for this game

Bayless breaks out to lead Blazers over Nets

Jan 16, 2009 - 4:49 AM By Joe Rizzo PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Rookie Jerryd Bayless finally arrived, and he did it with a bang.

Bayless capped the best game of his short career with an emphatic baseline jam over Bobby Simmons - part of a three-point play - to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 105-99 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Thursday.

With 23 points, Bayless exceeded his previous high of eight points by keying a fourth-quarter rally by the Blazers, who are 2-1 on a road trip that concludes Saturday in Charlotte. The 11th overall pick of this year's draft, Bayless saw his playing time increase due to the shoulder injury to starting point guard Steve Blake, who is out for at least the next week.

Bayless admitted to pressing, but said he received a voicemail from long-time NBA swingman Eddie Johnson, the father of a childhood friend, telling him to loosen up.

It made all the difference, as Bayless went 6-of-9 from the field and 11-of-11 from the line to raise his season scoring average from 2.9 to 4.0 points per game.

"He told me, 'Jerryd, just stop pressing. It's gonna come. Stop pressing. I know you're going to break out sooner or later, so just relax and play the game like you know how to play,'" said Bayless, who had 11 points in the fourth quarter. "So I listened to him. ... Even before Eddie told me, I knew I was pressing. When you haven't played, you just want to play so well. And it's tough to do that when you just haven't played for so long."

Sergio Rodriguez started in Blake's place, but managed just four points in 23 minutes, but coach Nate McMillan said Rodriguez is likely to remain the starter for the next game.

Brandon Roy added 29 points and eight rebounds for Portland, which was 26-of-33 from the foul line, nearly doubling New Jersey's total attempts. Roy converted 13-of-16 from the line.

Devin Harris had 23 points and eight assists for the Nets, who had their four-game home winning streak halted and lost for the first time in 2009 at the IZOD Center, where they are just 9-13 on the season.

Travis Outlaw's free throw with 9:03 left gave the Blazers the lead for good, 77-76. Outlaw, who finished with 13 points off the bench, hit a 3-pointer from the corner and Roy knocked down a free throw midway through the fourth to increase the lead to 88-82.

"I told coach I wanted to be aggressive early, so if you have to call some more plays (for) me than usual, then go ahead," Roy said. "Then everybody stepped up and made some plays."

New Jersey closed to 90-89 on a 3-pointer and back-to-back drives by Harris, but it only served to set the stage for Bayless. The 6-3, 200-pound rookie took a pass in the left corner, exploded along the baseline and threw down a two-handed jam as Simmons attempted to swipe at the ball but could only commit a foul.

"It was nice," said center Greg Oden, who was limited to 13 minutes and two points. "We saw the replay when we first walked in (to the locker room). A nice little dunk."

"I don't think he realized he got fouled, because he was running back for defense," Roy said.

Bayless converted the three-point play, then hit three free throws in the final 45 seconds to ice it. He also defended Harris, the Nets' leading scorer, for much of the night.

"Jerryd Bayless was aggressive," McMillan said. "I thought Jerryd did a good job attacking the basket and getting to the free-throw line late in the game. He did a nice job staying in front of (Harris) and making him shoot over the top."

It was the second of back-to-back games for both teams and each were coming off blowout losses. The Nets fell by 32 at Boston and the Trail Blazers lost by 21 in Philadelphia.

Vince Carter - who sustained a contusion on the lower part of his right leg and finished with four points on 1-for-10 shooting against Boston - totaled 13 points, nine rebounds and five assists in this one for the Nets, who fell despite shooting 51 percent (39-of-76) from the field.

"I'm sure he's playing with some discomfort," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said.

"I'll live," said Carter, who has started every game for the 19-21 Nets this season. "Every time I step on the court, I have to play."

The Nets hit seven straight shots in the early part of the third quarter to turn a two-point edge into a 65-54 bulge with 6:12 left. Outlaw buried a 3-pointer and Joel Przybilla scored on a tip-in to close the gap to 71-68 by the end of the period.

The fourth tie of the second quarter preceded a late 10-4 run by the Nets, who finished with a 50-46 edge at intermission. The Trail Blazers were just 1-of-8 from long range in the half.

New Jersey held a 29-27 lead after a first quarter that featured nine lead changes and four ties. LaMarcus Aldridge hit a corner jumper just inside the arc at the buzzer.