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Apr 2, 2024 1:40 pm

Tumbling Trail Blazers look for elusive win vs. Hornets

Portland Trail Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers and Charlotte Hornets have too many similarities that they would rather not share.

But the struggling teams will meet Wednesday night in Charlotte, N.C., with a chance for something good to happen.

The Trail Blazers (19-56) have a 10-game losing streak, including the past four games on the road. They followed an unsightly 60-point weekend loss late last week at Miami by falling 104-103 to host Orlando on Monday night, when Deandre Ayton’s last-second shot didn’t fall.

“That’s my second, third time in a situation like that,” Ayton said. “It felt good, I was happy there was an opportunity. Didn’t fall but having a game like that, there’s a lot of great stuff we can take away from that game.”

Portland coach Chauncey Billups said having a chance to win on the final possession after trailing by 15 points was an encouraging sign for a team that has endured its share of misfortune.

The Hornets (18-57) have lost eight of their last nine games.

They came apart defensively in Monday night’s 118-104 loss to visiting Boston because they couldn’t maintain consistency with the Celtics pushing the pace.

“They had us on our heels for so many possessions because we just didn’t get ahead of the ball and get our defense set,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “We just blew sets and blew coverages. We had like three minutes there of just totally disorganized NBA basketball, which just never works.”

Giving up easy baskets has been a disturbing trend for the Hornets.

“We probably could’ve gotten back a little bit better as a group,” forward Grant Williams said. “We’ve got to do a better job of making sure we don’t give them the easy ones.”

The Hornets won 93-80 at Portland on Feb. 25, marking the only victory during an eight-game stretch. Center Nick Richards had 21 points and 10 rebounds in that game for Charlotte, but he missed Monday’s game with foot soreness.

Portland’s 34.7-percent shooting from the floor included 3-for-32 on 3-pointers in the loss to Charlotte. The Trail Blazers also had 16 turnovers in that game.

Williams moved into Charlotte’s starting lineup for the Boston game, but that left the Hornets without a true post presence.

“It will be a little bit mix and matching,” Clifford said of manning the center position.

Williams has been valuable since arriving from Dallas in a February trade. He averaged 13.2 points per game in March and then scored 23 against Boston, marking his second-highest point total since joining the team.

“He has been a tremendous addition to our team,” Clifford said. “He has brought a physicality, a purpose of play that would help any team.”

Charlotte’s past two games came against divisional leaders Los Angeles Clippers and Boston, so this is a different type of assignment for the fifth contest of an eight-game homestand. The Hornets have lost three in a row since defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers at the beginning of the homestand.

Miles Bridges has led Charlotte in scoring in the past three games.

The Trail Blazers are 8-29 in road games.

–Field Level Media

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