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Blazers carry Bobcats out of Moda on a 'trey'

by: TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - MATTHEWSThe unstoppable force met the very movable object Thursday night at the Moda Center.

Charlotte's stifling defense was supposed to provide a test for the Trail Blazers' high-octane offense. It was more like the Muppets squaring off with Hell's Angels.

The result was a rollicking 134-104 victory as the Blazers put on a 3-point shooting display for the ages.

Portland (26-7) tied the franchise record with 21 3-pointers in 33 attempts (.636), leaving the Bobcats (14-20) as overmatched as a wind sock in a hurricane.

"How about those Sooners?" Portland coach Terry Stotts said as he began his post-game press conference, the reference to his alma mater's upset of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl earlier in the evening.

Stotts could afford to be lighthearted on a night in which his Blazers could do little wrong, jumping to a 20-point first-quarter lead on their way to shooting a season-high .581 from the field.

"Not a lot to say," Stotts said. "We looked fresh. We played well at both ends of the court. We caught a team on the (the second night of) back-to-back (games). We passed the ball really well, got good shots, and guys were feeling it."

Especially Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews, who combined to make 17 of 23 shots from the field and 11 of 12 from 3-point range. Add in Mo Williams -- who was 6 for 9 from the field and 3 for 5 on 3-pointers -- and the backcourt trio was 23 for 32 overall and 14 for 17 from beyond the arc.

"I'm not going to lie to you," said Matthews, who scored a game-high 25 points on 8-for-11 shooting, including 5 of 6 from downtown. "I felt 'on' when I woke up from my nap today."

The Blazers started hot and cooled only slightly, making 7 of 8 3-point attempts in the first quarter and 12 of 17 in the first half. They fell two short of the NBA record for 3's made in a game -- 23, co-held by Orlando in 2005 and Houston in 2013 -- but became the first team in league history to have a pair of games in which it made 20 or more in a season.

"I like being part of history," Stotts said. "I think that's pretty cool. It's good to do something that's never been done before."

The Blazers entered the game shooting a league-best .396 from beyond the arc and improved on that considerably.

"It was a lot of fun, with shots falling like that, but we've been doing it all year," Lillard said.

Well, not like Thursday night. But the Blazers have made the 3-point shot their calling card this season.

"Everybody has been willing to make that extra pass," Lillard said. "We have a lot of good shooters. If we get in a good enough rhythm, if we get good looks and the ball is moving how it did, that's the kind of night it can be."

"We're going to shoot 3's and we're going to shoot them well," Stotts said. "We're going to make our percentages, because we have a lot of good shooters."

Seven Blazers knocked down at least one 3-point shot, and even LaMarcus Aldridge (0 for 1) and Meyers Leonard (0 for 2) tried to join the party.

"When the guys are hitting like that, that makes it easy for me," said center Robin Lopez, who had 14 points on 7-for-10 shooting and five rebounds in 26 minutes. "All I have to do is get somebody on the floor open, set the screen, give him a little space and let him go to work."

"Making those shots is contagious," Matthews said. "Our crowd gets into it. Our crowd is almost willing the ball in for us, before we even shoot it.

"When that ball is flying around the perimeter like that, when (Aldridge) is kicking it out, it's almost like it's expected you're going to make the shot."

Aldridge had 10 points and a game-high 15 rebounds in 28 minutes as the Bobcats made him a defensive priority. The Blazers wound up with 34 assists, their second-most in a game all season.

"The passes were on target tonight," said Lillard, whose 9-for-13 shooting performance including 6-for-6 credentials from 3-point range. "We knew the play was going to be there before it happened. We saw (the Bobcats) doubling L.A. Once he kicked it out, we knew they'd be in rotation.

"The guy who caught that first pass out knew there was going to be another pass. Guys were willing to make that pass. We got a lot of good looks."

Portland used a 24-4 run to jump in front 33-13 en route to a 39-21 lead after one quarter. The lead ballooned to 32 points and the Bobcats never cut the margin to less than 17.

For a team with a league-best 26 victories, the Blazers have precious few blowouts. They are 14-3 in games decided by 10 points or fewer and had only two wins by more than 15 points before Thursday. Stotts was able to get at least seven minutes of action for all 13 players dressed, with nobody playing as many as 30.

"It's always good to get a win like this," Stotts said. "Guys on the bench can get some minutes; starters can get some rest. You have to enjoy these, because they don't come often."

"It's a good feeling," Matthews said, a smile forming on his face. "We didn't get to do that much last year. It was on the other end, actually."

  • NOTES

    • Portland's next action is at home Saturday night against Philadelphia.

    • Portland had also made 21 3-pointers in a 139-105 rout of the 76ers on Dec. 14.

    • Lillard is the second player in Portland history to make at least six 3's without a miss. Terry Porter holds the record with a 7-for-7 performance against Golden State in 1992.

    • Portland matched its season-high score for the first quarter (39 points) and reached a season high for any half (70 in the first half).

    • The Blazers have the best record in the Western Conference, a half-game ahead of Oklahoma City (25-7) and one game better than San Antonio (25-8). Indiana leads the East at 25-6, with Miami at 24-8.

    • It was the second-highest scoring total of the season for Portland, which beat Philadelphia 139-105 on Dec. 14.

    • Portland forward Nicolas Batum compiled eight points, seven rebounds and seven assists in only 28 minutes.

    • Leonard had eight points and 10 rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench.

    • Portland hammered Charlotte on the boards 52-30.

    • Charlotte shot .430 from the field, a hair better than its .420 average, worst in the NBA.

    "We wanted to get stops," Matthews said. "Everybody who got scored on tonight was mad about it. Everybody was holding each other accountable. That's the way we're going to win. We know we can score. We know we can get hot like this. It's our defense that will take us over the hump."

    • The Blazers entered the game as the only team to have used the same starting five (Batum, Aldridge, Lopez, Lillard and Matthews) all season.

    "That's been very important to our success," Stotts said. "We've been very fortunate. We haven't had to talk about injuries at all."

    • The only change Stotts has made to his rotation all season is the insertion of second-year center-forward Leonard ahead of Thomas Robinson off the bench. Stotts said the 7-1 Leonard, who has played in each of the last seven games, was brought in for primarily defensive purposes.

    • Charlotte had been blitzed 112-85 by the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night at Staples Center.

    • The Bobcats came in ranked third in the league in opponents' scoring (94.4) and fifth in opponents' field-goal percentage (.429) but 29th in scoring (92.3) and last in field-goal percentage (.420).

    "We actually want to play as fast as we can," Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. "Our games have been low-scoring because we are not a power offensive team, but also because our defense has been good. We have made teams work into the shot clock. But our philosophy is get the ball up the floor and the defense on the move as quickly as we can."

    • Point guard Kemba Walker, who came into the game leading the Bobcats in scoring at 18.5 points a game, was 2 for 10 from the field and scored only six points.

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