trailblazers

Rick’s Picks Week 2: the weekly Portland Trail Blazers all-stars

Top Blazers Last 7 Days

After posting an impressive 2-1 record during the first week of the NBA season, the Portland Trail Blazers came back down to earth a bit in their second week.

Squaring off against more top-tier Western Conference talent, the Blazers failed to record a win (0-3), and it’s becoming more apparent that the bench is a serious issue with this team.

In the three games this past week, against the Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the San Antonio Spurs, the Blazers’ bench put up 17, 22, and four points, respectively.

You read that correctly: four bench points against the Spurs. You won’t win many, if any, games with poor bench production like that. Even though GM Neil Olshey has repeatedly insisted that Portland is in the business of rebuilding, taking a serious look at improving the bench could greatly benefit Portland and allow them to be competitive for all 82 games.

In light of the lackluster bench production, and no wins to show on the week, there were a few performances that were noteworthy enough to deserve some attention.

First Star: LaMarcus Aldridge (11/10: L vs. San Antonio)

LaMarcus Aldridge Blazers

LaMarcus Aldridge proved this week that he is one of the best power forward’s in the NBA. (Photo: AP)

In the one game that was actually close near the final whistle, LaMarcus Aldridge was proving, yet again, he is one of the best power forwards in the game today.

Squaring off against the Spurs, and future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan, Lamarcus Aldridge kept Portland competitive, putting up 29 points on 12-of-26 shooting from the floor and 5-of-6 shooting from the free-throw line. LA also added seven assists, four rebounds, two steals and an incredible four blocks in 41 minutes of action.

It’s this kind of nightly production Portland has grown familiar with out of Aldridge, and even against, arguably, the best power forward in the Western Conference, LaMarcus was holding his own.

Unfortunately, the 29 points was not enough, as the Spurs prevailed 112-109 behind an impressive 27 points off the bench from guard Gary Neal.

Second Star: Nicolas Batum (11/10: L vs. San Antonio)

With poor bench production comes more of a need for your starters to put up big numbers. On Saturday night, Nicolas Batum was just as productive as Aldridge against the Spurs

Yet, as noted above, the performance didn’t equate to a victory.

Batum, logging 39 minutes, recorded 33 points, on 11-of-18 from the floor, 5-of-7 from three point land and 6-of-6 shooting from the charity stripe. Nic also added four assists, seven rebounds, two steals and one block on the night.

So far, Portland’s new $46 million dollar man has proven he was worth the big contract, and his play against San Antonio displayed his ability to impact the game in a number of ways.

Third Star: Nicolas Batum (11/8: L vs. Los Angeles Clippers)

Batum’s getting double recognition this week in Rick’s Picks, and for good reason too.

The frenchman once again stuffed the stat sheet in last Thursday’s contest against the Clippers, putting up 23 points on 6-of-18 shooting from the floor, 3-of-10 from beyond the arc and 8-of-12 from the line. Nic added five assists, nine rebounds, three steals and one block in 41 minutes of play in yet another Blazers loss.

It was Batum’s effort on the defensive end that allowed Portland to have a fighting chance against the Clippers, as he locked down Los Angeles in the third quarter. Portland found themselves in a 60-39 hole heading in to half time, and behind Batum’s nagging defense, they were able to cut the deficit to just six heading in to the final quarter.

Fatigue set in on the Blazers, as Los Angeles was able to build up an insurmountable lead yet again, but Batum’s efforts on both the offensive and defensive ends allowed Portland to at least flirt with a victory against the Clippers.

Dunk of the Week: Damian Lillard vs. San Antonio Spurs

Rookie Damian Lillard continues to impress in his inaugural season as the Blazers’ starting point guard, and this steal and dunk against the San Antonio Spurs put his talents on display.

Enjoy.

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