Despite falling in blowout fashion to the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1 of the week, Portland bounced back and got a close win against the Toronto Raptors a few days later.
Sometimes rest can make a worlds difference, which is why the All-Star break could be of the utmost importance when it comes to preparing for the second-half stretch.
Jan. 28 vs. Memphis
There’s no nice way to put it: This one was ugly.
Despite coming in with a 22-20 record, the Memphis Grizzlies entered the Moda Center as one of the hottest teams in the NBA. Combine that with the Blazers having played a brutal schedule the week prior, and the result was Portland’s second blowout loss in as many contests.
LaMarcus Aldridge deserves credit for pulling down another double-double in this one (27 PTS, 16 REB), but he didn’t get much help. Damian Lillard continued to struggle, scoring just 16 points on 7-of-16 shooting (2-of-9 from deep), and the bench contributed just six points along the way.
As always, Zach Randolph took out his aggression on his old team, posting 23 points and 10 rebounds. The Blazers fell 98-81 at home, putting this one in the category of “forget about it as quick as humanly possible.”
Feb. 1 vs. Toronto
The Trail Blazers needed a bounce-back win following two tough losses, and while they got it against the Toronto Raptors, it ended up coming in dramatic fashion.
To begin the game, Portland came out fresh. It hadn’t played in four nights, and it took a 31-19 lead after one quarter — the same amount of time it took LaMarcus Aldridge to post 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Unfortunately for the Blazers, Toronto outscored them by 14 points in the second half, and the game ended up coming down to the wire.
In true Rip City fashion, Portland pulled it out 106-103. Despite being in a shooting slump, Damian Lillard came up big with 21 points — his first time hitting the 20-point mark since Jan. 20 — and he pulled down six rebounds to go with his seven assists.
Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum also deserve credit, as Wesley Matthews converted his frustration into 21 points (5-of-7 shooting from the three-point lin, and Nicolas Batum scored 18 points while defending Kyle Lowry, the Raptors’ point guard.