Trail Blazers Vs. Pelicans Preview
March 14, 2014
By TAYLOR BECHTOLD
Even with their full lineup, the Portland Trail Blazers haven't been able to pull out a win during a challenging road swing.
Now they'll have to find a way to salvage one in the finale without their All-Star forward.
With LaMarcus Aldridge expected to miss at least two games, Portland will try to snap a four-game losing streak Friday night when it visits Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Blazers (42-23) suffered a big loss in the third quarter of a 103-90 defeat Wednesday when Aldridge drove the lane and collided with San Antonio's Aron Baynes before landing hard on his left hip and lower back.
"When a guy takes a tough fall like that, when you're airborne, you just don't know what can happen when you land," coach Terry Stotts said.
While X-rays came back negative, Portland announced via Twitter on Thursday that an MRI confirmed a lower back contusion. Aldridge, averaging team highs of 23.4 points and 11.1 rebounds, will also sit out Sunday against visiting Golden State before being re-evaluated next week.
The Blazers won four of five while Aldridge sat out because of a left groin strain last month. Dorell Wright started in Aldridge's place, averaging 6.8 points and 4.6 rebounds.
Portland also will be without reserve guard Mo Williams (strained right hip) for at least two weeks as it tries to end the trip on a positive note following losses to Dallas, Houston, Memphis and San Antonio.
The injuries certainly won't help the Blazers get back on track offensively after averaging 100.0 points - 7.2 below their season mark - during their longest slide of the season.
"I would say it's the most adversity that we've had to go against as a team," guard Damian Lillard told the Blazers' official website. "With losing LA and Mo being out, four losses in a row for the first time. It's a really tough stretch."
Lillard could step up since he averaged 27.2 points without Aldridge last month. The All-Star scored 29 in each of the first two meetings against New Orleans, with the home team winning each time.
Following an eight-game losing streak, the Pelicans (26-38) had won three in a row before getting outscored 9-0 in the final 3:22 of Wednesday's 90-88 home loss to Memphis.
"The last few minutes we could not get anything," said Davis after New Orleans scored 31 in the second half. "We couldn't run a play."
Davis continued his recent surge with 29 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks while making 9 of 14 shots. He's averaged 29.5 points and 14.0 boards over his last four games.
The All-Star forward had 27 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks as the Pelicans outscored Aldridge and the Blazers 68-32 in the paint en route to a 110-108 home win Dec. 30. His career 20.4 scoring average against Portland is his third-highest versus any opponent.
After averaging 118.3 points on 51.4 percent shooting during its win streak, New Orleans shot 41.3 percent Wednesday and missed 14 of 18 3-pointers with Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon sidelined due to illness. Both are questionable to return Friday.
Evans hit the go-ahead jumper with 1.2 seconds left to beat the visiting Blazers in December after scoring 21 in a 110-107 loss at Portland nine days earlier. He's averaged 23.6 points in five games this month.
The Pelicans have won three straight home meetings.