Aldridge, Hickson, Lillard lead 99-89 season sweep of Bulls

Aldridge, Hickson, Lillard lead 99-89 season sweep of Bulls

Aldridge, Hickson, Lillard lead 99-89 season sweep of Bulls

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by Associated Press

Posted on March 21, 2013 at 10:45 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 22 at 5:34 AM

CHICAGO (AP) -- LaMarcus Aldridge said he enjoys playing in Chicago. It sure showed Thursday night. Aldridge scored 28 points to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 99-89 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

"This is one of my top three cities to play in, all the tradition. They traded me on draft night, so this is always fun," said Aldridge, whom the Bulls selected with the second overall pick in 2006 before trading him to the Blazers in a deal involving their pick, Tyrus Thomas.

Damian Lillard added 24 and the Portland improved to 10-25 on the road to sweep the season series with the Bulls for the first time since the 2008-09 season.

Joakim Noah had 18 points and Carlos Boozer added 16 points and 11 rebounds for Chicago, which shot 44 percent.

"That was probably, if not the best, one of our better defensive performances of the season," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "Our pick-and-roll defense was very good. We helped. Our weak side was active. We covered the paint pretty well. The points came, but they didn't come without the defense."

J.J. Hickson grabbed a career-high 21 rebounds for Portland, which held a 45-41 rebounding advantage.

"The energy was there. Everyone was focused on the game plan," Blazers forward Nicolas Batum said. Chicago led 21-20 after the first quarter, but Portland scored the first 14 points of the second quarter and outscored the Bulls 32-16 in the period to take a 52-37 lead at halftime. Aldridge led Portland with 16 points at the break and Lillard had 13. 

"First quarter was fine. Second quarter was bad," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We have to be up on them more than we were. You give them space, they are going to score. We need to play better." Portland extended its lead to 28 in the third quarter before the Bulls made a late charge, outscoring the Blazers 36-19 in the final quarter.

The Blazers shot 49 percent from the field and went 10 of 21 from 3-point range, led by Lillard's four 3-pointers. Batum and Wesley Matthews each hit three 3-pointers.

"Our defense was terrible," Gibson said. "We couldn't stop them. They were hot. The ball pressure wasn't good enough. They were knocking down jump shots from every single part of the court."

Aldridge grabbed eight rebounds to fall short of his sixth consecutive double-double. The Western Conference Player of the Week had averaged 26.8 points and 12.2 rebounds in his last five games.

Portland continues its road trip Friday at Atlanta.

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