By Ben Sullivan
Just in case you thought the Sixers’ two-game winning streak was something to build on, the Portland Trail Blazers reminded us how tenuous success is.
For the Sixers to win any game, the stars must be aligned perfectly and Friday night they were not.
Missing two centers and All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, the Trail Blazers used their long-range shooting to earn another win to beat the Sixers 114-93.
Damian Lillard scored 28 points, Wesley Matthews had 25 and the Trail Blazers hit a season-high 18 3-pointers. Matthews went 7 for 14 from beyond the arc, and Lillard made three 3-pointers. Eight Portland players made at least one 3, and the Blazers (24-7) tied a franchise record with 43 3-point attempts.
Portland wasn’t entirely lost inside. Center Joel Freeland grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds, a Blazers season high.
Tony Wroten (photo above), who missed Philly’s last game with a right knee sprain, came off the bench to score 22 points. Michael Carter-Williams had 17 points, and K.J. McDaniels finished with 12.
Philly (4-24), which had won two in a row, made 3 of 14 shots from beyond the arc. The Blazers lead the NBA in 3-point shooting defense at 29.9 percent.
Lillard and Matthews got rolling during the third quarter. Matthews made back-to-back 3-pointers, and Lillard scored 12 consecutive points for Portland in one stretch. The duo scored 22 of the team’s 27 third-quarter points as Portland increased its lead to 88-74.
Leading 27-24 after the first quarter, Portland put together a dazzling display of 3-point shooting. The Blazers made seven 3s, including three by Matthews, to build a lead as large as 16 points. Dorell Wright’s 3-pointer just before the buzzer gave Portland a 61-51 halftime lead.
“We are a relentless team, a confident team. We’ve played and won every kind of way this season,” Matthews said.