for this game

Trail Blazers-Nets Preview

Feb 22, 2010 - 7:23 PM By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO STATS Writer

Portland (32-26) at New Jersey (5-51), 7:30 p.m. EDT

The Portland Trail Blazers built what appeared to be an insurmountable lead in their last game, only to see it evaporate. That seems unlikely to happen against the NBA-worst New Jersey Nets.

The Trail Blazers have a chance to open a five-game road trip in strong fashion Tuesday night when they face the Nets, who are on the cusp of a franchise record for home futility.

Portland (32-26) took a 25-point lead in the third quarter against Utah on Sunday, but wasted it and fell 93-89 in overtime. The disheartening defeat came two nights after the Trail Blazers shot a season-low 33.8 percent in a 96-76 loss to Boston.

They hit 35.2 percent of their shots Sunday.

"If we are serious about making a run, we've got to act like it and we've got to play like it," coach Nate McMillan said. " ... The moves we've made and having guys back, if we're serious about making a run down this stretch, that's got to show."

Portland should be in ideal position to end its funk as it faces the Nets (5-51), losers of 11 of 12 overall and seven in a row in New Jersey. The home skid matches the club record set from Jan. 6-Feb. 3, 1978, for the second time this season.

The Blazers, in eighth place in the Western Conference, have won three consecutive games at the Izod Center. They defeated the Nets 93-83 at the Rose Garden on Nov. 25.

The Nets also blew a big lead Sunday, as an 18-point first-half advantage disappeared in a 104-94 loss to Memphis.

"This has been the story of our year," guard Keyon Dooling said. "We have been good in stretches but not long enough to sustain 48 minutes, and if you don't play 48 minutes in this league, you will lose.

"We're not good enough to take possessions off, or have a few bad possessions. We can't make up for it in the talent department or the experience department that good teams do. We don't have that luxury. We have to be near flawless to win."

The Nets are scoring a league-low 90.0 points per game, and give up an average of 101.2 to rank near the bottom of the East.

New Jersey will have to deal with an improving Brandon Roy, Portland's leader with 22.3 points per game, who is coming off his best effort since returning from a 12-game absence due to a strained hamstring. He scored 23 points and shot 7 for 15 from the floor against the Jazz after totaling 13 points and shooting 5 of 15 in his first two games back.

Roy, though, missed four free throws in the fourth quarter Sunday and couldn't convert a potential tying 3-pointer with 6 seconds left in overtime.

"They just outfought us down the stretch of the game," he said. "If we want to get into the playoffs we've got to do better."

Roy has struggled from the free-throw line since returning, going 9 of 17. He was outstanding in Portland's last trip to New Jersey, however, scoring 29 points to power a 105-99 win Jan. 15, 2009.

Brook Lopez has been a rare bright spot for the Nets, leading them with 19.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. The center has averaged 24.7 points over his last three games and put up a career-high 32 with 14 boards against the Blazers in November.