The Portland Trail Blazers are one of only two Western Conference teams without a win in February. They’ll look to change that when they open a four-game East Coast road trip with a matchup against the last-place Charlotte Bobcats on Friday.
After winning six of their last 10 games in January, the Blazers (20-30) have dropped their first three contests this month, including a 109-102 overtime loss to Pacific Division-leading Phoenix on Tuesday.
Zach Randolph had 33 points on 12-of-15 shooting and Brandon Roy added 27 points and five assists, but the Blazers missed their first five shots in overtime and the Suns went on a game-clinching 11-4 run.
Portland had a chance to steal a win over the team with the second-best record in the NBA, but Travis Outlaw’s driving layup bounced out in the final seconds of regulation.
“I told Travis after the game you’ve got to power that shot to the basket,” coach Nate McMillan said. “I couldn’t believe it when I saw him get a path to the basket but it didn’t go in. You can’t finesse a shot like that.”
The Blazers fell despite the stellar play of Randolph, who also had 10 rebounds. The star forward has led Portland in scoring and rebounding in each of its last six games, averaging 28.8 points and 11.3 boards over that stretch.
The Blazers have two overtime losses and a two-point defeat this month.
“We’ve been right there at the end in the last three games, two of which went to overtime,” McMillan told the team’s official Web site. “But we can’t wait around to get breaks as a young team—we’ve got to make our breaks.”
The Blazers have lost six of their last seven road games, but hope to rebound against a Charlotte squad that is just 3-7 when hosting teams from the West.
The Bobcats (18-31) are coming off a 92-83 loss at Philadelphia on Wednesday. Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor each had 16 points and eight rebounds, but the Bobcats shot just 35.2 percent from the field to fall for the third time in four games.
Charlotte was outscored 29-16 in the first quarter and trailed for most of the game, but went on a 9-1 run in the fourth and held Philadelphia without a field goal in the last 6:57. The Bobcats, though, couldn’t overcome an 18-point second-half deficit.
“We made a good run and we just didn’t capitalize on it,” said Matt Carroll, who scored 11 points. “It’s tough to get back into it.”
These teams haven’t met since last February, when the Bobcats took advantage of a Portland club playing without an injured Randolph to claim a 110-106 victory—Charlotte’s first in four all-time meetings.
The Bobcats are averaging just 80.0 points in going 0-2 in the series in Charlotte. The teams close out this season’s set March 1 in Portland.