Trail Blazers Avoid Collapse, Defeat Nets
Portland 88, New Jersey 83
PORTLAND, Ore., Jan. 27 (Ticker) -- Juan Dixon's hot shooting helped the Portland Trail Blazers build a big lead. His hot head nearly cost them the game.
Dixon scored 26 points on 12-of-16 shooting but also was ejected late in the fourth quarter, leaving the Trail Blazers to hang on for an 88-83 triumph over the reeling New Jersey Nets.
"First of all, I want to apologize to my coach, teammates and the organization," Dixon said. "That was way out of my character and I was wrong. I was frustrated, thought I had been fouled a number of times trying to get the ball up the court and I just really wanted to win this game."
Zach Randolph was called for a technical foul seconds later, and the Nets used the momentum caused by their opponents' frustration to go on a 7-0 run and get within a bucket.
Former Blazer Clifford Robinson scored four of his season-high 22 points during the surge. Richard Jefferson, who scored 23 points, capped the burst with a pair of free throws to make it 82-80 with 54 seconds remaining.
"I think it just shows you where we are as a team," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "We are a young, inexperienced team that is trying to learn to finish a game. You saw some of our maturity and inexperience come out when the game got tight and got frustrating. We almost gave this game away. Hopefully we learn from this."
New Jersey made a stop, but Jason Kidd missed the first of three 3-pointers in the final 27 seconds to drop the Nets to 0-3 on their four-game road trip.
"It got sloppy out there at the end," Dixon added. "We pulled through. Guys were able to keep their head - unlike me - and we got a much-needed win."
"Our guys competed their tails off," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "We gave ourselves a chance with the right people shooting the ball. If I were to make any excuses, it would be that Jason and Richard had to log a lot of minutes. Those minutes will catch up to your legs and affect shots at the end of a game."
Kidd collected 18 points and eight assists. He had to pick up his offense because leading scorer Vince Carter was sidelined with a stiff back.
"We were a little shorthanded, but that's just part of the NBA," Frank added. "We still put ourselves in a position to win but just couldn't get it done. You play with the guys you got because that is the nature of the league."
Jefferson and Kidd combined for nine first-half turnovers and 13 total.
"With Vince out, I can't have seven turnovers," said Jefferson, who shot 8-of-16 from the floor. "Especially if they are going to play through me and have the ball in crucial moments. I had two turnovers back-to-back when we're trying to make a run late in the game. Even if they don't score, that's still a minute less to try and make a comeback."
"Early on, we committed too many turnovers and were pressing out there," Kidd said. "We were able to clean it up, get some looks. That what helped us get back in the game."
Portland shot 70 percent (12-of-17) in the first quarter and closed with a 17-4 run to take a 28-14 lead. The teams played evenly in the second period as Portland took a 48-34 lead into intermission.
"That's seems to be the theme on this road trip," Jefferson added. "At least tonight we fought back and made it a game. We gotta stay confident on this road trip, play team basketball and good things will start to happen."