NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, January 19th (All times Eastern)
Milwaukee Bucks (20-18) at Portland Trail Blazers (20-19), 10 p.m.
(Sports Network) - If the playoffs started this weekend, the Portland Trail Blazers would be left out in the cold. Fortunately, it's only the halfway point and the Blazers have plenty of time to make up some ground.
Portland aims to halt a four-game losing streak -- its third of the season -- Saturday night versus the Milwaukee Bucks in the continuation of a five-game homestand at the Rose Garden.
The Trail Blazers dropped the opener of the homestand by a 93-88 score to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday. Cavs young guard Kyrie Irving dropped 31 points on the Blazers, who were led by Nicolas Batum's 23 points and 12 rebounds. LaMarcus Aldridge tallied 15 points and 10 boards, while J.J. Hickson finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds in defeat.
Portland had 19 turnovers, leading to 24 Cleveland points, and shot 39.2 percent for the game. The Blazers were cold from 3-point territory and made just 9-of-29 shots beyond the arc. They rallied from 19 points down to take the lead, but the Cavs used an 8-2 run late to seal it.
"Turnovers," Portland guard Wesley Matthews said afterward. "Turnovers gave them too many second chance points. They played harder than us. It's hard to beat any team jumping out to a 17-point deficit, but we fought back. We just didn't finish it."
Blazers rookie Damian Lillard had 13 points and seven assists in defeat. He still leads all NBA rookies in scoring (18.1) and assists (6.5). Meanwhile, Aldridge is averaging 21.7 points and 10.0 rebounds in his last six games.
The Blazers are 13-6 in the Rose City this season and still have the Wizards, Pacers and Clippers left to play on the residency.
Milwaukee would crack the top eight in the East had the postseason started today, but will get back to work in the finale of a four-game road trip.
The Bucks are fresh off a rare victory at Phoenix and handed the hosting Suns a 98-94 setback Thursday night. Monta Ellis scored a game-high 24 points and Larry Sanders had a career-high 19 points with 15 rebounds and recorded two big blocks during the Bucks' game-sealing 10-0 run.
Possible All-Star candidate Brandon Jennings and Mike Dunleavy scored 16 points apiece for the Bucks, who have won four of six games and prevailed at Phoenix for the first time since a 115-107 victory during the 1986-87 season. The Bucks ended a 24-game drought in the Valley of the Sun.
"I don't like to bring up the past, it's too much pressure, but I was happy we came out and broke that streak," said Sanders, who has swatted a shot in 25 straight games and leads the NBA with 3.2 blocks per game.
Milwaukee is 10-9 away from Brew City this season and will return home for a showdown versus the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday.
The Bucks won both meetings with Portland last season, but are still 3-8 in the previous 11 matchups between the teams. Milwaukee has lost nine of 13 and 10 of its last 15 trips to the Pacific Northwest.
These two teams will meet again March 19 at the Bradley Center.
01/19 10:35:15 ET