Blazers week ahead 2/18

By Candace Buckner, Columbian staff writer

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Game of the Week

Friday: Blazers at Lakers, 7:30 p.m. at Staples Center (CSN)

Key matchup: The last time these two teams met, the battle of the big men turned out to be a showcase for Dwight Howard and a realization that undersized J.J. Hickson simply can't be expected to match up against elite centers. Howard finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds, compared to Hickson's 2 and 8. The Blazers had to limit the 6-foot-9 Hickson's minutes and looked more to 7-1 rookie center Meyers Leonard and 6-11 Jared Jeffries.

Key stat: A loss and the Blazers drop to 10th in the Western Conference playoff picture and the Lakers will leapfrog to the No. 9 spot.

To win: LaMarcus Aldridge will need to carry over his consistency from the road trip. While much of everything else went wrong during the 1-5 stretch, Aldridge averaged 27.4 points through the five road games before the New Orleans stinker. There will be no Pau Gasol (plantar fasciitis), so Aldridge can go to work against the active yet lesser-talented Laker option at power forward, Earl Clark.

By the Numbers

1 — The one-game difference between this season and the loss total the 2011-2012 Blazers had at this point last year. The current Blazers are 25-28, while last year's Blazers were 25-29.

11 — The season-high points that rookie Victor Claver scored last week against New Orleans. At least one Blazer enjoyed his time in The Big Easy.

78 — The number of field goals that LaMarcus Aldridge has made in the month of February, tops in the NBA.