Bobcats-Trail Blazers Preview
By ALAN FERGUSON
(AP) -- While they've struggled to win on the road, the Portland Trail Blazers have experienced few problems at home. A visit from the NBA's worst club should help them continue that trend.
The Blazers will try to improve to 10-1 at the Rose Garden on Wednesday night by sending the Charlotte Bobcats to a 10th consecutive defeat both overall and on the road.
Portland (12-9) dropped to 3-8 away from home Monday with a 93-89 loss to Utah and didn't help itself with a 5-of-20 performance from 3-point range and 25 fewer free-throw attempts. The Blazers also gave up 24 second-chance points and were outscored 20-6 on fast-break points.
All those factors aided the Jazz's comeback from a double-digit deficit in the third quarter.
"We definitely had control, and we let it slip away," said forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who finished with 25 points and seven rebounds. "No excuses. They kept playing hard and they ended up coming back and stealing one."
Portland might have a better performance Wednesday, as it's averaging 104.0 points at home compared with 90.5 on the road. The Blazers are also allowing 3.5 fewer points per game at the Rose Garden and could improve that average against the Bobcats (3-19).
Charlotte is producing just 81.1 points per contest during its road losing streak and 84.0 over its last nine overall. The Bobcats shot less than 40.0 percent (35.2) for the fourth time in five games Tuesday during a 106-73 drubbing at the Los Angeles Lakers.
They were outscored 60-36 in the first half and 33-15 in the fourth quarter despite the return of three players to the lineup, including leading scorer Gerald Henderson from a bruised lower back. The guard finished with 14 points as his team faces its longest losing streak since a franchise-record 13 straight defeats Jan. 11-Feb. 1, 2006, and its fourth-longest overall.
The Bobcats haven't lost 10 in a row on the road in one season since an 11-game skid Nov. 7, 2007-Jan. 4, 2008.
"We've got a horrible record and we're trying to make our way back up," Henderson said. "We're starting to get guys back healthy. In fact, it seems like every game we get a new guy back. So hopefully, as we get more acclimated to each other, things will start improving."
Henderson paced his team with 16 points during its previous visit to Portland on March 5, but the Bobcats didn't get much else in a 93-69 rout. Aldridge's 26 points led the way but he missed 11 of 17 shots during a 97-92 loss in Charlotte six days later.
The win was the Bobcats' first in five matchups with the Blazers, but they've dropped three in a row in Portland after splitting the first four games there. Charlotte might not have starting guard D.J. Augustin available to end that skid as he's missed the past five games with an ailing toe.
The Blazers will also be short-handed with reserve forward Nicolas Batum dealing with a bone bruise in his left knee suffered in Monday's defeat. An MRI on Tuesday showed no breaks or tears in the joint.
"When I came home and saw the video, it was like, 'I'm done for the season.'" said Batum, averaging 11.4 points and 4.1 rebounds. "I was scared of it, but I was so happy after (the MRI). I might miss the next two games but after that, we'll see."
Updated February 1, 2012