Gameday: Wolves at Portland
- March 3, 2012 - 2:02 AM
Preview: The Trail Blazers have lost two consecutive games, four of their past six and eight of the past 12 after getting thumped by LeBron James and Miami 107-93 on Thursday. They are 18-18 after starting the season 7-2 and are a half-game ahead of the Wolves as both chase Denver for the West's eighth and final playoff spot. ...The Blazers have won the past 16 meetings between the team and 20 of the past 22 overall. That streak is their second-longest against any franchise. A victory Saturday would tie the 17 consecutive games they beat the L.A. Clippers from 1986 to 1989. They have swept the Wolves 4-0 each of the past four seasons.
Players to watch: Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge is averaging career highs in points (22.1), assists (2.6) and steals (1.03) a game and is one of three NBA players averaging 22.1 points and shooting 50 percent or better from the field. The other two: LeBron James and Kevin Durant. He played in his first All-Star Game last week and is one of 20 finalists for the U.S. Olympic team. ...The Blazers are the NBA's only team that has two players among the league's top 15 in bench scoring. Jamal Crawford, whom the Wolves pursued in free agency even after they signed J.J. Barea in December, is seventh among all reserves with a 14.1-point average, and Nicolas Batum is averaging 12.2 points.
Injuries: Wolves G J.J. Barea (strained calf) missed Thursday's game at Phoenix and is questionable. Blazers C Greg Oden (knee) once again is out for the season.
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