Jan 05

Huge Rally, Huge Win in Houston

By mikebarrett
It'll certainly go down as one of the more memorable wins of the season for the Trail Blazers.  It was pulled off in unlikely fashion.  A third-quarter meltdown, followed by an incredible fourth quarter run, put together by a lineup on the floor that didn't include Andre Miller, Wesley Matthews, or Marcus Camby.  Yes, they were all healthy.

Before giving credit to invdividual players, a tip of the hat to Nate McMillan is in order.  You don't often see coaches in this league with the courage to ditch their normal late-game rotation and totally coach by feel.  As he told us after the game it wasn't easy.  Several times down the stretch he toyed with going back to the three starters who were sitting on the bench.  But, after consulting with his assistants, decided to let the group that got them back in the game finish the job.

Looking totally dead in the water, trailing 89-76 in the fourth quarter, the Trail Blazers were given a pulse by Patty Mills.  Patty was huge in this game.  He tied his career high with 14 points, and should get credit for giving Portland a second life in this game.

A veteran of big international games, and stellar play in the Olympics, Patty has proven to be unflappable in crunch time.  He was 4 for 7 from behind the three-point line, and his chemistry with LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Fernandez is growing.  If Patty was a stock, I'd buy him right now.  I'm not going nuts here, but he's has turned into one of Portland's most reliable players off the bench, and a late-game stud.

It was Mills who kicked off Portland's 13-0 run in the fourth quarter.  His buddy Rudy Fernandez, who was ice cold in this game, helped Portland end the game on a 27-11 run.  Rudy's bucket, that beat the shot clock by a hair, gave Portland a 98-97 lead with :53 seconds left.

Aldridge was a man in this game- just like he's been in just about every game lately.  During pre-game warmups, as we were on the floor getting set to take the air, he was dragging his body around the court.  I went ahead and asked the silly question- "what, are you tired?'"  He rolled his eyes, and said "I'm exhausted."  This was before the game.  He had just played over 44 minutes 24 hours ago in Dallas.  

But, he strapped on a saddle once again, and kept his team in this game.  Aldridge ended with 27 points and 13 rebounds, and had a huge bucket with 14 seconds left.  He spun baseline, and scooped the ball in, off the glass, with his left hand.  We would have never seen him go to his left, in a situation like this, with a move like that, in the past.  The dude has arrived.   

It was a crazy game.  You know that if you saw it.  It was a game of runs, and huge swings of momentum.  We saw Kevin Martin score 19 in the third quarter, and score 45 points on 18 shots (an incredibly-tough thing to do).  We saw the Trail Blazers lose a 13-point lead in about five minutes of clock time.  Then, we saw them come from 13 down in the fourth.  Portland was outscored 33-19 in the third quarter, and then outscored Houston 29-20 in the fourth.  As you know, the fourth hasn't exactly been kind to the Blazers this season.

To listen to Nate McMillan's post-game comments, click here.

All of this came following an emotionally-draining loss in Dallas the night before.  Perhaps that's what is most impressive about all of this.  Houston has been playing well at home.  They came into Wednesday night winners of 9 of their last 10 home games, and that one loss was to Miami.  And, don't forget, Portland had lost 12 of the last 13 regular-season contests in Houston.

Just as some losses are more devastating than others, some wins are more confidence-building than others.  Of course, that's only potentially the case, as we'll have to see what happens after this.  Thursday we head for Minneapolis, and Friday night the Blazers look for their 14th-consecutive win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.


  1. I think Nate should continue to go with guys who have the hot hand. As the saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." What's good to see also is that Al(l-star)ridge is hitting shots in the clutch. He's established himself as the go to guy and is doing a great job at it.

    by blazerdarren77 on 1/5/2011 10:31 PM
  2. Everyday LaMarcus shows why he's an All-Star. I think he now has it FOR SURE against Scola after DOMINATING him (and the entire houston attempts). I think more credit needs to be given to LMA here.

    After Rudy's (amazing) shot that put us up one, it was LaMarcus who played great defense, got a board, made a beautiful left handed scoop shot (something scola is a master of). Up by 3 with 13 seconds left, Wesley plays great defense on Lawry, who passes it to Scola, who tries to go for the (And-1) by leaning into LaMarcus. LaMarcus, who was smart enough to plant his feet and put his hands STRAIGHT UP prevented the foul AND caused Scola to miss, while grabbing the rebound which forced Houston to foul in which he drained his free throws.

    That right there is the definition of clutch. People talk about how players like Kobe Bryant are clutch (and they rightfully are), but most of them are only creditted for their shots, not their defense. Aldridge was clutch on BOTH ENDS of the court.

    Meanwhile fans of Griffin overrate him even more because he was close to a triple double (as if LMA wasn't with blocks against Denver), but I'd say LMA had the better night. It was him and Patty that led the team to a win and he played the best defense I've seen in ages as of late.

    Now, we get to show all those haters out there that LaMarcus is better than Kevin Love. The schedule fits perfectly in our hands. After that we get to see how LaMarcus does against Chris Bosh and then he can dominate Amar'e Stoudamire again and sooner or later he gets to beat Blake Griffin.

    If LaMarcus has been good, he needs to be better in this stretch of games. Not that he doesn't deserve to be an All-Star (he deserves it way more than Gasol at this point, who went 3-10 6 pts against PHOENIX tonight), it's because the league underrates him, especially with Blake Griffin getting so much attention for his flashy dunks. He has to come out with a bang against these "elite" powerforwards to get some love. The whole league will be likely watching, especially against Griffin. If LMA can keep up his impressive defense, and hold Griffin to under 20 points while scoring 25 pts, he'll definitely get some love from all these dumb haters that comment before watching a man play.

