RIP CITY REPORT:
May I have your attention please?
May I have your attention please?
Will the real Portland Trailblazers please stand up?
I repeat, will the Portland Trailblazers please stand up?
We’re gonna have a problem here..
After a kickass start to the season in which the Trailblazers were sitting among the elite in not only the Western Conference, but the entire NBA, the losses have started to mount up and the Northwest’s only professional hoops squad has found themselves back in the middle of the race.
To be honest, those thinking that the Blazers were going to win the conference and/or the division may have had their heads in the clouds, but this team is good enough to be able to capture the fourth seed in the playoffs.
Last week, the Blazers traveled to Staples and dropped a game to Lob City (a much overused nickname, but great nonetheless), they walked into OKC and left with a victory over the heavily predicted Western Conference champion, Thunder.
A few days later they wacked the Purple and Gold with another Rose Garden victory before travelling to Phoenix to have a mud hole stomped in them by a confused Suns team.
So, what better way to get things back on track than to host the Cleveland Cavs, a rebuilding team with a lot of hope riding on the young shoulders of potential Rookie Of The Year, Kyrie Irving and fellow rookie and Canadian, Tristan Thompson.
In a game that should have been a run and gun affair with the offensive schemes that each team follows, the first half proved to be a snoozefest for those in the Rose Garden or by other means.
Considering the Cavs were really only a one man show on Sunday night (Irving finished with 21 points), the Blazers should have been able to put the game to bed far before the middle of the third quarter.
Although the Blazers won by twenty, it was mainly a two man show with 28 points and 8 rebounds coming from LaMarcus Aldridge and 24 points from Wesley Matthews. Considering Cleveland’s lack of talent, a number of other Blazers could have posted bigger stat lines (Jamal Crawford, 2-10 and 0-4 = 4pts, Ray Felton, 1-9 and 0-3 = 2pts, Marcus Camby did not attempt at shot!)
vs. L.A. Clippers
Forty-eight hours later a completely different Blazers team showed up to host the Clippers, a Blazers team which had all five starters hit for at least twelve points (Camby – 12, Felton 17, Matthews and LA 18, Wallace 20). Led by Caron Butler’s 20 points (a player which I felt Portland could have chased in the offseason) the Clippers trailed for the majority of the game, and got as close as 82-80 midway through the third.
The key to Portland’s victory was their ability to finish their shot as they had a better shooting percentage than LA across the board, 51%-45% FG, 36%-26% from downtown, 81%-71% from the line. Unlike their road record, the Blazers remained unblemished at home with the 107-95 victory.
Now, it would not be realistic to expect that the Blazers win every game, but the next three games on slate would allow the team to measure up to those who are predicted to be playoff bound this season on a variety of levels.
First up, the Orlando Magic, a team in trade talk turmoil.
A bevy of three pointers helped the Magic open up a 34-20 first quarter lead and while a four point play by Jamal Crawford helped stop the bleeding, it was only a temporary band-aid as the Magic continued their dominance into the fourth quarter, leading 85-68.
Despite only Chris Duhon and Von Wafer failing to hit double digits for the Magic, Orlando was unable to put the game to rest as Portland ran off 38 points in the final quarter to close the presumed blowout to within two points with only twenty seconds remaining.
A single basket would be as close as the Blazers would get in their first home loss of the season.
Two days later, the Blazers headed to the state of Texas for a pair of games against the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets. While it was not the Texas Triangle Tour that most NBA teams usually take, the trip proved to be trouble for Portland, dropping a three game losing streak.
An even bigger loss for the Blazers was the one of Marcus Camby, who blew a tire midway through the second quarter with a seriously rolled ankle.
As mentioned in a previous piece, the lack of depth in the Blazers front court could haunt them this season if one of their key players goes down. Considering Camby’s track record, hopes of a full season from the 37yr old are as far fetched as Vancouver’s hopes for another NBA franchise.
With Camby down, the Blazers could not contend with Tim Duncan, DeJuan Blair and Tiego Splitter on the glass as “Father Time” Kurt Thomas and rookie Chris Johnson both received extended frontcourt minutes in the 99-83 loss.
Saturday night found the Blazers squaring off against the Houston Rockets and despite the efforts of Nicolas Batum and his season high 29 points and a double double from LA, Portland could not close out the Rockets in the final thirty seconds of regulation. Overtime proved futile for the Oregon club as they managed to connect on only two of seven shots.
Not only is the team slipping, but so to is Crawford’s shooting percentage, which sits at 34%, the lowest on the team.
If the Blazers are going to have any success on this six game road trip, they need a quick, but healthy return from Camby and a more efficient performance from JC.
Considering that out of the next four stops on the road trip the Blazers will square off against New Orleans, Atlanta, Toronto and Detroit, Portland could walk away with a relatively successful .500 record.
NEXT WEEKS GAMES:
Jan 16 @ New Orleans
Jan 18 @ Atlanta
Jan 20 @ Toronto
Jan 21 @ Detroit
LaMarcus Aldridge 12 games, 273 points, 22.8ppg
Gerald Wallace: 12 games, 177 points, 14.8ppg
Wesley Matthews: 12 games, 177 points, 14.8ppg
LaMarcus Aldridge: 12 games, 94 rebounds, 8.2rpg
Marcus Camby: 11 games. 90 rebounds, 7.8rpg
Marcus Camby – Day to Day – Ankle Sprain – Camby suffered a sprained ankle against the Spurs on January 13th. He is expected to miss Monday night’s game against New Orleans, but may return on Wednesday against Atlanta.
Greg Oden – Out indefinitely – Knee – 12/11/11 Oden is recovering from microfracture knee surgery on his left knee but has recently suffered a setback. He remains out indefinitely due to the possibility that he may require another surgery.
CURRENT ALL STAR VOTING:
LaMarcus Aldridge – 6th among forwards
IN THE COMMUNITY
NBA Fit Spring Break Hoops Camp