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Blazers continue hot play, win 18th in last 20 games

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Coach Nate McMillan wanted to make LaMarcus Aldridge a bigger part of the Portland Trail Blazers' offense following their double-overtime loss Sunday to the Toronto Raptors.

Portland got its power forward involved early on Monday and it paid off. Aldridge scored 20 points to lead the Trail Blazers to their 18th win in the last 20 games, a 99-73 victory over the New Jersey Nets.

"We just need to establish a low post," McMillan said. "I felt like we didn't have the movement that we needed in our last game against Toronto. Everything was perimeter. Everything was pick and roll. We didn't run a lot of sets. We were too predictable."

Aldridge hit a 19-foot jumper for the first points of the game and the Trail Blazers surged to an 8-1 lead. They never let up in the quarter, expanding the lead to 25-12 after one.

"We came out a little bit more aggressive going to the basket," Aldridge said. "We were more in charge and once we got rolling, it just kept going."

Portland never trailed and got contributions from up and down the lineup. Brandon Roy scored 16 points, Jarrett Jack had 15, Travis Outlaw 13 and James Jones 10.

Joel Przybilla had a game-high 12 rebounds to go along with nine points as Portland rebounded from the 116-109 double-overtime loss to the Raptors in Toronto.

Reserve Malik Allen led the Nets with 17. Vince Carter and Jason Kidd each had 10 points.

While the Trail Blazers took control in the first period, the Nets suffered through a second straight miserable offensive quarter after scoring only nine points in the final period Friday in the 86-77 home loss to Boston.

Against Portland, the Nets hit 4-for-19 from the field in the opening quarter.

"I'm going to take responsibility because obviously, we weren't prepared," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "We weren't ready to play. This was a poor performance on everyone's part."

The Nets never recovered from the opening period.

"They definitely came out with a big punch and lot of energy from beginning to end," Carter said. "They put it all together in the first quarter and they kept going from there."

The Nets reserves provided a brief spark, opening the second quarter with an 8-2 run that trimmed the Trail Blazers' lead to 27-20 as Bostjan Nachbar, Antoine Wright, Darrell Armstrong and Allen had baskets. The Nets could only muster 14 more points in the half as Trail Blazers headed to the locker room with a 49-34 lead.

Portland remained comfortably ahead after three quarters at 68-53 and cruised through the final period.

Game notes
The game was the third of a four-game homestand for the Nets. New Jersey split the first two: beating Seattle 99-88 on Jan. 9 before losing to the Celtics. The final game is Wednesday against their metropolitan area rivals, the New York Knicks. ... Portland made the second stop on a season-high seven-game road trip. ... PG Steve Blake was back in the starting lineup for Portland after missing one game with a left calf injury. ... Kidd extended his double-digit scoring streak to nine games. ... It was the first time Allen led the Nets in scoring. ... The loudest cheer of night went to Giants wide receiver Steve Smith when the scoreboard showed him in the stands for the game.