The Portland Trail Blazers haven’t had much trouble winning at home lately. That seems unlikely to change Friday night.
That’s when the last-place Memphis Grizzlies go to the Rose Garden trying to avoid a ninth consecutive loss to the Blazers, who look to roll past another inferior opponent and see Greg Oden(notes) keep fulfilling his potential.
Portland (12-5) has won three in a row and 10 of 12 overall, including six straight home games by an average of 17.1 points.
Friday’s contest ends a four-game homestand on which none of the Blazers’ opponents had winning records. The closest game in that stretch came Wednesday night, though Portland never trailed in the second half and led by as many as 16 in a 93-83 victory over winless New Jersey.
Oden had another solid game with 18 points and eight rebounds, two nights after posting 24 and 12 against Chicago.
Oden has averaged 18.5 points and 7.6 boards in the last four games while shooting 75.0 percent. The No. 1 overall pick in 2007 may finally be on the verge of becoming a major factor for Portland after having limited effectiveness in an injury-plagued 2008-09 season and missing all of his rookie season following knee surgery.
Maybe another positive of Oden’s presence is his willingness to deflect attention away from himself and to his team, as he did after Wednesday’s win when asked about his recent accomplishments.
“It was a team effort and all the guys played well, especially in that fourth quarter when we all came through and brought a lot of energy,” he said. “We came together and pulled away.”
Portland easily pulled away from the Grizzlies in the lone meeting this season, outscoring them by 14 in the second half to win 93-79 at Memphis on Nov. 10. It was the Blazers’ eighth straight victory in the series.
The Grizzlies’ last trip to the Rose Garden resulted in the team matching its lowest-scoring game of the past 14 years, losing 86-66 on March 28.
The Blazers are giving up a league-low 88.5 points per game, but Memphis has averaged 105.0 in its last six games while winning four.
However, the Grizzlies are coming off a 126-111 loss in Phoenix to open a five-game road trip.
“I told them (his players) that this is what professional basketball is like,” coach Lionel Hollins said. “You have to keep digging and digging and make the other team keep working. You can’t ever think the game is over. As long as it’s inside 20 points, you have a chance.”