New Orleans (33-24) at Portland (31-24)

By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO, STATS Writer Wednesday, Feb 16, 2011 Tipoff: 10:00 pm EST Wed Feb 16, 2011

LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) claims he isn’t proving a point, but his play seems to suggest otherwise.

Aldridge and the Portland Trail Blazers go for their longest winning streak in 15 months Wednesday night, when they look to avoid a third straight rout at the hands of the New Orleans Hornets.

Aldridge is averaging career highs of 22.1 points and 8.9 rebounds, leading Portland (31-24) in scoring while ranking second in boards behind Marcus Camby(notes).

The big man failed to make his first All-Star team, however, after commissioner David Stern chose Minnesota’s Kevin Love(notes) to replace the injured Yao Ming(notes).

Aldridge is playing like he’s intent on showing he was worthy of the nod instead, averaging 31.2 points during the Trail Blazers’ season high-tying five-game winning streak.

“Since the announcement of the All-Stars, his play hasn’t dropped off,” coach Nate McMillan said. “It’s gotten even better.”

The Blazers last won six in a row Nov. 6-14, 2009. Aldridge got them closer to matching that streak by outplaying Love in a 95-81 victory at Minnesota on Monday - hours after being named Western Conference player of the week.

Aldridge had 21 points, six rebounds and five assists against the Timberwolves, while holding Love to 12 points and 11 boards.

He insists his superb recent play isn’t motivated by the All-Star snub.

“We need it. It’s not about an All-Star snub or anything like that,” Aldridge said. “It’s about closing out this stretch well.”

Aldridge has also been softening the blow left by absences from Camby (knee) and star guard Brandon Roy(notes), who’s been out since mid-December due to surgery on both knees.

Portland isn’t sure when either player will return, but the team is 9-4 without the duo and 21-11 without Roy.

Aldridge will try to help Portland defeat the Hornets (33-24) for the first time in three meetings this season, but he’ll need to play much better than he did in the first two matchups. He shot 4 of 14 from the field and scored 12 points as the Blazers lost 107-87 at New Orleans on Nov. 13, and was 6 of 15 for 14 points in a 97-78 defeat at the Rose Garden on Nov. 26.

The timing may be right for Portland to avoid a third straight loss in the series. New Orleans is limping toward the break with eight defeats in 10 games since winning a season-high 10 in a row.

The Hornets fell 102-89 at Golden State on Tuesday.

“I don’t believe in excuses and I don’t believe in rescues,” coach Monty Williams said. “If guys want to keep their job, they’re going to have to learn how to play in tough times like this.”

All-Star guard Chris Paul(notes) is averaging 12.5 points - nearly four below his season mark - over his last four games while shooting 31.3 percent. He was held scoreless for the final 39 minutes Tuesday, finishing with 11 points while going 4 of 12 from the field.

Paul hasn’t been any better in his last five meetings with Portland, averaging 12.2 points.

David West(notes), the Hornets’ leader with 18.9 points per game, will likely match up with Aldridge.

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Wednesday, Feb 16