mikebarrett

Jan 22

A Master's Degree in Handling Adversity

By mikebarrett
You really couldn't make this stuff up if you tried.  

Add another storybook victory to the Trail Blazers' season, as they continue to battle back against tremendous odds, and overcome huge obsticle after huge obsticle.  All the while, the Rose Garden is getting louder, as fans have recognized everything happening with this year's team, and have come to appreciate the heart this team is showing on a nightly basis.  These are the times you remember perhaps more fondly than when the waters are calm and the sailing is smooth.

Brandon Roy goes down, and the team finds a way.  Marcus Camby goes on the shelf, and the Blazers knuckle down harder.  Andre Miller leaves just minutes into the contest with a bad case of the stomach flu, and someone else just calmly steps in and fills the void.

After trailing by 16 in the first half, and by as many as 13 in the second half, the Trail Blazers rallied with another fourth-quarter run, and beat the Indiana Pacers 97-92.  That's five in a row, to move a season-high five games over the .500 mark.  It's incredible to think, with all that's happened, this team is only two games behind where it was at this same time last year.  Allow that to sink in.

Before starting down the line of giving credit to the players, one person needs to be singled out in all of this beautiful mess-  Nate McMillan.  He's truly doing his finest work as a coach right now.  He never lets his team use any cruel twist of fate as an alibi or excuse.  He, and his staff, just continue to grind away and move forward with the hand that they're dealt.

The Pacers were rested, ready, and hungry to end their three-game losing streak on Saturday night.  They were sharp, had a sound defensive game plan ready, and were hitting their shots at an uncharacteristic clip early in this game.  They built their lead with relative ease, and seemed to be in control.  But, with an ease of their own, Portland calmly struck back in the second half.

Against the Clippers on Thursday, it was a 16-2 run in the fourth quarter that put this team over the top.  On this night it took a 14-2 run in the fourth, and a 37-13 run to close the game, that lifted the Blazers to another victory.

Four different Blazers took turns playing point guard, trying to run the offense in place of Miller.  The guy who probably had the most success was Rudy Fernandez, who is truly one of the great stories on this team this season.  Not only did he get the offense kick started in the first half, he drained a clutch three pointer in the final minutes to put the game on ice.  Rudy ended with 11 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds, doing a little bit of everything.

Nicolas Batum, who is now ready for prime time, drilled four three-point shots in that fourth quarter, and ended with five on the night.  He scored 23 points, and grabbed 6 rebounds.

LaMarcus Aldridge, again, broke through another opponent's defensive game plan, designed exclusively to slow him down.  He had to grind out his numbers, but ended with 25 points and 12 rebounds, and did it against a variety of defensive looks.

Wesley Matthews, coming off a 28-point night against the Clippers, had 19 in this game, along with a career-high 9 assists.

And, one guy who never gets the credit he deserves is Dante Cunningham.  He struggled to 5 for 14 shooting, but played solid defense, adn grabbed 5 rebounds.  Joel Przybilla also played some rugged defense inside, and gave the team 18 minutes of all-out effort.

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

With the win, the Blazers moved to within a half-game of Denver and the seventh spot in the west.  They're just two and a-half behind the Utah Jazz.

The team took a few minutes to celebrate this win, and then started immediately talking about Monday's game against the Sacramento Kings.  It'll be a chance to run the streak to six, and another opportunity to continue this climb up the mountain. 


26 Comments

  1. Boom boom Batum! Jeez, that boy can shoot. Whatever he had for breakfast he needs to eat it more often.

    Also, I heard during the broadcast that Rudy wants to stay in Portland? Heck, I don't mind keeping him if he continues this play.

    The Blazers are only 2 games behind the mark they were last year? Last year they had some Greg Oden, and had some Brandon Roy. This year, they don't have any of that, and are only 2 games behind? That's very impressive. Just makes me wonder how this team will perform when everyone is healthy. The injuries might pay off in the end if these guys playing now get the experience they need. I'm excited to see the new LMA with Roy and Oden.