    Great win. Wesley needs to contain himself. He had a beautiful first quarter, but went silent and downhill after that, taking stupid shots. But his defense on Lawry at the end was great.

    I also think Nate didn't do a good job putting Rudy on Martin in the 3rd quarter. We hired Batum and Mathews for that. Not trying to hate on Rudy, but he's not near the defender Batum and Mathews are. There is a reason Martin went 45 on 18 shots. Although big shoutout to Rudy for playing great defense on Lee to not foul and force him to miss. Drexler and his buddy were questioning the officials looking for a foul. No foul, great defense. ADMIRE IT DREXLER!

    Kevin Martin got a lot of respect for me. That guy is a great player. Very underrated.

    by Herr on 1/5/2011 11:06 PM
  3. Patty was the spark plug that started the rally - Kudo's to Patty.
    Lamarcus stepped up in the 4th! Would like to see him grow into that #1 option. BUT, the thing that won for us was the bench, whole unit, showed up tonight.

    The test now is can we put together a back to back road win by betting Minnesota on Friday. Do that and this was a successful road trip (even with the dud in Dallas) and hopefully a momemtum boost to a successful month of January.

    by Napoleon7 on 1/5/2011 11:22 PM
  4. Hey Mike thanks for the quick blog post. I missed the game, but great to know that Patty put up some nice numbers and hit a big shot or two. Also nice to see Rudy have a good game as well.

    As for LA, he is DA MAN!!!! Wow, to know that he was so tired and still fought hard tonight is really great and shows his determination, as I got to see in person last week vs. Hou. As for the All-Star talk, I heard the guys on NBA.com doing the highlights and they were talking about it as well, but Greg Anthony said he wasn't sure he could make it, but that his play had been great "as of late" If he doesn't make it this year, I think he is a shoe-in next year.

    Either way, gotta love what he is doing in terms of the big-picture.

    Glad we survived Martin's big game though, makes it an even bigger win in my book.

    -Anees, from Portland (two more days, back to Europe)

    by Anees on 1/5/2011 11:46 PM

  5. LA is averaging 25 & 10 over the last five games. Not too shabby.

    There doesn't seem to be a reason for him to have to slow down. The Blazer game plan has changed, and now he is the man.

    I didn't see the game since I was at work. It is a nice win. Now they have to consolidate the effort by winning in Minny and getting a 2-1 road trip under their belt.

    I feel a bit bad for Kevin Martin. For one, he wasted a 45pt effort in a loss. For two, knowing his history, having a huge game in almost 40min is like a recipe for him being out with an injury within the week. We'll see, but it isn't only Portland that has the injury bug bite them.

    As for Friday, I'll be at my favorite pub with a cup of tea and a p.b. & j. to see the attack of the killer Bs, and raise my hands to put on my 3pt goggles!

    by reverse on 1/6/2011 12:10 AM
  6. Wesley did show signs that he's trying too hard to fill Brandon's shoes; we don't need him to work hard off the dribble just to take an off-balance floater in the lane. I imagine the time he spent on the bench in the fourth quarter will sink in, and he'll go back to waiting for the offense to come to him. I really wish we could have given LA more rest; at this point he might be hoping not to make the All-Star team just so he can get a rest. What I said before about close games coming down to luck was pretty obvious tonight. If Rudy's big shot had missed, as I think most of us thought it would, we'd be talking about how the Blazer offense had failed again, ending up with an improvised shot by a player who was cold all night. Instead it went in, and we got the win back that the gods of chance had taken away the night before. But if we'd played anywhere near expectation in the third quarter it would not have been close enough for us to need that kind of break. I too was amazed and delighted that Nate finally broke with his conservative approach to late-game line-ups. The great game by Kevin Martin should be a reminder to us that basketball is a team game, and that a big night by a single player doesn't have as much to do with victory as some people think. In fact I've been thinking a lot about the Warriors of--when was that? 75?--under Al Attles. I was living in Chicago at the time, and the Bulls decided that they couldn't contend with their no-name center, so they traded for Nate Thurmond, the Warriors' aging All-Star. And the guy they traded, Clifford Lee, ended up being part of the the utterly unexpected championship team; one of the many non-stars on the team that was essentially Rick Barry and the seven dwarves. Those no-name guys worked hard and played great defense and won a championship, and the Bulls (with Jerry Sloan and company) had to wait for next year, and quite a few more after that. I hope we remember that example when people insist that Portland really needs another proven veteran if we're ever to advance beyond the first round of the, and then start pushing hard to give away young players for some guy who has been racking up big numbers on a bad team. I'd love to see this Blazer squad get the chance to show that they can become that same kind of champion. I'm beginning to suspect that it just may be possible.

    by Islander on 1/6/2011 12:13 AM

  7. about the all-star thing, they really need to be fair and make gasol and duncan centers. bynum has only started 5 games at center for l.a., and duncan is absolutely san antonio's center.

    if those 2 aren't centers, then marcus camby absolutely deserves to be the starting center for the western conference.

    by reverse on 1/6/2011 12:25 AM
  8. I don't think Duncan will get in. He might opt out of it. He's getting old and probably would play like 8 minutes. He's an All-Star no doubt, but that'd be a waste.

    Who are the coaches this year or is that to still be decided?

    by Herr on 1/6/2011 12:51 AM
  9. Mike: thanks for the post, I just got home from work and had to listen to the game on radeo.

    I wasn't sure we would pull this one out of course, but we did just what we had to to do to win.

