Portland let a win slip away when it faced the Philadelphia 76ers in November. The Trail Blazers have been doing a much better job at securing victories in recent weeks.
The Blazers look to extend their league-leading 12-game winning streak and avenge perhaps their most disheartening loss of the season when they conclude their season series with the 76ers on Sunday night.
On Nov. 16, Portland led Philadelphia by 25 points in the second quarter and 22 in the third before the Sixers outscored the Blazers 36-15 in the fourth quarter to win 92-88. The Sixers made 25 of 33 shots in the second half for the highest shooting percentage in team history (76 percent).
"Anything can happen, so we kept playing," said Philadelphia star Andre Iguodala after scoring 22 points in the win.
Portland (17-12) fell to 4-5 with that loss, and went on to drop its next three and seven of its next eight.
Since then, however, the Blazers have been the league's hottest team, matching the second-longest winning streak in team history with a 109-98 win over Minnesota on Friday night to remain one game behind first-place Denver in the Northwest Division.
This is Portland's best run since winning 12 straight during the 2001-02 season. The Blazers' longest streak was 16 games in 1990-91. Nine of the Portland's last 12 wins have been at the Rose Garden, where it is 14-3.
Channing Frye, who had 13 points and seven rebounds off the bench for Portland on Friday, believes the team's recent success is due to its deep roster.
"The coach can put any of our guys in and we can contribute," Frye told the team's official Web site. "Everybody is playing for each other. I think that makes us dangerous. Any guy can come off the bench."
The Blazers had four reserves play at least 20 minutes Friday, but was once again led by Brandon Roy, who had 22 points. The second-year star has scored 20 points or more in nine games during Portland's run.
Roy had 25 points in November's meeting with Philadelphia (13-16).
The Sixers made a minor trade Saturday, as Kyle Korver was dealt to Utah for guard Gordan Giricek and a first-round draft pick.
Philadelphia gave up one of the league's top long-range shooters in Korver, who is a career 40.9 percent shooter from 3-point range. The 6-foot-5 Giricek averaged 4.3 points in 22 games for the Jazz this season and has a career average of 9.8 in six seasons.
"We are excited about acquiring a player of Gordan's ability, as well as an additional asset in the form of a first-round draft pick," 76ers general manager Ed Stefanski said. "This move will provide us with increased salary cap flexibility this offseason and also allows us to continue our evaluation and development of the young talent we have on this team."
Korver, who was in his fifth year with the Sixers, is averaging 10.0 points in 25 games this season and helped Philadelphia win eight of its last 11 games after a terrible start.
The Sixers won their third straight Friday night, beating Sacramento 92-80. Philadelphia, now 6-7 on the road, won the first game of a six-game road trip that ends Jan. 6 in Denver.
Philadelphia got yet another big game from center Samuel Dalembert, who finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. He is averaging 12.0 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.5 blocks in his last nine games.
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