Blazers – Never A Dull Moment in the Second Half


Remember last week when I said the Blazers like to do things the hard way. Well they were at it again this past week with improbable wins over the Clippers and Mavericks at home. Seriously, if you plan on watching Blazer games just tune in at about the halfway point of the third quarter and you’re in for some entertaining basketball.

Aldridge Buzzer-beater
Photo courtesy of The Oregonian

They scored the last ten points in the fourth quarter to win against Los Angeles and then came back from 21 down in the third to beat Dallas. Never a dull moment with these guys.

Player of the week

I’d like to give this to Nicolas Batum after he recorded his second triple-double in five days following the Clipper win, but in the last two games Batum seems to be focusing more on getting his teammates involved instead of scoring (He only took five shots in the loss at L.A. on Sunday).

Batum is 7 for 19 in his last two games with a total of 18 points. The rebounds and assists are way up this year, but he needs to focus on scoring more when the team needs it. Overall his shooting numbers are down from last year (That’s expected considering he’s more involved in the offense), but it’s the kinds of shots he’s taking.

Batum ranks fourth in the NBA in 3-pointers attempted and so far this season, 53% of his total shots have been from the 3-point line. The next step in his maturation will be driving to the basket. The Frenchman plays nearly 40 minutes every night and only gets to the line three times per game. If the jumper isn’t falling, dunk on somebody.

Now to get back to my original statement of player of the week. It has to go to LaMarcus Aldridge right? His back-to-back double doubles gave him a league-leading eleven for the month of January. Oh and there was also that game on Tuesday.

Going Reggie Miller on the Mavs, Aldridge scored five points in fives seconds. First a step back three (His first of the season) and then his patented turn around jumper from the elbow at the buzzer gave the Blazers another come from behind win. Any question about whether Aldridge deserved to be on the All-Star team were squashed with what he did Tuesday night.

Play of the week

I just talked about it. LaMarcus hitting the buzzer-beating jumper over Dallas. What is it about this team that brings out the best in Aldridge? His highest per-game scoring average is against the Mavs and that’s now two years in a row that he’s beaten them at the buzzer.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Portland Trail Blazers
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports

Lillard selected to rising stars event

For the first time since 2009 when Rudy Fernandez and Greg Oden were selected (Remember them), a Blazers’ rookie will be playing in the league’s annual rookie-sophomore event, the Rising Stars Challenge.

Damian Lillard, leading all rookies in scoring (18.1 points), assists (6.5) and minutes (38.5), will headline the first-year players as they face a strong sophomore class lead by Kyrie Irving.

This game is always an All-Star Game primer. If you’re looking for some classic basketball featuring set plays, ball movement and passing look elsewhere. This game is all about one-on-one, dunks, lobs, ankle breaking and more dunks. I want Lillard to show off his hops (That’s leaping ability for the older crowd) and maybe some alley-oops to Andre Drummond and Harrison Barnes.

This exhibition game is all about athleticism and individuals showing off their skills. It might not be the prettiest form of basketball, but it’s still fun to watch.

Looking ahead

Portland went a respectable 8-8 in January. With the Mavericks and Lakers improving however, the team might need to play a little better than .500 to maintain a shot at the playoffs.

The Blazers have eight games before the All-Star break and seven of them are on the road (Yikes)! We know this team can beat anybody at home, but it’s the road where they still need considerable work. Yes they do have wins over New York and Memphis away from the Rose Garden, but their overall road record is just 7-14. The first half of February might just end up defining their season.

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