A bit of uncertainty suddenly surrounds the Portland Trail Blazers after they dropped back-to-back home games earlier this week.
While Portland might normally not like its chances of regrouping as the visiting team, a trip to face the Western Conference-worst New Orleans Hornets could be just what it needs to get back on track.
The Blazers look to avoid matching their longest road losing streak in almost three years Friday night against a Hornets team hoping to prevail for just the second time in 18 games.
While much has been made about Portland's lackluster road efforts, it had been nearly unbeatable at home - winning 11 of its first 12 there. The Blazers (14-12), though, are coming off a pair of disappointing results at the Rose Garden.
After a controversial goaltending call on LaMarcus Aldridge allowed Oklahoma City to force overtime and ultimately take Monday's matchup 111-107, Portland fell 103-96 to Houston on Wednesday.
"It's tough, it's tough, that's for sure, but it's a process you have to go through unfortunately," guard Jamal Crawford told the team's official website. "We can be two different teams at times. I think that to be so good, then to come up short and really shortchange ourselves, I think that's the most surprising thing."
The Blazers were outrebounded 39-29 and allowed the Rockets to shoot 52.6 percent - the second-highest mark by an opponent.
"We talked about just getting back to doing things simple, simplifying some things and getting back to our foundations. We didn't come out like that," Crawford added. "It's disheartening for sure. We've got to get on our horse and face the adversity."
Portland could have a hard time picking up the pace on the road, where it's dropped four in a row and nine of 12. It hasn't lost five straight in opposing arenas since Feb. 4-25, 2009.
While the Blazers rank in the bottom third of the league with 90.7 points per game away from home, the Hornets (4-22), who have lost 13 of 14 at New Orleans Arena, are averaging an NBA-worst 86.3 points on their own court.
The Hornets were handed their seventh consecutive loss overall Wednesday, 90-67 to Chicago. Posting its lowest scoring output since April 13, 2009, New Orleans was outscored 12 to 1 on fast breaks and surrendered 29 points off 18 turnovers.
"What you have to do against a (good) team like that is you have to run your sets and you have to be fundamentally sound," coach Monty Williams said. "You have to push the ball so you can get to all your options. You can't walk the ball up the court and you have to set screens."
The Hornets lost 84-77 at home to the Blazers on Jan. 16. Aldridge, averaging 26.7 points in his last three meetings in the series, scored 22.
Portland is surely hoping to see Aldridge, named to the All-Star team for the first time Thursday, come out with a more inspired effort after he was held to a season low-tying 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting against Houston.
"It was just me," he said. "I didn't have the energy."
Returning from a three-game absence due to knee pain, the Hornets' Jarrett Jack had four points on 2-of-11 shooting Wednesday. Jack, who spent the first three years of his career with Portland, scored 21 against his former team last month.
The Hornets continue to play without star Eric Gordon (sore right knee) and forward Carl Landry (left MCL sprain). Big man Jason Smith, meanwhile, could miss a third straight game with a concussion.
- Portland Trail Blazers
- New Orleans Hornets