Gameday Dish: Los Angeles Clippers @ Portland Trail Blazers

The Portland Trailblazers, currently in eighth position in the very competitive Western Conference at 23-20, host the Los Angeles Clippers tonight at The Rose Garden. The Blazers have beaten the Clips in both of their meetings so far this season, once in LA and once at home. The big difference tonight is that Portland will be playing without Marcus Camby and Brandon Roy, 40 percent of their starting five.

Both of these First-Teamers participated in the wins over Los Angeles earlier on the schedule.  15th year pro Camby underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee today and will be sidelined for about three weeks.  His inside defensive presence and rebounding will be hard to replace.  The Blazers rank 9th in the NBA in points allowed and a huge part of that is Camby’s shot blocking and altering.

Portland’s top player and 3X All Star Roy has been out since mid-December and on Monday had dual arthroscopic surgery to clean out his problematic knees. His return has been estimated at anywhere from a month to the beginning of next season.

The Blazers beat Sacramento on the road yesterday in OT, 94-90. They were led by third-year, French SF Nicolas Batum, whom scored a season-high 24 points.  As well as Batum, Portland will need big production and efficiency from veteran PG Andre Miller and PF LaMarcus Aldridge while coach Nate McMillan’s team tries to deal with a depleted roster.

On the opposing bench, The Clips come into this game only 16-25 but are on the upswing, having won six of their last seven. They bested a full-strength Heat squad eight days ago, ending Miami’s 13-game road win streak. Also this past Sunday, they beat their Staples Center neighbors and SoCal rivals, the Lakers.

Los Angeles rookie forward Blake Griffin scored a career-high, as well as NBA season high 47 points on Monday at home in a victory against Indiana. This young Clipper is sailing away from all competition for the Rookie of the Year award and may even be performing at a high enough level to be considered for one of the All-NBA year-end teams.

The Clips beat Minnesota last night at home 126-11 and Griffin’s streak of 27 straight double-doubles ended. His impact on the franchise, on the court and in the growing basketball buzz surrounding ‘LA’s other hoops team’ has been significant. He is definitely a player that fans around the league are coming out to see. He leads the NBA in dunks and already just halfway into this season has ‘posterized’ more than a few helpless defenders.

Both teams played and won last night and are riding three-game winning streaks. Tune into TNT tonight at 10:30PM ET to see which Western Conference team will continue its victorious mid-season march.

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