PORTLAND, OREGON – After Portland had withstood a late barrage from the Indiana Pacers and Paul George, the Trail Blazers gathered at midcourt and raised their hands together.
It might be early in the season, but this was a statement win for Portland.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 28 points and 10 rebounds and the Blazers downed Indiana 106-102 Monday night, snapping the Pacers’ seven-game winning streak. Damian Lillard added 26.
“It was a tough one, and we knew it was going to be a tough one going in,” Lillard said. “They’re a good team, they only had one loss.”
He added: “But we’re a good team too, and we wanted to prove that.”
Paul George had a career-high 43 points for Pacers (16-2), who own the NBA’s best record.
The Blazers pulled in front early in the fourth quarter, but Indiana kept it close and George hit consecutive 3-pointers that narrowed it to 98-96 with 1:37 left. Lillard answered with a 3-pointer and Nicolas Batum made a pair of free throws for the Blazers before George hit another 3-pointer that got Indiana within 103-99 with 21 seconds to go.
Lillard hit free throws and George made yet another 3 with 10 seconds left to make it 105-102, but the Pacers couldn’t get closer. Portland (15-3) is off to its best start since the 1998-99 season.
“I really wanted to get this win,” said George. “I was trying to will us into the game.”
Both teams were playing the second of a back-to-back. The Blazers beat the short-handed Los Angeles Lakers 114-108, snapping a seven-game losing streak to the Lakers at the Staples Center.
The Pacers (16-2) were coming off a 105-100 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday to open a five-game road trip.
“They’re a great offensive team and they made big shots all game long,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said of Portland. “Hopefully that’s what it’s going to take to beat this team — making impossible shot after impossible shot.”
Earlier Monday, the NBA named Vogel the Eastern Conference coach of the month for November. Portland’s Terry Stotts was named coach of the month for the Western Conference.
The Pacers went 15-1 in November and opened the season with a nine-game winning streak for the best start in franchise history. The Blazers went 13-3 to start the season, including an 11-game winning streak.
While Stotts acknowledged it was a big win, he stopped short of the whole “statement” thing.
“We played the most complete game from beginning to end: Execution, effort, mental focus. All of those things,” he said.
Pelicans 131, Bulls 128 (3OT)
In Chicago, Jrue Holiday made a three-point play with 2.6 seconds remaining in the third overtime, giving New Orleans a victory over the Bulls.
Holiday had 19 points and 12 assists for the Pelicans. He made a 5.5-meter jumper with 3.9 seconds remaining in regulation to tie it at 103-103 and force OT.
Ryan Anderson had a career-high 36 points on 12-of-20 shooting, including 7-for-11 on 3-pointers. Eric Gordon added 23 points for New Orleans (9-8).
Luol Deng led Chicago with 37 points and also had eight rebounds and seven assists.
Spurs 102, Hawks 100
In San Antonio, Tim Duncan made a jumper with 0.4 seconds left to lift the Spurs to a win over Atlanta.
Duncan finished with 23 points and 21 rebounds as San Antonio dominated the middle against the younger and more athletic Hawks frontline. Boris Diaw had 16 points and Tiago Splitter finished with 11.
Jazz 109, Rockets 103
In Salt Lake City, Marvin Williams scored five points in the final two minutes, Gordon Hayward broke out of a shooting slump to score 29 points and Utah beat Houston to earn its first back-to-back wins of the season.
James Harden had 15 of his season-best 37 points in the fourth quarter to keep the Rockets close, but they couldn’t get enough defensive stops.
Wizards 98, Magic 80
In Washington, Trevor Ariza scored 24 points, John Wall had 16 points and 13 assists, and the Wizards beat Orlando to get to .500 for the first time since they split their first four games of the 2009-10 season.