Trail Blazers vs Warriors Wednesday, 04/17/13 AT 07:00PM

Trail Blazers Close Road Schedule In Lob City

04/15/13
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    On Tuesday night, the Trail Blazers (33-47) will play their final road game of the season in Los Angeles against the Clippers (54-26). Tip-off for the Trail Blazers final road tilt will be shown nationally on TNT and it can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.

    With the Trail Blazers riding an 11-game losing streak they are trying to snap and the Los Angeles Clippers in a fight with the Denver Nuggets for the Western Conference's third seed, there will be both pride and seeding on the line. But now, as we've reached game 81, it seems apropos to reflect, especially regarding the most obvious story-line between the two teams: the team Neil Olshey built against the team he is building.

    Despite not making the playoffs, this year has served a purpose in Portland. A few years ago, Neil Olshey was given the daunting task of rebuilding the Los Angeles Clippers and turning them into a winner. With solid draft choices and the Chris Paul trade, Olshey did just that. Now, it is the team that Olshey built, against the one that is a work in progress.

    At the heart of each project are special talents at the point guard position. One, who arrived on day one to change the culture in LA in Chris Paul. The other, Damian Lillard, a rookie who plays and carries himself as a veteran, who, still in his rookie year, looks and plays the part of the leader, even if he won't say it just yet out of respect, seemingly out of respect for the pecking order of the locker room.

    At the pivot for both teams lie equally as talented players, bringing with each of them a unique style to the power forward position. LaMarcus Aldridge, the tall man with the tattooed shoulders, a nearly unblock able jumper and a post-game as automatic as you'll find in the NBA. The Clippers have Blake Griffin, one of the most physically gifted leapers, equip with dizzying post moves and an improving jumper.

    That, at least for right now, are where the similarities end.

    The Clippers have one of the league's deepest and most productive bench units. The  Trail Blazers have not gone a day that they aren't reminded of what they don't have in the reserves.

    Lillard has been vocal about how much he hates losing and how he and his team signed up to play 82 games.

    Despite not being the captain, going out of his way to declare LaMarcus Aldridge the team's best player, during a time where Aldridge and other veterans (Matthews, Batum) have sat, Lillard has looked the part of leader.  He's not happy with settling for "surprising people," as he and the Trail Blazers did earlier in the season

    A win for the Trail Blazers would even the season series at two wins apiece and all but guarantee that the Clippers will not have the third seed they so desire.

    Paul, a player that Lillard has referred to previously as "the General," will be on a mission. Lillard and the Trail Blazers are simply looking to get out of the 11-game funk. Even if Aldridge (ankle) doesn't hit the floor, the battle between Paul and Lillard, promises to be a fun one to keep your eyes glued to. In their only head-to-head battle (Paul was injured for the other two meetings), Lillard finished with 16 points and four assists while Paul had 21 points and six assists.

    Injury Note

     •    LaMarcus Aldridge sat out of Portland's game on Sunday in Denver, his status for Tuesday night is uncertain. Nicolas Batum was scheduled to be examined in Los Angeles and Chris Haynes of Comcast Sports Net Northwest reports that he will miss the final two games of the season. Wesley Matthews (ankle) has not played in the last three games.

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