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Blazers wrangle the Bulls, 'over' hits

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Wesley Matthews was kind of taken aback when he was told that Portland's last three-game winning streak came in the Trail Blazers' first three games of last season.

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The Blazers had been unable to string a trio of wins together since then until Sunday night, when they beat the Chicago Bulls 102-94.

``It feels good, getting our juices going, our confident going,'' said Matthews, who had 21 points. ``We're finally playing like a team that knows how to win.''

The other two wins, a 103-89 victory at Sacramento before a 119-117 overtime victory over Houston at the Rose Garden on Friday, came after a three-game losing streak.

As for it being the longest winning streak since the Blazers opened last season with three wins, Matthews shook his head. Portland finished the lockout season 28-39, capped by a seven-game losing streak.

``Last season was such a debacle,'' he said. ``I don't want to talk about it for the rest of my life.''

Nicolas Batum also scored 21 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 18 points and 13 rebounds as all of Portland's starters were in double figures.

After trailing by as many as 15 in the third quarter, the Bulls came back to tie it at 73 early in the fourth. But Portland pulled back in front 87-75 on Matthews' pull-up jumper with 5:04 left.

Matthews appeared to seal it with a 3-pointer that made it 93-81 with 1:26 left, but Nate Robinson hit a 3 to narrow it to 98-94 with 13.9 seconds to go. Batum and Aldridge each hit a pair of free throws and rookie Damian Lillard dunked to help the Blazers hang on.

Joakim Noah had 16 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists for Chicago, which lost its second straight after falling 101-80 to the Clippers in Los Angeles on Saturday night. The Bulls (5-5) had not lost two straight this season.

``The defense right now, the intensity, we've got to get that part right,'' Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. ``The defense, the rebounds and the turnovers, all three are a problem right now, so we've got to correct that. Those three things put you in a position to win.''

The Blazers have won five straight games against the Bulls at the Rose Garden.

Portland improved to 5-5 in coach Terry Stotts' first season with the team.

``It's good to be .500, but we didn't go into the game saying `Let's be .500,''' Stotts said. ``The important thing is winning at home and playing well. The record takes care of itself.''

Chicago pulled ahead 30-23 with about 10 seconds left in the first quarter on Luol Deng's layup. Matthews' pullup jumper tied it at 32 before Aldridge made a jumper to put the Blazers in front.

Batum's dunk with 3:59 left in the half gave Portland a 43-39 lead. The Blazers went on to lead 51-43 at the break. Batum opened the second half with a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 54-43. Another Batum 3 put Portland ahead 61-47 and yet another one made it 67-53.

Taj Gibson got the Bulls within 69-64 with a layup with 2:31 left in the quarter. Chicago pulled even closer on Deng's layup to open the final quarter, then evened it at 73 at Gibson made a layup and a free throw.

Ronnie Price's long jumper prevented the Bulls from taking the lead, and Batum's 3-pointer and Price's layup extended it. Price also hit a free throw, making him the first Blazers reserve to score in double digits this season.

Price, who has been hampered this season by a right ankle injury, finished with 10 points and five assists. The Blazers could use his help to spell Lillard, the sixth overall pick in the June NBA draft.

``I'm not completely 100 percent by any means, but I'm able to contribute,'' he said.

Lillard finished with 16 points and J.J. Hickson had 10.

Notes: Portland won the only meeting against the Bulls last season, a 100-89 victory in Chicago. It was the first game under interim head coach Kaleb Canales following the dismissal of Nate McMillan. Canales was retained as an assistant after the Blazers hired coach Terry Stotts in the offseason. ... Chicago's Luol Deng and Portland's Joel Freeland were teammates on Britain's Olympic basketball team. ... Lillard is the first player to average 19 points and six assists through his first 10 games since Isiah Thomas in 1981. ... It was Portland's first game of the season with six total players in double figures.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
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