Trail Blazers 106, Bucks 80
LaMarcus Aldridge is playing the best basketball of his career, and it could not come at a better time for the Portland Trail Blazers.
Aldridge had 29 points and a career-high 19 rebounds, and the Blazers shook off injury problems to rout the Milwaukee Bucks 106-80 Monday night.
''This is the best I have played,'' Aldridge said. ''Points in the paint, going to the basket, getting free throws, all those things are pretty high right now.''
Wesley Matthews added 22 points for the Blazers, who have won three in a row and had only eight players dressed after losing Dante Cunningham to a sprained right ankle early in the game. Rudy Fernandez added 17 points off the bench. The Blazers were without All-Star Brandon Roy for the third straight game.
The 6-foot-11 Aldridge, averaging 19.1 points and 8.5 rebounds in his fifth NBA season, has rushed into the void left by Roy, who has missed six games this season and been uneven in others while struggling with a sore knee that has taken away much of his explosiveness.
In the last four games, Aldridge has had games of 35 and 36 points, and has led Portland in rebounding in every contest. The Blazers tend to move the ball through Roy when he is on the court. Without him, Aldridge has been more aggressive.
''He's playing like a monster and that's what we need him to do,'' Matthews said. ''He's always had it but he's been deferring a little bit. Now he's putting the team on his back and carrying us through this stretch.''
John Salmons scored 14 of his 23 points in the third quarter for the Bucks (10-16), who have lost three in a row. Keyon Dooling added 12, while Luc Mbah a Moute and Drew Gooden each had 10.
Bucks point guard and leading scorer Brandon Jennings was lost Saturday with a fractured left foot that will have him out four to six weeks. Jennings joined Corey Maggette, Carlos Defino and Michael Redd on the injured list.
''Obviously, we missed Brandon tonight,'' center Andrew Bogut said. ''His scoring and his penetration helps keep the floor spread. Teams are starting to really pound us now and we have to adjust.''
Portland centers Marcus Camby (strained shoulder) and Joel Przybilla (sprained ankle) were both out, forcing Portland to start 6-8 reserve forward Cunningham at center. Cunningham left the game after getting knocked to the floor four minutes in and did not return.
Bogut, coming off a 19-point, nine-rebound performance against Utah, could not capitalize on the size advantage, with just five points and five rebounds. Portland outrebounded the Bucks 43-35.
Matthews made his first five shots, including three 3-pointers in a row, and the Blazers went up 20-7. Dooling scored twice and Gooden added a three-point play as the Bucks whittled the lead down to 25-18 by the end of the quarter.
Milwaukee stalled in the second and the Blazers started compiling points. Nicolas Batum slammed down an alley-oop dunk and converted a free throw to make it 41-26. Aldridge put Portland up 52-31 after a three-point play, and the Blazers led by 24 at the half.
Salmons was scoreless in the first half, but he keyed a temporary Bucks comeback, scoring 14 of the team's 25 points in third, and helping Milwaukee cut the lead to 18 by the end of the quarter.
Milwaukee got as close as 80-67 in the fourth after Earl Boykins made a 3-pointer, but Aldridge scored 11 in the period, and the Bucks got no closer.
''(The Blazers) dominated the game, every facet, from start to finish,'' Dooling said. ''We didn't start out well enough and they kept the pedal to the metal.''
Notes: Milwaukee is 3-11 against teams from the Western Conference. ... Jennings had played in 107 consecutive games since being picked 10th overall in the 2009 draft. ... The Blazers have won six in a row at home.