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Blazers host Grizzlies in critical Western showdown
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Portland Trail Blazers salvaged a few games at the end of a recent road trip, now return home Sunday night to host the Memphis Grizzlies at the Moda Center.
The Blazers went 2-3 on a swing through the south and both victories came at the end of the odyssey. After losses to Charlotte, Miami and Orlando, Portland clamed victories over the Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls.
It's no coincidence that the two wins came when All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge returned from a back issue.
Portland is just one game ahead of the Golden State Warriors, who play the New York Knicks at home on Sunday night.
On Friday, Mo Williams netted 18 points off the bench to lead six Trail Blazers in double figures in Portland's 91-74 takedown of the Bulls at United Center.
Damian Lillard added 16 points while Robin Lopez and Nicolas Batum scored 13 apiece to help Portland win.
"We all know where things are in the standings and with the playoffs. Every game is critical. We let a couple get away on this trip, but I didn't need to say anything to them. Everyone knows where we are and what we need to do," said Blazers coach Terry Stotts.
Aldridge had a season-low five points on 2-of-10 shooting versus Chicago but grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds with four steals. Aldridge missed the previous seven games.
The Blazers will play six of their final eight games at home.
The Grizzlies had a three-game winning streak come to an end Friday night with a 100-93 loss to the Golden State Warriors. Memphis is 1-1 on a critical road trip with stops still to be made in Denver and Minnesota.
The Warriors trailed 93-86 with 4:00 remaining, but closed the game on a 14-0 run to seal the victory.
"It's really disappointing, to be up (seven) with two or three minutes left in the game and not be able to execute not be able to get stops is real frustrating," said Zach Randolph.
Randolph scored 21 points and Mike Conley finished with 20 for the Grizzlies. Marc Gasol added 17 and Courtney Lee chipped in 11 as Memphis shot 50.6 from the field.
The Grizzlies trail the Phoenix Suns by a half-game for the seventh seed and are fractionally ahead of the Dallas Mavericks for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference.
The Grizzlies have won five straight against the Blazers, including two matchups this season. Memphis has won three consecutive stops in the great northwest.
03/30 08:59:56 ET
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