Playing Well at Home

The Portland Trail Blazers have to be encouraged by their perfect home record. Their inability to earn a win on the road, however, is cause for concern.

The Blazers try again for their first road victory in the finale of a four-game trip Monday when they meet the Charlotte Bobcats, who are looking for their third straight home win.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Charlotte –5.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 187 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 75% of bets for this game have been placed on Charlotte –5.5(View NBA Bet Percentages).

Portland (4-6) swept a four-game homestand Nov. 7-13, a run that included wins over New Orleans, Dallas and Detroit, which are a combined 22-7 this season.

The road, however, has been a different story for the Blazers. They've dropped all six contests away from Portland, including the opening three on this trip. They've averaging 99.0 points and shooting 48.9 percent from the field at the Rose Garden, compared to 90.2 and 44.6 on the road.

"We're more confident at home," second-year forward LaMarcus Aldridge said. "We're running more and more free at home. On the road, I think we're more hesitant and not playing with as much energy."

That certainly seemed to be the case on Saturday, when Portland lost 109-90 to a Washington team playing without star forward Gilbert Arenas. Aldridge had 18 points and 10 rebounds for his third double-double in six games, but the Blazers committed 17 turnovers and gave up more than 100 points for the fourth time this season - all on the road.

Saturday's loss was the Blazers' second straight against a team with a losing record. Portland lost 92-88 to Philadelphia on Friday night in a game it led by as many as 25.

"We just look like we have heavy legs. We look a step slow on both ends of the floor," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said Saturday. "We looked kind of the same way (Friday) night."

The Blazers will try to rebound in Charlotte, where they've never lost to the Bobcats franchise. Portland is 3-0 on the road and 5-1 overall against the Bobcats since that team began play in 2004. The Blazers swept the season series in 2006-07, earning a 108-100 overtime win in Charlotte on Feb. 9 and a 127-90 home blowout March 1.

Charlotte (5-4), though, has won three of four at Bobcats Arena, including back-to-back victories by an average of 15.5 points.

The Bobcats beat Seattle 100-84 on Saturday behind 23 points from Jason Richardson, who the Bobcats acquired from Golden State in the offseason. Richardson went 4-for-8 from 3-point range and scored 14 points during a three-minute stretch of the third quarter.

"That's why the team went out and got him, because we know he's a scorer," said first-year Bobcats coach Sam Vincent, who has the Bobcats over .500 this late in a season for the first time in franchise history. "He can put points on the board real quick."

While Vincent has implemented a fast-paced offense to take advantage of the team's youth and athleticism, he hasn't ignored the defensive end. The Bobcats, who set a franchise record by holding Seattle to 31.0 percent shooting Saturday, are holding opponents to a 93.9-point average this season after giving up 100.6 per game in 2006-07.

"This team has definitely bought into defense," Vincent said.

Charlotte might need a special defensive effort for Aldridge, who scored 30 points against the Bobcats in Portland last season - the highest total by a Portland rookie since 1985. He matched that career-high figure in a win over Memphis on Nov. 9.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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