Ice-Cold Blazers Rolled by New York
This is what we call a "trap game." You can see these coming, and often times there's not much you can do about it.
Before this game, on the pre-game show, we talked about the fact that the Trail Blazers can't let the Miami Heat beat them twice. But, in my opinion, that's exactly what happened. On Sunday, in the final 1:45 of that game, it went from a confidence-building win, to an emotionally-draining loss. Both of those can have carry-over effects. The latter most certainly did on this night.
But, that's barely half the story. The New York Knicks, who have been playing very well lately, were steamrolled by the Lakers on Sunday. They shot just 36 percent in that game, and Amare Stoudemire was just 7 for 24. So, you knew none of that was going to happen again. Add that to Portland's emotional hangover, and you get the result we saw at the Rose Garden on Tuesday night.
Then, you start asking yourself, if Portland had beaten Miami on Sunday, would they have beaten New York in this one? We'll never know, of course, but I think it would have totally changed the dynamic of this game, and would have changed Portland's mental approach.
Also, add to all of this the fact that LaMarcus Aldridge got into early foul trouble, and it starts feeling like the perfect storm. The only thing that could have rescued the Trail Blazers was if someone else could have gotten hot and carried this team. That didn't happen either. When you experience a very tough loss, like Sunday's, you start feeling other things, like the fact that Portland has played more road games than any other NBA team. Things build. Legs tire, and shots end up short. And, you can start feeling sorry for yourself.
Even if you don't buy that entire explanation, it all was undoubtedly a factor. The Knicks took full advantage, and beat the Blazers 100-86.
The Blazers, who shot just 42 percent on Sunday, and nearly survived, shot just 35 percent in this game and that was just too much to overcome. New York shot 50 percent, answered every Portland run, and earned a split in the season series.
Given all that happened in the first half, including the fact that Aldridge was limited to just 6:27 of playing time, Portland probably shouldn't have been within 6 points at halftime. And, things went fairly well to start the second half. The Blazers, in fact, grabbed a brief lead at 59-58. But, the Knicks answered that quickly with a 15-3 run and it was never in doubt again.
Despite his foul trouble, and that fact that he played only 29 minutes, Aldridge did his part. He scored 19 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Marcus Camby also did his job, pulling down 16 rebounds and blocking 6 shots. But, no one else even shot 50 percent. Wesley Matthews was just 2 for 13, and the bench ended 7 for 22.
The Blazers tried to scrap, hustle, and grind out points. But, when you shoot 35 percent, you cant' survive very long. The glaring, and uncharacteristic, stat that jumps off the page was that Portland ended the game with only 8 assists on 29 made field goals. That's an ugly ratio, and shows the offense was broken on this night and no one was hitting anything.
To listen to Nate McMillan's post-game comments, click here
Next up is a back-to-back situation. We'll fly to Phoenix on Thursday, and take on the Suns on Friday night. What makes that tough is that it's an 8:45 start in Phoenix, and then the Blazers host the New Jersey Nets on Saturday night. But, if there are two teams that can get you back on track right now, it's Phoenix and New Jersey.
But, even against struggling teams, 35 percent shooting won't get it done.