    Write more later after I watch the game and get some sleep.


    by Hg on 1/6/2011 1:45 AM
  10. Great blog. As a fellow Aussie its great to see Patty showing Blazer fans what we here in Australia have seen for a few years and to think he was almost certain to be cut from the team. He has shown an ability to be a game winner at other levels of BBall, (International,College and Dleague) in the clutch and when the game result is at stake. The kid has a young body but a very old head;calm and unflappable among other qualities. If he remains consistent, the Blazers have a young pg that over time will be exposed to not only NBA level competition, but also learning from playing against the best international pg's on the world stage; you can't buy that experience.

    by Kingfisher on 1/6/2011 2:24 AM
  11. I complained about the benches production last nite, but I certainly won't for this game! 36 off the bench is nice.

    What a balance attack with 7 players in double figures and Matthews only 1 point from making it 8.

    I'm really hoping the Heat game will be my first game this year! I can't wait!!


    by mgb on 1/6/2011 4:55 AM
  12. Btw, I don't understand the hate on Griffin. It's just his rookie season and he's doing excellent and very fun to watch. I guess it's just because fans are worried he'll take Aldridge's spot on the all star game.

    by mgb on 1/6/2011 4:58 AM
  13. Islander, a terrific post:

    I agree for the most part on your luck theory, but there is a higher % shot that will give you better then a 50% chance of winning, and of course a clutch player that doesn't choke at critical moments. Clutch players usually are an experience player that has been in situations like that many of times. Rudy, Batum, and Mills would be clutch players because of international play, but Batum has never been a big go to guy as Rudy and Mills has.

    LMA is getting there fast as a Mr. Clutch. Remember not long ago he missed free throws in clutch situations. Until late LMA hasn't been the go to guy so really wasn't tested. Now, you can depend on him being there. As you said, much of the scoring is luck in the clutch, if the game is close. I am just adding to it with putting the ball in the hands of clutch players with good execution.

    I also agree with you on trading off young talent for a proven vet. I would much rather wait for the young-uns to have a chance to prove themselves before jumping the gun.
    That is why I am not a stats man. Wheels kept remarking on the fact that we don't win often in Houston. That is from the past with different players and different times. As you point out in a close game, it boils down to which team can make the winning shot. Not necessarily the best team.

    I am a old bowler and when I have a good game or above average game and I start getting Props from my peers, I tell them I just depend on the bowling Gods to help me. The Trailblazers depend on the BB Gods or as you put it the luck Gods. Either way I depend on luck as much as skills.


    by Hg on 1/6/2011 7:55 AM
  14. your second paragraph says it all, Mike. Nate went against his grain and stuck with the hot players; the guys who had gotten the team back into the game. when Patty hit those threes i started thinking we had a chance. i can't say enough about the energy and positive attitude he brings to the team. and to think, we might not have signed him prior to the season.

    LaMarcus is as good or better than any pf/c in the league. he may not always be flashy, but i think the steps he's taken to improve his game are showing. i was listing to the post game show and they made the comment that during your post-game interview with him he was tired, but it looked like he's enjoying his new role with the team, being gracious in his praise of his teammates, and showing signs of a leader. isn't that what we want from the number two pick in the 2006 draft? he's raised his game a level and certainly deserves not only an all-star invitation, but some decent minutes in the game itself.

    i liked your comments regarding Rudy. he didn't have the best of shooting nights, but he's doing a lot of other things on offense and defense which are earning him his minutes. Dante was solid and played great in the fourth quarter in particular. both of Patty's career highs of 14 points came against houston. i bet he'd like to play them every game! you can't even look at the boxscore when evaluating Joel's game -- you're not going to get the whole story -- but his defense was big for us last night when he was in the game. our bench really stepped it up, and that's why those three guys were in there for the final quarter.

    i thought Marcus played very well, and i'm glad he didn't have to play too many minutes since he had played a lot against dallas. Andre hit a couple of buckets in the third which stopped the drought and got us going in the quarter (we only had 19 points in the quarter, but they all came in the last seven minutes of the quarter). Nicolas was battling hard on defense and still found a way to hit double digits in scoring. i'm probably going to catch some flack for this, but i'm concerned about Wesley; it's safe to say he's in a slump right now (10-35 shooting the past three games). perhaps he's trying to hard or forcing too many things. he should let the game come to him (he's only a second-year player, so he should learn that over some time).

    we didn't quite play 48 minutes (i'd say more like 41), but the team effort was very key in the win. i'm seeing a lot of chemistry amongst the guys and i'm liking that a lot.

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 1/6/2011 9:16 AM
  15. I'm going to take a page out of Wheeler's book and say that early on the blazers looked, disoriented, delusional, and discombobulated. Now they are relying on themselves rather than Brandon. It wasn't their fault. It was Nate's style to run his offense through one man. It could be argued that L.A. is now that man and there would be some truth to it, but at least now Nate is trusting his gut instead of his misguided loyalties. All this talk about LA and the All star game in the same breath is non sense. Let me tell you who I think will be voted into the All star game: Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, Wang ZhiZhi, Chuck Person, Yi Jianliau, and Dr. Suess. Two billion votes don't lie.

    by Phi Slamma on 1/6/2011 9:18 AM
  16. Kassandra:

    You will get no flack from me on Wesley, I learned my lesson LOL. No actually I agree with you. plus the Islander above you said almost the same thing.

    It also seems that you were correct last summer when you said he was untested for consistency. My argument on that is that it seems as though all our outside shooters are somewhat inconsistent.

    great analysis of the game and the team effort on winning the game.


    by Hg on 1/6/2011 10:17 AM
  17. Great game! Kudos to Nate for staying with the guys that were hot!
    LA is playing great- he has to be an all star!!

    Patty Wow!!

    by RedRudy5 on 1/6/2011 11:08 AM
  18. Kassandra: I agree that Wesley has been pressing too much. Like you I think he is a smart and hardworking guy who needs to learn to let the game come to him.

    LMA, you can't say enough about his transformation from a finesse player to a player with it all.

