Aldridge, Trail Blazers rally to beat Bucks 104-97
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Thomas Robinson was rewarded with a standing ovation during his very first NBA start.
Robinson had 15 points and 16 rebounds while starting in place of injured center Robin Lopez, sparking the Portland Trail Blazers to a 104-97 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night.
''I was a little nervous,'' said Robinson, averaging only 7.6 minutes going into the game.
The third-year forward assessed his performance as just ''OK,'' but fans at the Moda Center cheered wildly for him. Robinson became the third Blazers player to put up at least 15 points and 15 rebounds in his first start: The other two were Bill Walton and Maurice Lucas.
Robinson's outburst was welcome on a team that faces uncertainty in the absence of Lopez, who broke his hand Monday in the third quarter of a victory over San Antonio.
''I was just happy to see him get that opportunity because I know how hard he works and how positive he is, being that he hasn't played a lot this year,'' Portland guard Damian Lillard said.
Lillard had 29 points and seven assists, and LaMarcus Aldridge added 23 points and tied his season high with 15 rebounds. Portland has won three straight and eight of 10.
Brandon Knight had 24 points for the Bucks, who played their first game since Jabari Parker was hurt. The heralded rookie will miss the rest of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the third quarter of Milwaukee's victory Monday over Phoenix.
Parker, the second overall pick in this year's NBA draft, will require surgery. The one-and-done star out of Duke averaged 12.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game for the Bucks this season.
Milwaukee took another blow late in the first half when forward Giannis Antetokounmpo sprained his left ankle.
Antetokounmpo grimaced in pain under the basket while his teammates surrounded him, but after several tense moments he walked unassisted off the floor and straight to the locker room.
The second-year forward from Greece was averaging 12.2 points and 5.9 rebounds going into the game.
''It's tough to see those guys go down but you've still got to come together as a team and play as hard as you can with the guys you have left,'' Bucks center Larry Sanders said. ''We were still fighting and grinding out there.''
Khris Middleton started the second half in Antetokounmpo's place and finished with 17 points.
Knight had 10 points in the first quarter as the Bucks took a 25-18 lead. Antetokounmpo made a pair of free throws that gave Milwaukee a 39-29 lead - its biggest of the game - but the Blazers rallied to tie it at 41 after Robinson's late basket. Portland pulled in front on a pair of free throws from Aldridge to lead 43-41 at the break.
Wesley Matthews hit a 9-foot jumper to give the Blazers a 55-51 lead midway through the third quarter, but the Bucks kept up the pressure and led 70-68 going into the final period.
After Robinson's putback tied the game at 77, Nicolas Batum hit a 3-pointer and Joel Freeland added a short jumper to put the Blazers ahead 82-79 with 7:11 left. Portland extended the lead to as many as 13 points down the stretch.
Late in the game, the Bucks resorted to fouling Robinson often. He made five of 15 attempts from the free throw line.
''I'll go home, see what I messed up, and come back and be better,'' Robinson said.
Bucks: There was an outpouring of support from around the NBA for Parker. Dwyane Wade posted on Twitter: ''Heard the sad news about my youngin Jabari Parker ... prayers up for you my brother..stay strong and come back stronger.''
Trail Blazers: Portland activated guard CJ McCollum for the game. McCollum missed 14 games because of a broken index finger on his right hand. ... It was Robinson's fifth career double-double.
PUT ME IN, COACH
Antetokounmpo had his ankle taped during the break and wanted to go back in for the third quarter, but ultimately the Bucks decided to sit him for the rest of the night. Milwaukee plays at Sacramento on Thursday night.
Bucks coach Jason Kidd on the injuries: ''It's always tough. You never want to see anyone get hurt. It's part of the game, but back-to-back injuries to your two youngest players can make you a little nervous.''
ANOTHER SCARY MOMENT
Batum dunked with 3:01 left to give the Blazers a 92-82 lead. He was fouled by Sanders and appeared to fall on his face under the basket. Even coach Terry Stotts rushed to make sure Batum was OK. Batum eventually returned to shoot the technical after Sanders was assessed a flagrant foul.
The Trail Blazers visit the Spurs on Friday.
The Bucks visit the Kings on Thursday.