CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It does not get much better than this for the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Bobcats crushed the Portland Trail Blazers 124-94 on Saturday night with a dominant performance both offensively and defensively.
Center Al Jefferson led the way with 28 points, all in the first three quarters as he sat the entire fourth with the Bobcats ahead by as many as 34. Guard Kemba Walker scored 26 points and guard Gerald Henderson added 23, again in just three quarters.
And the Bobcats held the normally high-scoring Trail Blazers to 40.5 percent shooting from the field.
“To me, it all started with defense,” Jefferson said. “I think that set the tone. But then when we play offense as well as that, it’s trouble. It’s trouble. When we play like that, we’re going to be hard to beat.”
The Bobcats (34-36) snapped a two-game losing streak with the win and also got some revenge for a 134-104 loss at Portland on Jan. 2.
Jefferson said that combination created a perfect storm of sorts on Saturday night.
“We remembered the butt-whipping they gave us over there, and then we had lost two in a row, so I think all that just played together and we came out with a great start,” Jefferson said. “You could tell at shootaround today that we were focused, we were locked in, and we knew we needed this win badly.”
The Blazers (45-25) were without center LaMarcus Aldridge, their leading scorer and rebounder, who missed his fifth straight game with a low back contusion. That, too, clearly played a role in the blowout.
“We caught a break obviously with Aldridge being out, but they are a really skilled team and I think they are as well-coached offensively as any team, and our defense was something,” Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said. “You could tell they were really ready to play.”
The Bobcats raced to a 12-2 lead and never let up. They led 33-22 after one quarter, 69-46 at halftime and 98-73 after three quarters. Through three quarters, Jefferson, Walker and Henderson had combined to score more points than the entire Portland team.
It marked the third time this season that Jefferson, Walker and Henderson have all scored 20 or more in the same game.
The Bobcats finished at 52.1 percent from the field, were 18 of 19 from the free-throw line and hit 8 of 19 from 3-point range, led by four from Walker.
“What I liked tonight was, the jump shots tonight were inside out,” Clifford said. “They were more drive and kick, or ball in the paint and kick out vs. the Atlanta game (Monday loss) where we just passed it around the perimeter all night.
“The other thing I liked was, when Portland got it down to 17 in the second half, you could just sense that we were going to push it back up. That all comes with being ready to play. We put a lot into this game. We put a lot into getting ready for this game, and it showed.”
The Bobcats also got 11 points from forward Chris Douglas-Roberts.
Guard Damian Lillard led Portland with 20 points. Forward Dorell Wright scored 17 and guard Wesley Matthews had 15.
Portland coach Terry Stotts was not ready to write off the performance as just a bad night. The Blazers have now lost six of their last nine.
“You don’t want to just dismiss it as one of those games,” Stotts said. “You want to learn from it. Losing by 30 is, hopefully it’s one of those things, but we don’t have the luxury not to play better.
“Charlotte played a terrific game. They shot the ball well, passed the ball well, rebounded the ball well, defended well, and basically outplayed us. We certainly could have played better, but they were clicking on all cylinders.”
NOTES: This was Charlotte’s first victory over Portland since 2011. … The Bobcats’ 124 points were their most in a game this season, and their 69 points in the first half were also a season high. … The Blazers are now 3-2 in this stretch without F LaMarcus Aldridge. They were also without C Joel Freeland (right knee sprain) on Saturday night. … The Blazers were opening a five-game road trip. They will continue on at Miami on Monday and will also play at Orlando, Atlanta and Chicago on the trip. … Bobcats F D.J. White was in uniform for the first time since signing a 10-day contract on Friday, and he wound up playing the final four minutes, going scoreless. … The Bobcats were without C Brendan Haywood (stress fracture left foot) and F Jeffery Taylor (ruptured right Achilles). Both will miss the rest of the season. … The Bobcats were opening a three-game homestand. They face Houston on Monday.
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