NEW ORLEANS – The slumping New Orleans Hornets once again dug themselves into a second-half hole that they would not get out of on Monday afternoon at New Orleans Arena.
LaMarcus Aldridge and the visiting Portland Trail Blazers were the latest team to victimize Monty Williams’ ball club, dispatching the Hornets, 84-77. Aldridge scored a game-high 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field.
New Orleans trailed Potrland by only two points, 35-37, at halftime, but endured another poor third quarter performance. Behind a 17-4 run to open the third quarter, Portland raced out to a double-digit lead that the Hornets would not threaten for the rest of the game.
“We came out more aggressively and started getting stops,” Blazers Coach Nate McMillan said about his team’s play in the second half. “We started pushing the ball up the floor instead of walking it up. We picked up the tempo and started playing full court basketball, and we were able to build a lead.”
Portland never allowed New Orleans to get in rhythm on offense. The Blazers harrassed the Hornets into committing 19 turnovers, which Portland converted into 23 points. New Orleans was also found few good looks at the goal and wound up shooting 41 percent from the field, including 0-of-9 from behind the three-point line.
“We just shot ourselves in the foot (with turnovers),” Emeka Okafor said. We played good defense and set our turnovers across the board. We just have to do a better job of taking care of the basketball.”
Jarrett Jack carried the offensive load for New Orleans, scoring 21 points . Okafor and Chris Kaman scored 12 points apiece to join Jack as the only other Hornets in double figures. Jason Smith struggled in his first start of the season, finshing with two points. Reverve forward Gustavo Ayon finished with eight points, five rebounds, two blocks.
The Blazers committed 17 turnovers and were outrebounded 40-37, but made up for it with timely shooting. New Orleans cut the lead to 79-71 with 2:45 left in the fourth quarter, but Nicolas Batum made a 3-pointer to virtually put the game out of reach.
Batum came off the bench to add 19 points for the Blazers, who ended their three-game losing streak. Gerald Wallace scored 14 points and Wesley Mathews chipped in with 10 points. Raymond Felton contributed with 12 assists. Portland shot 47 percent from the field for the game.
“Sure it was ugly, but we needed a win and we’ll take it,” McMillan said. “We know we can play better and we know we’ll have to play bettr, but we’re happy with the win.”
The loss sent the Hornets to a 3-10 record, the worst in the Western Conference. It was New Orleans fourth-straight loss and sixth straight home loss.
“At the end of the day, I’m always about the things that I do that help this team,” Williams said. “I’ve got to put guys in a position to succeed. I’ve got to get guys out of the game that aren’t playing. I have to coach better.”
New Orleans will try to snap their losing streak on Wednesday night when they host the Memphis Grizzlies.
New Orleans took three of four from Portland last season...The Blazers improved to 2-4 on the road this season, while the Hornets fell to 1-6 at home...New Orleans went 0-for-9 from beyond the arc, but made up for it with a 21-for-28 performance from the charity stripe...Portland went 6-for-20 from three-point range...Wesley Matthews had 10 points for the Blazers.
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