Strange seven days
I had every intention to write this article with the Trailblazers road struggles under the microscope, but I can’t help but include their all around poor play we’ve been seeing recently. Most notably, the poor play Portland has exhibited this past week.
Blame can be put on the sprained left ankle of LaMarcus Aldridge, but you can’t let them get away with it that easy.
Loss to Wizards
Adding to a long list of disappointments for the 2011-2012 season, the Blazers were blown out by the Washington Wizards (6-22, heading in to the game) at home on February 14th by a score of 124-109.
Granted, Portland’s All-Star, LaMarcus Aldridge, did go down about 4 minutes into the game when he stepped on Trevor Booker’s foot after releasing a jump shot.
Aldridge writhed in pain for several minutes while the entire Rose Garden arena was so silent, you could hear a pin drop.
But hey this was the Washington Wizards they were facing, so they’d be able to squeak by without their best player, right?
Well, not so much.
The Blazers relied heavily on Nicolas Batum and Gerald Wallace for their offense during the game, but just couldn’t get the momentum to stay on their side. Throttled by the hot shooting of Nick Young and John Wall, the Blazers looked awful on defense and just couldn’t get in a rhythm.
Despite rewarding the home fans with free Chalupas, the Blazers had dropped the first of three straight games with no day off.
Win over Warriors
After the Wizards game the team hopped a plane to Oakland to face the Golden State Warriors, and as many Blazers fans know, Oracle Arena has never been an easy place to get a win for Portland.
Wednesday night’s game against the Warriors was one of the more gutsy performances by the Blazers this year. After falling down 7 points in the first quarter, the Blazers rallied back against the Warriors, and thanks to a late trey by Jamal Crawford, were able to pull out a 93-91 victory.
Maybe things were actually going to be okay with LaMarcus out of the lineup.
Loss to Clippers
With a home showdown against the Lob City Clippers the next night, Portland hoped its luck was starting to turn around.
Sporting a sizable lead for most of the game the Blazers seemed poised to take down the Clippers and gain some momentum for when Aldridge returned. The lead grew to 18 points in the 3rd quarter, but things started to go south for the Blazers.
Whether it was the stout defense by Los Angeles, or Portland’s inability to take effective shots, the lead began to dwindle, and before you knew it the Clippers took the lead on a dagger of a three by who else, Chris Paul.
Paul hadn’t recorded his first field goal until the 4th quarter, but that’s all he needed to catch fire and put up 13 in the quarter.
Unable to stop the onslaught, Portland found themselves contributing too little too late and wound up losing the game 74-71, further disappointing the Blazer faithful.
Now, despite the uplifting road win against the Warriors on Wednesday, the Blazers were back to underachieving when it mattered most.
So what needs to change?
Does Nate need to leave?
Does a trade need to be made? (see my article from last Monday)
Or are these just the same midseason hurdles most teams endure?
Whatever it is, it needs to be figured out now as the Blazers find themselves falling out of playoff contention in a very competitive Western Conference.