Massive comeback lifts Trail Blazers past Bobcats
Charlotte, NC (Sports Network) - Damian Lillard poured in 24 points and keyed a furious Portland comeback that lifted the Trail Blazers to a 118-112 overtime win over the slumping Charlotte Bobcats at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Fourteen of Lillard's scoring total came during the fourth quarter or overtime, and the talented rookie netted eight points as part of a 23-5 run that enabled the Blazers to overcome an 18-point deficit with five minutes left in regulation and force extra time. The young guard added nine assists in the improbable rally.
"I looked up and saw we were down 18, but I've watched teams while I was in college just fall apart and give away games," Lillard said. "I wasn't discouraged by being down, but I knew we had to start getting it turned around immediately."
LaMarcus Aldridge racked up 25 points and 13 rebounds and Nicolas Batum finished with 17 points and 13 boards for Portland, which also received 19 points from Wesley Matthews in its second straight victory after opening its current road trip with four losses.
The Bobcats have now dropped four in a row following a surprising 7-5 start to the season, and failed to hold on to their seemingly comfortable late lead despite 29 points from Ben Gordon and a 22-point, 7-assist effort out of Kemba Walker.
Charlotte dominated much of the second half in building a commanding 97-79 advantage just past the midpoint of the fourth quarter, but the Blazers got red-hot down the stretch to place the outcome back in doubt.
After Batum began the pivotal surge with a 3-point basket, Lillard put up the game's next seven points and brought Portland within 97-89 by knocking down a 27-foot jumper with 3:46 to go.
Walker scored on the other end to temporarily stop the momentum, but the Trail Blazers countered with six unanswered points and closed within 99-95 on Luke Babbitt's bucket from beyond the arc with just over two minutes left.
Portland kept on coming, with Aldridge hitting a pair of shots after a Gordon triple that cut Charlotte's lead to 102-99 with time winding down. After Jeff Taylor misfired on the Bobcats' next trip down the floor, Babbitt sank a 26- footer off a Batum look with 22.8 seconds remaining to tie the score.
The Trail Blazers continued to make shots in overtime, with Batum snapping the deadlock with an early 3-pointer and Babbitt connecting again from long range later on for a 110-106 edge with 1:45 left.
Gordon drove the lane and scored to make it a 2-point game shortly afterward, and the Bobcats came up with a turnover on the ensuing possession. Charlotte would miss its next three shots, though, and the Blazers went 8-for-8 from the foul line in crunch time to hold on.
"I thought I could have done a better of helping them with substitutions," Charlotte coach Mike Dunlap said. "I kind of point the finger at me on this one."
Matthews put Charlotte in a 68-66 hole after burying a deep 3-pointer with 1:19 remaining in the third quarter, but the Bobcats rode the hot hand of Gordon during an overpowering 5-minute stretch that turned a close game into a sizeable lead.
Gordon knocked down four baskets from beyond the arc during a 21-2 Charlotte tear, the first giving his team the lead back just seconds after Matthews' trey and the last putting the Bobcats up by an 85-70 count with under nine minutes to play in regulation. A Michael Kidd-Gilchrist dunk less than a minute afterward provided Charlotte a 17-point cushion.
The Bobcats also started out the game on fire, connecting on nine of their first 13 field goal attempts and building a 20-6 lead midway through the first quarter on the strength of an 11-1 run in which Walker put up five points.
Charlotte shot a scorching 72.2 percent (13-of-18) from the field in the opening period, though its lead was trimmed down to five near the end of the frame when Aldridge scored back-to-back baskets to ignite a 6-0 spurt that brought the Blazers within 31-26.
Charlotte regained a double-digit differential five minutes into the second quarter, when Taylor followed a Byron Mullens 3-pointer with a steal and layup that made it a 41-31 game in the Bobcats' favor. Portland countered with a 7-0 burst, however, and maintained a 3-point deficit at the break as Charlotte entered the half holding a 54-51 edge.
Gordon eclipsed the 10,000-point mark for his career during the game, having now accumulated 10,006 in his nine NBA seasons ... Charlotte's Gerald Henderson returned to action after missing 13 straight games with a sprained left foot and finished with five points in 15 minutes ... Mullens compiled 12 points and 12 rebounds in the loss ... The win was Portland's sixth in its last seven meetings with Charlotte ... The Bobcats lost for the first time in five outings this season when leading after the first quarter.