    Rudy is a streak shooter it seems, but he does so many things on the floor that you have to keep him on the floor even during a cold streak.

    Patty: Wow, and we almost didn't sign him.

    by Ancientone on 1/6/2011 11:59 AM
  19. Had to get up and get a snack in the middle of my own blog.

    by Ancientone on 1/6/2011 12:00 PM
  20. Haven't watched yet, just followed the play-by-play on NBA.com (since it is way faster than the one of the TB site). Great win though, really glad the bench stepped up, and always happy when they prove my negative thoughts about winning wrong :)

    Phi: the LMA All-Star comments are about him being chosen by coaches, not by the vote. OBVIOUSLY he won't get that, he's not even on the top 10 for Forwards! Love, Butler, Scola, Odom, Griffin, Dirk, Duncan, and Gasol all are though (the other two are SFs, Durant and Melo). It's pretty tough competition, but he does have a shot, since LMA has looked A LOT better head-to-head against Love and Scola (so far), held his own with Duncan (outscoring, but not out-rebounding him) and even had a career night against Dirk & Butler (the first time), Butler is now out for the season, and Griffin is a rookie. I think it's more likely both Gasol and Odom will make it, but we could see LMA be selected, and if anyone selected gets injured, I think he would be among the top choices to fill that spot (if he's not chosen initially).

    I think Wesley is just trying too hard. After his 30-pt game, maybe he felt he could actually make inroads on filling Roy's shoes (as the media has tried to imply he can and perhaps will). He needs to remember who he is, and yes, like others have said, let the game come to him. He seems to be forcing it, and is playing angry. Hopefully, someone will remind him to play the game he loves, rather than playing as if he has something to prove. If he had a Twitter, I would express that myself, lol!

    Minny has just lost two in a row, the last at home to Charlotte. They will be looking to redeem themselves. Glad the team has a full day off. LMA and Camby, and even Joel are going to need to be all over Love. And, of course, Beasley is a threat, which means a tough defensive assignment again for Wesley/Nico/??. Also, I don't think we can count on two of the three bigs getting hurt again! It appears they are all healthy, only missing Tolliver, so I expect a tough matchup :)

    I don't have a guess this time one way or the other. As usual, as long as they play hard, I will be pleased. It would be nice to see LMA extend his streak to five games. It would also be nice to see us finally come home having won more than we lost, but I won't count on it!

    by EowynAmarie on 1/6/2011 12:05 PM
  21. Warning: "Unrelated Blazer Material." (Yes, MGB, it's been two weeks!)
    When I received the news last night that the chief of police in Rainier was gunned down, I felt a numbness that I can't quite explain. You see it was only a few short months ago that I walked into the Rainier police station, not to turn myself in, as some of you may suspect, but to apply for a position as a reserve police officer. I was met by a friendly middle aged man who shook my hand and identified himself only as Ralph. He engaged me in a conversation that lasted a good 20 minutes, and spoke proudly of his early days in the force. I was taken aback by his modest and humble demeanor, and later commented to my wife of having just received the ultimate job interview quite by accident.
    Two weeks later I formally interviewed with Chief Painter and three other officers. I've got to tell you up front, I've watched a lot of You-tube. Maybe too much for my own good. I've seen police tazer old ladies, shoot people in wheel chairs, and illegally invade homes and shoot the family pet. What I would give to give out a little poetic justice, Rodney King style. But when you meet the real deal, a person like Ralph Painter who was beloved by the community and who becomes the first Columbia county officer to be killed in the line of duty in 40 years, it leaves me with a pit in my stomach, a lump in my throat, and a heart a little emptier.

    by Phi Slamma on 1/6/2011 12:40 PM
  22. I woke up this morning with the embarrassed thought flashing into my head "I meant to write Cliff RAY, not Cliff LEE" Then I remembered that Barrett works every night with Rice, who makes similar verbal gaffes on a nightly basis. I'd imagine his finely-honed auto-correct function took him past that one without a pause.
    I agree that deep history of where we have or haven't won is of limited value. I wonder, though, if there's anything to the deja vu pattern of this season. The schedule has us playing a lot of return engagements like this Houston game, and we seem to be either losing both or winning both as we did this time. That seems a little odd, because losing teams usually make more adjustments and teams play differently at home and on the road. But I remember a line about the Blazer's championship team, why they won the series with four straight wins after two losses in a row. Someone said that once they figured out how to beat a team that was it: they'd win every time after that. And we've double-dipped this year against the teams that knocked us out of the play-offs the last two years. Alas, we're not too likely to play them in the post-season this year.

    by Islander on 1/6/2011 1:24 PM
  23. great comeback last night! Say, does anyone know how I can watch the 4th quarter of last night's game? I was at a casino and we were in a VERY smokey bar trying to watch it and my eyes and my nose couldn't take it anymore--hated to leave, though, it goes against my grain, being a 31-year season ticket holder and all! Help! Please help me figure out how to watch the end of that great game! Love Rudy & Patty Cakes!!!!! They seem to have great chemistry and friendship--maybe Patty is helping Rudy with his homesickness! Still can't watch the games at home--we are being held hostage by Comcast--STILL!! Help!!!

    by fanatickathy on 1/6/2011 3:55 PM
  24. you know something, i'm already getting tired of people talking about the "Patty bandwagon." there are some of us who've always liked Patty and are now just seeing the impact he can have on an nba team. there, just wanted to get that out.

    fanatickathy: i wholeheartedly believe what you said about Patty helping Rudy avoid being homesick. i remember an interview with Brandon right around training camp time when he talked about the team reaching out to Rudy to make him feel more comfortable here. Patty's turned out to be the perfect guy to lead that charge. judging from their twitter exchanges, they've become really good friends, along with Wesley and some others. Patty definitely has a lot of positive energy and the kind of personality that has helped in adding cohesiveness to the team.

    hg: i'm not sure what to really think of Wesley. just when i'm about to turn the corner in my skepticism, he has some less-than-desirable outings. i really hope it's just a matter of him doing too much, because that can be coached, rather than a true lapse in talent, which cannot.

