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  • Blazers hand Celtics eighth straight loss

  • PORTLAND — For a second consecutive game, the Portland Trail Blazers wiped out a poor first-half performance with a big rally after the break.
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  • PORTLAND — For a second consecutive game, the Portland Trail Blazers wiped out a poor first-half performance with a big rally after the break.
    For the time being, Blazers coach Terry Stotts is all right with that formula.
    LaMarcus Aldridge had 21 points and 13 rebounds Saturday night as the Portland Trail Blazers handed the Boston Celtics their eighth straight loss, 112-104.
    "I like being a second half team. Given the choice I'd rather be a second half team," Stotts said. "But we're still a work in progress. There's room for improvement (and) we aren't a finished product. We've got to continue to grow incrementally."
    Earlier this week, Portland trailed Orlando by six points at halftime then outscored the Magic 65-43 to pull away for the win.
    Boston was Portland's fifth consecutive opponent with a losing record. The Blazers are only 3-2 during this stretch, and in all but one game they struggled during the first half.
    "Playing teams with a lesser record is apparently tough for us to get up for, but in the end it's good to get a win," Stotts said.
    Wesley Matthews scored 18 points and Nicolas Batum had 16 for Portland. Damian Lillard and Robin Lopez each had 15 points. Lopez also had 13 rebounds.
    "It's been a trend like this for the last month. We're getting every team's best shot, so we have to act accordingly," Matthews said. "We have the record of an elite team and we have to act that way."
    The win kept Portland tied for first place with Oklahoma City in the Northwest Division.
    The Celtics have lost their past three games to the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State and Portland, all by single digits.
    "You've got a shot to win against three contenders for the west but, at the same time, those droughts are killing us," Boston coach Brad Stevens said. "I think we can get better in those. But I'm trying to figure what it is because we're really playing at such a high level the whole rest of the time. That's the encouraging part."
    Avery Bradley led Boston (13-25) with 25 points. The Celtics, who have lost 11 of 12, shot 62 percent during the first half, but only 34 percent after halftime.
    Jared Sullinger had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Boston. Sullinger scored 26 points when the two teams played at Boston in November.
    Portland took control during the third quarter, when the Blazers took their first lead of the game. The 32-point quarter included a run of 13 consecutive points that staked Portland to a 77-68 lead.
    The Trail Blazers led by as many as 13 points midway through the fourth quarter, then held off a late Celtics run to win their second consecutive game.
    Pistons 110, Suns 108
    At Auburn Hills, Mich., Josh Smith's driving, left-handed bank shot with 1.2 seconds left gave the Detroit Pistons a win over the Phoenix Suns.
    Smith was involved in a few big plays in the final half-minute — both good and bad. His 3-pointer as the shot clock expired put Detroit ahead 108-105 with 26.8 seconds left. Then he fouled Gerald Green while the Phoenix guard was shooting a 3-pointer. Green made all three free throws to tie it with 4.3 seconds remaining.
    Kyle Singler contributed six points and eight rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench for Detroit.
    Rockets 114, Wizards 107
    At Washington, Houston built a 25-point lead, lost all of it and then some, then rallied from five down late in the fourth quarter to defeat Washington in a game twice delayed by leaks in the roof.
    Long after the stoppages of 35 and 22 minutes because the leaks, James Hardin tied the game with a driving layup with 2:33 to play, then gave the Rockets the lead again — this time for good — with a three-point play with 1:54 remaining. He finished with 25 points for the Rockets, who made only four field goals in the final period yet closed with a 17-5 run.
    Mavericks 110, Pelicans 97
    At Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki scored a season-high 40 points and Dallas recovered from a cold start to beat New Orleans for the second time in as many days.
    Nowitzki scored 20 points in the third quarter and hit seven straight shots after starting 2 of 9 from the field.
    Knicks 102, 76ers 92
    At Philadelphia, Amare Stoudemire scored 21 points and Carmelo Anthony added 18 to lead New York over Philadelphia.
    J.R. Smith returned from a one-game benching for unsportsmanlike conduct and contributed 11 points for the Knicks (14-22).
    Raptors 96, Nets 80
    At Toronto, DeMar DeRozan scored 26 points, Patrick Patterson had 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Toronto snapped Brooklyn's five-game winning streak.
    Terrence Ross scored 14 points, John Salmons had 13 and Kyle Lowry finished with 12 as Toronto won for the seventh time in nine games.
    Bulls 103, Bobcats 97
    At Chicago, D.J. Augustin had 20 points and 12 assists and Joakim Noah added 19 points and 14 rebounds to help streaking Chicago beat Charlotte for its fifth straight victory and improve to 3-0 since trading All-Star Luol Deng to Cleveland on Monday.
    Thunder 101, Bucks 85
    At Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant scored 33 points after missing his first eight shots and Serge Ibaka added 17 points and 17 rebounds to help Oklahoma City beat Milwaukee to snap a two-game skid.
    Jeremy Lamb added 17 points for the Thunder, who had lost four of six.
    Nuggets 120, Magic 94
    At Denver, Kenneth Faried had 17 points and nine rebounds, Randy Foye and Evan Fournier scored 18 points apiece, and Denver beat Orlando for its fifth straight victory after losing eight in a row.
    Quincy Miller had 16 points and 11 rebounds — both career highs — for the Nuggets, who had seven players score at least 13 points, including J.J. Hickson, who had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
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