CHICAGO (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge scored 21 points and Wesley Matthews added 18 and the revamped Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Chicago Bulls 100-89 on Friday.
One day after trading starters Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby then firing head coach Nate McMillan, the Blazers hung with the Bulls through three quarters then pulled away in the fourth quarter.
Jamal Crawford hit a buzzer-beating 3 to get the Blazers within 79-78 at the end of the third quarter. Then Crawford tied the game on a free throw after a technical foul.
After an emotional victory against the Heat without Derrick Rose on Wednesday, the Bulls were unable to win a second straight game with the reigning MVP sitting on the bench with a strained groin.
The Blazers are moving on a day after making major changes.
Interim coach Kaleb Canales, who is the youngest coach in the NBA at age 34, is still going through his same routine.
Before Friday’s game against Chicago, facing the team with the NBA’s best record, Canales was on the court giving his players bounce and chest passes during shooting drills.
“He’s not going to change who he is,” starting guard Wesley Matthews said. “He’s going to stay true to his roots. That’s what got him to where he’s at. I have a lot of respect for that.”
“I was just going through our normal pregame routine with Wesley and LaMarcus (Aldridge),” Canales said. “It was a good warm-up session.”
And will he continue to do that?
“Yes. All season,” Canales said.
Canales has been with the Blazers organization since 2004, going from a video intern to video coordinator and then in 2008, he was hired as an assistant coach.
Regarding the changes on Thursday, Matthews said, “It’s a business. You wish him (McMillan) the best of luck. He’s done a lot for Portland and for coaching. This won’t be his last coaching job.
Although Portland is in last place in the Northwest Division (20-23) and in 12th place overall in the Western Conference, reaching the playoffs is still the goal.
“We’re right there in the playoff race,” Blazers second-leading scorer Jamal Crawford said.
Canales is eager to get going.
“I’m extremely fired up,” Canales said. “I can’t wait to get out there on the court.”
“We’re excited for him,” Matthews said. “It’s not under the ideal circumstances, but it’s something that he’s worked very hard for.”