Blazers All Access
Not Everything Comes Up Smelling Like Roses
*Due to the short All-Star week, we will add the Blazers two games from this week into the notebook*
Feb 14 vs. Washington: 124-109 L (FUGLY)
Feb 15 @ Golden State: 93-91 W (UGLY)
Feb 16 vs. LA Clippers: 74-71 L (BAD)
Feb 18 vs. Atlanta – GOOD
Considering that three of four games were being hosted at the Rose Garden, where the Portland Trailblazers were a stellar 11-3, one would have thought that kicking off the week against the near to bottom feeding Washington Wizards with a “W”.
After weeks of riding the roller coaster, Nate McMillan finally made a change to the starting lineup, inserting Nicolas Batum into the first five. Stepping up to the plate, Batum thanked the bench boss by tying his season high with 33 points.
Unfortunately for the Blazers, Nick Young decided to outdo his counterpart with a season high 35 points.
One might consider giving the team a free pass for their game against the Warriors on Wednesday night, due to the loss of Aldridge to a sprained left ankle from the catastrophic debacle that was the night before…come on now, the Blazers should have been able to leave the Rose Garden with a victory over the Wiz without LA, it’s the WIZ!
While David Lee and Gerald Wallace basically cancelled each other out in the front court battle and the back court was basically a push in terms of starters production, the difference lied in the bench. Think Nate Robinson would like an opportunity to join his “Home Team” brother Jamal Crawford in the Blazers lineup?
Wednesday night he auditioned for McMillan to the tune of 21 points off the bench in 21 minutes, while shooting his highest percentage of the season.
Luckily for the visitors, Robinson’s turnover in the dying seconds saved victory on the one game excursion.
The loss on home court to the Clippers on Wednesday not only meant the Blazers fourth straight defeat at the Rose Garden, but it also set up for one heck of a rubber match at Staples on March 30th. With four minutes remaining in the first quarter, the fans were treated to the high flying athletics of the Clippers big man.
Following up a Blake Griffin missed layup, Kenyon Martin flew in to clean up the rebound with a putback cram (joined by the ever popular backboard slap!).
Unfortunately for fans of either team, that was pretty much all they were going to get on Thursday evening as the two high scoring teams combined for only 75 first half points (43-32 Portland).
As he has for the past ten games, give or take a decent performance, Ray Felton‘s struggles and issues with the coaching staff were put full blast under the spotlight as he had only two dimes and zero points.
To be fair to Felton, sometimes no matter how hard you try, your shot will not fall, but posting only two assists as your starting PG, is not acceptable.
Another solid night from Nicolas Batum (team high 22 points), who moved into the starting two guard spot, with the return of Aldridge, led the Blazers to their first home victory since February 4th.
Coming at the expense of the Atlanta Hawks, a team that over the past four years has been a playoff participant, but at the same time one of those teams that nobody really seems to care about, let alone talk about. In order for Batum to have his big night, it meant that someone had to be relocated to the bench.
While many thought that it would be both Wesley Matthews and Felton, it was the former who filled the role of sixth man, and the latter who had one of his better games in a couple of weeks.
If Matthews is willing to play the energizer role and Felton has found his groove, then maybe the Blazers can get this train back on the tracks.
With back to back games this week against two of the Western elite teams, despite their records and age, both are still teams to beat in the West, the Blazers fell flat on their faces in the first quarter at Staples.
How a professional basketball team can manage to score only seven points in twelve minutes is beyond comprehension.
While one game will not fix the Lakers woes, the roller coaster that is the Blazers season hit a nasty decline. Sure they fought back to bring the score to a respectable eleven points and the Lakers still had their starters playing during the fourth quarter, but coming out of the gates and playing catch up is not something that the Blazers need to make a habit, especially on the road.
Don’t get me started about the embarrassment to sport that was the Blazers/Spurs game this week.
I don’t care that the Spurs have a three games in four night schedule. Sitting Tim Duncan and Tony Parker without due cause, other than rest, is in my mind disrespectful to the game and to the fans that pay to see the league’s top players.
Imagine if you were a Spurs fan living in Portland (a stretch, I know) but wouldn’t you be choked if you had hopes of seeing Duncan battle Aldridge and if Felton could step up to match the season that Parker is currently having?
Unfortunately for Felton, he may not have gotten that matchup anways, as McMillan continued to tinker with the lineup, dropping Crawford in at point, as Felton joined Matthews as part of the second unit.
With the Spurs fielding a lineup that would have problems beating a D-League squad, evident by Elliot Williams season high 17 points, which is more than he has scored in his last eight games total, the Blazers ability to evaluate their new starting five will have to wait until after the much needed All-Star break.
THIS WEEKS GAMES:
Feb 20 @ LA Lakers: 102-93 L
Feb 21 vs. San Antonio: 137-97 W (Deceiving)
Marcus Camby: 31 games, 207 rebounds, 9.5 rpg
LaMarcus Aldridge: 32 games, 265 rebounds, 8.3 rpg
|Greg Oden||C||out for season - Knee – 2/21/12||Oden was undergoing a minor procedure on February 20th to clean out debris in his left knee, when the surgeon determined that there was additional damage and he had to undergo microfracture surgery. This has been Oden’s fourth knee surgery in his career and has been officially shut down for the remainder of the season.|
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