Back On Track
Following a stretch that saw the Portland Trail Blazers fall back down to Earth, Rip City was back to its newfound dominance in Week 12.
Succeeding wins over the Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics, the team took down the Cleveland Cavaliers at home. Then it took thing up a notch with wins on the road against the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks.
The Blazers went 3-0 on the week, and they reached the 40-game mark in the process. The team was 31-9 at that point in the process, and it took momentum into its MLK Day matchup with the Houston Rockets.
Jan. 15 vs. Cleveland
This time around, the game was equally as close through about three-and-a-half quarters. Fortunately for Portland, the team pulled away late and improved to 29-9.
Despite Lillard’s showing in Game 1 of the two-game series, LaMarcus Aldridge is the one who dominated the box score. The big man recorded 32 points and 18 rebounds, further solidifying the fact that he is an MVP candidate in his eighth year.
Jan. 17 at San Antonio
And so began the road trip.
Portland has been tested numerous times this season, but rarely on the road. Following the win against Cleveland, the team had a serious test ahead, and it began with the San Antonio Spurs.
Despite giving up 29 points to the
elderly veteran Manu Ginobili, LaMarcus Aldridge once again took it upon himself to influence the outcome. He recorded 26 points and 13 rebounds, and he more than complemented the 24 points from Wesley Matthews and 21 and eight assists from Lillard.
In spite of Portland’s strong performances, the Spurs made a concerted effort to come back following the ejection of Gregg Popovich. The head coach got himself tossed, sparking a 33-12 run.
Jan. 18 at Dallas
The Blazers needed a runaway win, and they got it against the Dallas Mavericks.
“We owe them one,” said Wesley Matthews before the showdown, referencing the last-second shot Monta Ellis hit back in December. The Blazers wanted this one, and it was clear from tipoff that they were ready to unleash the No. 1 scoring offense in the NBA.
Unfortunately for Portland, the bench wasn’t nearly as ready as the starters.
Despite leading by 38 points (111-73) with 9:43 remaining, Dallas stormed back. It went on a 25-2 run, and the Blazers had to put the starters back in to finish the job.
Aldridge once again earned credit as the player of the game, scoring 30 points and pulling down 12 boards. Nicolas Batum also deserves recognition with his 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.