Aldridge, Trail Blazers rout Grizzlies
For the second straight game, the Portland Trail Blazers routed an opponent. LaMarcus Aldridge made the difference - again.
Aldridge had 18 points and seven rebounds in Portland's 86-66 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night.
While Brandon Roy led the Blazers with 21 points and eight rebounds, Aldridge brought the intangibles. Coach Nate McMillan called it one of his best games of the year.
"He is picking up that feel for different situations, how to attack them and not to settle," coach Nate McMillan said. "If he continues to play like this, he will be very difficult to defend in this league.
Aldridge had 29 points and 12 rebounds in Portland's 129-109 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.
"I was just trying to go to the basket," Aldridge said with all modesty, "I was trying to make things happen."
O.J. Mayo had 12 points, while Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol each added 10 for the Grizzlies, who have lost 10 of their last 12 games. They were held to their lowest scoring output this season.
"They force you to do things you normally don't do," Gay said of the Blazers. "They force you to take bad shots.
Greg Oden hit a layup that made it 79-56 with 4:51 to go, just before Portland turned to its lesser-played reserves. Roy did not play in the fourth quarter as the Blazers won their sixth straight over Memphis.
Denver beat Golden State 129-116 Saturday night to remain 1 1/2 games ahead of Portland in the Northwest Division. Both teams were among a tight group jockeying for playoff position in the Western Conference behind the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Grizzlies, coming off a 113-95 victory over Sacramento on Friday night, have not defeated a winning team on the road this season.
Travis Outlaw's dunk put Portland up 32-22 in the first half, and Rudy Fernandez extended it to 46-34 when he grabbed Roy's high pass and drove down the middle for a layup over countryman Gasol. Both Fernandez and Gasol are rookies from Spain.
Portland broke away in the third quarter. Roy's tip-in made it 61-42, and the Blazers went on to lead by as many as 22 points. Memphis scored just 11 points in the quarter, a season low.
Oden finished with 12 points and nine rebounds.
The Blazers were coming off a 129-109 victory over Phoenix on Thursday night. The victory over Memphis improved Portland to 30-7 at the Rose Garden.
"We didn't want to overlook this team," Roy said. "We wanted to come out and be solid. Every game is important. It doesn't matter if it's Phoenix or Memphis, we've gotta come out and do our best and establish ourselves early."
Memphis reserve Darius Miles, a former Blazer, was roundly booed by the Portland fans. One of the last remnants of the so-called Jail Blazers era, Miles was released by the team at the end of last season when an independent doctor ruled a knee injury that had sidelined him since November 2006 was career ending.
Miles nonetheless attempted a comeback and wound up on the Grizzlies' roster through the end of the season, despite a much-derided e-mail sent by the Blazers threatening possible legal action against any team that signed him. Because Miles played in more than 10 NBA games, the $18 million remaining on his contract came back on Portland's books and counts against the salary cap.
Aldridge led the Blazers with 22 points in a 103-92 win at Memphis on March 16. Portland also defeated the Grizzlies 94-90 at the Rose Garden on Feb. 18.
Notes: Portland's Oden and Memphis' Mike Conley played for Ohio State in 2007 when the Buckeyes made it to the NCAA title game. They also played together at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis. Oden missed Portland's first two games this season against the Grizzlies. "It felt just like another game," Conley said of their first game against each other. "It wasn't anything special. It was good to see him out there and doing well, but tonight I didn't even think about it, I just wanted to go out there and play." ... Memphis assistant coach Damon Stoudamire played eight seasons with the Blazers from 1997-2005.