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Matthews helps Blazers hold off Raptors

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland guard Wesley Matthews scored 21 points, but it was his defensive work on the game’s final possession that keyed the Trail Blazers’ 106-103 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night at the Moda Center.

Matthews twice thwarted Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan on drives to the basket, allowing the Blazers to hold off a torrid fourth-quarter rally by the Raptors.

With Portland leading 104-103 and 11.8 seconds remaining, Matthews forced a jump ball on a DeRozan move to the hoop. After Toronto won the tap and called timeout with 5.6 seconds left, DeRozan committed a turnover on another drive under defensive pressure from Matthews.

Matthews had fouled DeRozan on a long jump shot on the previous possession, resulting in two free throws that gave the Raptors a 103-102 lead with 25.4 seconds remaining.

“My mentality (on the final possession) was, ‘I owe us one,'” Matthews said. “I had to get us one back. That’s unlike me to be undisciplined, to jump at that (DeRozan shot with 25.4 seconds to play). But he had it going, so I felt like any time it left his hands, it was going to go in.”

DeRozan scored 30 of his game-high 36 points in the second half and also had 12 assists for the Raptors (25-22), who were playing the second of back-to-back games after winning 90-80 at Denver on Friday night. Guard Kyle Lowry added 23 points and eight assists for Toronto.

Forward LaMarcus Aldridge scored 27 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for Portland (34-13), which snapped a two-game losing streak. Matthews and guard Damian Lillard each scored 21 points for the Blazers.

Lillard’s basket with 11.8 seconds proved to be the winner, allowing Portland to stave off a torrid late rally by the Raptors, who trailed by 16 points with nine minutes to play only to take the lead in the closing seconds.

“We understood what we had to do,” DeRozan said. “We were down big, and the only way to get back in the game was to get stops.”

More than that, though, was the offense provided by DeRozan and Lowry.

Held to six points in the first half, DeRozan cranked it up with 16 points in the third quarter as the Raptors closed a 69-50 deficit to 75-70 with a 20-6 run. Portland held an 83-74 edge going into the fourth quarter and increased the lead to 93-77 early in the fourth. Toronto stormed back, though, closing to within 102-101 on a Lowry 3-pointer with 2:52 remaining.

Neither team scored again until Lowry sank two free throws with 25.4 seconds to go to give the Raptors a 103-102 lead.

Lillard made a running bank shot from the right side with 11.8 seconds left to pull Portland back on top 104-103.

“I came up off a down screen,” said Lillard, who also had seven assists and six rebounds with no turnovers. “My first thought was to try to turn the corner and attack as fast as I could. I was able to get a pretty good look and make the floater.”

After the DeRozan turnover, Portland forward Nicolas Batum made two free throws with .1 of a second left for the final margin.

“The first half wasn’t us,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. “We picked it up in the second half, but you can’t spot a good team like Portland that many points and expect to survive.”

Aldridge had 18 points and 11 rebounds and Lillard added 15 points — 12 in the second quarter — to stake Portland to a 17-point lead at the half. Lowry had 12 points for the Raptors, who shot only 35 percent from the field and were outrebounded 28-19 through the break.

Portland jumped to a 13-point first-quarter lead as Toronto and settled for a 31-19 lead at the end of the quarter. Aldridge had already secured his 30th double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds, though he was only 4 for 11 from the field.

The Blazers increased their advantage to 41-24 midway through the second quarter, but the Raptors used a 10-2 run to cut the margin to 43-34. The Blazers outscored the visitors 14-6 the rest of the half to go into intermission ahead 57-40.

NOTES: Portland F LaMarcus Aldridge had his eighth game of at least 25 points and 15 rebounds this season. … Toronto reserve G Greivis Vasquez sat out the game with flu-like symptoms. … The Blazers have won six in a row over the Raptors in Portland. … Toronto entered the game having won three in a row and nine of 13.

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

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