Nate McMillan called it a "gut check." The Trail Blazer coach's band of iron men passed with flying colors Monday night. Down to what amounted to a six-man rotation because of injuries, Portland put together one of its finest all-around performances of the season in a 109-103 victory over Chicago at the Rose Garden. LaMarcus Aldridge and Andre Miller were superb and their supporting cast good enough to send the Bulls (34-16) down to defeat on a night when both teams played well enough to win. Aldridge scored a career-high 42 points while Miller put up fantasy-league numbers with 27 points, 11 assists, six rebounds and four steals. "Miller got whatever he wanted," Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said, "and Aldridge basically got wherever he wanted. We weren't able to take anything away from them, so it was an easy game for them offensively." Portland survived a sensational show by Chicago's Derrick Rose, who went for 36 points. For the Bulls, it wasn't quite enough. Down another body as Dante Cunningham sat out due to a fractured eye socket suffered in Saturday's win at Cleveland, McMillan's crew still found a way to win. "Being shorthanded with Dante not being able to go, we had guys step in and play some different roles," McMillan said. "Chicago is a good team, a very physical team defensively. ... that was a big win for us tonight." The Blazers won the game at the foul line, where they were 37 for 40 to Chicago's 11 for 18. "That shows the team was being aggressive taking it to the basket," McMillan said. Especially Miller (13 for 13), Aldridge (12 for 14) and Fernandez (8 for 9). "Some nights, we do it for parts of games," Fernandez said. "Tonight, we were aggressive the whole 48 minutes." The Blazers got off to a great start, making 11 of 14 shots in the first quarter to take a 28-26 lead. They finished at .515 from the field, getting plenty of open shots against a Chicago team that ranks second in the league in opponents' field-goal percentage. And the Blazers outscored the Bulls 18-4 in fast-break points. "We put the game into slow motion for us," Miller said. "We didn't hurry it up. That's one of the better defensive and rebounding teams in the league. We found ways to get to the basket, we got into transition and were able to get to the free throw line 40 times. It's good to get that win against a good team." Aldridge continued the tear that began Dec. 15 when he put 35 points and 10 rebounds on Dallas. Since then, he is averaging 25.4 points and 10.2 rebounds on .524 shooting.
It's Aldridge, it's Miller and it's Blazers
Portland Tribune | Feb 8