their winning streak to five games with a 97-92 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

Nicolas Batum added 23 points and Wesley Matthews scored 19 with a career-high nine assists for the Blazers, who moved to 2-0 at the beginning of a five-game homestand.

The Pacers fell to 0-3 on a four-game road trip and lost their fourth straight overall despite leading by as many as 16 points. They got 24 points from Danny Granger and 14 apiece from Mike Dunleavy and Darren Collison.

The Blazers were 10-for-20 from three-point range, including 7-for-12 in the second half. They made all five of their long-range shots in the fourth quarter, outscoring Indiana 30-22 in the final 12 minutes.

"We spent so much attention on Aldridge and they caught fire from downtown," said Pacers head coach Jim O'Brien.

Portland won despite losing starting point guard Andre Miller just a couple of minutes into the game. Miller left with a case of gastroenteritis and Rudy Fernandez played 36 minutes in his place, scoring 11 points with eight assists.

"We just mixed it up with both he and [Matthews]. At first we struggled a little bit, but that group is a good group," said Blazers head coach Nate McMillan.

Indiana controlled the game until the opening minute of the fourth quarter, when Batum buried a three-pointer to give the Blazers their first lead since 4-2.

The shot came during a 21-7 run to start the quarter. Portland used the burst to take its largest lead of the game, going ahead 11 points when Matthews' free throw made it 88-77 with 5:55 remaining.

But the Pacers didn't just fold. They climbed back into it with a 10-2 burst, pulling within 90-87 on Collison's jumper with 1:48 left. Fernandez responded with a three-pointer at the other end, doubling Portland's lead.

Indiana got within three points one more time when James Posey drilled a trey from the left corner with 5.9 seconds remaining, hitting the tough shot off an inbounds pass despite being guarded closely by Matthews.

But that was the last shot the Pacers took. Matthews made two free throws at the other end to ice the win.

The Pacers led 28-19 after the first quarter and went ahead by as many as 16 in the second on the way to a 53-46 advantage at halftime. Their lead was as high as 13 in the third quarter, but Portland cut it to one and trailed 70-67 heading into the fourth.

Game Notes

The Blazers have captured five games in a row against Indiana...Portland won despite being outshot 47-42 percent...Matthews' previous career-high was six assists.