With the playing status of their leading scorer not immediately known, the Portland Trail Blazers try to do something it’s done just once all season—win three games in a row.
The Trail Blazers (28-40) haven’t won three in a row since a season-high five-game run from Dec. 10-20.
Randolph, who leads Portland with 23.5 points and 10.1 rebounds, could miss his third consecutive game while on bereavement leave. He returned to his hometown of Marion, Ind., after a cousin of his longtime girlfriend was shot to death at a motorcycle club there on Sunday.
The Blazers have won all three games this season without the former Michigan State standout. Randolph missed a 93-83 win at Toronto on Dec. 10 due to a team-issued suspension for making an obscene gesture two nights earlier in Indiana.
With Randolph out this week, Blazers coach Nate McMillan had juggled his lineup, moving rookie LaMarcus Aldridge to forward and inserting Jamaal Magloire at center. Both have taken advantage of the situation—Aldridge has totaled 37 points and 13 rebounds in the two games, while Magloire scored 14 points and pulled down a season-high 16 rebounds in Portland’s 92-86 win at New York on Thursday night in the start of a four-game road trip.
“I feel confident in my game,” said Magloire, who also tied a season high in scoring. “I’ve worked tremendously hard, not only in the offseason, every day during the regular season. And just given the opportunity, I’ll always produce and do well.”
Portland is in 13th place in the West, but just four games behind the eighth-place Los Angeles Clippers for the final Western Conference playoff spot with 14 games to go.
The Blazers have won nine of the last 10 meetings with the Hawks, including four straight at Philips Arena. However, the Trail Blazers lost to the Hawks 107-96 on Dec. 3 in Portland, and will try to avoid being swept in the season series for the first time since 1996-97.
The Hawks (27-42) had their season-high five-game home winning streak snapped with a 91-83 loss to Miami on Wednesday night. Josh Smith, playing in place of the injured Joe Johnson, finished with 27 points and nine rebounds and fellow forward Marvin Williams had 16 and 12.
“It’s tough,” Williams said. “We’ve been hot here at home.”
The loss also was the Hawks’ third in four games overall.
Smith has averaged 20.3 points and 9.1 rebounds in eight games while Johnson recovers from a calf injury. For the season, Smith is setting career highs in points (15.5), rebounds (8.4), assists (3.2), blocks (2.9).
Atlanta needs only one win to increase its total for the fourth season in a row, but with 13 games remaining is still in 11th place in the East and four games behind division-rival Orlando for the final playoff spot.