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Aldridge, Lillard lead Blazers past Pacers, 88-82

Strange night at Moda Center with protests outside

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers Writer
Published: December 5, 2014, 12:00am

PORTLAND — It was far from a normal night at the normal night at the Moda Center, the game included.

Behind Damian Lillard’s 23 points and eight rebounds, the Trail Blazers beat the Indiana Pacers 88-82 in a hard-fought game Thursday.

“I think that was a great win for us,” Robin Lopez aid. “I definitely think we were the more physical team and that was really big for us.”

LaMarcus Aldridge recorded his fourth straight double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds to help the cause.

Both teams shot under 40 percent from the field and combined for 29 turnovers. The normally dynamic Blazers offense was a paltry 4-for-21 on 3-pointers.

Outside the lines, things were different as well.

There was an heightened security presence, including armored riot police who were waiting at the doors of the arena. They were preparing for protests converging on the site of the game.

Squad cars and police on motorcycles packed Rose Quarter. Lillard and Lopez saw no problems with the protesters presence.

“I mean it’s a protest,” Lillard said. “So their intention is to get people to join them and gather for the cause they represent. And I’m not mad at them about it.”

Lopez added: “As long as it’s a peaceful demonstration, I don’t really see the harm in it.”

During the game, the Blazers’ in-arena blimp crashed in the 200 level and was there for half of the first quarter. It was eventually pushed out into the concourse.

And, of course, there was the game in which the Blazers elite offense was befuddled by the Pacers scrappy and compact defense.

Indiana kept the game ugly which served the Blazers well. The Blazers were most successful taking advantage of 17 Indiana turnovers which led to 24 points for Portland.

“(We are) even better at it this year but it’s not necessarily one of our strengths,” Lopez said. “But we were effective in that facet of the game tonight.”

Blazers coach Terry Stotts said: “I liked the fact that we were in passing lanes but we were being solid. I didn’t think we were gambling.”

The Pacers also stayed alive by hitting the offensive glass hard, leading to 13 second chance points to Portland’s three.

Lillard was the only Blazer in double-figures after the first half. Lillard continued to get loose in the second half, but the Pacers wouldn’t go away. It seemed that with every Blazers run, Indiana would fight back ever so methodically.

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The fight became literal in the third quarter when Lopez and David West got tangled up. West was assessed with a technical foul, and Lopez wasn’t pleased with him after the game.

“I think he pushed me in the back,” Lopez said. “There was nothing to warrant that. It was a little bit of a cheap shot.”

The Pacers stayed close until the end. Indiana cut Portland’s lead to three points with 53 seconds left before the Blazers put the game away from the line.

The Blazers earned 15 more free-throw attempts than the Pacers.

Rodney Stuckey led Indiana with 16 points, six rebounds and five assists.

The Blazers have now won 12 of their last 13 games. The Pacers have now dropped three of their last five.

Stotts credited his bench with helping get the pace up in the second quarter.

“I thought Steve (Blake), particularly in the first half, go the ball out and got us moving,” Stotts said. “We stayed with that in the second half.”

The Blazers won fast-break points 19-6. Up next for the Blazers is a five-game road trip beginning Sunday in New York.

Columbian Trail Blazers Writer