By Peter Gleason

If Sixers fans were looking for a reason to hope, there was some last night.

The Sixers fought and led at the half against a very good Portland Trail Blazers team, but in the end their youth burned them as LaMarcus Aldridge had 15 of his 33 points during the pivotal third quarter to help the Blazers defeat Philly 114-104 on Monday night, sending the 76ers to their 14th straight loss to open the season.

Wesley Matthews added 17 points, Damian Lillard had 16 and Robin Lopez chipped in 12 for Portland (11-3), which won its eighth in a row after coming back from a two-point halftime deficit.

“They came out with a lot of energy; we came out a little sluggish,” Aldridge said. “They woke us up.”

The Sixers kept pace in the first half, going into halftime with a 52-50 lead against a Portland team that had won seven straight games. In the third quarter, though, things unraveled.

The Trail Blazers outscored Philly 39-28 in the third to take an 89-80 lead. The Sixers fought hard, making headways on their deficit multiple times down the stretch but never getting over the hump as they fell to 0-14 on the season after a 114-104 loss at home.

There were positive signs, however. The Sixers posted their lowest turnover total of the season (10) and went 20-for-24 (83.3%) from the free-throw line, another team-high on the year.

Rookie Nerlens Noel (playing defense in photo above) had another strong outing after a career night against the Knicks on Saturday, notching 12 points (6/7 FG), five rebounds, three assists, three steals, and two blocks in 33 minutes off the bench.

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