Nuggets-Trail Blazers Preview

The Associated Press

The Portland Trail Blazers keep coming up short on the road.

Their results at home have been far different.

The Trail Blazers look to extend their best home start in 13 seasons Saturday night when they try to hand the Denver Nuggets their fifth consecutive road loss in this Northwest Division series.

After routing Charlotte 112-68 the night before in their best offensive performance of the season, the Blazers (13-10) dropped their season-high fourth straight road game on Thursday, 95-92 to Sacramento.

Portland has been outscored by a total of 23 points in its last six road losses.

"We really had control of this game (with a nine-point halftime lead) and had a flow going,'' said coach Nate McMillan, who played for Nuggets coach George Karl in Seattle from 1991-98. "But in the second half it's pretty much what it has been for us - turnovers, a lot of one-on-one play, and lack of ball movement. We just self-destruct on the road.''

Portland, though, has won 10 of 11 at home for its best start there since the 1998-99 team opened 17-1.

The Blazers are winning by an average of 26.8 points during their 4-0 stretch at the Rose Garden.

Portland defeated the visiting Nuggets 111-102 on Dec. 29 behind a season-high five 3-pointers and 25 points from Wesley Matthews and 23 from former Nugget Raymond Felton.

Denver (15-8) has lost eight of 10 on the road in this series, but the club is 8-4 away from home for the first time in four seasons.

The Nuggets, though, have dropped three of four following a season-high 6-0 run. Denver is coming off a 93-89 home loss to the Lakers after opening its back-to-back-to-back set Thursday with a 112-91 road win over the Clippers.

Al Harrington missed a 3-point attempt from 26 feet out that would have given the Nuggets the lead on Friday.

"For an end-of-the-game situation against a good defensive team he got a fair release," Karl told "I wouldn't call it a great shot. I'd like better."

After scoring just 18 fast-break points on Friday, the Nuggets will try to get their offense in gear in their final game in Oregon this season. Denver is averaging a league-high 107.5 points as the road team.

Portland is giving up just 88.5 points per game at home.

The Blazers will have to keep an eye on Harrington, who finished with 24 points on Friday and is among the NBA's top scoring reserves at 15.3 per game.

Andre Miller, acquired from Portland in June for Felton, scored 13 off the bench with a team-high eight assists on Dec. 29.

Ty Lawson led the Nuggets with 25 points and a career-high eight steals in that game.

Denver was outrebounded by 20 in that matchup, and it could be at an even bigger disadvantage down low this time against LaMarcus Aldridge, Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby if Timofey Mozgov can't go. The Nuggets 7-foot center suffered a sprained left ankle early in the second half on Friday and did not return.

It's uncertain if Blazers forward Nicolas Batum will return after missing two games with a left knee bone bruise.

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