Injuries may have ravaged Portland’s roster, but they have done nothing to shake the Trail Blazers’ collective confidence.
The short-handed Blazers look to ride the momentum of two straight victories while trying to avoid a fifth consecutive loss to the Utah Jazz on Friday night at the Rose Garden.
Playing without injured leading scorer Brandon Roy(notes) (18.1 points per game), Portland (8-5) has won two in a row after dropping five of eight. Thursday’s 86-83 win over Denver came a day after the Blazers learned they lost 2007 No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden(notes) to another season-ending knee surgery.
A third-year forward, Batum has averaged 16.5 points in his last eight games.
Matthews, signed as free agent after he averaged 9.4 points as a rookie last season with Utah, had 30 points in a win at Memphis on Tuesday and posted his first career double-double with 20 and 10 rebounds versus Denver.
“Whatever it takes to help the team win. Everybody has to step up, including me,” said Matthews, who has started the last two games in place of Roy.
Portland can still lean on veterans LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) and Andre Miller(notes), who combined for 40 points against the Nuggets. Aldridge has averaged 20.0 points in his last five games against the Jazz.
Portland, which limited Denver to 38.5 percent shooting, has held its opponents to fewer than 100 points in each of its victories this season.
The Blazers have not done that enough against Utah, which averaged 106.3 points on 54.9-percent shooting while going 4-0 against them last season.
Though the Jazz (8-5) are trying for a fifth straight road victory, they have lost two of three overall after falling 94-82 to surging San Antonio on Friday.
Deron Williams(notes) had 23 points for Utah, which rallied from a 15-point deficit to tie the game late in the third quarter, but unlike recent road wins against Miami, Orlando, Atlanta and Charlotte, it couldn’t pull off another double-digit comeback after scoring 14 points in the fourth.
With Carlos Boozer(notes) in Chicago and Mehmet Okur(notes) still out with an Achilles’ injury, Williams continues to carry the offensive load, averaging a career-high 22.3 points. He’s averaged 23.2 and shot 50.7 percent in his last five games at Portland.
Utah assistant Paul Johnson is expected to guide the team for a second straight game while coach Jerry Sloan attends the funeral of a family member. Sloan likely is to rejoin the club for Monday night’s home game versus Sacramento.