76ers-Trail Blazers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 29, 2012
While they've struggled to win on the road, the Portland Trail Blazers have had few problems lately at home. The Blazers will seek a seventh consecutive victory at the Rose Garden on Saturday night when they welcome the Philadelphia 76ers, who've lost 10 of 14 overall. After winning six of its previous seven games, Portland (14-14) was hardly competitive in a 104-87 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. The Blazers made only 3 of 19 attempts from 3-point range and shot 41.4 percent overall. "They just outworked us from top to bottom and played harder than us," rookie guard Damian Lillard said. "And because of how aggressive they were, they made shots. They scored transition points, and they're not even a running team." With 26 points, LaMarcus Aldridge was the only Portland player to score more than 11. He sat out the final 16 minutes of the loss after getting hit in the chest. "I got hit on a soft spot on my chest. I came down and I couldn't really breathe," Aldridge said. "I'm a little sore and I'll probably be worse tomorrow, but I'll be OK." Before starting a four-game road trip Tuesday, the Blazers will try to get back on track with their 10th win in 11 home games. Portland is also seeking its longest win streak at the Rose Garden since an eight-game run March 5-April 3, 2011, and it will get to face a team that had lost six in a row on the road before a 99-89 win over Memphis on Wednesday. Philadelphia, though, couldn't build on that victory in its third stop on a season-high eight-game trip, falling 96-89 to Golden State on Friday. The 76ers (14-16) cut a 12-point deficit with 2:53 remaining to four with 24 seconds to go but couldn't get any closer. "We just waited too long to come back," said forward Dorell Wright, who had eight points in his second straight start in place of the injured Jason Richardson after scoring 28 in Memphis. Jrue Holiday had 21 points and 10 assists Friday and Thaddeus Young added 19 points and 10 rebounds. No other Philadelphia player, though, had more than 13 points in a 40.2 percent shooting performance. The 76ers held the Blazers to 41.2 percent shooting in the most recent matchup between the teams on Dec. 26, 2011, at the Rose Garden. Portland, though, took 97 shots - 14 more than Philadelphia - in a 107-103 win. Aldridge had a team-best 25 points in that victory and 18 in a 110-101 win over the 76ers on March 19, 2011, also in Portland. Wesley Matthews had 28 points in that game and is averaging 20.4 in five career matchups with Philadelphia - his most against any opponent - but he's missed the past three games with a strained left hip. It's unclear if he'll be back as the Blazers attempt to win three straight in this series for the first time since Jan. 10, 2001-Feb. 25, 2002.
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