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Trail Blazers Stung By Hornets 99-63

02/13/13
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    Unfortunately for the Trail Blazers (25-28), they were unable to end their six-game road trip on a high note. They struggled offensively all night long and the Hornets (18-35) held serve at home in a big way winning 99-63.

    The Trail Blazers were dealt a blow early in this one when Wesley Matthews twisted his left ankle in the second minute of the game. After losing to the Heat in an emotionally charged game in Miami, losing their emotional leader didn't help their chances in winning a game where Portland needed all the energy and heart it could muster. The Trail Blazers have been able to survive without Matthews at time, but when the energy was low, tonight was a night when they needed his toughness. Stotts addressed missing his toughness and intangibles as well as his offensive ability after the game. Matthews did not return and LaMarcus Aldridge took a big fall and went to the locker room with an apparently wrist injury. Aldridge did return but didn't look like his normal self. Portland's offense suffered.

    "Obviously with Wes out that it affected it a little bit, and when LaMarcus went out for a little bit that affected us," Terry Stotts said. "They were really aggressive on Damian (Lillard), and they doubled L.A. on the block, that gave us an opportunity to play against some rotations, and we had some shots that we could make. They got the ball out of Damian's hands, and LaMarcus' hands, and we weren't able to make plays after that."

    Defensively, the Trail Blazers were surviving in the first half. The Trail Blazers only mustered 26 points at halftime but were able to hold the Hornets to only 38. It was no secret what the Hornets defensive game plan was, and it was to make everybody but Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge beat the Trail Blazers. JJ Hickson (10 points, 4-5 FG) and Victor Claver (11 points, 5-10) were the only Trail Blazers who logged over 20 minutes that shot over 50 percent, but neither produced at the volume needed for Portland to survive such a collective drought. Claver's play was as encouraging as anybody's as he showed more confidence in his offensive game. He was able to get rebounds, get to the rim as well as knock down.

    Lillard and Aldridge's tough night would continue as the pair, who combined for 62 points last night in Miami, combined for 18 points on six of 26 shooting. Claver continued to show good flashes and the Trail Blazers showed signs of life. However, they could not sustain a rhythm and the Hornets found theirs. Specifically, number one pick Anthony Davis started to find a rhythm hitting everything from his midrange jumper to finishing solid post moves. He finished with 21 points leading all scorers.

    Now, the Trail Blazers don't have a game for six days.

    Matthews said it was tough not to be able to fight with his team due to his injury. However, he is not losing sight of what matters most to Portland's success, the next game.

    "We had a losing streak like this earlier, and we came back with a vengeance. It's all about peaking at the right time. The beauty of the NBA is that there are so many ups and downs and runs and glory and being mad," Matthews said. "We're just in a funk right now. I hope the All-Star Break will cure that. Everybody can get home, clear their minds, reflect, see where we're really at and what we can be, and then comeback and hit the ground running against Phoenix."

    The Trail Blazers don't play again until February 19th against the Suns. That game will be first game in 17 days for the Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden. Tip-off is schedule for 7PM and it will be shown on CSNNW and can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.

    Also, don't forget to check TrailBlazers.com for coverage from NBA All-Star weekend. Our own Casey Holdahl will be in Houston as Damian Lillard (BBVA Rising Stars Game, Taco Bell Skills Challenge) and LaMarcus Aldridge (All-Star Game) represent the Trail Blazers during the weekend's festivities. The Rising Stars game is Friday at 6PM. The Skills Challenge will be part of All-Star Saturday night beginning at 5:30 PM and main event is scheduled for 5PM on Sunday. All of three of those events will be broadcast nationally on TNT.

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