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Trail Blazers Kick Off Second Half Against Lakers

  1. Written by: Grant Lucas  / avg. rating: 4.3

    The mid-season break that is All-Star Weekend is officially over, and it's time to get back to business, as the Portland Trail Blazers (32-24) attempt to extend its February success against the Los Angeles Lakers (38-19) on Wednesday night at the Rose Garden. Tipoff is set for 7:30 PM.

    Projected to start for Portland are Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dante Cunningham, Wesley Matthews and Andre Miller.

    The Trail Blazers are riding a season-high six-game winning streak, with their most recent victory coming against the New Orleans Hornets on Feb. 16 to take over the fifth spot in the Western Conference.

    In that matchup, Portland hit 52.9 percent of its shots, as Aldridge finished with a game-high 34 points and seven rebounds. Matthews tallied 24 points and eight boards, while Miller registered 18 points and seven assists.

    The Lakers, on the other hand, have dropped three straight, including a 104-99 defeat to the Cleveland Cavaliers just before the break.

    Pau Gasol notched 30 points and 20 rebounds, Derek Fisher chipped in with 19 points and Kobe Bryant posted 17 points and 12 boards in the loss. Bryant will also roll into Portland with his fourth All-Star MVP after recording 37 points and 14 boards on Sunday.

    The last time Portland and Los Angeles met up in early November, the Lakers cruised to a 121-96 win behind Gasol's fourth career triple-double (20 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists). Lamar Odom put up a game-high 21 points, as the Lakers shot 54.9 percent and held a 49-25 rebounding advantage.

    For the Trail Blazers, Miller led the way with 20 points and five assists, while Batum contributed 17 points. The three remaining starters combined for just 17 points, but Rudy Fernandez made up most of the difference with 13 points off the bench. Armon Johnson tallied a career-high 12 points as well.

    During the last five games, Portland has fired an NBA second-best 51.1 percent from the field, with Aldridge leading the charge with 34 points on nearly 61 percent shooting. In that stretch, the Trail Blazers poured in 102.8 points per game, while holding opponents to just more than 95.

    Portland has taken the season series in 17 of the last 18 seasons, including last year's 2-1 edge, despite Bryant's 26 points per game.

    Sidelined for Portland are Marcus Camby, Brandon Roy, Greg Oden and Elliot Williams, who all have knee injuries.

    Wednesday night's game can be seen on KGW-TV NewsChannel 8 with Mike Barrett and Mike Rice, while Brian Wheeler and Antonio Harvey will have the call on 95.5 FM The Game.

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