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Size, Strength of Trail Blazers Present Big Matchup Problems

February 03, 2001|LONNIE WHITE

The Clippers might have ended their longest losing streak of the season at nine with an impressive 17-point victory at Houston on Thursday, but they face an uphill battle trying to stretch their winning streak to two games tonight at Staples Center.

That's because they will play the Portland Trail Blazers, who have defeated the Clippers in 14 of their last 15 meetings and have won 20 more games than the Clippers this season.

"We have to go into the game . . . trying to do all the things we have been very inconsistent doing," veteran Sean Rooks said. "We can't put too much emphasis on the fact the Trail Blazers are one of the top teams in the league.

"We have to go into the game optimistic and maybe they will come in and take us for granted. Winning this game could help us go on a possible streak heading into the All-Star break because our next two games after Portland are Chicago and Golden State."

Coach Alvin Gentry said Portland presents a lot of match-up problems. But his biggest concern is the Trail Blazers' size, what with Arvydas Sabonis, Dale Davis and Shawn Kemp.

"They present the same type of challenge to us like San Antonio and Sacramento," said Gentry, who gave his team Friday off after their two-game Texas trip. "They are a big, strong team with a group of post-up players and good shooters to surround them. We'll have to play good basketball to beat them. But the bottom line is, when we make shots, we have been able to compete against any team in the league."

Portland will be without forward Rasheed Wallace, who was suspended for two games and fined $10,000 for hitting an official with a towel in Thursday's win over Phoenix.

Portland has several players who like to work in the open court but don't look for Damon Stoudamire and Bonzi Wells leading the Trail Blazers into an up-tempo game.

"See, we match up well against teams like Houston because they are young and real athletic," shooting guard Eric Piatkowski said. "The Rockets like to run and gun and freelance, which we do an awful lot of. It's much better for us when we can get out on the open court."


vs. Portland, 7:30

Fox Sports Net 2

* Site--Staples Center.

* Radio--KXTA (1150).

* Records--Clippers 14-33, Trail Blazers 34-14.

* Record vs. Trail Blazers--(1999-2000) 0-4.

* Update--The Clippers have lost eight straight at home to Portland and have not defeated the Trail Blazers in Los Angeles since April 8, 1996. The Clippers made six of 11 three-point shots in their victory over Houston on Thursday but rookie Quentin Richardson's 10-game streak of baskets from behind the arc ended. The Clippers' Brian Skinner remained in Texas to attend a family funeral.

* Tickets--(800) 462-2849.

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