Trail Blazers vs Pelicans Wednesday, 03/30/11 AT 05:00PM

Trail Blazers Seek Space From Hornets

03/29/11
  1. Written by: Grant Lucas  / avg. rating: 5.0

    Eight games remain in the season and the Portland Trail Blazers are clinging to the sixth spot in the Western Conference. After their 100-92 win against the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, Portland put itself one game ahead of the New Orleans Hornets for that slot.

    Now, the Trail Blazers (42-31) can space themselves even farther from the Hornets (42-32) when the go head-to-head on Wednesday night in New Orleans. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 PM.

    Projected to start for Portland are Nicolas Batum, Gerald Wallace, LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews and Andre Miller.

    Miller is coming off a team-high 26-point outing against the Spurs, while Matthews added 19 points and five boards. Wallace tallied 14 points and seven rebounds and Batum finished with his sixth double-double of the season with 10 points and a game-high 13 boards.

    Portland trailed by as amany as eight in the fourth quarter, but the Trail Blazers put together a 15-1 rally to grab an 87-81 lead with two minutes remaining in the game and they never looked back.

    New Orleans fell 102-84 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night despite a season-high 24-point, 10-rebound performance by Carl Landry. Emeka Okafor notched 14 points and 11 boards, Chris Paul putu p 10 points and nine assists, but the Hornets trailed 30-19 after the first quarter and never really recovered.

    New Orleans shot just 40.2 percent from the floor as its wingmen - Marco Belinelli, Willie Green and Trevor Ariza - finished 9-for-33 for 19 points.

    The Hornets hold a 2-1 series edge against Portland this season after taking the first two matchups by an average of 19.5 points. In their latest meeting, however, the Trail Blazers came up victorious 103-96.

    Aldridge shot 13-for-18 from the field en route to a 34-point outburst. Matthews joined in on the action with 24 points and eight boards, while Miller added 18 points - 10 of which came in the deciding period.

    David West paced New Orleans with 27 points and Green posted 24, but the Hornets were outrebounded 18-8 late in the game and gave up a critical 7-0 fourth-quarter run that allowed the Trail Blazers to pull away and seal the win.

    Portland has rejected 21 Hornet shots in this series but has been outrebounded 123-96 in three games against New Orleans.

    Aldridge has gradually improved his game when facing the Hornets, increasing his offensive production to 20 points per game to go along with nearly seven rebounds. Matthews and Miller have provided insurance with 14 and 13.3 points per game, respectively. In his two meetings against New Orleans as a Bobcat, Wallace has recorded 16.5 points.

    For New Orleans, West has been the go-to guy, averaging just less than 20 points, but West was scratched from the lineup last week when he tore his ACL against the Utah Jazz. Picking up the slack will be Green and Ariza, who are posting 18 and 14.67 points, respectively.

    Paul has registered almost 12 points and 11 assists when facing Portland, but the Trail Blazers have forced the point guard into more than four turnovers per game.

    Portland has taken three out of the last four meetings at New Orleans Arena and look to even the series at two games apiece on Wednesday night. The Hornets haven't won a regular season series since 2005-06.

    Unavailable for the Trail Blazers are Greg Oden and Elliot Williams, who are down with knee injuries.

    Wednesday's matchup can be seen on Comcast SportsNet with Mike Barrett and Mike Rice, while Brian Wheeler and ANtonio Harvey will have the call on 95.5 FM The Game.

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