The surging Portland Trail Blazers are looking to secure a playoff spot. A victory over the team that’s closest to them in the Western Conference race would certainly help.
The sixth-place Blazers look to win for the seventh time in nine games Tuesday night when they visit the New Orleans Hornets, who are one game behind them.
Portland (43-31), winner of 10 of 14, defeated NBA-leading San Antonio for the second time in four days Monday, 100-92 to snap a season high-tying four-game road losing streak.
“We ain’t going to throw it out, because if we would have lost, we would’ve looked back like they didn’t have their players and that was a game we needed,” point guard Andre Miller(notes) said after scoring a team-best 26 points. “So we’re trying to finish off and get some momentum going into the playoffs.”
Portland is just ahead of New Orleans (42-32) and 1 1/2 games back of fifth-place Denver despite a rash of injuries that have kept starters Brandon Roy(notes) and Marcus Camby(notes) out for extended periods. Center Greg Oden(notes) was lost to a knee injury before the season started.
The Hornets open a critical five-game homestand with a major injury problem of their own, as the club lost All-Star forward David West(notes) to a torn ACL on Thursday. Carl Landry(notes), however, has put together two straight impressive performances since West went down.
Making his second straight start, Landry had a season-high 24 points with 10 rebounds in a 102-84 road loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. Landry, acquired from Sacramento last month, scored 19 and grabbed six boards in a 106-100 victory at Phoenix on Friday.
“He’s playing well. He’s drawing a double team, he has to learn how to pass out of it,” coach Monty Williams said. “If we can get him the ball, just knocking down his jump shot, it helps his game.”
The Hornets may need Landry to continue that level of production if they want to earn their first playoff berth in two seasons. New Orleans is trying to hold off eighth-place Memphis, which is one game back and has two games remaining against the Hornets this season.
New Orleans is also just a few games ahead of ninth-place Houston, which has surged into postseason contention.
“The good thing about our situation is that we have a string of home games to end the season,” guard Jarrett Jack(notes) said. “If there’s any way you can do it or write it up, you’d love to do it in front of your own crowd, take the travel element out of it, and finish up strong.”
The Hornets, who ended a three-game home losing streak to the Blazers with a 107-87 victory Nov. 13, fell 103-96 at Portland in the most recent matchup Feb. 16.
New Orleans can win the season series for the first time since 2005-06, when it was playing its home games in Oklahoma City.