Blazers week ahead 4/1

By Candace Buckner, Columbian staff writer

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Game of the Week

Friday: Blazers vs. Rockets, 7 p.m. at Rose Garden Arena (ESPN/CSN)

Key matchup: James Harden will get his points, but the understated must-see matchup features Nicolas Batum and the Rockets' Chandler Parsons, two very similar small forwards. Both are spot-up shooters who prefer to play around or beyond the 3-point line. However in March, Parsons has averaged 16.8 points per game while Batum has minimized his presence (likely due to his shooting wrist sprain) to just 11 points this month. Although the Blazers will have another tiff with the divisional rival Utah Jazz this week, the Houston game will button up a compelling season series as well as gage how competitive the team chooses to be as it closes out the regular season.

Key stat: The Rockets average 105.9 points per game, the second highest total in the NBA.

To win: The Blazers lead the series 2-1 because their starting five has outplayed Houston's. Actually, in the pair of overtime wins, the Blazers got big contributions from four of the five starters. So, now would be a good time for Batum to come out more aggressive and start scoring again.

By the Numbers

20.1 — Percentage of times the Blazers have run spot-up plays this season, the most-used shot in the playbook and nearly identical to last year's total of 20 percent.

25-28 — The Blazers' record this time last year on April 1, 2012, during the lockout-shortened season. This, of course, before the bottom fell out and the team finished the year on a 3-10 slump.

167 — Total number of 3-pointers that Damian Lillard will need to break the all-time single-season NBA rookie record. On Saturday night, Lillard tied Stephen Curry's record at 166.

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