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Trail Blazers-Hornets Preview

AP - Sports

It hasn't taken long for the Portland Trail Blazers to go from surging to struggling.

A visit to the team that owns the worst record in the Western Conference could be a good opportunity to start a new surge.

The Trail Blazers attempt to avoid their longest slide in more than a year when they face the New Orleans Hornets on Monday afternoon.

Portland (7-5) got off to an impressive start to 2011-12, winning seven of nine before dropping three in a row in a span of four days. The Trail Blazers haven't endured a longer skid since dropping six straight from Nov. 20-Dec. 3, 2010.

Their current slump continued Saturday as they fell 107-105 in overtime at Houston, one day after losing 99-83 at San Antonio to start a six-game, nine-day road trip.

Portland also has dropped three straight on the road, and 10 of 13 as the visitor dating to last season.

The Blazers would seem to be in ideal position to end their losing streaks with a visit to New Orleans (3-9), which has dropped nine of 10 and is averaging an anemic 87.5 points. Portland, though, dropped three of four to the Hornets last season, including both visits to New Orleans.

Another big effort from Nicolas Batum could go a long way toward getting the Blazers untracked. The forward scored a season-high 29 points Saturday while hitting 6 of 7 3-pointers. He had totaled 30 points over his previous three games.

"I got a lot of open shots, some easy layups and I was making free throws," said Batum, who is averaging 11.8 points and 4.5 rebounds on the season. "I let the game come to me and I was very aggressive. I am defense first and then the offense comes."

Forward LaMarcus Aldridge leads Portland with 22.8 points per game and is also averaging 7.8 rebounds, but he's trying to bounce back from a subpar performance from the field Saturday. Aldridge made just 7 of 21 shots from the floor and needed to go 8 for 10 from the line to hit his average of 22 points, though he did have 10 rebounds and five assists.

Aldridge has made 64.9 percent of his shots in Portland's last two meetings with the Hornets, totaling 58 points and 22 rebounds.

The Blazers may be without center Marcus Camby, averaging a team-high 8.2 rebounds, for a second consecutive game with a left ankle injury.

The Hornets are coming off their best offensive display of the season, but it still wasn't enough to avoid their third straight loss, 108-99 defeat at Memphis on Saturday.

"Sometimes effort doesn't overcome talent," said Jarrett Jack, who led New Orleans with 23 points.

Jack, a member of the Trail Blazers from 2005-08, is New Orleans' top scorer at 15.0 points per game, but he's totaled just 16 in his last two home games.

New Orleans has dropped five in a row on its own floor since its home opener, a 97-78 win over Boston on Dec. 28.

The Hornets are on the cusp of losing six straight at home for the first time since Feb. 22-March, 18, 2006, but five of those games were played in Oklahoma City when the franchise was displaced following Hurricane Katrina.

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