    Next up is Sacramento. I hate to say it, but the Blazer's NEED to have a blowout win against a team, and the Kings can be a team that can take it. We need to drop the hammer and fly with confidence. Our next game is really our last easy one, and we need to be rolling with confidence. Blowout wins always do that, just look at the Hornets.

    This game, however, proved the importance of Andre Miller. I think we might need to resign him if we don't pick up another experienced point guard.

    Oh, don't worry, I liked Fosters socks too MB lmao

    by Herr on 1/22/2011 11:55 PM
  2. Maybe it was just the endorphins from a nice bike ride to the Columbia and back, but I felt calm and confident about this one even during the period when it looked like the wheels might come off. Andre goes out and Patty misses his shots and Armin gets another brief look and stumbles, and the Pacers get a lead in the mid-teens and all I'm thinking is the number we need to get it down to by the quarter, then the half. We started the second half with something like five straight good looks, none of which go down, and the lead goes to an ugly double again, and while I briefly considered it possible we might lose, I still didn't panic. Neither did the team. Yeah, we ended up needing an improbable string of threes from Nicholas, but that just evened things up from the misses the team made earlier. I think the reason I felt confident against both the Clippers and the Pacers is the feeling that even though both opponents have a lot of talent on the court, they just don't feel like real teams, the kind with players whose styles mesh, and who focus exclusively on getting a win. LA had a terrible first quarter, but by the half his numbers were pretty much on track. Wesley had one of those ugly games where he looked ragged and unpolished, all energy and no skill, but he ended up with 19 and 9. It was especially impressive that the Blazers kept playing good team ball with such an assortment of odd combinations on the court. And I think that's been the key lately; when the latest in the long string of challenges hits, the guys respond by playing hard, and playing together. There's none of this "I have to do it all" stuff." They just step up and do their jobs. And as you said, you've got to credit the coaching. Switch coaches with the Pacers and you switch the outcome. Our guy kept everybody on track in the middle of wild line-up improvisation; the Pacers seem confused about who'll be playing and what their roles are on a daily basis. I suspect that's why Granger's game has changed; he's taking care of his numbers instead of playing to win. It's great to watch these guys.
    One last question though. Do you suppose the NBA would consider a new stat category: Steals Immediately Following a Turnover? Rudy would surely lead the league in that one. I've never seen anyone like him in taking back a ball we've just given away. He just seems to thrive in those moments of chaos when everyone else is still looking around trying to figure out what the heck is going on.

    by Islander on 1/23/2011 12:25 AM
  3. Hell of a job diggin' this one out. Portland's performance under pressure has become fairly astounding as of late. A couple big games over the next week and a half but they get a lot of rest in between 'em so hopefully that'll curb some of the fatigue I know these guys are feelin'.

    And yeah, they need a blowout. I love watchin' these guys smile after wins but I wanna' see em smilin' without suckin' so much air between questions. Here's to hopin' LA gets to sit on the bench a while in the fourth on Monday and watch Rudy go apesnake like the rest of us get to. Dude is faster and more focused than a cat batting an ice cube across a wooden floor.

    by shynz0r on 1/23/2011 1:28 AM
  4. When we were down 16 points in the first half, I told my wife we had them just where we want them, we will soon be known as the come-back kids once more. We used to do that a lot. I remember a lot of games that we looked like we would lose up to the 6 minute mark of the fourth and would come back with a victory.

    I liked Batum's answer to how did we come back from the jaws of defeat tonight? His answer was, “I don't know.”

    I think we will get better and better as the season goes by even without the hopes of BRoy and Camby.

    It looks so great just to see Joel out on the court again, and to try to get in the offense is amazing. Those picks were amazing.

    I don't know if the team needs a blow-out Monday, but I sure need them to get a blow-out.

    Great post Mike, thanks for the update. Great socks that Foster was wearing, I couldn't say they were girlie socks because my youngest son wears socks like that.

