Blazers week ahead 4/8

By Candace Buckner, Columbian staff writer

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Game of the Week

Wednesday: Blazers vs Lakers, 7 p.m. at Rose Garden Arena (KGW)

Key matchup: Wesley Matthews defending Kobe Bryant.

Through Sunday, Bryant has averaged more than 45 minutes over the Lakers' four-game stretch. And though the Bryant responsibility will not solely rest upon Matthews, he will expend a lot of energy defending Bryant as he fluctuates between scorer and facilitator.

Key stat: Through the three regular-season matchups against the Lakers, Damian Lillard has shot only 35.7 percent from the floor. During the Feb. 22 game, Lillard missed 13 of 17 shots and finished with 11 points.

To win: The Blazers must run those old Laker legs. While Los Angeles will arrive in Portland on the second night of a back-to-back — which by the way, the Lakers are 6-7 on the road in such situations — the Blazers will host this game after two days rest. Lillard will be the catalyst of this intensity and by now should feel comfortable against this Laker defense. This year, Lillard has been defended by nearly every L.A. point guard, from Steve Nash to Steve Blake and even Darius Morris who is now out of the rotation. So, one would expect Lillard to unlock the defensive puzzle and once again play like the five-time Western Conference Rookie of the Month.

By the Numbers

21 — Seconds it took for Meyers Leonard to collect three fouls in the opening of the fourth quarter against the Houston Rockets on Friday night. Leonard got called for an offensive foul at the 11:54 mark. Then, he heard another whistle at 11:44, and yet another five seconds later with 11:39 remaining in the game.

42 — Days between game appearances for Sasha Pavlovic. On Friday, Pavlovic played his first minutes since Feb. 22. Throughout the season, various ailments have diminished Pavlovic's impact, and only recently he recovered from a right quad injury.

327 — Number of career wins that current Minnesota Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman earned while in Portland (1989-1994). On Saturday night, Adelman became only the eighth coach in NBA history to win 1,000 games.

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