Trail Blazers-Hornets Preview

The surging Portland Trail Blazers are looking to secure a

playoff spot. A victory over the team that’s closest to them in the

Western Conference race would certainly help.

The sixth-place Blazers look to win for the seventh time in nine

games Tuesday night when they visit the New Orleans Hornets, who

are one game behind them.

Portland (43-31), winner of 10 of 14, defeated NBA-leading San

Antonio for the second time in four days Monday, 100-92 to snap a

season high-tying four-game road losing streak.

The Spurs were without four injured starters, including Tim

Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

“We ain’t going to throw it out, because if we would have lost,

we would’ve looked back like they didn’t have their players and

that was a game we needed,” point guard Andre Miller said after

scoring a team-best 26 points. “So we’re trying to finish off and

get some momentum going into the playoffs.”

Portland is just ahead of New Orleans (42-32) and 1 1/2 games

back of fifth-place Denver despite a rash of injuries that have

kept starters Brandon Roy and Marcus Camby out for extended

periods. Center Greg Oden was lost to a knee injury before the

season started.

The Hornets open a critical five-game homestand with a major

injury problem of their own, as the club lost All-Star forward

David West to a torn ACL on Thursday. Carl Landry, however, has put

together two straight impressive performances since West went


Making his second straight start, Landry had a season-high 24

points with 10 rebounds in a 102-84 road loss to the Los Angeles

Lakers on Sunday. Landry, acquired from Sacramento last month,

scored 19 and grabbed six boards in a 106-100 victory at Phoenix on


“He’s playing well. He’s drawing a double team, he has to learn

how to pass out of it,” coach Monty Williams said. “If we can get

him the ball, just knocking down his jump shot, it helps his


The Hornets may need Landry to continue that level of production

if they want to earn their first playoff berth in two seasons. New

Orleans is trying to hold off eighth-place Memphis, which is one

game back and has two games remaining against the Hornets this


New Orleans is also just a few games ahead of ninth-place

Houston, which has surged into postseason contention.

“The good thing about our situation is that we have a string of

home games to end the season,” guard Jarrett Jack said. “If

there’s any way you can do it or write it up, you’d love to do it

in front of your own crowd, take the travel element out of it, and

finish up strong.”

The Hornets, who ended a three-game home losing streak to the

Blazers with a 107-87 victory Nov. 13, fell 103-96 at Portland in

the most recent matchup Feb. 16.

New Orleans can win the season series for the first time since

2005-06, when it was playing its home games in Oklahoma City.