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 1/6/2011 8:18 PM
  25. Amazing game! That's why the tickets, memorabilia and that kind of thing are all worth it. That is what makes being a fan, love and respect for the game and admiration of the players invaluable to a city and it's fans. It was magic, It was super human. That's why these guys are our heroes. THAT is why I will always be a Blazer fan. From Nate to all the guys, what a gutsy, fantastic performance. The Blazers are a special group. They are original and authentic, they have character, they know how show their fans what's up.

    Sorry to see so much energy expended to come out on top. But from a player's mentality, would you want it any other way? Clyde and Adelman were in the house. We did it.

    Now, to further my belief: You can't get too high, you can't too low. It was one game and here comes the next. When you win 10 in a row, you can't slip mentally. The same goes for the opposite. Thank you guys so much for warming up my cold evening in Portland. I was already in good spirits, but that performance put it over the top.

    Laughed like heck when LA said " I was kinda afraid for (Patty) to take some of those shots. But he knocked them down (something to that effect..lol)" Believe me LA, you were not alone.

    Rip City Baby! YEAH!!

    by Bull Frog on 1/6/2011 9:30 PM
  26. Kassandra:

    I have been a Mills fan for quite sometime, but I really didn't know how good he was because I never got to watch him. I was a fan because of his energy and positive behavior.

    About Wesley, I don't know either. Once you get develop a talent you very seldom lose it but you can become less focused at times or try to hard at times. The hard work should be before the games, not doing the games. When I bowl bad, and I do that quite often, I work my butt off trying to correct whatever I am doing wrong. Whenever I am doing good, everything is natural and it is easy to get strike after strike after strike. Therefore that is what they must be saying when they say let the game come to him, because the more you try to force it the worst it gets.

    Nic said in an interview that nobody can stay up and be aggressive for the whole season. Not even the super stars. so instead of trying to be great every night, he tries to minimize his bad games. That does make sense.

    I hope you are right and it is only because he is a sophomore. and will acquire consistency as he gets older. Until then he will have his ups and downs like the rest of us. The secret is to try to get the up and downs like a flat rock skipping over the water, not like tidal waves with great big high waves and bib drops behind them. Ain't that clever LOL.


    by Hg on 1/6/2011 9:31 PM
  27. Great Game~! Another great back to back team win~! In regards to Wesley's play, I think you need to step back and realize that this guy is a second year player that is currently second on the team in points scored, field goal %, 3 point %, free throw % and steals. When his shots aren't going down he is the best clamp down defender on the team. I think sometimes our expectations tend to be too high because of his nice contract, but I'd hate to think what our record would be without his excellent D and 16 points a game. With the upcoming 9 home games this month, we should make major strides in the playoff race and it should position us for a run at the 5,6,7 playoff spots going into the second half of the season. I have a strong feeling we are going to make some moves that will make us deeper before the trading deadline. I think what we lack now is consistant scoring off the bench and if we can pick up a solid backup power forward that can score some points we could really make some noise in the playoffs. This team is alotta fun to watch and is showing some great teamwork. Lets kick some butt in Minnesota!!!!!

    by Gavinfan on 1/6/2011 10:35 PM
  28. Gavinfan:

    IMO, Dante is a solid back-up PF that can score, he is only going to get better with PT. the same as you said about Wesley, you have to remember he is a sophomore and he will still learn. Plus, give Joel some time to get back in game shape and get his timing down and Camby can play the four with Joel at the 5. That will give some needed rest for LMA.

    I know Nate will go small at many times with LMA at the 5, Nic or Dante at the 4 Wesley or Nic at the 3 Rudy or Wesley at the 2 and Mills or Armon at PG. that will give Camby, and Dre some valuable rest and give us a terrific up tempo team as we just seen.

    We do have a chance to catch up in the home games and play-off race, but I just don't like making predictions. I do predict that the home stand will be fun to watch whether we win or not.


    by Hg on 1/7/2011 12:42 AM
  29. Hey Blazers fans. You guys that go to the games, do me a favor. Chant "ALL-STAR" whenever LMA is at the FT line. Do it every time until he makes it.

    by Herr on 1/7/2011 2:38 AM
  30. Herr,

    I'm going to chant MVP when LA is at the line! Then he'll be a shoo in for all-star. :)

    Can't wait til Sunday! My first game of the year.

    by mgb on 1/7/2011 6:25 AM
  31. hg: Dante has great fundamentals and intelligence but he gives away an awful lot in size.

    The Blazers need to get past the tendency to loose focus as they did at the beginning of the third quarter in Houston. If they can get past that they can go far. Remember the Dolphins no name defense. It wasn't that they didn't have good players but that they worked so well together that they were great.

    by Ancientone on 1/7/2011 8:08 AM
  32. Ancientone:

    I just think you should keep talent over size. Isn't Dante 6-10? Milsap does great at the four. I think with Dante's skill set and BBIQ, except for rebounding he can hold his own. but then look at Love. he is shorter and also can get rebounds.

    Plus the fact I just like Dante. Ya I know that doesn't count for much


    by Hg on 1/7/2011 8:16 AM
  33. Ancientone:

    I just looked up Dante's height and he is 6-8 maybe a little short, but does great at the PF position. I would hang on to him until a better but taller player came along. I would not trade him for height alone.

