(Sports Network) - Perhaps Steve Miller put it best: "Time keeps on slippin',
slippin', slippin' ... into the future."
That is what's happening to the playoff fate of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Portland looks to save face on its current five-game road trip Thursday
against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. It has dropped the first two
tests of the trek, losing at Philadelphia on Monday, followed by a 102-95
setback against Milwaukee the next night.
Wesley Matthews had a game-high 28 points on 10-of-20 shooting for the Trail
Blazers, who have dropped three in a row and 10 of 11 as the visitor. All-Star
LaMarcus Aldridge had 21 points and 15 rebounds and Nicolas Batum tallied 15
points in defeat.
The Blazers tried to rally in the fourth quarter with a 38-25 difference, but
a 31-8 advantage by the Bucks in the second stanza was too much to overcome.
"We didn't play well," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said simply. "It wasn't good
Portland needs to start playing good basketball and is only 2-4 in its last
six games overall. In fact, the slump has dropped the Blazers down the West
standings and they are four games off the eighth and final playoff spot with
15 games to play.
The Trail Blazers are only 9-25 outside the Rose City and will also visit
Atlanta and Oklahoma City on the sojourn. In other team news, forward/center
J.J. Hickson has been limited to 12 points and 17 rebounds in the last two
games, and recorded 10 double-doubles in the previous 12 games before his
Aldridge, though, has picked up the slack with five straight double-doubles
and seven over the past nine contests. He is averaging 23.2 points and 10.7
rebounds per game in that stretch.
Chicago's chances of making the postseason are much more realistic than
Portland's as the Bulls sit sixth in the East -- one game behind Atlanta and
just one-half game ahead of Boston.
The Bulls dropped a controversial game to the Denver Nuggets the last time out
in a 119-118 overtime setback Monday night. Bulls center Joakim Noah appeared
to give the Bulls a lead late in overtime until his basket was negated for
offensive basket interference by the officiating crew. Marco Belinelli's shot
from the left baseline was tipped in by Noah and the Nuggets called a timeout.
It was then the call was reversed.
Not known for his 3-point prowess from his days as a Sixer, Andre Iguodala
gave the Nuggets the lead on a shot from downtown with 7.1 seconds to go.
"From my angle it look like a good play, it looked like it was short," said
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, whose club has lost three of their last four
and seven of 11 games. "I guess we have to call the league to get an
Noah totaled 14 points, 12 rebounds, seven blocks and six assists and gave the
Bulls a 117-116 lead with 32.8 seconds to go in overtime with a tip-in. Nate
Robinson scored 34 points, Belinelli had 18 and Carlos Boozer chipped in 14
for the Bulls, who opened a three-game homestand on a sour note and are 18-15
in the Windy City.
Chicago, which hopes former MVP Derrick Rose (knee) can make a return to
action soon, will close out the residency Saturday versus Indiana. The Bulls
could get a boost with the pending return of forward-center Taj Gibson. Gibson
is questionable Thursday and has missed 10 straight games with a knee issue.
The Bulls faced the Blazers back on Nov. 18 this season at the Rose Garden and
sustained a 102-94 setback. Noah finished with 16 points, 15 rebounds and
eight assists in that one to pace Chicago, which has lost three straight and
eight of the past 10 meetings between the teams.
Portland and Chicago met in the 1992 NBA Finals won by the Bulls in six games.
The Sports Network