Blazers End Losing Skid, Sting Hornets
Portland 98, New Orleans/Oklahoma City 95 (OT)
PORTLAND, Oregon, Dec. 9 (Ticker) -- The Portland Trail Blazers summoned every ounce of energy they had to snap their longest losing streak of the season.
Juan Dixon scored a season-high 28 points off the bench and rookie Martell Webster and Ruben Patterson made key plays down the stretch in overtime as the Trail Blazers halted a six-game skid with a thrilling 98-95 victory over the New Orleans Hornets.
"We needed this win, bad," Dixon said. "It felt great. We've been on a heck of a losing streak. Things were getting a little down around here. Coach's spirits were still extremely high. He said we just needed to play with some passion, and I made a point to myself that I was going to be extremely aggressive."
With Portland trailing 93-91 late in overtime, Patterson drove the lane and found Webster for a huge 3-pointer in the left corner with 56 seconds left. The sixth overall pick in this year's draft, Webster had scored just one point through the first 52 minutes.
"I'm a shooter, and coach has told me to keep shooting," Webster said. "Definitely, my teammates had faith in me. Rube drove the baseline, kicked it to the corner and I knocked it down."
After Portland's Joel Przybilla blocked a shot by David West on the next possession, Patterson drilled a short jumper for a three-point lead and added two free throws with 5.7 seconds remaining to seal the win.
"Total team effort," Patterson said. "But I give the credit to Juan. He played great. Martell hit a big shot and I got the clutch shot at the end. It feels good when you win, eases the pain from the other night."
On Wednesday, the Blazers squandered a 14-point, fourth-quarter lead to the Minnesota Timberwolves en route to an 84-74 defeat.
"The other night, we didn't get stops and we didn't knock down the open shots we got," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "Tonight, we made the stops and we knocked down the shots, and that was the difference between winning and losing."
Dixon originally forced overtime with a myriad of incredible shots in the fourth quarter, capped by his game-tying turnaround jumper with two seconds left. Most of regulation consisted of a back-and-forth battle between Dixon and Hornets reserve guard Speedy Claxton, who scored a season-high 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting.
"Coach called the set for me to come off and get a look," said Dixon, who scored 14 points in the fourth. "I was able to open on top of Speedy, who played good defense, but I was able to hit a heck of a shot."
"This was a tough one," said Claxton, who scored 17 points before the break. "Our defense in the fourth was terrible. We couldn't beat anybody if we play defense like that. We shouldn't have lost this one, man. That team is not better than us."
Viktor Khryapa scored 16 points, Patterson 12 and Przybilla 11 and 19 rebounds for Portland, which won despite making just 12-of-25 free throws.
Rookie Chris Paul scored 21 points and dished out 10 assists and West added 16 and three blocks for the Hornets, who dropped their fourth straight game.
"We gave them too many easy buckets," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "Too many lapses on the defensive end. Juan Dixon got going. I thought he got going because J.R. (Smith) was nowhere around him. He made some shots, and then all the sudden, the basket is as big as the ocean."
A jumper by West gave the Hornets an 82-74 lead with 6:47 remaining in the fourth, but Dixon sparked the Blazers during an 11-0 run with a jumper, a reverse layup in traffic and a 3-pointer.
Claxton responded with the Hornets down, 85-82, making two free throws and adding a steal that led to a jumper by West that restored the lead with 2:10 to go.
Dixon answered with a driving layup to give Portland an 87-86 edge and, after the teams exchanged empty possessions, Paul drilled a difficult 20-foot leaner from the left wing to beat the shot clock for an 88-87 edge.
Steve Blake missed a jumper on Portland's next trip, but Paul made just 1-of-2 free throws before Dixon forced overtime with the jumper.