PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Portland Trail Blazers opened a 13-point halftime lead, then controlled the Charlotte Bobcats throughout the second half for a 122-105 victory at the Rose Garden.
It was the Bobcats' seventh straight loss, dropping them to 13-47. Rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 17 points and 10 rebounds for Charlotte, while LaMarcus Aldridge had 23 points and 14 rebounds for the Blazers (28-31)
The game marked a benching for Bobcats power forward Byron Mullens, the team's leading rebounder and one of its top scorers. Mullens played the first three minutes, was sent to the bench, and never played again.
Mullens had never previously played fewer than 14 minutes this season when available. Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap said pre-game he was concerned with the team's rebounding. Mullens had two rebounds Sunday in Sacramento and none Monday.
The Blazers led by 12 entering the final quarter. Dunlap said pre-game he was also concerned with his team not generating many free-throw attempts lately. The third quarter was indicative of his concern, as it took nearly nine minutes for the Bobcats to get to the foul line. Finally, rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist got two free throws off a wing jump shot.
The Bobcats trailed 68-55 at halftime. Though their offense was better than recent efforts in Utah and Sacramento, their defense was terrible. The Blazers shot 65 percent in the first half and made eight of 13 3-pointers. Nicolas Batum made both his 3s off picks above the key and Damian Lillard hit two of four.
Dunlap clearly didn't like what he was getting from power forward Byron Mullens. Mullens took a seat three minutes into the game and didn't play again in the first half. That meant little-used big men Gana Diop and Josh McRoberts got turns against the likes of Aldridge and J.J. Hickson.
Along with free-throw attempts, rebounding was Dunlap's major concern from the last two big losses. In those areas they were better in the first half: They grabbed 23 boards to Portland's 19 and attempted nine free throws to Portland's six.
But the defense was just awful, particularly against Blazers backup center Meyers Leonard. Leonard isn't known as a big finisher, but he made four of his first five shots, several of those dunks.
Batum uses screens well, and he seemed to baffle Bobcats' defender Kidd-Gilchrist. Batum hit all four of his first-half shots and Kidd-Gilchrist played only 10 minutes in the first half. Dunlap moved Henderson over to small forward, then played second-round pick Jeff Taylor at the position.
Hickson, who starred at N.C. State, is an unrestricted free agent after this season. He could be a worthwhile target for the Bobcats, as he used a variety of post moves to beat Bismack Biyombo. Hickson made six of his seven first-half shots.
The Bobcats were scheduled to fly home Monday night. They play the Brooklyn Nets Wednesday at Time Warner Cable Arena.
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