A mediocre week may not scream “Mayday” for the Portland Trail Blazers, but “SOS” is still applicable when breaking down Week 13.
The strength of schedule is quickly increasing in Rip City. Portland has beaten every top team with the exception of the Miami Heat, but now it’s being tasked with doing the same thing on the road and in back-to-back outings.
None of this is to say that the Blazers can’t do it, it’s just to say the second-half stretch will put them to the test. The second half of the season starts now, as the team is 33-12 on the year.
Jan. 20 @ Houston
Portland entered this game having won its last five contests. The previous two had been on the road against the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks, and closing out the Texas Triangle would have been an ideal start to a difficult road trip.
Unfortunately, the Blazers couldn’t get it done on national T.V., as the Rockets took a 2-1 series lead with a 126-113 win.
Jan. 21 @ Oklahoma City
Before Jan. 20, the Blazers had beaten the Oklahoma City Thunder twice this season without a single loss. Unfortunately for them, OKC was out for revenge, and they got it with a huge fourth quarter and 46 points from Kevin Durant.
Jan. 23 vs. Denver
Despite bringing a two-game losing streak into this one, the Blazers were back on national television and ready to show the NBA world that they’re contenders.
Portland hadn’t lost three games in a row all season, and it didn’t want to begin in Week 13. The Denver Nuggets, a .500 basketball team, came in and challenged the Blazers early, but a career-high performance from LaMarcus Aldridge — and a fantastic showing from Wesley Matthews — was enough to get back to the winning ways.
Jan. 25 vs. Minnesota
Earlier in the week, it was announced that Kevin Love had been voted in as an All-Star starter, while LaMarcus Aldridge would be forced to wait for the announcement regarding the coaches’ decision.
Love may have been given the popularity vote, but Aldridge improved to 12-3 head-to-head all time against his fellow power forward.
Jan. 26 @ Golden State
This one just never felt in control.
Despite watching the Blazers hold the lead much of the first half, it was clear early on that Golden State’s shooting would be tough to contain.
Not only did Stephen Curry go for 38 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, but the Blazers were held to just 33.7 percent shooting, including 28.6 percent from deep range.
Chalk this one up as an ugly loss; one of the few so far during the Trail Blazers’ season.