Blazers put dim playoff hopes on line vs. Nets

Portland hopes to hang on to its dimming playoff hopes when they play host to the New Jersey Nets.

The Blazers, who are four games behind Houston for the eighth and final postseason spot in the Western Conference, failed in an opportunity to win back-to-back games for the first time since late January when they fell to Utah, 102-97, in Rip City on Monday.

Wesley Matthews scored a game-high 33 points for Portland, while LaMarcus Aldridge had 27 points and seven rebounds in a losing effort.

"We played great defense in the first quarter," said Blazers interim coach Kaleb Canales, "but I thought we forgot who we were in the second and third."

Portland guard Jamal Crawford sat out with tendinitis in his right knee against Utah and is questionable for tonight's contest.

The Nets, who will be finishing a four-game road trip tonight, lost for the first time in four games on Tuesday in Los Angeles, falling to the Lakers 91-87.

Kobe Bryant rattled in the game-sealing three-pointer with 6.8 seconds left in regulation of that one as the Lakers survived the Nets' late rally.

Deron Williams had 20 points for New Jersey, which also received 18 points and 15 rebounds from Kris Humphries but had a three-game winning streak snapped and dropped its eighth straight against LA.

Gerald Wallace finished with 19 points in the loss for the Nets.

"We just have to get off to a better start," head coach Avery Johnson said.

New Jersey has lost three straight and seven of its last eight visits to Portland.