Blazers Host Defending Champs Before The Break

by Casey Holdahl
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Roughly four months into their 2017-18 regular season, the Portland Trail Blazers are about to get a week's worth of rest for the All-Star break. Some players will go back home to visit family and friends, others will find themselves vacationing somewhere warm, and at least one will be in Los Angeles for the 2018 All-Star Game.

But before they go their separate ways, they have a little matter of hosting the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors in a nationally-televised game Wednesday night at the Moda Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

The Trail Blazers had the look of a team that could use a vacation in their last contest, a 115-96 loss to the Utah Jazz Sunday night at the Moda Center. After going into the half with a 44-43 lead, Portland was outscored 38-19 in the third quarter to start what would eventually turn out to be a rout that ended the Trail Blazers' nine-game home winning streak.

“I think Utah played a really good game," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "We struggled offensively most of the night. Credit to their defensive. Part of that, I thought we could have executed better, passed the ball better, taken better care of the ball, but Utah beat us. Simple as that."

Even with the loss, Portland remains tied with the Nuggets for 6th place in the Western Conference standings. They're just a half game behind the Thunder for 5th place and 2.5 games behind the Timberwolves for 4th. However, they're just a half game up on the Pelicans for 8th and a game ahead of the Clippers in 9th.

Then there's the Warriors, owners of the best record in the NBA and winners of their last three. The defending champs took the first meeting versus this season 111-104 in Oakland back in December to extend their winning streak versus Portland to seven games. The streak is 13 games if you include playoffs.

"Their record says they're the same team (as last year), they're just as good," said Damian Lillard, who was selected by Warriors guard Stephen Curry to play on his team during the 2018 All-Star Game. "The one thing that remains is how explosive they are. You could be up 12 and three minutes later you could be down 10. That's just the firepower that they have, them being an elite team. So I think we've got to have that healthy respect for them but just understand that anybody can be beat."

Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkić is questionable for Wednesday's game with low back soreness, a right calf strain and right oblique strain. As for the Warriors, Draymond Green (sprained left index finger) and Kevon Looney (right knee soreness) are questionable, Patrick McCaw (sprained left thumb) is doubtful and Jordan Bell (left ankle inflammation) is out.

Wednesday night's game can be seen locally on NBC Sports Northwest with Kevin Calabro, Lamar Hurd and Brooke Olzendam. The game will also air nationally on ESPN with Doris Burke and Bill Walton calling the action. Brian Wheeler and Michael Holton will have the radio call on Rip City Radio 620 AM.