Trail Blazers-Warriors Preview
While coach Mark Jackson believes his Golden State Warriors are built to win with defense, their struggles at that end have played a major role in their current slump.
Things aren't likely to get easier in a matchup with LaMarcus Aldridge and the high-scoring Portland Trail Blazers.
The Warriors hope to keep the Blazers from winning their second straight in Oakland as they try to avoid their fourth straight home loss Saturday night.
Golden State (26-18) surrendered an average of 92.8 points during a 10-game winning streak Dec. 21-Jan. 7, but has since allowed 108.4 per contest while dropping five of seven.
Minnesota became the latest club to find holes in the Warriors' defense, shooting 50.0 percent overall and 9 for 22 from 3-point range in a 121-120 victory at Oracle Arena on Friday.
Kevin Martin made a jumper with 8.4 seconds left for the go-ahead score, pushing Golden State's home losing streak to three for the first time since a five-game skid at the end of 2011-12.
"We've done a bad job everybody on the floor, breakdowns," Jackson said. "There is not one guy that is doing their job defensively. Everybody in uniform has been bad defensively for us and it's disappointing right now."
Jackson's squad will have to figure out a way to tighten thing up in a hurry with Portland (33-11) coming in averaging a league-best 109.5 points per game.
Aldridge led six players in double figures with 21 points, while Wesley Matthews added 18 as the Blazers matched their win total from all of last season with Saturday's 115-104 victory over the visiting Timberwolves.
"I thought we played a very good game start to finish," coach Terry Stotts said. "Our bench was terrific. Our reserves were very good in both halves and made a difference in both halves - the energy, just a little bit of everything."
Now they'll try to avoid their first three-game road losing streak after dropping games at Houston and Oklahoma City at the end of a recent four-game trip.
Aldridge has emerged as a potential MVP candidate for Portland, averaging career highs of 24.6 points and 11.5 rebounds. He's been particularly hot lately, scoring 29.9 while pulling down 14.0 boards per game over his last seven.
Aldridge has certainly been a handful for Golden State's frontcourt, finishing with 30 points and 21 rebounds in each of the last two meetings - including a 113-101 victory in Oakland on Nov. 23.
Matthews stepped up with 23 points while making 5 of 6 from 3-point range in that contest. The small forward, averaging a career-high 16.9 points, also has scored 21.0 per game on 52.5 percent shooting in his last three overall.
Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 30 points on 10-of-13 shooting in the first meeting, and he's totaled 54 with seven 3-pointers in the his last two games against the Blazers.
Stephen Curry also has played well in this matchup, scoring 27.7 per game while hitting 12 of 29 from beyond the arc in the last three home meetings.
Curry had 33 points, 15 assists and six 3s in Friday's loss after being named a Western Conference All-Star starter for the first time. He's averaged 30.5 points and 10.8 assists in his last four games.
The Warriors had won 14 of 16 at home in this series before their November loss.