    The biggest problem might be if you had a taller player as good or better then Dante, would he be willing to come to Portland and just be a back up for LMA for his career?


    by Hg on 1/7/2011 8:25 AM
  34. Gavinfan: i'm not writing off Wesley for the season after these three games when he's shot sub-par. really, just wondering if there is something explainable for it. the fact remains, that he's in a slump and if it's a matter for something to be coached -- as i suspect it is -- he should be all right by playing and being coached throuh it.

    hg: i agree with you on Dante. i thought he was 6'9" and he's been doing an admirable job at pf. i'd speculate that his natural nba position is sf, (he probably played pf or even some center a villanova), but he's been battling in there night in and night out. the part on which i really agree is about the prospect of him being involved in a trade. it seems to come back to my main philosophy on here: don't trade simply for the sake of making a trade. that's what we'd be doing if we traded Dante for nothing more than a couple inches in height. i don't much think that does us any good.

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 1/7/2011 9:38 AM
  35. Wesley was originally thought to be mainly a defensive stopper, but we got spoiled a little bit by his offensive production. I don't see anything to worry about with his offensive game of late, everyone goes through little slumps, the main thing is to help the team in other ways which Wesley does.

    Dante is a classic tweener.

    by mgb on 1/7/2011 9:49 AM
  36. Questions on Dante:

    I read last year that Dante and Jeff both learned to play BB in college the right way. boxing out, screening your man where he can't get by you to help out on blocking someone Else's drive. and being at the right place at the right time with good BBIQ, where some of the more gifted talents and bigger players doesn't bother with those details and that training in itself is worth a couple of more inches in height.

    Dante's ability to make mid range jumpers will pull the defenders away from the basket to open up the lanes. Is that not right? besides we are talking mainly back-up PF here not All-Star power forwards.

    My original post was that Dante was more then adequate as a back-up PF and two inches more in height doesn't change my opinion.

    The team knows how important this game is to establish a better road record, so as I don't predict winners, I do predict that they won't play down to their idea of the opponents level. They will go out, play hard and win battles and hopefully that will be enough to win the game.


    by Hg on 1/7/2011 10:15 AM
  37. Kassandra
    I agree with you about Dante's natural position being a SF. I think he is a good player off the bench that doesn't make a lot of mistakes and has a good mid range jumper but I think we need a bigger, wider PF that can clog the middle more and hit the boards more than what we're getting from Dante at the PF position. I feel that when we pull LA for a rest we are losing the battle in the paint. We need to also look at LA minutes so that he's not worn out come playoff time. I'm also a little concerned with Joel returning to his old form. I know its early but I question if he is going to ever be the rebounder and shot blocker that we are used too. By bringing in a big PF he could make up the difference on the boards and defensive end. Our current bench is very small and Camby and LA are having to take up the slack which may open them up to injuries or just totally burn them out come the second season.

    by Gavinfan on 1/7/2011 1:57 PM
  38. WesMoney!

    by reverse on 1/7/2011 5:25 PM

  39. WesMoney!!!

    by reverse on 1/7/2011 5:26 PM

  40. WesMoney!!!!!

    by reverse on 1/7/2011 6:07 PM
  41. Kassandra:

    Is it safe to think that Wesley is streaky LOL. He is my tidal wave type shooter. But, I love it when he is hot.


    by Hg on 1/8/2011 7:39 AM
  42. Finally, McMillan is feeling the game and not following a manual. I'm happy to see this development. I'm also happy to see us run. That slow paced style we had going with Roy just didn't work for our guys. No knocks on Roy. That's just how it was.

    LaMarcus is showing why all of have been so frustrated at him throughout the years. He's an animal. Now he's finally developed that killer instinct. Your nothing without that killer instinct.

    Speaking of killer instinct, that's what Wesley Matthew is all about. Kassandra, there is no need for concern. I'm clueless as to why you are concerned. He has exceeded all expectations. He's undrafted. Defense is his priority. And he scores a franchise record 7 three pointers in a half. He's been one of our most consistent players. But I get you. You were critical in the beginning and you don't want people saying I told you so. My advice is swallow the truth and see that Matthews is worth every penny we paid him and he is exceeding all expectations. Also recognize he is only a 2nd year player!!!!! Consistency comes with time.

    And Patty Mills, that guy is fun to watch. Allen finally got one right on his little special project pick. Mills is good, real good.

    Go Blazers!

    by thedanman on 1/8/2011 6:45 PM
  43. Finally, McMillan is feeling the game and not following a manual. I'm happy to see this development. I'm also happy to see us run. That slow paced style we had going with Roy just didn't work for our guys. No knocks on Roy. That's just how it was.

    LaMarcus is showing why all of have been so frustrated at him throughout the years. He's an animal. Now he's finally developed that killer instinct. Your nothing without that killer instinct.

    Speaking of killer instinct, that's what Wesley Matthew is all about. Kassandra, there is no need for concern. I'm clueless as to why you are concerned. He has exceeded all expectations. He's undrafted. Defense is his priority. And he scores a franchise record 7 three pointers in a half. He's been one of our most consistent players. But I get you. You were critical in the beginning and you don't want people saying I told you so. My advice is swallow the truth and see that Matthews is worth every penny we paid him and he is exceeding all expectations. Also recognize he is only a 2nd year player!!!!! Consistency comes with time.

    And Patty Mills, that guy is fun to watch. Allen finally got one right on his little special project pick. Mills is good, real good.

