Trail Blazers-Timberwolves Preview
The Portland Trail Blazers have enjoyed an offensive surge during their home winning streak, but that hasn't translated to any road success lately.
That may change against a slumping Minnesota Timberwolves team they've dominated in recent years.
The Trail Blazers look to snap a four-game road losing streak Monday night as they try to win for the 10th time in 11 trips to Minnesota.
After a season-worst six-game losing streak, Portland (24-23) has bounced back to win four of its last six. The Trail Blazers won their fourth straight on their home court with a 105-99 victory over Utah on Saturday to get within one game of eighth-place Houston in the Western Conference standings.
Now they're hoping to put an end to their recent road struggles as they begin a six-game swing against the Timberwolves, who snapped a six-game losing streak with a 115-86 win over New Orleans on Saturday.
"We play a lot of guys in the West and a lot of guys we're going to be fighting for so this road trip is big for us," Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge said.
While the Trail Blazers have averaged 103.0 points on 49.7 percent shooting - including 40.2 percent from beyond the arc - during their home streak, they've scored 80.0 points per game while shooting 40.0 percent and 10 for 35 (28.6 percent) from 3-point range in their last two on the road.
J.J. Hickson has played much better at home, averaging 18.4 points in his last five games there. He's scored just 10.8 per game in his last five on the road.
The Trail Blazers are hoping to have Wesley Matthews back after the guard sat out against the Jazz because of an ankle injury. Matthews has totaled 56 points on 20-of-32 shooting - including 10 for 13 from long distance - to help Portland win the first two against Minnesota this season.
The Trail Blazers defeated the visiting Timberwolves 103-95 on Nov. 23 before winning at Minnesota 102-97 on Jan. 5. They've won 19 of 21 in the series since the 2007-08 season.
With Matthews leading the way, Portland has torched Minnesota from beyond the arc in the two games this season, hitting 27 of 49 (55.1 percent).
While the Timberwolves (18-26) ranked last in the NBA in defensive 3-point percentage (41.8) in January, they limited New Orleans to 3-of-14 Saturday.
Minnesota, which had lost 11 of its previous 12 overall, looks to win its second straight at home after finishing with season highs in points and field-goal percentage (58.4) in its most lopsided victory of the season Saturday.
"To have a blowout win is something that our team needed at this point,'' guard Luke Ridnour said. "Hopefully we can build on it.''
Dante Cunningham will try to build on his season-high 18 points after he hit all nine shot attempts to set a franchise record for most consecutive field goals without a miss.
Nikola Pekovic had 14 points against the Hornets, and has averaged 19.5 points and 12.5 rebounds against the Trail Blazers this season.
After outscoring New Orleans 58-32 in the paint, the Timberwolves are likely to look inside again Monday. They held a combined 84-56 advantage on points in the paint in the first two meetings against the Trail Blazers.