Portland rallies for fifth straight win

PORTLAND — Nicolas Batum was certain his fourth straight 3-pointer was going to fall, even if it looked to everyone else like it wasn't.

"I was sure," he said about the last of a 3-point flurry that pulled the Portland Trail Blazers into the lead after trailing the Indiana Pacers by as many as 16 points Saturday night. The Blazers won it 97-92.

Teammate LaMarcus Aldridge had a different view — at first — of the hastily launched shot.

"I was like, 'Take your time and make it.' Whoa! 'Good shot, good shot,'" Aldridge mused.

Aldridge had 25 points and 12 rebounds for the Blazers, who have won five straight despite being beset by injuries and illness. Starting point guard Andre Miller was the latest casualty, missing the game because of gastroenteritis.

Batum, who hit five of eight 3-point attempts, had 23 points.

"Nic Batum really got hot from the 3-point line. We were spending so much attention on Aldridge that it left Batum open and he caught fire in the fourth quarter from downtown," Indiana coach Jim O'Brien said.

Danny Granger scored 24 points for the Pacers, who have lost four straight. James Posey's 3-pointer with 5.9 seconds left pulled Indiana within 95-92, but Wesley Matthews hit a pair of free throws to clinch it.

Miller left the game early in the first quarter after trying to play, leaving Portland to turn to swingman Rudy Fernandez at the point. Fernandez finished with 11 points and a season-high eight assists.

"We're hungry. We're working," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "We're not giving up or giving in to the adversity we've been facing."

Portland is playing without three-time All-Star Brandon Roy, who had arthroscopic surgery on both knees on Monday. Roy proclaimed before the game that he'd like to return this season, but would follow the advice of his doctors. The Blazers have set no timetable for his return.

Portland was also adjusting to the loss of center Marcus Camby, who had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Thursday.

Indiana jumped out to a 35-19 lead after A.J. Price's 3-pointer early in the second quarter, and the Blazers spent the rest of the half trying to catch up.

Matthews' running 6-footer and free throw narrowed it to 47-40, but the Pacers led 53-46 at the half. Indiana also had first-half leads but wound up losing to the Clippers and the Warriors in the first two games of their West Coast road trip.

Portland closed to 66-62 on Aldridge's 16-foot baseline jumper, and the Pacers' shooting suddenly went cold.

Batum's first 3-pointer finally put Portland up 72-70 early in the fourth quarter. His fourth in that stretch gave the Blazers an 85-77 lead. His five total 3-pointers matched a career high.

Portland extended the lead to as many as 11 points, but Darren Collison's jumper closed Indiana within 90-87 with 1:48 to go. But Fernandez answered for the Blazers with a 3-pointer.

"We have to learn how to win in these situations and we're just not doing it. We're just not closing games out," Granger said. "We're hoping there is light at the end of the tunnel and we stop losing these games."

Collison and Mike Dunleavy finished with 14 apiece for the Pacers. Roy Hibbert had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

It was Portland's fifth straight victory over the Pacers.

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