Aldridge puts off surgery, leads Blazers over Wizards
PORTLAND, Oregon (AP) — Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge reversed his previous decision to have thumb surgery and turned out for the Trail Blazers on Saturday, helping them to a 103-96 win against Washington.
The Blazers pushed their lead in the NBA Northwest Division back out to nine games while the Wizards, second in the Eastern Conference, slipped further behind runaway leader Atlanta.
Among other games, Memphis had a comfortable win against lowly Philadelphia, and Milwaukee used accurate perimeter shooting to easily beat Detroit.
Aldridge had said he was expected to miss from six to eight weeks for ligament surgery, but just hours before the game, the Blazers announced the three-time All-Star would play.
He had 26 points and nine rebounds while Damian Lillard added 20 points and seven assists for the Blazers, who had to work hard to see off the persistent Wizards.
Scores were tied midway through the last quarter and Portland led by only two points with 3:28 left. The gap was at three points when Meyers Leonard sank three straight free throws with 1:07 left to push the lead out to six.
John Wall led Washington with 25 points and nine assists.
Memphis notched its sixth win in seven games by downing Philadelphia 101-83, opening its Southwest Division lead to 1-1/2 games.
Zach Randolph had 17 points and 14 rebounds and Jeff Green scored 18 for the Grizzlies, who led by 25 points in the second half before resting their starters in the fourth quarter.
Rookie Jerami Grant scored 16 points to lead the Sixers, who shot 38 percent and committed 24 turnovers.
Milwaukee hit 11 of its 17 3-point attempts and beat Detroit 101-86.
O.J. Mayo scored 20 points, including three 3s in just 47 seconds to spark an 18-2 run in the second quarter that turned a deficit into a 14-point lead.
Milwaukee also opened the second half with a 17-2 run. The Bucks led by as much as 30 in the third quarter of a rare easy victory.
Detroit’s Brandon Jennings scored 16 points before leaving late in the third with a lower left leg injury.
Utah’s Gordon Hayward scored 24 points to lead the Jazz to a 108-73 rout of Brooklyn.
Charlotte kept up its recent strong form with a 76-71 win against a New York team that had struggled all season yet won its previous three games.