Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE
On Friday night, the Jazz rode dominant defense to a win over the Blazers in Salt Lake City. Will things be different at the Rose Garden?
The Portland Trail Blazers host the Utah Jazz on Saturday night in the second half of a home-and-home series between the two teams. Utah rode a dominant defensive effort to a 86-77 victory over the Blazers in Salt Lake City on Friday night, but Portland will try to square things up at the Rose Garden.
The Blazers struggled badly in their first game of the season against Utah on Friday, failing to get open shots at the Jazz dominated the interior. Rookie point guard Damian Lillard had a game-best 26 points on 10-of-23 shooting, but LaMarcus Aldridge was the only other Blazer with over a dozen points, and he shot just 6-of-17 from the field.
For the Jazz, Friday night's win was just the latest in what's been a good 2013 for the club. Since the turn of the calendar, Utah has a 11-4 record, including wins over the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat.
Portland hasn't fared nearly as well of late, struggling in recent weeks after a hot start to 2013. Since hitting a season-best five games above .500 following a win over the Miami Heat on Jan. 10, the Blazers have won just three of their past 11 games to fall back to .500 on the year.
What's Up With Wes Matthews?
After leaving Friday's game against the Jazz with an ankle injury, Blazers shooting guard Wesley Matthews is currently listed as questionable for Saturday's game in Portland. The results of an x-ray were negative, but he left the arena on crutches with a walking boot on his right foot, which isn't exactly the best sign.
The folks over at Blazers Edge wrote after the injury, "Best guess is that he won't be playing tomorrow and possibly not for a while," before adding, "We're about to see how crucial he is to this year's team."
Matthews has started 40 games for the Blazers, one of the league's most shallow squads, this season. He's averaging 15 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.5 steals in a career-high 35.5 minutes per game. Among qualified shooting guards, his 14.2 PER is 24th in the league.