New Look Blazers take huge win in opener
The Headline: with double digit points from each starter, the Blazers put up 116 points in this win to kick off the 2012-13 season.
Portland Trail Blazers 116, Los Angeles Lakers 106
When: 10:30 ET, Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Where: Rose Garden, Portland
Officials: Leon Wood, Tre Maddox, Bill Kennedy
1. Damian Lillard Debuts
The Blazer’s new man at the point put up 23 points on 7-17 shooting. He was a perfect 8-8 at the free throw line, while garnering 11 assists.
Two things from Lillard’s performance stuck out to me.
First, he was a great facilitator, moving the ball around and nabbing 11 assists. While Portland needs him to score, it’s more important that he spreads the ball. Could have done without the six turnovers though.
The other, was that he finished the night with only two fouls. Not bad for any rookie in their debut, especially one who was being played so hard by the Lakers.
2. Batum Makes his Money
Nicolas Batum came into this season with a world of expectation—happens when you get a huge new contract. And even though it’s just one game, he looks like a man ready to make his mark on the NBA.
Batum finished the night with 26 points, six rebounds (four offensive), a block and three steals. He was all over the place, scoring in just about every way imaginable.
The extra punch he had on defense was a real x-factor for Portland.
3. Bench Comes up Big
Solid bench play is going to be important for Portland down the stretch. While they are a sound defensive unit, they also need to find ways to score.
Though they didn’t pile it on—just 13 total points from four guys—they did it when it counted.
The biggest contributor was Sasha Pavlovic, whose seven points were crucial for this win. He finished the night shooting 3-4, all in just 18 minutes of play.
1. Letting L.A Crawl back in
With 9:38 left in the fourth quarter, Portland was up 81-99 and seemed absolutely unstoppable. It looked like the game was in the bag.
Then they started missing their shots. Over the next five minutes of play, they would manage just six points while L.A. put up 13.
Luckily, they were able to ramp it up at the end, but it wasn’t before the Lakers had crawled back in. As we get deeper into the season, those are the kinds of problems that can sink this team.
2. Hacking Solution to Howard
After shooting 3-14 on his free throws against Dallas Tuesday night, Portland had one solution to Dwight Howard: make him beat us at the line.
So they came into the game with the plan of hacking Howard with fouls and putting him on the line.
Well, the big man made them pay with that strategy. He finished the night with 31 points, while shooting 15-19 from the line. And even though it was apparent this plan wouldn’t work early on, the Blazers kept going to it.
While this game plan seemed smart at first, it turned stale fast.
3. Nash’s New ‘Do
What’s up with Steve Nash’s haircut?
Okay, so this isn’t really something to hate about the game. But this was a great Blazer win, and with plenty of season left, it’s too early to micro-nit-pick.
So I’ll just say that I think Steve Nash’s long hair—as ratty looking as it was—much more fit his style. The clean cut thing does not exude Nash, and I am not a fan.