Ups and Downs
It was made official this week that Damian Lillard will be participating in all five NBA All-Star Weekend events, making him the first to do so in NBA history.
The accomplishment is one that Rip City can be proud of, but priority No. 1 has to be getting the team back on track for a strong push in the second-half stretch.
Feb. 3 @ Washington
There’s something about the Washington Wizards that gives Portland trouble.
Over the last two years, the Blazers have gone 0-3 against their Eastern Conference foes. This time around, the team fell 100-90 on the road, giving up big performances to Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Ariza and John Wall.
As usual, Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge were the most productive Trail Blazers, but with the bench scoring just six pooints on the night, Washington was too much to handle.
Feb. 5 @ New York
Unlike the Wizards, the Blazers have had their way with the New York Knicks over the past few seasons.
Entering this contest, Portland hadn’t lost to New York since March 14, 2012. A 94-90 win on ESPN kept that streak alive, and it came behind a double-double outing from Nicolas Batum.
Feb. 7 @ Indiana
The Trail Blazers faced Indiana at home back in December, and it was a big win with a dramatic finish. This time around, the contest was just as dramatic, but the Blazers ended up on the other end, falling 118-113 in overtime.
On the night, both teams saw big-time performances. For Portland, Lillard was the star, posting 38 points and 11 assists, while Wesley Matthews went berserk in the second half, scoring all 19 of his points after intermission.
Unfortunately for the Blazers, George Hill was the true star of the evening, as he scored a career-high 37 points while collecting nine rebounds and eight assists.
Feb. 8 @ Minnesota
The Trail Blazers wrapped up their road trip against the Minnesota Timberwolves, and while a 117-110 win wasn’t outside of the ordinary, the team had to deal with the unexpected most of the way.
Before the game, it was announced that Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic would sit because of injuries. This altered Portland’s game plan significantly, but the real game-changer came when it was revealed during warmups that Kevin Love would also be absent from the competition.
Despite missing three of their four most important players, the Wolves came out energized. Players who don’t usually get a shot to shine were given just that, and the team threw the Blazers for a loop with its fast pace and efficient scoring.
To make matters worse, the Portland backcourt dealt with foul trouble all game. Mo Williams was absent due to a family matter, and Damian Lillard and Earl Watson both sat much of the first half after picking up fouls.
Luckily for Portland, CJ McCollum stepped up when needed, scoring a career high 19 points.