Trail Blazers 102, Raptors 96

BY foxsports • February 12, 2011

LaMarcus Aldridge insists he isn't motivated by an All-Star snub. But with each game, the Portland forward makes the decision to leave him off the Western Conference team look ever more foolish.

Aldridge scored 14 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter, Rudy Fernandez had 23 and the Trail Blazers won their third straight game, beating the skidding Toronto Raptors 102-96 on Friday night.

''He's an All-Star,'' Fernandez said. ''The numbers say it. With all the injuries we have, LaMarcus takes responsibility on the court. Right now, he's an All-Star.''

Coming off a career-high 42 points in Monday's win over Chicago, Aldridge shot 14 for 25 and grabbed 10 rebounds. He went 9 for 12 from the free throw line.

But even after topping 35 points for the third time in six games, Aldridge said he's not worried about missing out on an All-Star trip.

''I'm over that,'' he said. ''All of that talk was over with when they picked the guys. I'm moving past that.''

Rather, Aldridge said his strong play is a mix of opportunity and personal improvement.

''Lately I've been in a really good rhythm,'' he said. ''The offense has been more tailored toward me because I've been playing well. As opportunities come you grow and I think I've just got better lately.''

Former teammate Jerryd Bayless, now with Toronto, said Aldridge deserves an All-Star nod.

''He's a special player,'' Bayless said. ''I tell everyone that I think he's the most underrated player in the league. The sky's the limit for him. He got snubbed for the All-Star game, no question about it. He's playing unbelievable.''

Andre Miller had 13 points and eight assists for the Trail Blazers, who have won 10 of 13.

Fernandez made his first eight shot attempts, six of them 3-pointers, before missing for the first time, coming up short from beyond the arc with 1:33 left in the third quarter.

''Rudy's shooting in that first half gave us a cushion,'' Blazers coach Nate McMillan said.

Andrea Bargnani scored 29 points and DeMar DeRozan had 17 for the Raptors, who lost for the 16th time in 17 games.

Bayless scored all 18 of his points in the fourth quarter, including four 3-pointers, while Sonny Weems had 10 for the Raptors. Toronto has lost 29 of 35 since Dec. 5.

Starting in place of injured Amir Johnson, Toronto's Ed Davis finished with a career-high 13 rebounds.

Trailing by two to start the fourth, the Raptors surged ahead 85-78 with 6:41 remaining thanks to a quartet of 3-pointers by Bayless.

Portland quickly got back in it. Aldridge made two free throws and, after Davis missed a pair from the line, Nicolas Batum hit a 3 to make it 85-83 with 5:40 left. After a Toronto timeout, a turnover by Bargnani led to a tying dunk from Batum.

Portland led 91-90 with 2:43 to play when Miller made a driving layup and added a free throw, stretching the lead to four. Bargnani answered with a hook shot but Aldridge and Miller both made jumpers to give the Blazers a 98-92 edge with 1:16 left.

Bayless made a layup and was fouled on Toronto's next possession, making both free throws to cut it to 98-96 with 11.7 seconds to go. Wesley Matthews was fouled and made both, and Aldridge grabbed the rebound on a missed 3 by DeRozan, then sealed it with a pair of free throws.

Toronto led 17-10 with 3:30 left in the first but the Blazers closed the quarter with a 13-2 run, including a pair of 3-pointers by Fernandez, to lead 23-19 after one.

Fernandez made all six shots he took in the second, adding four more from 3-point range and scoring 17 in the quarter. The Raptors fell behind by 15 before closing the half with a 14-7 run, but Portland led 55-47 at the break.

An alley-oop dunk by Aldridge off a pass from Miller gave the Blazers a 70-59 lead with 4:37 left in the third but Bargnani scored five points and Jose Calderon four as Toronto fought back with an 11-2 run. Portland led 72-70 to begin the fourth.

Johnson, who sprained his right ankle in Wednesday's loss to San Antonio, did not play for the first time this season. The Raptors were also without center Alexis Ajinca, out with a sore toe.

Portland's Dante Cunningham returned to the lineup wearing a protective face shield. Cunningham fractured his right eye socket in last Saturday's win at Cleveland and did not play in Monday's victory over Chicago.

NOTES: The teams combined for five turnovers in the game's first 54 seconds. ... DeRozan is the only Raptor to play in every game this season. ... Marcus Camby (left knee) dressed but did not play for Portland. Brandon Roy (knees) was also listed as active but was not in uniform. ... Calderon had 10 assists. ... Former Blue Jays third baseman Kelly Gruber attended the game.

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