Trail Blazers Vs. 76ers Preview
January 4th, 2014
By TAYLOR BECHTOLD
The Portland Trail Blazers returned to the top of the Western Conference behind one of the best long-range shooting performances in franchise history.
Based on their last meeting, the Trail Blazers might be able to stay hot from the perimeter as they seek a fourth straight home win over the surging Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.
Portland (26-7) made its first seven attempts from beyond the arc and matched a team record with 21 made 3-pointers in a 134-104 victory over visiting Charlotte on Thursday.
Wesley Matthews led the way with 25 points and went 5 of 6 from 3-point range as the Blazers came within two 3s of tying the NBA single-game record. They became the first team in league history to have two games with at least 20 3s in a season.
"I knew about our record, I knew about the NBA record. But I didn't want to get caught up in that," coach Terry Stotts said after sitting his starters early in the fourth quarter.
Damian Lillard had 24 points and made all six of his 3-point tries, while Mo Williams scored 15 with three 3s.
Lillard (108) and Matthews (90) rank among league leaders in made 3-pointers for the Blazers, who top the NBA with 349 3s and a 40.5 3-point percentage. Lillard has gone 40 for 72 from beyond the arc in his last eight games.
After suffering its first back-to-back losses, Portland rebounded with a 98-94 come-from-behind win at Oklahoma City on Tuesday before topping the Bobcats to move back into the West's top spot.
The Blazers have made at least eight 3s in eight straight games, a franchise mark they'll try to extend against the visiting 76ers (11-21). Portland set the single-game team record for made 3-pointers when it shot 21 for 37 from beyond the arc in a 139-105 win in Philadelphia on Dec. 14.
Lillard, Matthews and Williams combined to go 11 for 21 from 3-point range in helping the Blazers to their highest point total in 16 years. LaMarcus Aldridge added 16 rebounds.
That was part of a four-game stretch in which the 76ers gave up 67 3-pointers on 51.5 percent shooting from behind the arc. They've tightened it up since then, allowing 40 and a 28.0 3-point percentage in their last five.
Following a 13-game road losing streak, Philadelphia will try for its fourth straight win away from home in the finale of this six-game trip. Thaddeus Young finished with 28 points while Evan Turner had 24 as the 76ers pulled out a 113-104 victory over Sacramento on Thursday.
Young has averaged 26.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.0 steals while hitting 10 of 22 from 3-point range on the trip. He's shot 61.5 percent from the field in his last three meetings with the Blazers.
"Thaddeus is playing with a high level of confidence, supported by his skill set," coach Brett Brown said. "He's playing with both energy and explosiveness."
Turner has scored 23.0 per game in his last three since missing a Dec. 28 loss in Phoenix due to soreness in his right knee. However, he's averaged 4.3 points and 27.9 percent shooting in six games against the Blazers.
Portland, 12-1 against Eastern Conference teams, has won four of five meetings with Philadelphia.