What a night it was for basketball in the State of Oregon. First off, you had the Oregon Ducks hosting the No. 4 Arizona Wildcats in Eugene, Oregon. After a sluggish start to the game (that saw them surrender an 11-0 points spread against the Wildcats), the Ducks rebounded in stunning fashion to upset Arizona and hand them their first loss on their season, sending a resounding statement to the Pac-12 and college basketball world.
And yet, that was just the beginning of the basketball revery that would occur in Oregon on Thursday night.
Playing host to the Miami Heat, basketball’s version of the New York Yankees, the Portland Trail Blazers were looking to continue their hot streak and extend their winning streak to four games against a Heat team that has been struggling as of late. Down by as much as 13 points at one point in the game, the Blazers continually fought their way back, finally taking the lead after Wesley Matthews hit two consecutive three-pointers to give Portland a 91-90 lead. After LaMarcus Aldridge made one of two free throws, the Heat missed a three-pointer that would have given them the win and the Blazers continued to be one of the hottest teams in the NBA.
The win puts the Blazers at 20-15 on the season, good enough for 2nd in the Northwestern Division of the Western Conference.
Here is what we loved and hated from last night’s game.
Forwarding the Momentum
As was mentioned earlier, the Blazers have more than enough momentum on their side. After a rather lackluster start to their season they have put together an impressive stretch, winning 12 of their past 15 games to help vault them above the .500 mark while putting them in position for what could be an impressive playoff run with such a young squad.
Streaking at Home
They say that one of the ways good teams separate from the rest is by winning road games. Well, the Blazers have to start somewhere, right?
After a few seasons that left the Rose Garden crowd with an uneasy feeling in their stomachs, the Blazers have been very impressive at home as of late. In fact, Portland has put together a nine-game winning streak at their home arena, giving their fans a reason to be excited and turn out every night.
If the Blazers can continue their home dominance and put together a few wins on the road, this will be a dangerous playoff team with their youth and capabilities.
When Lebron James is allowed to do what he can do, the Heat hardly lose. One of the big keys when playing a team like Miami is to eliminate the threat of James and put the game on other people’s shoulders. While the Heat do have an excess amount of talent on their roster, putting the game into the hands of other players on their roster really effects the chemistry of the team and how they play throughout the game.
On Thursday night the Blazers did what they had to — minimize Lebron’s impact. They held King James to just 15 points while rendering him ineffective on the offensive side of the ball, something that paid huge dividends at the end of the game.
There was not much to dislike about this game on Thursday night besides being down early and then having the game come to a tense conclusion in favor of the Blazers. Actually, when looked at from a adversity building point of view, Portland’s early deficit coupled with their ability to fight back and hang in a close game shows that the team has plenty of character and can win these nail biters.
See, even the bad things about last night can be talked about in a good light.
Great win, Blazers. Keep it going.