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Blazers, Pacers tip it up in possible Finals preview
(SportsNetwork.com) - A possible NBA Finals preview is on tap Friday night between the East-leading Indiana Pacers and Portland Trail Blazers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Pacers have the best record in the NBA at 38-10 and sit three games ahead of Miami for conference supremacy. Portland is four games off the lead in the West and just a half-game in back of San Antonio for the second spot.
Indiana suffered a 106-102 loss at Portland when the two teams met on Dec. 2 and is 3-7 in the past 10 games in this series. The Trail Blazers have struggled in Indy lately, losing three in a row and eight of 10 games there.
The Pacers are coming off Tuesday's 89-85 victory at Atlanta, as David West scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the way. Paul George had 18 points and Lance Stephenson scored 10 before leaving with an injury for the Pacers, whose last regular season win in Atlanta came Dec. 22, 2006 -- a span of 12 consecutive losses.
"This has been a tough place for us," West said of Philips Arena. "But we came in with the right motivation tonight."
Stephenson is probable versus Portland with a back/hip issue and is averaging 14.1 points and 7.2 rebounds this season. He has recorded double-doubles in seven of his last 10 games and leads the NBA with four triple-doubles this season.
Indiana, which has won three straight and 10 of 13 games, owns a solid 23-2 home record this season and is 6-1 versus teams from the West at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Pacers head coach Frank Vogel is one win shy of 150 in his career.
Meanwhile, the Blazers seem to have righted the ship with two wins in the last three games after dropping four of six. They opened a four-game road trip with a loss at Washington on Monday, but bounced back two nights later in New York.
Nicolas Batum led the Blazers with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while LaMarcus Aldridge added 15 and 12 in the win. Wesley Matthews netted 18 points and Damian Lillard ended with 12 for Portland, which won despite shooting 38 percent and making only 8-of-21 3-pointers.
"All that matters is that we won the game," said Lillard. "Despite the fact that we didn't shoot the ball well, we were still able to win the game on the road, so you have to be happy with that."
The Blazers have failed to score 100 points in two straight and three of four games, and are still first in the NBA with 107.7 ppg.
Portland is 16-9 outside of the Rose City and will wrap up the sojourn Saturday against Minnesota. It has the second-most road wins in the NBA.
02/07 10:20:18 ET
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