Wesley Matthews Feeds Off Of Your Ridicule
By caseyholdahl Posted in: WesleyMatthews
Wesley Matthews did a little bit of everything during Saturday night's 96-89 victory against the Nets at the Rose Garden. The line: 10 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals in 38 minutes played on a bad ankle, the same ankle he played 40 minutes on the night before. A gutsy performance. But sometimes guts aren't enough, at least for the fans at the Rose Garden who have seen the Trail Blazers struggle in fourth quarters.
That wasn't so much the case on Saturday, as Portland outscored New Jersey 22-13 in the final frame to seal the game, but when you've got a 13-9 record after taking a lead into the fourth quarter, the worst such mark in the league, folks tend to get a little nervous. That's probably the reason one fan in the Rose Garden felt it necessary to call Wesley out late in Saturday night's game.
With 28 seconds to play and with the Trail Blazers up 95-89, Matthews, who had just drawn a charge on Devin Harris the previous possession, stepped to the line to shoot two free throws. One make would make it a three possession game, all but ensuring Portland's first win in four games. And one would assume that Matthews, who is shooting 83 percent from the line this season, would be good for at least a 1-of-2 trip to the line.
Even so, one fellow in the lower bowl made a point of reminding Wesley what he's supposed to do in those particular situations.
"Matthews, make your free throws!" came the call from behind the basket, after which Wesley promptly missed his first shot. He then collected himself, set up at the line, and hit the second. But after his follow through, he pointed to the fan who yelled the instructions, twice. Matthews wanted to make sure he was paying attention.
"That guy, he told me to make my free throws," said Matthews after the game. "I missed the first one. I didn't try to miss it. Sorry. So I wanted him to see me (after making the second). It's all in good fun."
Matthews is used to being doubted, as anyone who is familiar with his rise from undrafted rookie to prized free agent signing will tell you, so he wasn't bothered much by the mini-razzing he received from at least one man in the crowd. Quite the contrary. For a guy like Wesley, a guy who plays with a bit of a chip on his shoulder, a little bit of taunting, even when it's from the home crowd, was welcomed.
Said Matthews: "Whoever it was, I appreciate him for it."