PORTLAND, OREGON – LaMarcus Aldridge’s big night against the Houston Rockets wasn’t about the stats, the All-Star votes or the fans chanting “MVP! MVP!”
“This was a ‘we needed a win’ night for me,” said Aldridge, who had 31 points and a career-high 25 rebounds in the Trail Blazers’ 111-104 victory Thursday.
For Aldridge, it was important that Portland (19-4) come away with a win after losing to the Rockets earlier this season — a rare blip for the Western Conference leaders.
It was the first time in franchise history that a Blazers player scored 30 or more points with 25 or more rebounds.
“I’m blessed,” Aldridge said. “(But) I felt tonight, it was needed.”
Dwight Howard had 32 points and 17 rebounds for Houston, which beat Portland 116-101 on Nov. 5. That was one of just two losses at home this season for the Blazers.
Portland led by 10 early in the fourth quarter, but Chandler Parsons hit a 3-pointer to narrow it to 93-88 with 7:07 left. Houston closed to 97-95 after James Harden made a layup and a free throw with 4:45 to go.
Nicolas Batum’s 3-pointer pushed the hosts’ lead to 102-95 before Wesley Matthews’ layup and free throw made it 108-96 with 2:04 left and all but put the game out of reach for the Rockets.
“They made some big plays down the stretch,” Howard said. “It seemed like every time we would close the gap, they came down and got a great shot. This was big for them.”
Blazers center Robin Lopez added 16 points and 10 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season, a career high.
Portland was coming off a 105-94 victory in Utah on Monday. The Blazers have scored 100 or more points in 10 consecutive games.
The Rockets (15-7) were without Omer Asik, who missed his fourth straight game with a bruised right thigh. Houston did get back guard Jeremy Lin, who missed the previous six games with a sprained right knee.
Rockets coach Kevin McHale was not with the team because of the death of his mother. Her funeral is scheduled for Friday in Minnesota. Assistant coach Kelvin Sampson ran the club against the Blazers.
“Portland is obviously really good, and they’re really good in this gym,” Sampson said. “They are playing with a lot of confidence right now.”
Neither side was able to get in front by more than five points in the first half. Portland held a 21-20 lead after the opening quarter. Aldridge was just 1 for 7 from the floor but he had nine rebounds.
Houston went ahead 32-28 on Parsons’ layup and Howard’s hook shot, and the Rockets led 44-43 at halftime. Neither team shot well, with Portland at 32 percent and Houston at 36 percent. The Rockets had just five first-half assists.
“I think we go into games with a certain level of confidence, but, at the same time, we realize that we’re playing hard and our success is because we’re playing hard,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said.
Nets 102, Clippers 93
In New York, Andray Blatche and Joe Johnson each scored 21 points in Brooklyn’s triumph over Los Angeles, making Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett winners in their first matchup with Doc Rivers.
Brook Lopez had 16 points and Deron Williams 15 for the Nets, who won their season-high third straight. Pierce scored 10 points off the bench in his second game back from a broken hand.
Chris Paul scored 20 points but had just two assists as the Clippers lost for the first time in nine games this season when he reaches 20.
Pierce and Garnett went 2-0 in a reunion tour of ex-Celtics this week. They helped the Nets beat Boston here Tuesday, then Rivers made an emotional return to Boston on Wednesday.
Los Angeles jumped to an 11-2 lead and was ahead 25-20 after one quarter, but Brooklyn controlled the latter stages of the half. The Nets outscored the Clippers 19-7 over the final 4:41, turning a 37-37 tie into a 56-44 lead, the final basket drawing oohs from the crowd when Williams shook free of Paul with a crossover dribble and into the lane for a layup.
O’Neal awaits surgery
Oakland California AP
Golden State Warriors backup center Jermaine O’Neal is scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery on his right wrist Friday.
The team said a timetable for O’Neal’s return will be announced following the procedure, which threatens to end his season — and possibly his career. O’Neal is in his 18th NBA season and has had previous surgeries on both knees and his left wrist.
O’Neal has appeared in 17 games this season, averaging 6.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 18.6 minutes.