    I do hope Dre is back Monday, Although I know we can cover point guard situations without him, but it is so much smoother and calm with him

    Hg

    by Hg on 1/23/2011 2:17 AM
  5. It was sure looking ugly in the beginning, but Nate got them back on track, Rudy did a very wonderful job playing point. Combine that with Batum's bombs in the 4th quarter and 25 hard earn points by LA, and sprinkled wih savvy defense by Rudy and Dante, and you have yourself a Blazer victory.

    I agree very much that if the Blazer decided to part with Miller anytime soon, that we better get a equal quality pg. Hes just very dependable since hes been here, Him and Roy dont jive too well, but ever since Miller has been in Portland, hes done a few simple things, and that is score timely points,feed the hot hand of the team, and just go out there and simply get the job done with whatever it takes, without any media hype, or hey look at me attitude, he just plays good honest down to earth basketball.

    Im fine at this point with no trades or moves,unless ofcourse we get some ridiculous talent for barely anything, then duh..but you cant have Batum lol. Anyways let this team go out and play, their really building some good chemistry,and often that can be alot better than pure talent alone.
    Well just see how this season comes along, we continue to play hard and stick together, who knows, make play offs and have a healthy Roy and Camby? One can wish.

    by whitefeather21380 on 1/23/2011 2:32 AM
  6. First thing is first. Props to Nate McMillan. I truly believe he is doing the best coaching of his career. I'm seeing more adjustments that are working!

    Secondly, way to go fans! I love watching the Rose Garden rock and the players do too.

    It's almost pointless to give at-a-boys to any individuals on this team because they are playing team basketball. The chemistry looks great and everyone is doing what they need to do to win the game. I couldn't be happier. I love the hustle and the scrappy play these guys are showing. They look like they're having fun playing together too. That's huge!

    Go Blazers!

    by thedanman on 1/23/2011 6:02 AM
  7. T can't really say anything better than what you all have said but I will add this,,, chemistry has alot to do with their perserverance and getting it done even though odds seem to be against them. Take Rudy for example. He is feeling the love and has responded in ways we didn't see at the beginning of the season, especially given the fact he did'nt want to be here and now he couldn't be happier. I also look at the coaching staff Nate put together, brilliant in my book. There is cohesive energy between staff and players, I love it GO BLAZERS!!!

    by Jonsey86 on 1/23/2011 7:07 AM
  8. Hurt shoulder, can't type, but 4 games out of 3rd seed!!! :D

    by mgb on 1/23/2011 7:44 AM
  9. Matthews has been an every other night guy, he broke another record by learning to look for other shooters rather then lowering his head with tunnel vision to the basket. To me 19 points and 9 assist is lot better game then 30 points and no assists. That is just more proof to me that he is an upcoming team player as he morph's into a BB elite player.

    Nic is playing better since he was guaranteed that he wasn't going to be traded, and Nate told him it was time for him to become one of the elite players of the league. I already felt like he was elite, it was convincing him that seems the problem.

    It has been proven that we need more then our go to guy to step up and LMA did his job by getting all the attention from the defense and giving other players more space. That becomes a two way game. If they crowd LMA our shooters get to operate, If they crowd our shooters that gives LMA room to operate, plus they forgot LMA is a terrific outside jump shooter. That was to me the biggest adaption to a great player, if they take one thing away from him he can go to something else, but they weren't able to take his whole game away from him like the Suns did last year. That was his biggest motivation for getting a more complete game, the fact that it has been the same ole same ole. They take away his go to shot and they took away his game. Props for him realizing that and adding weapons to his game

    A great win without Dre; it would have been great win with Dre.

    I loved just seeing Joel on the court again, playing well in the second half even looked better. If you think about his injury and the fact that he is still only about 75% he does look good. Regarding the fact that many of us didn't think he would be able to play again with his age combined with two time torn patella tendon surgeries.

