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Cavaliers-Trail Blazers Preview
By ALAN FERGUSON
(AP) -- The Portland Trail Blazers have been competitive in each of their last three games but they've been on the losing end each time.
A visit from the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers might give the Blazers a chance to avoid a season high-tying fourth consecutive defeat Wednesday night.
Portland's last three games have been decided by a combined 14 points and its latest defeat was one of its more agonizing this season. The Blazers (20-18) gave up Wilson Chandler's tiebreaking 3-pointer with 14.9 seconds left in overtime and fell 115-111 in Denver on Tuesday.
Portland's Wesley Matthews hit a tying 3-pointer with 32 seconds remaining in regulation in his team's first loss in six overtime games. LaMarcus Aldridge had 28 points, giving him a combined 61 after he was held to a season-low seven in Friday's loss at Golden State. The Blazers haven't lost four in a row since Nov. 25-30.
"It was a tremendous game," coach Terry Stotts said. "I think for the most part, both teams played pretty well. Third quarter turnovers hurt us. Their transition hurt us. We got better as the game went on but that hurt us early."
The Blazers have won four in a row over the Cavaliers (9-31) but played a double-overtime thriller in the most recent matchup Dec. 1 in Cleveland.
Nicolas Batum hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds left in a 118-117 victory, and Damian Lillard was among three players to top 20 points with a team-best 24. Batum (22) and Aldridge (21) were the others.
Portland has had a much easier time at home against the Cavaliers lately, winning the past two matchups by a combined 61 points. Aldridge had 28 points and Matthews scored 24 in a 98-78 victory at the Rose Garden on Jan. 8, 2012.
The Blazers are seeking to bounce back on their own floor after having a nine-game home win streak snapped Sunday with an 87-83 loss to Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City.
The Cavaliers head into Portland having dropped four straight on the road and eight of 10 overall. They're allowing an average of 105.4 points in their last 10 after giving up 96.0 in their previous nine.
Cleveland scored its most points of the season Monday, but also surrendered its most in a 124-118 loss in Sacramento. Rookie Dion Waiters led the Cavs with a career-high 33 points.
"I'm just doing what I know I can do and staying confident about it. I'm just taking what the defense gives me," said Waiters, who had 12 points on 4-of-17 shooting against Portland in December.
Cleveland's leading scorer Kyrie Irving missed that game because of a broken finger and doesn't head into this matchup after one of his better performances. Irving, averaging 23.0 points, had 15 on 6-of-19 shooting against Sacramento.
He had a team-best 21 points in the visit to Portland last January.
Aldridge has 20 or more points in each of his last four matchups against Cleveland and Matthews is averaging 20.0 over his last four.
Updated January 16, 2013