Red-hot Blazers face tough test vs. Bulls

(SportsNetwork.com) - A five-game winning streak for the Portland Trail Blazers is at stake when they host the Chicago Bulls Friday night from the Moda Center.

The Trail Blazers made it five straight wins and seven in eight tries with Monday's 102-93 decision over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Even though Pelicans star Anthony Davis had 31 points and 11 rebounds, the Blazers countered with studs Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge. Lillard led the way with 24 points and seven assists, while Aldridge muscled his way to 22 points and nine rebounds.

Lillard led Portland in scoring for the fourth consecutive game and Aldridge had 16 points in the second half. Portland outscored New Orleans, 34-13, over the last 12 minutes and was down by as many as 16 points.

"I thought that was a tremendous defensive effort in the fourth quarter," said Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "When you get stops, it's easy to get a rhythm on offense."

Portland ended the night with 20 assists, marking the 11th game in a row it has dished out at least 20 or more assists.

Wesley Matthews had 16 points and Chris Kaman added 15 and 10 boards for Portland, which shot 50 percent and scored 100 or more points for the eighth time in 11 games this season.

It was Kaman's first double-double with the team and 173rd of his career. He also became the first Portland bench player with five straight games of 12 or more points and five-plus rebounds since Arvydas Sabonis turned the trick seven straight times from Jan. 2-18, 1996.

Blazers forward Nicolas Batum missed his fourth straight game with a knee injury and is questionable Friday.

Lillard has averaged 28.7 points over his last eight games for Portland, which is sixth in the NBA with 104.4 points per game and has a 7-1 mark when scoring 100-plus points.

Portland is 3-0 against Eastern Conference opponents and 7-1 at the Moda Center. After hosting the Bulls, the Blazers will head east for three games against Boston, Philadelphia and Charlotte.

The Bulls had won three of four games and were 6-0 on the road until Thursday's 103-88 setback in Sacramento.

Minus forward Pau Gasol (calf) and guard Derrick Rose (hamstring), the Bulls were once again led by Jimmy Butler, who posted 23 points on 11-of-18 shooting and has scored 20 or more in four straight games. He leads the team with 21.5 points per game.

Mike Dunleavy, Taj Gibson and Aaron Brooks scored 12 points apiece for the Bulls, who were aiming for the first 7-0 start on the road in franchise history and played poorly in the second quarter (30-18). The Kings shot 51.4 percent and posted 23 points off 15 Chicago turnovers.

"We got a gap in the middle of the second quarter where we got hurt," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said afterward. "The game was won there and we couldn't get a handle on it the rest of the way."

Chicago opened its circus road trip with a win against the Los Angeles Clippers and will also visit Utah and Denver out west before returning east for road bouts in Boston and Brooklyn.

Gasol and Rose are questionable for the Bulls Friday. Rose hasn't played since Nov. 13 at Toronto and has been plagued by issues all season. Gasol, in his first season with Chicago, has missed back-to-back games and is averaging 18.6 points and a team-high 10.6 rebounds.

The Bulls lost both games against the Trail Blazers last season and are winless in the last six meetings between the teams. Portland is 11-2 in the past 13 contests in this series and unbeaten in previous six in the Rose City.

Chicago's last win in the Pacific Northwest occurred on Feb. 3, 2007, an 88-86 victory.