    Go Blazers!

    by thedanman on 1/8/2011 6:53 PM
  44. thedanman: "Killer Instinct", a phrase bandied about without much forethought. Look at Roy, now look at Lamarcus, now back at Roy. Nice guys indeed. Throw in Miller, Rudy, and Nicholas (Oh, pardon me, Nichola), and you've got the Band of Brothers meets the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. A killer instinct demands a lack of conscience, a sense of 'self ' before all else. Sportsmanship has no bedfellow as a companion. I would also have to disagree that even though Wesley is IMO is going to be a tremendous addition to the team, what we are paying him has nothing to do with expected productivity in return. If x's and o's went hand in hand with dollars and cents then it makes no sense to pay G.O. millions of dollars for the bitter sweet scarce memories he gave us on the court. In fact, evidently a pair of bad knees gets you 80 million these days. I'll throw in an aching back and a bad attitude for a measly few thousand. A bargain by anyone's standards.

    by Phi Slamma on 1/8/2011 9:14 PM
  45. Was not able to watch the game cause I was at work but I saw plenty of highlights on NBA.com and here at Blazers.com.

    I did know how good Wesley was last year. I had heard his story and that he was well liked by Coach Sloan. I had also seen his success against the Lakers last year in playoffs, I do believe and also Denver. It was during pre season this year after watching him out there that I noticed how talented he really is. The Milwaukee game early this season really showed it too, and then after hearing him talk and getting to know his persona more, I was sold. He fits. I can see his capabilities and a lot potential, he appears to be in excellent shape, has a an interesting form on his shot but can also take it to the rack. And here he is setting a career high and team record for us. I am sure not all of us expected this but he is proving why more and more that he received his contract. I have heard Nate remind us that he is only a second year player. I say simply that, like Brandon and LA, that's how you start your career off right. Very nice game.

    Andre's pass was ridiculous on that "whatever you call it" when he dished from the key out to Wes for a 3. It was very nice to see our guys knocking down shots.

    As a fan, overall, I am just very happy to see how we are playing. Keep it up guys. Thank you.

    Rip City Baby & Go Blazers!

    by Bull Frog on 1/8/2011 10:14 PM
  46. We may of won against the Wolves but we only played half a game. A bad habit to get into.

    Phi Slama: You seem to think that to be a champion you have to be the terminal end of the equine alimentary canal. I don't agree. On the floor you can have the eyes of an assassin and yet be a good citizen in the community.

    by Ancientone on 1/8/2011 10:18 PM
  47. danman: I couldn't agree more! I've been groaning for years now as Nate followed his scheduled substitution pattern while ignoring the flow of the game and who's hot and who's not. This year he's like a new coach, going with the flow of the game and letting hot hands play the most minutes. What he did the other night in letting Patty, Dante, and Rudy play during crunch time kn Houston was magnificent.

    by dgpdx on 1/8/2011 10:25 PM
  48. danman: please don't presume to explain why i remain skeptical about Wesley. as it stands, you did so and were completely incorrect. truthfully, i am getting very exhausted in talking about it, as i have stated my position numerous times on the subject. but here, since you're so baffled, let me go into this just one more time, just for you.

    i've made it clear time and time again that i hope Wesley turns out to be everything that everyone in portland hopes he is. the truth is, i've never said otherwise. don't worry, you're not the only one who seems not to grasp that or who has dismissed that part of my remarks about Wesley. i''ve also repeatedly said that from a character standpoint, he seems like a really great guy; the type of guy we want on the roster and in the community.

    my trepidation is the inconsistency. going from 9 points one game to 36 the next is just plain inconsistent. i'd much rather a player score in the neighborhood of 20-22 every game than the highs and lows Wesley has recently demonstrated. and let's not forget that in the three games prior to friday he shot 3-12, 3-11 and 4-12 from the field. those are not good numbers by any standards. you also should take note that my remarks were made prior to friday's game, therefore, i did not have his stats from that game. by the way, i thought he was great against minnesota.

    you know, it's interesting how people defend Wesley by saying his defense and hustle are the priorities. i have no complaints on those parts of his game. of course, an obvious argument could be made is that if defense is his priority, then he should only be taking about eight shots a game, rather than the dozen-plus. you can either say that, or you can defend inconsistency. i suppose that's your choice.

    when we went after Wesley, a lot of fans, even some on this blog, responded as if he would be the best thing since sliced bread. he's young and may be that much of an impact player one day, but in my opinion, he's not there yet. there have been high expectations, but i remain skeptical because i don't think they've been met. once he becomes more consistent on offense, maybe i'll change my mind. i do know that the only one who can change my mind will be Wesley, not someone who chooses to criticize me for sticking to my standards.

    finally, enough of this. you have an opinion and i have mine. that's it. let's please move on.

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 1/9/2011 12:57 AM
  49. so, the minnesota game, to me, was a nice team effort led by two different players in two different halves. Wesley came out on fire (at least from i could hear from Wheels) and really helped us jump out to the big lead in the first half. LaMarcus stepped it up in the second half and led the charge to prevent the t-wolves from coming all the way back. nice job to both players, as well as their teammates for coming away with a good tune-up win on the road.

    though i didn't like the third quarter run from minnesota, i expected it. that's not because of a lack of confidence in the guys; rather i didn't expect the home team to just give up and go away at halftime. the 20-point lead was terrific and, when the t-wolves were on their way back, we never let them get it to single digits. that's an excellent result against a team like minnesota.

    it seems we either have developed or are developing a one-two punch at pg. many have already touched on the difference between Andre's slowdown game and Patty's up-tempo game, and they continue to compliment each other well and give opponents fits. they've each also hit double digits the past couple of games.

    i just thought i'd add an update. as some of you may know, r/udy sat out the second half with flu-like symptoms. according to his tweet on saturday, he got a hair cut to "look good in the game" so it appears he's going to play. Dante had tweeted early saturday saying that he was sick. i direct messaged him asking how he felt, but he had not gotten back to me. judging from a couple other tweets from Dante, i'm optimistic he will be on the court as well.

