PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Last month when the 76ers hosted the Trail Blazers, they were embarrassed by a barrage of 3-pointers. Since then Philadelphia has made some defensive adjustments.
It showed on Saturday night when the Sixers paid back the Blazers in Portland by beating them 101-99. It was Philadelphia’s fourth straight win to conclude a six-game road trip.
“I give the guys so much credit for fixing the things that were so poor when we played them the last time,” coach Brett Brown said.
Thaddeus Young matched his season high with 30 points and the 76ers (12-21) displayed vastly improved defense in holding off a furious late rally by the Blazers (26-7).
Evan Turner added 23 points and rookie star Michael Carter-Williams had 16, but fell hard on the court at the final buzzer when he was trying to keep Damian Lillard from scoring the game-tying basket.
Carter-Williams appeared to hit his head and stayed down for several moments while his teammates held off their celebration. When he finally rose, he held his hand to his head.
“He got hit in the head by Thaddeus,” Brown said, adding that Carter-Williams was undergoing concussion tests and his condition was not immediately available.
Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge had 29 points and 14 rebounds for his 20th double-double this season. Robin Lopez added 14 points and 15 rebounds in just the Blazers’ fourth loss at home this season.
Portland led 76-69 going into the fourth quarter, but Young’s layup tied it at 84 and Spencer Hawes added another to give the 76ers the lead.
Tony Wroten hit a pair of baskets to make it 90-84 for Philadelphia, but Wesley Matthews, Lillard and Lopez all made free throws to tie the game at 90 with 2:32 left.
Philadelphia held off the Blazers and Young’s tip-in gave the Sixers a 96-94 lead. Spencer Hawes made a pair of free throws to give the 76ers a 99-95 lead with 19.3 seconds left.
But after Aldridge hit a layup and Turner made free throws, Lillard’s layup closed Portland to 101-99 with 7.9 seconds left. A steal by Robin Lopez gave Portland back the ball but Lillard missed a layup at the buzzer that would have sent the game to overtime.
“I had a good look,” Lillard said. “Off-balance or not, I’ve got to make that.”
On Dec. 14 when the Blazers visited Philadelphia they drained a franchise-best 21 3-pointers en route to a 139-105 victory. Carter-Williams did not play in that game because of a skin infection on his right knee.
Portland matched the franchise record on Thursday, when they had 21 3s in a 134-104 rout over the Charlotte Bobcats. It was the first time a team has had at least 20 3-pointers in two games in a single season. The NBA record for 3-pointers in a single game is 23.
It appeared that this game could be similar 3-point clinic. The Blazers ranked atop the league with 349 3s this season and a 40.5 3-point percentage.
But Portland made just three of 22 3-point attempts.
“When I heard they hit like 21 the other night, you think of the law of averages. Sometimes the basketball god says ‘Tonight’s not your night from the 3-point line,” said Turner.
The 76ers jumped out to an 18-4 lead midway through the first half on Thaddeus Young’s dunk. Portland was sloppy, with five turnovers in the first seven minutes, and had trouble adjusting to Philadelphia’s energetic tempo.
But the Blazers chipped away, pulling to within 39-32 on Mo Williams long jumper. He added a 3-pointer to narrow the gap to 47-45, before Wesley Matthews’ fast-break layup tied it. Portland pulled in front on Aldridge’s jumper but the Sixers led 52-50 at the half.
Portland led by nine points late in the third quarter, but the stubborn Sixers wouldn’t let the Blazers go up by double digits. Wroten made a pair of free throws that got Philadelphia within 78-77 early in the final period.
NOTES: With his first six points, Aldridge became the fourth-leading scorer in Trail Blazers history, passing Jerome Kersey (10,067). … Portland’s Nicolas Batum has had at least seven rebounds and seven assists eight times this year, second only to LeBron James with 11. … After the game the Blazers said Batum sustained an avulsion fracture of his left middle finger, meaning a fragment pulled away from the bone, but he is still listed as probable for Tuesday’s game at Sacramento. … Young has at least 25 points in six of his last seven games.