Raptors-Trail Blazers Preview

With Brandon Roy back in All-Star form, the Portland Trail

Blazers are closing in on a playoff berth. Chris Bosh’s return

hasn’t had the same effect for the Toronto Raptors.

Roy will try to help the Blazers to their ninth win in 11 games

Sunday night against the Raptors, who are attempting to avoid a

season high-tying fifth straight loss.

Portland (40-28) went 4-8 while Roy sat out with an injured

right hamstring Jan. 22-Feb. 10 and split its first six games

following his return Feb. 16.

He had at least 20 points in four straight games from Feb. 21-26

– including 20 in a 101-87 win in Toronto – but scored just seven

in a win at Minnesota to conclude the month.

Roy has averaged 24.5 points in March, and he’s scored 29.3 per

game during Portland’s current three-game win streak. After

tallying 41 points in Thursday night’s 110-105 win at Golden State,

he had 28 in a 110-94 victory at Sacramento the next evening.

The Blazers have also averaged 104.3 points over the past 10

games, and that’s helped them build a 4 1/2-game lead for the final

Western Conference playoff spot. Portland is also just two games

back of Oklahoma City in fifth place.

“My confidence is coming back and so is the swagger, which gives

the team some swagger as well,” Roy said. “We’re starting to get

healthy and teams are seeing that we are dangerous.”

Toronto, meanwhile, is coming perilously close to falling out of

playoff contention after dropping eight of nine – beginning with

the loss to the Blazers on Feb. 24.

The return of Bosh after he missed seven games with a sprained

left ankle hasn’t helped as the Raptors (32-32) have dropped four

straight with their All-Star forward in the lineup.

Toronto has fallen to eighth in the East, 1 1/2 games ahead of

Chicago. The Raptors, who haven’t lost five in a row since Nov.

25-Dec. 2, are also in danger of dropping below .500 for the first

time since Jan. 20.

“Time is ticking and it’s counting down, and if we keep playing

the way we are right now, we’re going to be on the outside looking

in,” Bosh said. “Guys need to step it up.”

Bosh had 24 points and 11 rebounds in the team’s latest defeat,

124-112 at Golden State on Saturday night. As Toronto concludes its

four-game Western trip, he is 31 points shy of becoming the

franchise’s first player with 10,000 in his career.

Hedo Turkoglu will make his lone appearance in Portland this

season. He reportedly gave a verbal commitment to join the Blazers

in July but later backed out to sign with Toronto.

Turkoglu, though, hasn’t matched the level of production from

his five previous seasons in Orlando – averaging 12.0 points on

40.8 percent shooting.

He’s averaged 6.5 points and shot 32.5 percent over his past six

games, but scored 24 in the loss to Portland while hitting 8 of 9

shots. Turkoglu has averaged 24.7 points on 57.9 percent shooting

in his last six games against the Blazers.

Roy led Portland with 20 points in the win, and Andre MIller

contributed 18 and 10 assists.

Portland, which has won six of seven at home against Toronto, is

trying to sweep the Raptors for the second straight season.