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Trail Blazers’ open shooters sink Suns

Portland Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy drives to the hoop past Phoenix Suns forward Grant Hill on Thursday in Portland, Ore.

Portland Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy drives to the hoop past Phoenix Suns forward Grant Hill on Thursday in Portland, Ore.

PORTLAND, Ore. – LaMarcus Aldridge is steadily getting to where he and Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan believe he can be.

Aldridge scored a season-high 29 points and added 12 rebounds to help Portland snap the Phoenix Suns’ six-game winning streak with a 129-109 victory Thursday night.

McMillan thinks that Aldridge, who is in his third season, is well on his way to consistent double-doubles. He leads the team with 18 this season.

“He’s still learning to take advantage of what he can do, and I think he can be a dominant force on both ends of the floor,” McMillan said.

Aldridge conceded that it’s getting easier.

“I don’t want to jinx myself, but as you play the game longer, you see things better,” he said.

Aldridge and the Blazers are sixth in the Western Conference in a tangle of teams jockeying for position behind the leading Los Angeles Lakers.

Phoenix, making a late push for the playoffs, is ninth in the Western Conference, 3 1/2 games behind Dallas.

“We cut ourselves into a deep hole with too many mistakes, and they capitalized on our mistakes,” said Shaquille O’Neal, who had 20 points for the Suns. “We left their shooters open way too much and they knocked down the shots. They had a lot of energy.”

Portland led 100-79 after three quarters, following Rudy Fernandez’s jumper and buzzer-beating 3-pointer from 25 feet. The Suns sat their starters most of the rest of the way.

Fernandez came off the bench to score 23 points. The rookie made a career-high five 3-pointers.

Brandon Roy added 26 points and nine rebounds for the Blazers, who led by as many as 29.

“It felt good,” Roy said. “It was a fun game to play, and it was a fun game to sit on the bench and cheer.”

The Suns were coming off a 118-114 home victory over the Jazz the night before. After scoring 26 points in that game, Grant Hill had just six against Portland. The Blazers were coming off a 114-108 overtime loss to Philadelphia on Monday night. Roy was off, with just 12 points, and it hurt Portland. The two-time All-Star shrugged off whatever was bothering him against the Suns, jumping out with nine first-quarter points to set the tone.

The matchup between O’Neal and Greg Oden got off to a bad start for the rookie, when O’Neal twirled around him for a basket and a foul.

Still, Oden had two key blocks in the second quarter and Portland built a 40-33 lead after Travis Outlaw’s dunk. The Blazers led 57-65 at the half.

Steve Blake’s floater put Portland up 71-61 early in the second half, and Aldridge extended it to 87-74 on a fast-break layup.

Oden’s hook shot made it 91-74, capping a 12-4 Portland run.

“We can’t blame tonight on not having our legs,” O’Neal said. “We have to fight through it. A lot of teams play back-to-backs, a lot of teams get in late. When we step on the court we have to be ready to play.”

Lakers 92, Pistons 77: At Auburn Hills, Mich., Kobe Bryant scored 30 points and helped the Lakers score the last 20 points of the third quarter.

The Western Conference-leading Lakers have won four straight to pull within a victory of Cleveland’s NBA-high total of 58, and five in a row on the road for a league-high 26.

Detroit reserve Will Bynum, an ex-Arizona Wildcat, had career highs with 25 points and 11 assists and helped the Pistons outscore the Lakers 30-14 in the second quarter to lead 42-39.

Bulls 106, Heat 87: At Chicago, John Salmons scored 27 points and Chicago won for the sixth time in seven games to move into a seventh-place tie with Detroit in the Eastern Conference.

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