Trail Blazers Start Extended Road Trip In Memphis

by Casey Holdahl
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The Portland Trail Blazers (9-7) begin a five-game road trip Monday night in Memphis with a tilt versus the Grizzlies (7-8) at FedEx Forum. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m.

After playing 11 of 13 games at the Moda Center, 10 of the Trail Blazers’ next 14 games are on the road. Portland hasn’t ventured out on an extended road trip since starting the season with a three-game swing through Phoenix, Indianapolis and Milwaukee, which was also the last time they notched a road victory. So getting off to a good start Monday night in Memphis would help set the tone for their first tough schedule stretch of the season.

It would also even the season series after the Grizzlies took the first contest 98-97 at the Moda Center on November 17.  The Trail Blazers had a chance to win that game at the buzzer, but CJ McCollum, who finished the game with 36 points, couldn’t get 20-foot pullup jumper to fall despite getting an open look.

“If we can get a shot like that for CJ to win a game, I’d take it every time,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “It was a great look.”

McCollum is averaging 28.8 points on 56 percent shooting from the field and 47 percent shooting from three in his last four games versus Memphis.

Portland enters Monday’s contest coming off a 102-90 victory versus the Sacramento Kings Saturday night at the Moda Center. McCollum and Damian Lillard combined to score 47 points in the victory while Meyers Leonard and Shabazz Napier each added 11 points off the bench.

As for the Grizzlies, they’ve lost all four of their games since defeating the Trail Blazers nine days ago in Portland. Their most recent loss was a 105-83 blowout to the Houston Rockets, a team they have already played four times through the first four weeks of the season.

Memphis’ recent struggles can mostly be explained by starting point guard Mike Conley sitting out with a sore left Achilles. The veteran guard, who is out indefinitely, scored 20 points on 6-of-15 shooting in their win versus Portland while holding Damian Lillard to just 12 points, his worst scoring night of the season.

The Trail Blazers will be without starting forward Al-Farouq Aminu, who has been sidelined with a right ankle sprain since suffering the injury in a 112-103 loss to the Jazz on November 1.

Monday night’s game can be seen locally on NBC Sports Northwest with Kevin Calabro, Lamar Hurd and Brooke Olzendam. Brian Wheeler will have the radio call on Rip City Radio 620 AM and on all of the stations of the Trail Blazers Radio Network.