|Portland is blazing with a dozen straight wins|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 29 December 2007 13:45|
Then came the streak.
Portland has won 12 straight games, matching a streak from the 2001-02 season. The next milestone is the team's longest streak - 16 games during the 1990-91 season.
The latest victory came Friday night, a 109-98 decision against Minnesota. On Sunday night, Portland is home against Philadelphia.
The youngest team in the NBA, Portland started its run with a Dec. 3 victory at Memphis after going 5-12 to start the season. Nine of the team's 12 victories have come at the Rose Garden, where the Blazers are 14-3. Portland is one game behind the Nuggets in the Northwest Division.
``Now we are fighting for our division,'' guard Brandon Roy said. ``Our goal is to put as much pressure on Denver as we can. No one expects us to be doing what we're doing.''
The Blazers are the first team to string together so many wins after losing 50 games the season before. Portland went 32-50, missing the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
The Blazers had big hopes this season after they beat the odds and landed the top draft pick. They selected Oden. Then came the crash. In September, Oden needed season-ending surgery on his right knee.
Roy, last season's NBA Rookie of the Year, has been the spark. He has scored 20-plus points in nine of the Blazers' games during the streak, and has been honored as the NBA's player of the week twice during the span.
Over the 12 games, Roy is averaging 22.9 points. Fans chant ``M-V-P! M-V-P!'' at the Rose Garden whenever he comes to the line.
``He's unbelievable,'' forward James Jones said. ``He's humble and that's the best component of everything he has. He's just a humble guy who comes in and works, plays hard and he is so unselfish. When you have that mix of talent and unselfishness you normally have a great player, and that's what he is.''
The streak is all the more remarkable because starting forward LaMarcus Aldridge was lost for five games with an inflamed arch. Still, Aldridge is second on the team in scoring during the run, averaging 16.7 points along with 6.6 rebounds
And the Blazers are getting a boost from their bench. Forward Travis Outlaw is averaging 14.8 points and has 17 blocks, while Jones is averaging 11.5 points and has made 27-of-49 3-point attempts.
``Most teams play five-on-five but we play 13-on-five,'' forward Channing Frye said. ``The coach can put any of our guys in and we can contribute. They have no problem. When the coach takes them out, they know another guy is going to go in, and when you work like that you have no egos, no attitudes. Everybody is playing for each other. I think that makes us dangerous.''
The Blazers have sold out eight games this season at the Rose Garden - all wins. But it gets harder. After Philadelphia, the Blazers are at Utah on Monday. In January, the Blazers play nine games on the road, and five at home.
``We take every game as a one-game season right now,'' Frye said. ``This is about us taking care of us, getting into the gym, practicing hard and executing our game plan. This isn't about the streak right now. We just have to take care of ourselves and take every game one game at a time right now.''