Trail Blazers 112, Hornets 101
NEW ORLEANS (AP)
Brandon Roy pulled up for a jumper from 19 feet, was fouled by Marcus Thornton, and the shot still went down.
It was only 2 minutes into the game, and Roy sensed he was in for a big night.
``From that first shot, he hit my elbow, but it felt good,'' Roy said. ``I was pump-faking and jabbing and when that midrange is kind of going for me, I'm in a really good groove. Making shots early helps because it gives you confidence.''
Roy scored 28 points on 12-of-14 shooting and the Portland Trail Blazers eliminated the New Orleans Hornets from playoff contention with a 112-101 victory Saturday night.
Roy hit 11 of his first 12 shots, only two of them layups, and wound up only having to play 32 minutes with game at playoff contender Oklahoma City on Sunday night.
Together, Portland's starting five shot 76.6 percent (36 of 47).
LaMarcus Aldridge hit 11 of 16 shots for 24 points, Nicolas Batum was 4 of 5 for 13 points, Marcus Camby was 5 of 6 for 11 points and Andre Miller was 4 of 6 for eight points.
``It's nice to see the ball go in,'' Portland coach Nate McMillan said. ``We've got guys who can knock down shots. We want to establish the inside. I thought we did that - LaMarcus, Brandon and Andre. I thought we played from the inside out. We knocked down our shots. When our shots are falling, we get aggressive defensively.''
The Blazers won for the 10th time in 12 games to strengthen their hold on the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western conference and move within percentage points of idle San Antonio for seventh.
``We're trying to move up,'' Roy said. ``We've got a chance to control our own destiny tomorrow, so we've got to go in there and play good basketball. And that's been our goal, to try to not look behind us but look at those teams ahead of us.''
Darren Collison had 22 points for New Orleans on perfect 10-of-10 shooting from the field and 2 of 2 from the foul line. David West added 18 points for the Hornets, who've lost two straight and eight of 10.
``We just didn't have a good enough effort defensively,'' West said. ``They hit some pretty tough shots (but) we decided tonight, I guess, to not give much resistance.''
Emeka Okafor scored 14 for the Hornets, while Chris Paul had 10 assists. Thornton failed to score in double digits for the first time in 21 games, going 2 for 7 for eight points.
Portland put the game away early, hitting 18 of 20 from the field from the 6:30 mark of the second quarter until 4:08 remained in the third quarter. At that point, the Blazers led 81-59. Portland shot nearly 63 percent through three quarters, after which McMillan went with a lineup of mostly reserves.
``It was an incredible performance by Portland,'' Hornets coach Jeff Bower said. ``I give them all the credit in the world to play that well and shoot that well, particularly by their starting unit.''
Portland, which didn't miss three straight shots until their last three shots of the third quarter, wound up being outshot by New Orleans, 58.6 percent to 57.3 percent. But the Blazers, led by Camby's 14 rebounds, outrebounded New Orleans 35-25 and outscored the Hornets 17-6 on second-chance points.
The Hornets were as close as 44-39 on Darius Songaila's layup late in the second quarter. Then Batum responded with a 3 and Camby threw down an alley-oop feed for one of Miller's eight assists.
That began a 13-2 run to close out the period, highlighted by three-point plays each by Roy and Camby, putting Portland ahead 57-41 at halftime.
New Orleans never got within single digits in the second half, trailing by as much as 26.
With eight games left, the Hornets are officially looking toward next season.
``We understand the need to compete and prepare and play the game and build some momentum,'' said Bower, who is also general manager and is 31-34 since he began his first head coaching job by replacing Byron Scott nine games into the season. ``We won't go into a game without the intention of winning.''
NOTES: Miller was called for a flagrant foul for tripping Paul on a fast break in the first quarter. ... Portland is 20-16 on the road. ... The Trail Blazers won the season series 2-1. ... Film director Spike Lee sat in courtside seats on the baseline and stood to applaud when Saints coach Sean Payton, who also attended the game, was shown on the video board.