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 1/9/2011 1:11 AM
  50. So Kassandra why don't you like Wesley? :) J/K

    by mgb on 1/9/2011 3:43 AM
  51. Kassandra
    I think we tend to rate a player's consistency on him putting the rock through the hole and not his all around game. With Roy he had a good game if he hit 20 or more. I think Wesley does so much more on the floor that when he scores 8 points and misses 10 shots, he can still have an effective game if he adds 4 assists and 3 key steals and holds the opposing SG to well below his average. I'm willing to bet Nate considers his clamp down defense to be his main job for the game and everything after that to be gravy. So I guess its all in what you are looking for in consistency. :)

    by Gavinfan on 1/9/2011 7:29 AM
  52. Wow, so let's leave Kassandra alone already! Her position on Wesley has been entirely consistent from the get go - skeptical. She's allowed to remain so, it's her opinion. I am puzzled to see so much attention drawn to it over and over again. I agree, like she says, let's drop it!

    Well, I finally watched both games (@ Houston and @Minnesota). I liked what I saw, especially in Houston, in the 4th quarter. The Minny game was.....interesting. I actually found it a tad concerning that one player (Wesley) dominated the first half, with another taking over in the second. Though I was happy we were able to replace one scorer with another when "defense" shut Wesley down, I feel far more comfortable when there is a consistent game. I know Wesley was scorching hot though, and I guess you have to take advantage of that.

    The Houston game was a better team effort I thought. The best part was seeing Nate abandon his "plan" and coach purely by feel. Nate is a very disciplined guy, regimented, hence the "Sarge" moniker. Stepping beyond that shows his growth as a coach, and it was really, really encouraging to see. Becoming flexible is an important quality for an elite level coach, and it is something I think we will need if we are to progress eventually (not that Nate's job is secure in any way of course!)

    NOT looking forward to the game tonight. I can't watch, since I refuse to support Lebron James in any way. I honestly think this is going to be a crushing loss. LBJ and Mr Wade are two of the MOST elite players in the league (arguably the two best players), and they have won 20 of the last 21 because they have figured out how to play together. They are an incredible force to be reckoned with and even though I think we might have a slight chance in slowing down or stopping one of them, I just can't see us being able to do what so many other teams have not. I realize they have had a relatively soft schedule, but since the end of November, they have beat Atlanta, Milwaukee, Utah, GSW (in Oakland), New Orleans, and New York twice. Most of those 20 games have been on the road, too. I think to even have a chance of staying close, we have to have a perfect or near perfect game, with every single player playing their game for the full 48 minutes. I'll be happy if we play hard, hustle, and LMA had another great night. BUT, if we somehow pull out a win, I promise I will try to quit being so pessimistic toward our team :)

    by EowynAmarie on 1/9/2011 10:59 AM
  53. Hi Mike,

    We got courtside seats to the game. If it's not too crazy around you guys I might stop by and say hi. If it looks like you guys are too busy I'll wait until another time.

    Blazers are going to win tonight. I'm not scared of those guys.

    by sudelander on 1/9/2011 12:29 PM
  54. lebron "cough cough" james is in the house tonight. I hope the fans give him a warm welcome.

    by Miller on 1/9/2011 1:50 PM
  55. I'm willing to bet we beat the Heat going away~!~!~!~! Our last home loss was the New Orleans loss that seems like a year ago. LA and Camby need to be beasts in the paint and Andre needs to hit a double double to take this one. Rudy shoots much better in the Rose Garden, so I think he's going to have an impact also. Let's show the Heat how a real "team" plays basketball~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!

    by Gavinfan on 1/9/2011 2:18 PM
  56. that's right gavin!

    that's the spirit!

    Courtside baby!

    by sudelander on 1/9/2011 4:15 PM
  57. I'm getting jazzed up about tonight's game. Sold my regular seasons tickets and bought some right across from the Miami bench so my daughter and I can put our double-whammy hex on the "Big 3" all night. Funny sidenote: My daughter was in the club Couture last night. Eddie House was there and NOBODY knew who he was except her! LOL. Anyway, if we play for 48 minutes, I KNOW we can and will beat this team. GO BLAZERS! RIP CITY!

    by Pamela Porter on 1/9/2011 4:23 PM
  58. Gavinfan: if you responded to my comment as you did, then you didn't comprehend much of what i was saying. i'm going to leave that at that.

    EowynAmarie: thank you very much for understanding. what people are failing to understand is that i've been warming up to Wesley as the season has progressed. i believe i've stated that here previously. i'm glad that at least one person understands.

    mgb: very funny *rolls eyes*

    thought i'd provide an update on Dante. he responded to me this morning saying he felt "fine." both he and Rudy will play tonight. that's a good thing because i think our bench has the opportunity to have a big impact tonight. most of the heat bench is susceptible to being beaten. we need to take advantage of that.

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 1/9/2011 5:00 PM
  59. okay, kasandra i apologize. bottom line is you love the blazers and i love the blazers. obviously we think differently and will have different opinions.

    now onto lamarcus aldridge. wow, wow, wow!!!!!

    by thedanman on 1/9/2011 9:03 PM
  60. good performance lads, just not fortunate enough to get rid of the Lord of No Rings.

    best wishes for next game against knicks.

    Go Blazers!

    by verdy_ahp on 1/9/2011 9:41 PM
  61. We did play well for 48 minutes. From now on, my prayer will be that we play well for 53 minutes! Still an entertaining game to watch but boy was that MAX ride on the way home quiet.

    by Pamela Porter on 1/9/2011 10:04 PM
  62. Had fun at the game tonite. Bummer we didn't win, but still had a good time. It was a full house and pretty loud at times. The RG would have exploded if Miller had hit the shot at the end of regulation. I'm just happy I finally made it to my first game of the season. Pretty bad shape when I got home, but I'm hoping I'll recover enough to make it to the Nets game next Saturday.

    by mgb on 1/10/2011 1:32 AM
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