8:30 PM ET, January 12, 2009
United Center, Chicago, IL
CHICAGO -- Travis Outlaw saw one 3-pointer drop through the net. He saw the lane open up, too. More than anything, he saw the potential for a special night.
Outlaw delivered in a big way, scoring a season-high 33 points, and Greg Oden added 17 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 109-95 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Monday night.
• The Blazers improved to 12-2 against the Eastern Conference this season.
• Travis Outlaw led the Blazers with a season-high 33 points, his second career 30-point game.
• The Blazers hit 11-of-23 3-pointers while the Bulls went 2-of-13.
-- ESPN research
"Pretty good," Outlaw said of his performance.
Was it his best of the season?
"Most definitely the best of the season," he said. "You don't think so?"
Outlaw paused, then mentioned a game against Houston in November when he had 14 points and 13 rebounds. But it's hard to argue against this one.
With Brandon Roy (11 points) hitting 3-of-13 shots and LaMarcus Aldridge (eight points) having a quiet night, the Blazers got just what they needed from Outlaw, Oden and Steve Blake to earn their third straight win.
"The X-factor is me, Travis and Steve Blake," Oden said. "We're the three that are behind [Roy] and LaMarcus. Whenever we can step up and have good games to take pressure off those guys, it's going to be big."
Roy implored Outlaw to do just that when he approached him on the bench during the second half. By then, Outlaw was on his way to one of the best performances of his career.
He knew it was a special night when he made a 3-pointer in the second half, although the one he hit at the end of the second quarter gave the Blazers the big momentum boost.
That shot from the corner capped an 11-2 run that gave Portland a 49-45 lead at the break, and Outlaw wound up tying a career high by hitting 4-of-5 3-pointers. He also finished three points off his career high and blocked three shots.
Oden dominated in the first half, with 13 points and nine rebounds.
Blake finished with 16 points and 10 assists, helping the Blazers get this week off to a good start after a rather chaotic one for them.
They found themselves in an old, familiar spot -- the center of controversy -- for sending an e-mail to teams threatening legal action if they signed former forward Darius Miles, but the current players are doing a good job ignoring any distractions.
For the Bulls, it was another long night.
They had all their top players available for the first time this season, with Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng back from injuries, but the result was familiar -- their fifth loss in seven games. They played well early on after losing in overtime to Oklahoma City on Saturday, but were overmatched in the end.
"It's almost like you have to pick your poison with them," Chicago's Ben Gordon said. "They've got great big guys, really good guard play, good wings."
Put simply, they have too much for the Bulls.
A 42-point winner over Chicago at the Rose Garden in November, Portland led 56-46 after Oden dunked less than two minutes into the third quarter and remained in control the rest of the way. The Bulls made a push in the fourth, with Derrick Rose's free throw making it 83-78, but Rudy Fernandez answered with a 3-pointer to start an 11-0 run.
Yet, when it was over, the shot that stood out was Outlaw's 3 at the end of the first half.
"It was a big momentum boost," he said. "Everybody came in talking, 'Yeah, we got 'em. We got 'em.'"
Drew Gooden led Chicago with 22 points and nine rebounds, Gordon scored 17 and Derrick Rose finished with 13 points and 10 assists. Deng added 14 points in 22 minutes off the bench but was 3-for-10 from the field after missing eight games with a sprained left ankle.
Hinrich received a loud ovation when he replaced Gordon midway through the first quarter and wasted little time finding Thabo Sefolosha for an alley-oop layup on a break, but it was a quiet night otherwise. Sidelined for 31 games with a torn ligament in his right thumb, he finished with four points in 20 minutes in his first appearance since Nov. 7.
"We need to do everything better," Hinrich said. "Defensively, rebounding, offense. Hopefully, we can improve moving forward."
Outlaw's previous season high was 20 points at Orlando on Nov. 10. His career high is 36 against Golden State on April 18, 2007. ... Sefolosha started and had eight points after missing a game because of the flu.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||34-73 (.466)||33-76 (.434)|
|3PM-3PA||11-23 (.478)||2-13 (.154)|
|FTM-FTA||30-34 (.882)||27-34 (.794)|
|Fast Break Points||7||18|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||27 (0/0)||24 (0/0)|