Trail Blazers Vs. Bulls Preview
November 22, 2013
By JEFF BARTL
The Portland Trail Blazers are enjoying their longest winning streak in nearly six years after concluding a perfect road trip.
They'll look to extend that run Friday night at home against the Chicago Bulls, who have lost five straight visits to Portland.
The Blazers (10-2) are off to their best start since winning 13 of 15 to begin the 1999-2000 season and pulled away down the stretch to beat Milwaukee 91-82 on Wednesday, completing a 4-0 road swing.
Their eight-game winning streak is their longest since a 13-game run Dec. 3-30, 2007.
"We got a win, that's all I'm worried about. Our mentality is right," said Wesley Matthews, who scored 15 points. "We're thinking greedy, we're thinking `win' like we're supposed to."
Portland shot a season-worst 40.7 percent, but coach Terry Stotts was impressed with his team's defense after it held an opponent to fewer than 90 points for the third time during the streak.
LaMarcus Aldridge, who averaged 25.0 points over the road trip, had a game-high 21 and Damian Lillard added 19.
"To finish a road trip undefeated and to do it with the defense and energy that we had in the second half (Wednesday) is great," Stotts said. "There is no question that it was a solid win. I believe it's the fifth game where we've won a game shooting under (45) percent, and I think that is something we take pride in as well."
Chicago had no such luck Thursday, beginning its six-game trip by shooting 38.8 percent in a 97-87 loss to Denver that snapped its five-game winning streak.
Derrick Rose, who admitted he's playing through a turf-toe injury, scored a game-high 19 points.
Luol Deng finished 3 of 18 from the field and had six points after averaging 21 over his previous three games for the Bulls (6-4), who have shot worse than 40 percent in two straight.
Chicago ranks 23rd in the league shooting 42.7 percent on the season, and it is averaging 17.2 turnovers after committing 18 on Thursday.
The Bulls rank third allowing an average of 89.8 points per game, but their bench was outscored 49-21.
"Our turnovers hurt us," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "The big thing is we gave them easy scoring opportunities. We should have been able to count on our defense. Ninety-seven points, 46 percent (shooting for Denver), it's too much."
Chicago, which has dropped four straight overall meetings with the Blazers, has lost 11 of 13 in Portland and hasn't won there since an 88-86 victory Feb. 3, 2007.
The Bulls' road losing streak to the Blazers began the last time Rose visited Moda Center on Feb. 7, 2011, as Aldridge's career-high 42 points helped overcome Rose's 36 in Portland's 109-103 win.
Rose has missed the Bulls' last three overall matchups against Portland since that contest.
Aldridge, drafted by Chicago with the No. 2 overall pick in 2006 before being traded for Tyrus Thomas on draft night, has averaged 28.3 points in his last seven against the Bulls.
Chicago again will be without guard Jimmy Butler, who will miss the entire road trip with a turf-toe injury.