Trail Blazers vs Pacers Wednesday, 01/23/13 AT 07:00PM

Trail Blazers Look To Snap Skid Against Pacers

01/23/13
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    The Trail Blazers (20-21) face the Indiana Pacers (26-16) on Wednesday night at the Rose Garden. The game will tip-off at 7PM and will be shown on CSNNW and can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM. Portland will be looking to snap a six-game losing streak and a four-game home losing streak with a win tonight.

        •    The last match-up between these two teams was, as is characteristic of almost all Indiana Pacers games, a tough one. The Trail Blazers were playing in the final game of their longest road trip of the season and the Pacers were playing on the second night of a back-to-back. The Trail Blazers managed to comeback from a terrible 14-point third quarter to have a chance and eventually lose by seven. One thing that has continued since the last game has been the evolution of Paul George for Indiana and Indiana's fantastic defense. George scored 34 points against Chicago the night before the previous match-up between these two teams and his offensive improvement continues to be a major factor in Indiana becoming a top Eastern Conference team again. Much like the rise of Nicolas Batum, George has been able to score but also effect the game in other ways. Their numbers are very similar as well. George averages 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.7 steals per game while Batum averages 16.7 points, six rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. Batum had his first career triple-double on Monday and also added three steals and two blocks, joining LeBron James and Rajon Rondo as the only players in the NBA this year to do that and have a triple-double.
      
     •    Portland has got to find their groove again from the three-point line. Although many people clamor that the Trail Blazers don't get enough points in the paint, the fact remains that an NBA offense has to be able to shoot threes, especially this NBA team. The Trail Blazers have played at their best this season when they are effectively able to get open threes and knock them down. The Trail Blazers have certainly not been able to knock down threes over the past three games. Portland is 24 of 81 in their last three games on threes which is 29.6 percent. The Trail Blazers looks have not been as open as before as teams have focused on them, but the Trail Blazers big men need to be able to set good screens and their penetrators need to find open shooters and kick start the biggest weapon in their offense again. LaMarcus Aldridge has been a monster in January, getting nine double-doubles, tied for the most in the NBA but Portland's perimeter shooters have got to get it going.
       
    •    Meyers Leonard is playing in his second game since returning from his sprained ankle on Monday. Leonard looked as good as he's been all season on the offensive end in the previous game, looking smooth and assertive on his way to six points on three of three shooting and grabbing four rebounds in 12 minutes. Leonard says that his time away from the court helped him take a step back and focus on the mental aspect of basketball. Hopefully for the Trail Blazers, and their bench, Leonard will get into game shape sooner rather than later. Him getting back on the court is the most important part in his development and it could help the Trail Blazers in the process.

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