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Trail Blazers Look To Even Up Back To Back

  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    Tonight the Trail Blazers (23-23) will look to even the score in their back-to-back against the Utah Jazz (26-21) at the Rose Garden after losing last night in Utah. The game will start at 7PM and will be shown on KGW and can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.

        •    After last night's loss to the Jazz in Utah, Terry Stotts emphasized that spacing would be very important in tonight's match-up. Portland's offense was much better last night with Luke Babbitt in the game at the "stretch-4" even if he only hit one three in the second half, he was spreading the defense out, creating space for Damian Lillard to attack off the dribble. Going small with either Babbitt or Claver at the power forward position is an interesting move against the Jazz, who get by on the physicality and strength of their low post players. So, rather than trying to match what the Jazz bring to the table in the paint, Stotts will try to use line-ups with LaMarcus Aldridge at center to get the bigger Jazz out in space. Damian Lillard led the Trail Blazers with 26 points and 20 of those came in the second half.
    •    Plain and simple, the Trail Blazers have to finish better tonight. In the first half, Utah was flying around on defense and really giving Portland trouble. However, in the second half, Portland was consistently getting the looks they wanted and had trouble converting on those looks. Lillard and JJ Hickson were the only Trail Blazers players to hit their shots, although Hickson only played 12 minutes in the second half as Stotts elected to try and space the floor with Babbitt. LaMarcus Aldridge was getting easy looks near the elbow and even closer to hit his jumpers but it seemed like everything was clanking off the rim as Aldridge shot six for 17, scoring 16 points. Nicolas Batum also had a tough offensive night as he is battling a right wrist injury. Batum shot two for seven from the field and only scored five points.
     •    If the Trail Blazers are to have an offensive turnaround and a chance to win this game, it is likely they will have to do so without Wesley Matthews, who sprained his right ankle in the second half of last night's game in Utah. Matthews reportedly left last night's game with a boot on crutches. Ronnie Price also hurt his right ankle, which he hurt earlier this year in the preseason. So, it's possible and likely that the Trail Blazers will be without their starting shooting guard and back-up point guard. As far as the starting line-up goes, it is likely Stotts will revert back to the line-up he used during much of December of Lillard, Batum, Victor Claver, Aldridge and JJ Hickson. Also, if Matthews and Price do sit that will likely mean more minutes for Will Barton and Nolan Smith.

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