PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points in his third game back from injury and the Portland Trail Blazers extended their winning streak to three games with a 105-98 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night.
Reserve Mo Williams added 17 points and Wesley Mathews had 15 for the Blazers, who avoided a three-game series sweep.
Portland opened a two-game lead over Golden State for the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference playoff race and pulled within 2 1/2 games of No. 4 Houston with seven games remaining.
Zach Randolph scored 21 points and Marc Gasol had 20 points for the Grizzlies, who lost back-to-back games for the first time since Feb. 3-5 and dropped a half-game behind idle Dallas for the West’s eighth and final playoff berth.
After struggling in their two previous games against Memphis, the Blazers shot 52.0 percent (39 of 75) and had five players score in double figures.
Portland dominated the second quarter, making 10 of 16 shots (62.5 percent) and getting eight points from both Aldridge and Williams to extend a two-point lead at the end of the first quarter to a 57-45 halftime advantage.
Mathews and Aldridge combined for 13 points during a first quarter that had eight lead changes and six ties before Will Barton followed his own miss to score and give the Blazers a 25-23 lead.
The Grizzlies, making their third stop on a five-game swing, made 3 of 14 shots in the first six minutes of the second quarter and were outscored 16-6 as the Blazers extended the lead to 41-29 on two free throws by Aldridge with 5:59 to play in the half.
Mike Conley’s 3-pointer pulled the Grizzlies within 43-34, but the Blazers reeled off six quick points to open their largest lead of the second quarter, going up 49-34 when Damian Lillard set up Thomas Robinson for a transition lay-up with 3:58 to play in the half.
Lillard, held scoreless on 0-for-3 shooting in the first half, hit his first four shots of the second half, including a 3-pointer that pushed Portland’s lead to 78-60.
Trailing 91-72 early in the fourth, the Grizzlies mounted one final push and cut the Blazers’ lead to 103-96 on James Johnson’s 3-pointer from the left corner with 1:12 to play.
Gasol’s basket pulled Memphis within 103-98 before Lillard made two free throws with 6 seconds left to close out the scoring.
NOTES: The Grizzlies have a 16-1 record in road games in which they hold teams to fewer than 90 points and are now 4-15 record when allowing more than 90 points. . Blazers rookie guard Allen Crabbe rejoined the team after a three-game stint with the NBDL’s Idaho Stampede, during which he averaged 15.3 points and shot 39.6 percent (19 of 48) from the field. Crabbe was listed as inactive for Sunday’s game. . Portland forward Joel Freeland (right knee sprain) missed his 23rd consecutive game and remains sidelined indefinitely.