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Trail Blazers 102, Hornets 100

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PORTLAND — Guard Damian Lillard had 29 points with seven assists and forward LaMarcus Aldridge scored 25 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as the Portland Trail Blazers rallied from a 23-point second-quarter deficit to beat the Charlotte Hornets 102-100 Tuesday night at the Moda Center.

It was the fourth win in five games for the Trail Blazers (5-3), who trailed 50-27 midway through the second period.

Charlotte (3-5) had a late chance to force overtime, but guard Gary Neal’s driving basket at the buzzer was ruled too late. Center Al Jefferson led the Hornets with 22 points while guard Lance Stephenson contributed 14 points and 14 rebounds.

The Hornets shot 56.1 percent from the field, making 4 of 6 attempts from 3-point range, in jumping to a 13-point halftime lead. The Blazers whittled the margin from 23 early in the second quarter.

Jefferson had 12 points and Stephenson 11 points and eight rebounds for the Hornets while Aldridge scored 13 points with six boards for the Blazers at the break.

The Hornets’ lead was 71-55 early in the third quarter when Portland rallied with a 9-2 run to close the gap to 73-64. Charlotte answered with an 8-0 spurt to increase the lead to 81-64 with three minutes left in the quarter, but the Blazers closed on an 11-4 spurt to trail 85-75 heading into the final quarter.

Charlotte missed its first five shots of the fourth quarter as the Blazers trimmed their deficit to 87-83 with 8:34 remaining.

Portland got within 87-85 on an Aldridge jumper with 5:02 left.

Charlotte’s lead was 96-92 when the Blazers went on an 8-0 run. Guard Steve Blake put them ahead for the first time at 97-96 on a 3-pointer with 3:03 to go. Soon it was 100-96, but Neal sank a pair of free throws to make it 100-98 with 1:24 to play.

Portland guard Wesley Matthews missed a 3-point try, but knocked the ball away from Stephenson at the other end, forcing a shot-clock violation with 34.5 seconds to go.

Blake missed a 3, but Aldridge scored on a rebound basket for a 102-98 advantage with 14.2 seconds remaining. Neal scored on a drive to close it to 102-100 with 10.9 seconds on the clock.

Lillard missed on a drive, and the Hornets rebounded, calling timeout with 3.5 seconds left.

Neal scored on a drive at the buzzer. The basket was initially ruled good, but after review, the ruling was reversed, giving the Blazers the victory.

Charlotte jumped to a 13-8 lead and increased it to 35-19 late in the first quarter. The Hornets, who made 14 of 22 shots in the quarter, took a 35-21 edge into the second period.

The Hornets kept up the pressure, jacking the margin to 50-27 with 7:17 left in the half.

It was still 62-40 late in the second quarter when the Blazers scored nine straight — the last six on back-to-back 3-pointers by Lillard — to get within 62-49. The margin was 64-51 at intermission.

NOTES: Portland F Nicolas Batum will miss at least the next three games with a right knee contusion suffered in Sunday’s win over Denver. “I’m hoping to get back for the New Orleans game (next Monday),” Batum said. … Coach Terry Stotts would not say who will start for Batum, but the logical candidate is veteran F Dorell Wright. “We’ll do it pretty much by committee,” Stotts said. … Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said from an offensive standpoint, the Trail Blazers remind him of the San Antonio Spurs. “They don’t score a ton of fast-break points, but they are quickly up the floor, putting pressure on the defense in a variety of ways — particularly with (G Damian) Lillard,” Clifford said. “If you don’t have your defense set, you have no shot.” … Clifford said a key for the Hornets, who average 15.2 turnovers a game, will be taking care of the ball. “We need to cut our turnovers down,” he said. “We’re fourth in the league in assists, and our point guards have done a nice job, but we don’t have an offensive juggernaut. We have to make sure our possessions count.”

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

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