Portland (43-29) at New Orleans (34-39)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: New Orleans, LA
Temp: 73° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EDT Sat Mar 27, 2010
  • TV: NBATV, CST
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Portland Trail Blazers have proven to be a tough team to match up with for at least one of their potential first-round playoff opponents. Now they just have to make sure they get into the postseason.

Coming off an impressive win, the Blazers can knock one of their Western Conference competitors out of playoff contention as they visit the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday night.

With 10 games remaining, Portland (43-29) appears intent on finishing the season strong, winning six of its last seven.

Portland beat Dallas 101-89 at home Thursday night, earning its third victory in the season series. The Blazers are jockeying for position in the West, and Dallas could be their first-round opponent.

“We’ve got to put it behind us and go on to New Orleans and try to get another one,” guard Brandon Roy(notes) said.

The Blazers are five games ahead of ninth-place Memphis and can eliminate 11th-place New Orleans (34-39) from contention with a victory.

These teams have each won a road game in this season’s series. This is the first meeting since the Blazers acquired Marcus Camby(notes) from the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 16.

Camby is coming off his best offensive game since then, posting 17 points and 11 rebounds.

“I think it’s a matter of (Camby) getting used to how we want him to play that center position,” coach Nate McMillan said.

The Blazers have won five straight and 10 of 12 when their starting lineup consists of Camby, Nicolas Batum(notes), LaMarcus Aldridge(notes), Roy and Andre Miller(notes). It’s the most games of any starting combination used by Portland this season.

Portland’s bench has gotten stronger with the return of Rudy Fernandez(notes), who missed a 93-87 loss at Phoenix on Sunday night due to a strained quadriceps. The second-year guard is shooting 53.8 percent (21 for 39) from 3-point range over his last eight games.

Chris Paul(notes) struggled in his second game back for the Hornets, finishing with five points and seven assists in 32 minutes of a 105-92 loss to Cleveland on Wednesday night. Paul returned Monday night after missing 24 games due to a left knee injury, scoring 11 points in 21 minutes as New Orleans beat Dallas 115-99.

“I have to get back into the flow and understand what we’re trying to do,” Paul said. “Hopefully, that will come sooner rather than later. … The biggest thing is that my knee feels fine.”

Paul was held to three points on 1-of-8 shooting in an 86-78 loss to the Blazers on Nov. 13.

Rookie Darren Collison(notes), who was impressive as a starter for Paul, continues to play well despite returning to a reserve role. He’s averaging 16.5 points and 7.5 assists in his last two games.

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Saturday, Mar 27