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Blistering Blazers extend winning streak to 11

Los Angeles (dpa) - The red-hot Portland Trail Blazers provided the holiday cheer this Christmas.



Brandon Roy and Jarrett Jack scored 17 points each as the Trail Blazers extended the league's longest winning streak of the season to 11 with an 89-79 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics Tuesday night in Portland, Oregon.

 "It was a tough game for us, but it's 11 in a row," said Roy, averaging 23 points and 6.8 assists during the Blazers longest run since winning 12 straight during the 2001-02 season.

 Steve Blake and Channing Frye netted 12 points apiece while Joel Przybilla grabbed a season-high 16 rebounds for the Trail Blazers (15-12), whose eighth-straight home victory moved them one-half game behind idle North-West Division leader Denver.

 "We're figuring out ways to win every night," Frye said. "We know we have to play well at home. The fans deserve it, and we deserve it for working hard."

   Rookie sensation Kevin Durant tossed in 23 points, Wally Szczerbiak had 19 off the bench and Nick Collison pulled down 14 rebounds for the SuperSonics (8-20), who have lost three of their past four contests.

 Portland led 46-44 at halftime despite receiving just four points from Roy on two-of-11 shooting.

 However, the Blazers' leader erupted for 11 points, including a three-pointer, helping to open a 66-50 advantage with 4:32 left in the third period.

 "In the first half, I was looking for contact," Roy explained. "In the second half, I was just trying to be aggressive and get to the basket."

   Seattle pulled to within 74-68 on a jumper by Szczerbiak three minutes into the final frame. However, James Jones hit a three-pointer to cap a 9-0 run as the lead swelled to 83-68 with 5:53 left.

 A late rush drew the Sonics to 86-75, but Jack buried a triple from the right corner with 2:11 left to seal the win.

 Elsewhere:

LA Lakers 122, Phoenix Suns 115

   Kobe Bryant scored 26 of his 38 points in the second half while Andrew Bynum added a career-high 28 points as well as 12 rebounds as the Lakers snapped a five-game Christmas Day losing streak.

 "I think we are a solid team," Bryant said. "When you play against Phoenix, you have to be solid."

   Derek Fisher netted 17 points, and Lamar Odom collected 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Lakers (18-10), whose ninth win in the past 11 games pulled them one game behind the Suns for the Pacific Division lead.

 Steve Nash led the Suns (19-9) with 24 points and 14 assists. Amare Stoudemire scored 19 points while Shawn Marion and Raja Bell chipped in 15 each.

 "They played very well tonight," Marion said, referring to the Lakers. "Bynum, I see him as a weapon for them inside, and he's a handful down there now."

   Knotted at 62 apiece at halftime, Bryant scored 14 points, carrying the Lakers to a 92-89 advantage after three quarters.

 Bynum made three close-in baskets, and Bryant followed with two jumpers around a pair of free throws, opening up a 112-102 advantage with 3:45 left to play.

 Twice in the final minute, the Suns drew within seven points, but Odom and Fisher made two free throws each to secure the win.

Cleveland Cavaliers 96, Miami Heat 82

   LeBron James had 25 points and 12 assists, and the Cavaliers stiffened their defence in the second half en route to their most lopsided victory of the season.

 "When we play defence, we're a pretty good team," said James after the Cavs outscored the Heat 53-35 in the final two quarters. "When we don't, we don't look so well - simple as that. Today was a good step."

   Drew Gooden scored 18 points, Daniel Gibson 16 and Brazil's Anderson Varejao 15 for the defending Eastern Conference champion Cavaliers (13-16), winners for just the fourth time in the past 14 games.

 Dwyane Wade tossed in 22 points for the Heat (8-20), which occupies the Eastern Conference cellar. Ricky Davis had 15 points and foul-plagued Shaquille O'Neal 13.

 Cleveland trailed 59-52 before taking control on both ends of the court. The Cavs forced the Heat into committing 10 of its 18 turnovers while going on a 15-0 run. James had a steal and breakaway dunk to cap the burst, putting the hosts ahead 67-59 with 1:48 left in the period.

 "It was an absolute, complete turnaround," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "The turnovers led to fast breaks that got them close. Then they go the 15-0 run."

   With 6:50 remaining in the game, James hit a driving layup that made it 84-70 and sent O'Neal to the bench with his fifth foul.

By Paul Levine


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