Say you’re a die hard Blazer fan who’s been in a coma since the start of the season. You miraculously wake up just in time to watch the Blazers’ begin their three-game road trip this past week. After watching the three games, you turn to your buddy and say, “Man, we could of won all three of those games.” Your buddy looks at you, shakes his head and says, “You have no idea.”
Such a dramatic analogy is warranted to sum up the recent road trip for the Blazers because those three games serve has a microcosm for a Portland season that has seen its share of heart-stopping victories and angioplasty-scheduling losses.
The Blazers went into Memphis needing a victory to remain alive in the Western Conference playoff race. For two-and-a-half quarters, the Blazers played impressive basketball against the best defensive team in the NBA. With 50 points at halftime and a 17-point lead midway through the third quarter, Portland was well on its way to beating a Grizzlies team that had only lost once in a month.
But the vaunted Memphis defense picked up, former Blazer Jerryd Bayless decided to be a shooter for a night and LaMarcus Aldridge had one of his worst shooting games (2-13) of the season as the team fell 91-85.
A tough loss like that might mean even more doom heading into San Antonio to play a Spurs team that had only lost one home game since November. But as they’ve defied logic all season, the Blazers went into Texas and put on an offensive display not seen in the Tim Duncan era.
With 79 points in the second half, and 46 in the fourth quarter, the Trail Blazers beat the Spurs 136-106. It was the most points ever at the AT&T Center and the Spurs’ second-worst home loss ever.
Damian Lillard became the first rookie ever to record a line of 35 points, 9 assists and 0 turnovers and three other players pitched in with at least 20 points including Eric Maynor.
You would think such an emphatic victory over one of the NBA’s elite and memories of a royal butt-kicking against the Hornets the last time they met would mean a determined and focused Blazer team. You would be wrong in that assumption.
In a recurring trend that has plagued the team all season, Portland played down to an inferior opponent, allowed New Orleans and the crowd to gain confidence and blew another opportunity to inch closer to .500 with a 98-96 loss.
With 19 games left, only two are against teams out of the playoff picture. For most teams, that might be a daunting schedule, but the Blazers have shown a propensity to do the opposite of what’s expected of them.
A quick glance at the standings show Portland has lost ten games to teams with a winning percentage of .350 or lower and yet they’ve beaten every conference leader (except Oklahoma City). Has any other team in the league had such an erratic season?
If there’s one thing the Blazers haven’t been, it’s boring. The season has been a combination of interesting, fun, excruciating and more times than not, exciting. No doubt the final 19 will see more of the same. But such a wide range of emotions has resulted in more grey hairs on my head. That’s one of the side effects to being a fan. Consult with your doctor. DAMN YOU BLAZERS! I WISH I KNEW HOW TO QUIT YOU.