EDMONTON -- Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish feels optimistic about his teams future despite a last-place finish in the Western Conference standings. MacTavish gave his head coach a vote of confidence Tuesday and said while its hard to determine where the team is in its development stage, he feels most of the "heavy lifting" has been done. "Were closer to the end in my mind than we are to the beginning in terms of the development of this team," MacTavish said Tuesday at a season-ending media availability. Expectations were higher in Edmonton this season but the team struggled from the start and finished with a 29-44-9 record for 67 points, good for a 28th-place finish in the 30-team league. There were a few bright lights for the Oilers. Taylor Hall had a strong year with 80 points in 75 games and fellow forwards Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had productive campaigns. Defensive woes were a constant problem. The Oilers struggled on the blue-line and between the pipes, allowing a league-worst 270 goals. MacTavish has no plans to add anything "middle of the road" to the current defence core and feels the teams younger players can fill those positions. He does plan to target a high-end defenceman in the off-season. "We need a few pieces that can really move this thing along," said MacTavish. The GM added that Eakins -- who completed his first season as an NHL head coach -- has a bright future with the team. "Im convinced this guy is the right coach to lead us into much more successful times ... hes relentless," MacTavish said. Despite the foundation of young, talented offensive players, the Oilers managed only 203 goals. The goaltending situation was unsettled throughout the season as netminder Devan Dubnyk struggled in the starters role. Dubnyk was dealt to Nashville at the trade deadline and the Oilers acquired Ben Scrivens from Los Angeles. Scrivens and fellow mid-season acquisition Viktor Fasth posted decent numbers as Edmonton finished with a 14-13-3 mark over its last 30 games. MacTavish said there is plenty of work ahead and admitted the team did not live up to expectations. But he likes the young core and is confident improvement can be made. "Were building our team around this group," he said. "And you have to have pieces in that locker-room that you view as guys that are going to develop into winners and guys that are going to develop into superstars. "I feel strongly that we have a number of those pieces in there and those are the guys were going to build that team around. I want them to feel the ownership, I want them to feel the loyalty from myself and the coaching staff that we have the confidence in them to drive this team forward." 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So far, hes playing like his picture.(SportsNetwork.com) - The Portland Trail Blazers continue their road trip tonight with a five-game winning streak and a date at the Target Center versus the Minnesota Timberwolves. Watch the action live on TSN2 at 8pm et/5pm pt. Portland hasnt lost since a home setback Nov. 28 against the Memphis Grizzlies. That is the Blazers only loss in their last 15 games, including seven straight road victories. On Tuesday, in Game 2 of a five-game trip east, the Blazers handled the Detroit Pistons, 98-86, at The Palace of Auburn Hills. LaMarcus Aldridges 23 points and 11 rebounds led the Trail Blazers to another victory and one that extended the Pistons losing streak to 13 games. Wesley Matthews chipped in 19 points, while Damian Lillard and Chris Kaman each finished with 14 points for the Blazers. A strong finish to the first quarter helped spring Portland to this win, as the Blazers closed out the period on an 11-4 run to open up a 33-22 lead. Kaman deposited six points during the flurry, which Aldridge capped by burying a triple just prior to the buzzer. Portland steadily extended the margin during the third quarter and held an 81-64 lead early in the fourth, when Detroit suddenly came storming back to put the outcome in doubt. The Pistons ripped off 13 consecutive points, but the Blazers starters returned and secured the victory. We got off to a good start, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts remarked. We built a lead and, other than the run they made in the fourth, the stars came back and finished it off. The Blazers will visit Chicago on Friday, then close the trip in Indiana on Saturday. The Timberwolves have dropped six in a row and nine of their last 10. They havent won at home since Nov. 19 against the New York Knicks, a span of six games, which included the Philadelphia 76ers first win. On Monday, the T-wolves became the latest victim of the Golden State Warriors. Minnesota fell to the leagues best team, 102-86, at the Target Center. Andrew Wiggins totaled 21 points with six rebounds and Shabazz Muhammad chipped in 14 points off the bench for Minnesota, which is still without Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic, all starters. The Warriors put the game away with a nine-point halftime lead, which turned into a 17-point cushion midway through the third. We turned the ball over way too many times, Timberwolves head coach Flip Saunders said of the teams 19 giveaways. We didnt give ourselves an opportunity. Thaddeus Young scored 13 in the loss, followed by 10 out of Corey Brewer. The Blazers have won four straight, including a 14-point romp in Portland on Nov. 30, aand nine of their last 10 encounters with the Timberwolves.dddddddddddd The Trail Blazers are 11-2 in their last 13 visits to Minnesota. Heat aim to singe Nuggets at Pepsi Center The Miami Heat stopped a four-game losing streak last time out and thats the same length slide their opponents tonight, the Denver Nuggets, will try to halt when the two teams meet at the Pepsi Center. Watch the action live on TSN2 at 10:30pm et/7:30pm pt. The Heat marched into Phoenix on Tuesday night and left with a 103-97 victory. That ended a four-game slide, a three-game road losing streak and got the Heat a win on this five-game trek, which ends Friday against the Utah Jazz. Chris Boshs personal seven-point run late in regulation carried the Heat to victory. Miami, which had lost four in a row all by double digits, trailed 91-90 after Marcus Morris drained a 3-pointer with 3:17 left in the fourth quarter. Bosh, though, hit a 14-footer, scored in the lane and drained a dagger 3-pointer on consecutive possessions to give the Heat the lead for good. I wanted to win really bad tonight, said Bosh. We played together and things worked out great. After being limited to 12 points in Sundays loss to Memphis, Bosh poured in 34 on 14-of-21 shooting. Luol Deng chipped in with 23 points and Dwyane Wade netted 16 for Miami, which shot 53.8 percent from the floor and forced 23 turnovers. The Nuggets have dropped four in a row, including three straight on the road. They had the Toronto Raptors on the ropes Monday night, but fell in overtime, 112-107. Denver led in the fourth quarter after it overcame a 16-point deficit. The 35-point first quarter set us back, Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw said. Thats been our problem, not only on this trip, but this entire season. We dig a hole for ourselves. Arron Afflalo and Ty Lawson combined to score 47 points for the Nuggets. Lawson had 12 assists to go with his 22 points. Wilson Chandler scored 18 in the loss and Timofey Mozgov had 15 points and 12 rebounds. Denver had a chance to win in regulation but turned the ball over on a shot- clock violation, giving Toronto possession with 4.3 seconds left, but Lowry missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Chandler knocked down a 3 for Denver to start overtime, but the Nuggets didnt score again until Alonzo Gees bucket in the final seconds. The Nuggets visit the Houston Rockets on Saturday, then play four straight at home. The Nuggets ended a three-game series losing streak with a win in March, but the Heat have won two in a row in Denver. Prior to that mini streak, the Nuggets were 10-0 as the host against Miami. ' ' '