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Rose Garden Stand Starts With Sixers

03/23/09
  1. Written by: trailblazers  / avg. rating: 5.0

    By DAN PIERINGER, STATS Writer

    In their fifth road game in seven nights, the Portland Trail Blazers overcame fatigue to cap the trip with a win. Returning home could be even sweeter with another road-weary team coming to town.

    The Blazers look to protect one of the best home records in the NBA on Monday night when they host the Philadelphia 76ers, finishing a back-to-back set with the finale of its own weeklong five-game trip.

    The Trail Blazers (44-26) are back in Portland after a 3-2 trip that took them to Atlanta, Memphis, Indianapolis, Cleveland and Milwaukee. Though they were exhausted by the end of the season high-tying jaunt, the Blazers pulled out a 96-84 victory over the Bucks in Saturday night's finale thanks to a 57-41 scoring advantage in the second half.

    "I thought it was a mental challenge tonight," said Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan, whose team is in sixth place in the tightly packed Western Conference standings. "I hope this is just a sign of us growing up. Milwaukee came out very aggressive and tried to take advantage of the fact that we'd been on the road.

    "Our guys knew we needed this game and they reached down deep. We got stronger, got better. We found our rhythm and we won this game by working harder."

    A lot of the credit goes to Portland's backcourt duo of Brandon Roy and Steve Blake. Roy had 30 points, eight rebounds and seven assists while going 11-for-19 from the field, and Blake added 21 points with a career high-tying six 3-pointers.

    "When you're missing shots, you can either put your head down or keep playing hard, so I did that," Blake told the Blazers' official Web site. "Brandon was able to create and I shot the ball with confidence."

    Despite their strong performance in the second half of that game, the Trail Blazers are no doubt excited to be back at the Rose Garden, where they're 28-6 this season. The Trail Blazers are probably just as excited that the 76ers (35-33) are finishing a five-game road trip of their own.

    Philadelphia, sixth in the East, opened with a win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, then bounced back from consecutive losses by topping Sacramento 112-100 on Sunday night. Andre Iguodala made his first 10 shots and scored 27 points and the Sixers shot a season-high 59.7 percent against the Kings.

    "The biggest thing is I wasn't really trying to score, I wasn't trying to force anything," said Iguodala, who had seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. "It can happen like that. I was just playing in the flow."

    Iguodala is averaging 22.8 points and shooting 53.1 percent from the field in Philadelphia's last six wins. He's been held to 13.0 points and 34.2 percent shooting in its last three losses.

    Iguodala had 29 points with four 3-pointers while going 10-for-17 from the field to lead the Sixers to a 100-79 home win over the Blazers in the teams' first meeting Jan. 14.

    Roy had 27 for Portland but didn't get much help from his teammates, who combined to shoot 33.3 percent.

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