Nets-Trail Blazers Preview

The Associated Press

Damian Lillard continues to pick up the slack for the Portland Trail Blazers with fellow All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge out.

Jason Collins gained cultural significance without even scoring a point for the Brooklyn Nets in their last time out.

Lillard looks for another big offensive performance as the Trail Blazers go for a four-game winning streak against Collins and the Nets on Wednesday night.

Portland (39-18) may be without Aldridge for a fifth straight game due to a strained left groin, but Lillard has been a driving force in his absence.

The reigning NBA Rookie of the Year is averaging 30.5 points while hitting 50.0 percent from the field - 12 of 27 from beyond the arc - over the past four games. He totaled 31 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in a 100-95 win at Denver and his finger roll with 2:33 left gave the Trail Blazers a four-point lead as they fended off a rally from the Nuggets.

"When you're in a situation like that, you've just got to find a way to get it done," Lillard said.

Lillard has averaged 15.7 points on 37.8 percent shooting over three meetings with Brooklyn (26-28) and had 19 with nine assists in a 108-98 road win Nov. 18.

While Lillard tries to continue spurring the Blazers, Collins looks to give the Nets another tough interior performance after making history.

The 7-foot center picked up five fouls in 10 minutes off the bench in Sunday's 108-102 road win over the Los Angeles Lakers. His impact, however, went beyond the box score as he became the first openly gay athlete in one of the United States' four major professional leagues.

"I'm just trying to prioritize things. Basketball right now is a priority," said Collins, who signed a 10-day contract Sunday. "Again, it's about the plays, our calls, trying to get comfortable with just what it is the Brooklyn Nets do on both ends of the court.

"Being big, using my size and strength, setting screens and going out there and hitting somebody on both ends of the court."

Deron Williams is looking to build on his season-high 30 points. He made 9 of 16 from the floor to go with seven assists and six steals against the Lakers.

Williams, who will likely be matched up with Lillard, is averaging 14.1 points on the season for his lowest output since managing 10.8 per game as a rookie with Utah in 2005-06.

He missed the November loss to Portland due to a sprained left ankle but did have 10 assists to offset 3-for-11 shooting in a 111-93 win at Portland on March 27.

Aldridge led the Blazers with 24 points in that meeting, while Lillard had 15. Nicolas Batum was held to six points - making 2 of 10 shots - after averaging 21.0 points on 62.2 percent shooting over his three previous home games versus the Nets.

Batum has totaled 38 points while sinking 13 of 21 field goals, including 6 of 10 from 3-point range, over the past two games.

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