Trail Blazers-Warriors Preview

Success on the road has helped put the Portland Trail Blazers in
position to make the playoffs, and it would seem visiting the
woeful Golden State Warriors should only help.

However, the Trail Blazers will be trying to avoid a 10th
consecutive loss in Oakland on Thursday, when the Warriors open a
four-game homestand following a winless road trip.

The Blazers (38-28) are set for back-to-back road games against
two of the league’s worst teams – they visit Sacramento on Friday –
but are coming off a subpar performance in an 88-81 win over the
lowly Kings on Tuesday.

While the Blazers failed to extend their stretch of 100-point
games to eight, All-Star guard Brandon Roy knows there must be a
better effort on a regular basis if they’re going to make the
playoffs. They currently stand eighth in the Western
Conference.

“We’re taking these wins, but we know we have to get better if
we’re going to make a push,” said Roy, who has averaged 27.0 points
as Portland and Golden State have split two meetings this
season.

The Blazers have won five of seven away from home and have
scored at least 100 in 10 straight road games, a run it should
expect to continue Thursday.

The Warriors (17-46) allowed 118.0 points per game on an 0-5
eastern swing that ended with Monday’s 135-131 loss to New
Orleans.

“We played our hearts out. We came up short again,” coach Don
Nelson said. “I have to be pleased with the way that we’re playing.
We just can’t seem to scratch a win out.”

Golden State, though, has won nine straight at home against
Portland by an average of 12.2 points, dating to a 78-75 loss Nov.
3, 2004. In the teams’ last matchup at Oracle Arena, Monta Ellis
had 34 points, eight assists and a career high-tying six steals in
a 108-94 win Nov. 20.

Ellis, the Warriors’ leading scorer with 25.7 points per game,
is questionable Thursday after missing the last six games with a
strained lower back.

With Andris Biedrins out indefinitely following Tuesday’s
abdominal surgery and fellow Warriors big man Ronny Turiaf
questionable with a sore left knee, Blazers veteran Marcus Camby
could have a major advantage in the paint against rookie center
Chris Hunter. However, Camby, who returned Tuesday after missing
one game with a sprained ankle, will not overlook a Warriors team
with many offensive weapons.

“Golden State is a tricky team,” he said after finishing with
six points, eight rebounds and five blocks Tuesday. “They play
small ball, they shoot the ball particularly well, so we definitely
have to move our feet come Thursday night.”

Portland has held its last 15 opponents to an average of 94.3
points, but the Warriors are scoring 107.2 per game.

Anthony Morrow has picked up his play in Ellis’ absence, scoring
20.0 points per game on Golden State’s trip – 6.3 more than his
season average.

Rookie Reggie Williams, recently called up from the NBA
development league, scored a career-high 28 on Monday and is
averaging 12.6 points in five games.

Portland hosts Golden State on April 14 in both teams’
regular-season finale.