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Aldridge helps Blazers win fifth straight

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — LaMarcus Aldridge became the Portland Trail Blazers’ second all-time leading scorer on Tuesday. When the Trail Blazers needed to put the game away, he was second to none.

Aldridge scored 14 of his 23 game-high points in the second half and the Blazers notched their fifth straight victory by thumping the downtrodden Detroit Pistons 98-86 on Tuesday at The Palace.

Aldridge, the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week after averaging 27.0 points and 11.7 rebounds in three wins last week, also grabbed 11 rebounds. The ninth-year power forward moved into second place on Portland’s franchise scoring list ahead of Terry Porter (11,330 points) with 11,347 points and now trails only Clyde Drexler (18,040).

“It’s a big honor,” he said. “He’s a big-time player in the franchise, a big-time player overall. He means a lot to the city of Portland and his body of work speaks for itself. So to pass him, it means a lot, it means the hard work is paying off.”

Aldridge really went to work when Detroit whittled Portland’s 17-point lead down to four early in the fourth quarter. He converted two consecutive shots and the Pistons, who lost their 13th straight, never got closer than five the remainder of the game.

“We ride L.A. when things aren’t going well or we need a basket,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “Most of the time we’ll go to him, either in a pick-and-roll or post-up. But he’s certainly going to be involved in the action some way if we need a basket.”

Shooting guard Wesley Matthews supplied 19 points and center Chris Kaman tossed in 14 off the bench for Portland (17-4), which has won 14 of its last 15 and is now 10-0 against Eastern Conference opponents. Point guard Damian Lillard also chipped in 14 points for Portland, which has won the first two legs of its five-game road swing.

The Blazers shot 48.8 percent from the field but didn’t score more than 22 points in any of the final three quarters.

“We have the potential to play a lot better,” Kaman said. “You haven’t seen what we’re capable of. Last year, there was a lot more efficiency on the offensive end.”

Power forward Greg Monroe had 22 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Pistons (3-19), whose losing streak is one shy of the franchise record. They also tied the franchise record with their 10th consecutive home loss. Detroit, which shot a season-low 35.1 percent from the field, also endured 10-game home losing streaks during the 1979-80 and 1993-94 seasons.

Small forward Caron Butler added 13 points off the bench and center Andre Drummond chipped in 10 points and pulled down 15 rebounds.

“We got off to a bad start,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “They’re a very good team and very hard to guard. I think we got so afraid of their shooting that our defense got spread out and everyone started playing their own guy and we weren’t getting any help, which gave them a lot of layups.”

Aldridge surpassed Porter on the scoring list with a 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer, giving the Blazers a 33-22 lead.

The Trail Blazers extended their lead to nine at halftime and 14 after three quarters.

The Pistons bench took Portland out of its comfort zone during the first five minutes of the fourth, opening the quarter with a 15-5 run capped by Monroe’s fast-break layup to make it 81-77. Aldridge then responded with a layup and 20-foot jumper. He also scored in the lane with 3:08 left after Detroit moved within five.

“With 12 losses in a row and down 17 to a very good team, it’s easy just to let it go, but they didn’t,” Van Gundy said. “Confidence may be a problem. Our defense has to have a lot more resolve.”

NOTES: Detroit’s franchise-record 14-game losing streaks occurred in March 1980 and December 1993-January 1994. … Portland handed the New York Knicks their eighth consecutive loss in its last outing. “We said the same thing about New York, that they’re better than their record,” Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “They both have a lot of talent on their rosters. It just hasn’t come together.” … Pistons SG Jodie Meeks will begin practicing on Wednesday and could return to action during their upcoming three-game road trip, coach Stan Van Gundy said. Meeks has been sidelined since training camp with a lower back stress reaction. … The Blazers won the three previous meetings. … Blazers PF LaMarcus Aldridge posted double-doubles in his last four games against Detroit while averaging 27.0 points and 11.5 rebounds. … Portland PG C.J. McCollum missed his 10th consecutive game with a fractured finger.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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