Trail Blazers 107, 76ers 103

As the Portland Trail Blazers’ lead dwindled, coach Nate

McMillan decided to pick up the pace.

Portland pushed the tempo late in the second half with a smaller

quicker lineup and beat the Philadelphia 76ers 107-103 in the

season opener for both teams.

”We have a lot of weapons,” said LaMarcus Aldridge, who had 25

points to lead the Blazers. ”I think as times got tight for us

guys stepped up and made big plays.”

Gerald Wallace had 21 points and nine rebounds for the Blazers.

Wesley Mathews added 16 points.

Reserve Lou Williams had 12 of his 25 points in the second

quarter and two clutch 3-pointers at the end for the Sixers, who

are 0-1 on their season-opening five-game road trip. Andre Igoudala

had 22 points and eight rebounds. The Sixers shot 48 percent from

the field, but the Blazers took 97 shots to Philadelphia’s 83.

”They are a good team and they take away a lot of things with

their energy and their defense,” Philadelphia’s Elton Brand

said.

The 76ers got within 72-70 on Brand’s jumper near the end of the

third, but the Blazers got a spark from their small lineup, sliding

Aldridge and Wallace to center and power forward and getting up and

down the floor faster. Jamal Crawford, Wallace, Matthews and

Nicolas Batum all hit 3-pointers to put the Blazers up 95-80.

”When we go small like that if they double team we have a bunch

of guys that can make plays,” Aldridge said. ”That’s probably our

most lethal offensive lineup.”

The Sixers weren’t dead, though. Williams scored 10 straight for

Philly, including back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the lead to

106-103 with 16 second remaining. The game wasn’t over until

Igoudala missed a 3-pointer and Raymond Felton made one of two free

throws to ice it.

”Our competitive will kept us in the game,” Philadelphia coach

Doug Collins said. ”Our competitive will was strong; our execution

has to get better.”

Philadelphia overcame a 3-13 start last year to finish 41-41.

The Sixers lost to Miami in the first round of the playoffs last

season. Leading scorer Igoudala returned despite rumors that he

might be traded.

Portland is adjusting to life without All-Star guard Brandon

Roy, who was forced to retire this month because of recurrent knee

injuries. Portland also begins the season without Greg Oden, who

has undergone two microfracture knee surgeries and has not played

in two years.

The Blazers went 48-34 last season and were bounced in the first

round of the playoffs by Dallas. After losing Roy, the Blazers

strengthened their team by signing veterans Crawford and Kurt

Thomas.

The Blazers led by as many as 13 in the first quarter as the

Sixers missed 11 of their first 16 shots, but Williams keyed a

rally in the second quarter to cut the lead to 48-44 at the

half.

McMillan expects Portland to run more this season. He was

unhappy when the pace slowed down at times.

”I thought we were up and down,” he said. ”We would get to

our tempo and the start to walk it down and I think that’s due to

conditioning.”

Notes: The Blazers have won 12 consecutive home openers. … The

teams split the series last year, with both teams winning at home.

… Philadelphia C Spencer Hawes had just missed a triple double

for the 76ers, with 10 points, 14 rebounds and 9 assists.