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  • 23 Sep 2014

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Bench takes spotlight as Blazers blow away Nets

Terry Stotts shook his head as he opened his press conference Wednesday night after the Trail Blazers' 124-80 drubbing of hapless Brooklyn at the Moda Center.

"I didn't see that coming," Stotts said after the most one-sided triumph by the Blazers in his two years as head coach.

Stotts' reference was to the ridiculously wide margin of victory, Portland's largest since a 112-68 rout of Charlotte on Feb. 1, 2012. But he could have been talking about a number of things.

Such as Portland's bench putting up a season-best 68 points, with Mo Williams (21), Will Barton (20) and Victor Claver (13) posting season highs along the way.

"What a night for those guys," said starting small forward Nicolas Batum, who also had quite a night with 19 points, six rebounds and six assists in only 29 minutes. "That was great the way they have stepped in the last couple of games with the guys we have injured. Will, CJ (McCollum), Vic, Mo -- they did their job tonight. That was a big part of the win."

The voluble Barton, in fact, became the first NBA player with 20 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and 60-percent shooting off the bench since … Will Barton on April 7, 2013, vs. Dallas.

"I make history," Barton said with a shrug. "Then I rewrite it."

Stotts, too, could have been referring to Portland's whopping 53-29 rebound advantage, a night after the Blazers were outboarded 64-41 at Denver, with the Nuggets collecting 27 caroms off the offensive glass.

The Blazers (40-18) did it Wednesday night without the services of four of their five "bigs" -- injured power forwards LaMarcus Aldridge and Thomas Robinson and centers Joel Freeland and Meyers Leonard. The last man standing was starting center Robin Lopez, whose numbers (11 points, eight rebounds) were pedestrian on a night when the sub club hogged the spotlight.

"Everybody was very conscious of having to rebound," Stotts said. The Nets "had only one offensive rebound at halftime. That was important. Last night in Denver was a good lesson for us."

Stotts also could have been pointing to an embarrassing performance by Brooklyn (26-29), which had won six of its last nine outings and is likely headed for a playoff spot in the woeful Eastern Conference. The Nets came in rested, not having played since a 108-102 win over the L.A. Lakers on Sunday at Staples Center. The Blazers were playing the second of back-to-back games.

Portland, though, was chained up and ready to go. The Blazers put the sleeper hold on the visitors early enroute to their fourth straight victory.

"We came out with energy," Williams said. "That set the tone for us, and we never looked back."

Brooklyn led 16-15 midway through the first quarter when the Blazers, with several reserves on the court, seized momentum. Portland outscored the Nets 43-18 the rest of the half to go into intermission in front 58-34. By mid-third quarter, rookie coach Jason Kidd had lifted his starters in anticipation of a Thursday night game at Denver. Stotts was able to unload his bench for the final 12 minutes.

"If we can get that kind of lead in the first 2 1/2 quarters and get a team to sit down, and we sit down as well, that's fine," Portland guard Wesley Matthews said.

Added Batum: "They have good players, but we're younger than them. We got off to a great start, and we felt if we could get them hurting, with a game to play (Thursday), they might give up."

Sure appeared as if the Nets did. The Blazers' lead kept building, until it hit 45 points just before the finish.

It was tied for the third-largest margin of defeat in Nets history.

"We lose like this, it's just a complete lack of focus," said Brooklyn's Paul Pierce, who had six points and four rebounds in his 24 minutes. "No way should we lose by 40 with the guys we've got. We could have played against the Eastern Conference All-Stars, we shouldn't lose by 40. We just didn't show up tonight."

Seven Blazers scored in double figures and 10 of 11 reached the scoring column.

"It was a good effort by everybody who played," Stotts said.

Especially Williams and Barton, whose performances could be classified in the "exceptional" category.

Both players were 8 for 13 from the field. Williams was also 3 for 5 from 3-point range to go with seven assists and a season-high six rebounds in 27 minutes. Barton, who had a career-high 11 rebounds and four assists, achieved both his second career double-double and 20/10 performance.

"I had a lot of fun," Barton said. "We got a big-time win with a lot of guys down. It's great to keep this winning streak going until we can get all our guys healthy. We just went out there and balled -- everybody, as a team."

Williams twice sent lob passes up at the basket for Barton to flush, something they have done a number of times this season. Williams had good training ground during his time in Cleveland with LeBron James.

"It's just instincts," Williams said. "I'm a good lob thrower. I have a good peripheral vision, so when I see someone cutting I usually find him. Especially playing with LeBron, I developed that. With Will, I put it up there above the defender and make him go get it."

Barton loves the opportunity to climb the golden ladder on a feed from Williams.

"We always have a connection," Barton said. "At practice, he's always trying to find me open. He's one of those guys who really believes in me. He thinks I have a lot of talent. It's fun to get out there with a guy who trusts you."

Barton said he also feels a connection with the Blazer fans.

"I like to think I'm the people's champ," he said. "The fans really love me here, and I love them back."

The Blazers are in the midst of an eight-game span in which seven of them are at home.

"It's an important stretch for us," Stotts said. "We're playing some teams under .500. We're dealing with something now (injuries) that a lot of teams have had to deal with from the beginning of the season. It's just important that we keep figuring out how to win games."

NOTES: Portland's next action is a Saturday night rematch with Denver at the Moda Center. … The Blazers are all alone in third place in the Western Conference, a game ahead of both Houston (39-19) and the L.A. Clippers (40-20). … Portland shot .535 from the field and .419 (13 for 31) from 3-point range. Brooklyn was at .395 and .182 (4 for 22). … It was the fewest points Portland has yielded in a game this season. … The last time Portland had two reserves score 20 or more points in a game was Dec. 12, 2007 (James Jones, Travis Outlaw) against Golden State. …The Blazers are 20-3 this season when Williams scores in double figures.

Claver, who had scored seven points all season, was 5 for 7 from the field and played excellent team defense. With so many power forwards and centers missing, Claver spent many of his 22 minutes at center. "He's a stretch five," Stotts said pregame. Said Stotts afterward: "Victor had a terrific game. Very rarely does he make a mistake defensively. He sees the game. He's alert to what's going on." … Portland finished 9-1 against Atlantic Division foes. The Blazers are 18-4 against the Eastern Conference. … This is the earliest the Blazers have hit the 40-win mark since 2001.

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