Blazers welcome struggling Hornets
The Portland Trail Blazers put their two-game winning streak on the line Sunday night when they host the struggling New Orleans Hornets.
After surrendering the first road victory of the season to Sacramento Kings on Dec. 8, Portland bested the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs to get on this run of good ball.
Against the Spurs on Thursday, and without starting shooting guard Wesley Matthews, who is out with a strained left hip flexor, rookie Damian Lillard led the way. He scored 29 points, handed out six assists, grabbed seven rebounds and shot 50 percent from the field.
"I think I've had a few games better even though this is the most points I've scored," said Lillard. "I think this was the best I've done in a game we really needed. That says a lot about our team to win against the Spurs, but I've played better games."
LaMarcus Aldridge had 22, while J.J. Hickson posted a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Matthews' status for Sunday is unknown. He didn't practice on Saturday and told reporters, "It's going to be a tough call tomorrow."
The Hornets begin a four-game road trip Sunday and are struggling. They are in the throes of a six-game losing streak and haven't won away from home since Nov. 26.
New Orleans' most recent loss came at home to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night, 113-102. Nikola Pekovic destroyed the Hornets with 31 points and Minnesota had 70 points in the paint.
"It's unfortunate. We needed this win right before we hit this road trip. We're playing some tough teams on the road, but it is what it is," said guard Austin Rivers. "There's nothing we can do about it now. We just have to keep our heads up. It's a long season and anything can turn it around."
Rivers' play has turned around. Reinserted into the starting lineup, Rivers has scored in double-figures in four of his last five, including a career-high 27 points against the Wolves.
This game features four of the top-11 picks in the past NBA Draft with No. 1 overall selection Anthony Davis, who is back, and No. 10 Rivers for the Hornets, and sixth choice Lillard and 11th pick Meyers Leonard for Portland.
The Trail Blazers swept all four games last season.