A Short Week
As a special holiday present, the Portland Trail Blazers were given the gift of a short week leading up to (and following) Christmas.
Unfortunately for the team from the Northwest, the strength of schedule wasn’t as nice.
The Blazers were given a whole slew of time off between playing on Saturday, Dec. 20 and Thursday, Dec. 26. Both games were at home, so traveling was not an issue, but it was the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat who awaited Rip City — two of the top teams in a top-heavy league.
On the week, Portland went 1-1 — its first week of .500 or lower on the year. Both games were thrilling down to the wire, but only one resulted in a win this holiday season.
Dec. 26 vs. Los Angeles Clippers
The Blazers entered this game having beaten every top-nine team in the NBA that it had played. The only teams it hadn’t played were the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat, and following this one, you could add the Clips to that list.
It took overtime, but Portland walked away with a 116-112 win. LaMarcus Aldridge showed once again why he is an MVP candidate, recording 32 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, while the team as a whole made 13 three-pointers — five more than Los Angeles.
Despite Portland edging the Clips in rebounding 60-48, the Blazers gave up a big night to DeAndre Jordan. The big man scored just two points, but he pulled down 19 boards (Blake Griffin also had 11 to go with his 35 points).
Dec. 28 vs. Miami Heat
The Blazers entered this game having beaten every top-nine team in the NBA that it had played. The only team it hadn’t played was the Miami Heat, but unfortunately for Portland, you can’t remove them from the list just yet.
This one came down to the wire. The Blazers opted to double-team Dwyane Wade as he went to the basket, leaving Chris Bosh wide open at the top of the three-point line for the go-ahead bucket. The Blazers ended up with a good look at the rim with 0.5 seconds remaining, but LaMarcus Aldridge couldn’t find the touch to put it in for the win.
On the night, Bosh was the hero in more than one way. Not only did he hit the game-winning shot for the LeBron James-less Heat, but he also had 37 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 15-of-26 from the field (3-of-3 from behind the arc).
Miami won this game behind a superstar performance, and the Blazers will look to bounce back next week against the New Orleans Pelicans.