All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge and highly versatile wing Nicolas Batum have been joined by budding star Damian Lillard in a new core that is taking Portland places (Image | Getty)

All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge and highly versatile wing Nicolas Batum have been joined by budding star Damian Lillard in a new core that is taking Portland places (Image | Getty)

On November 13th 2013, the Portland Trail Blazers entertained the Phoenix Suns at the recently renamed Moda Center (rest in peace, Rose Garden) in a matchup of two teams widely expected to tank this season, with eight or 10 other teams, in search of landing top spot in the best NBA Draft in a decade.

Except the Suns, who had beaten Portland on NBA opening night in the desert, were 4-2 by then and had only lost in road games against Oklahoma City and San Antonio, both times by seven points or fewer.Portland, meanwhile, were 5-2 and were on their way to building an early-season 11-game winning streak which propelled them to the summit of the Western Conference.

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