Blazers pick up key victory in playoff chase

PORTLAND — LaMarcus Aldridge scored a season-high 29 points and added 12 rebounds to help the Portland Trail Blazers snap the Phoenix Suns' six-game winning streak with a 129-109 victory Thursday night.

Phoenix, making a late push for the playoffs, is ninth in the Western Conference — 31/2; games behind Dallas. The Blazers are sixth, tangled in a group jockeying for position behind the conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers.

Brandon Roy added 26 points and nine rebounds for Portland, which led by as many as 29 points.

Portland led 100-79 after three quarters, following Rudy Fernandez's jumper and buzzer-beating 3-pointer from 25 feet. The Suns sat their starters most of the rest of the way.

Fernandez came off the bench to score 23 points. The rookie from Spain made a career-high five 3-pointers.

Shaquille O'Neal led the Suns with 20 points and seven rebounds.

The Suns were coming off a 118-114 home victory over the Jazz the night before. After scoring 26 points in that game, Hill had just six against Portland.

The Blazers were coming off a 114-108 overtime loss to Philadelphia on Monday night. Roy was off, with just 12 points, and it hurt Portland. The two-time All-Star shrugged off whatever was bothering him against the Suns, jumping out with nine first-quarter points to set the tone.

The matchup between O'Neal and Greg Oden got off to a bad start for the rookie, when O'Neal twirled around him for the basket and the foul.

Oden had two key blocks in the second quarter and Portland built a 40-33 lead after Travis Outlaw's dunk. The Blazers led 57-65 at the half.

Steve Blake's floater put Portland up 71-61 early in the second half, and Aldridge extended it to 87-74 on a fast-break layup.

Oden's hook shot made it 91-74, capping a 12-4 Portland run.

The Suns beat the Blazers twice this season in Phoenix, but lost in Portland on Dec. 18 when Roy took off with a career-high 52 points in a 124-119 victory. It snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Suns.

Notes: French rookie Nicolas Batum, considered questionable before the game because of a sore left ankle, started for the Blazers. ... O'Neal and Joel Przybilla exchanged words late in the second quarter and were handed offsetting technical fouls. ... Fernandez had four 3-pointers in the first half, tying his career high. ... The Suns' playoff push doesn't get any easier with a game at Utah on Saturday.

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