Rip City Rampage: Blazers put streak on line vs. Grizzlies

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Portland Trail Blazers return home with a nine-game winning streak, but they'll face a stiff test Friday night when the Memphis Grizzlies come to the Moda Center.

The Grizzlies are one of two NBA teams with 13 wins thus far. (The Toronto Raptors are the other.) Portland can join that group with a victory over Memphis.

The Blazers are the hottest team in the NBA thanks to that nine-game streak. They extended their run thanks to a 3-0 trip versus the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Charlotte Hornets.

The Blazers, who have won seven straight at home, extended the streak to nine with a 105-97 victory over the Hornets Wednesday night.

Wesley Matthews had 28 points and the Trail Blazers used a strong second half to beat the Hornets. Damian Lillard added 22 points and seven assists for the Blazers, while Robin Lopez tallied 15 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.

"It's not getting any easier," said Matthews. "The rest of the (Western Conference) isn't doing us any favors. They don't care that we're on this little streak right now. They're continuing to play good basketball and we just have to continue to get better."

Gerald Henderson opened the second half with a jumper to give Charlotte a 58-45 lead. However, the Blazers responded with a 16-5 run to get within 63-61 with 6:39 left in the third quarter.

Trailing 69-66 moments later, Portland used a 12-2 surge to take the lead for good. LaMarcus Aldridge, who shot 3-for-18 en route to nine points, capped the burst with a short jumper to make it 78-71, and the Blazers eventually took a three-point lead into the fourth.

Holding an 81-79 lead, Portland went on a 15-3 run to put the game away. Lillard and Matthews tallied seven and six points, respectively, during the spurt that Chris Kaman capped with a jumper for a 96-82 edge.

The Blazers outscored the Hornets by a 60-41 margin in the second half.

Portland will play three of its next four at home, then head east again for five games.

The Grizzlies have won three in a row and started their western road trip with a 99-93 triumph Wednesday night over the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.

Marc Gasol had 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Grizz. Mike Conley posted 19 points and seven assists for Memphis, which has won seven of the last eight games.

"In the second half we got more physical and we got more stops. We got into the paint more," Gasol said.

Zach Randolph finished with 16 and Courtney Lee added 10 for a Memphis team which shot 45 percent from the field, but just 22.7 percent from behind the 3- point line.

The Grizzlies, who are the NBA's only undefeated team at home, are just 5-2 on the road. Things won't get easier for Memphis with stops in Sacramento and Houston to follow.

The Grizzlies took two of three last season from the Blazers, including one at the Moda Center. Memphis is 6-2 in its last eight versus Portland, but has dropped four of the last seven as the visitor in this series.