    Happy camper’s makes up for better games, so above all team say happy and laugh a lot.

    hg

    by Hg on 1/23/2011 9:43 AM
  10. Alright, I don't have a lot to say just yet, since I only watched the last 7 minutes or so. However, since I have gone on about Wesley's patterns, I MUST note that last night marked the first time in awhile he has had two really good games in a row. He just keeps getting better, showing off his determination to be a complete player. So.....THERE IS NO PATTERN!! Lol....

    Honestly, as far as I am concerned, Coach Nate is Coach of the Year again. The adjustments he has continued to make over and over and over again are just straight impressive.

    I see our pillars going forth are Nico, LA, and Wesley. Not sure about the 4th yet. maybe they aren't here, maybe it's BRoy, maybe it's Greg, idk.

    That's all for now :)

    by EowynAmarie on 1/23/2011 11:11 AM
  11. Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes. You all have spoken so eloquently about this win and this team, I can add little more.

    Except for one observation:

    Patty. On the court, he does far more with his skills than many players with greater natural gifts. He always Shows Up, even if he doesn't get many minutes.

    But his most significant contribution has been as catalyst to the team's chemistry. He seems to be one of Nature's social connectors, strengthening bonds between team mates. He's done as much as anyone to help Rudy feel at home; without Patty, we might never have seen all these incredible unsuspected facets of Rudy's game.

    by occassia on 1/23/2011 11:36 AM
  12. Great Blog- and great win -especially to come back from being down in the 4th!

    LA has been great- I have a hard time thinking he won't be selected to the all star game...
    Hope they continue on monday and that Dre is feeling better.

    by RedRudy5 on 1/23/2011 12:12 PM
  13. for about 2 years now, i've been saying that rudy should be playing pg if he is going to be an impact player in the nba. last night was the example that i've been waiting to see. i firmly believe that whether or not andre is here, rudy needs to get more involved in the role of distributor. the rudy to andre alley-oop pass that we've been seeing the last few games is solid evidence. last night's 8assts were more proof. with rudolfo, wesley and nicolas you have 3 perimeter players that can switch with ease defensively, even onto bigs when needed. i love the versatility in that line-up, and i REALLY want to see more of them playing together.

    it was a fun and interesting game, and dante's block at the finish showed the collective effort and intensity. cunningham is giving the team solid minutes.

    lamarcus aldridge was once again the power in the game. jeff foster was put in foul trouble, tyler hansborough relegated to the bench, and roy hibbert taken out to the perimeter where he doesn't stand a chance. LA showed all kinds of game, and didn't force the issue because his teammates made adjustments and showed that they came to play. we even saw LA hold off darren collison defensively out near the 3pt line on switches a couple of times. 25pts 12rebs & 4assts in 46 minutes was made to look easy.

    blazers fans are getting a bit spoiled these last few seasons. coach mcmillan keeps putting this team together in ways that produce effort, good play and Ws.

    by reverse on 1/23/2011 1:32 PM
  14. another scrappy win for the guys, and another one which made many of us nervous. if you look at the individual performances, it looks like we had no problem in this game. to be honest, i was surprised with the play of the pacers. Granger, Hibbert and Dunleavy seemed to take turns hurting us and, for a while, i thought we might never get past that seven-plus point lead they had.

    then, as we've done a lot lately, we put something together and pulled this out. LaMarcus and Nicolas kicked it into high gear in the fourth, as they have been doing a lot lately.

    Nicolas' threes in the final quarter looked like a work of art. i love seeing him go on a stretch like that; it seems like a huge confidence builder as he goes forward. his defense and rebounding were sensational. LaMarcus showed, once again, why he has become our go-to guy in the fourth. there really should be no doubt that he deserves an invite to the asg game. it's another double-double on a night when we needed that from him.

    Wesley (career-high tying nine assists) and Rudy (season-high eight assists) were excellent picking up the slack from Andre after he went out early in the game. both were hustling and making plays all over the court, as usual, and that only shows partially in the box score.

    Dante' had a great game with his 10 points , including a very nice dunk late in the game, and an exceptional block right when we needed some defense. while Patrick didn't shoot particularly well, he hit a key three in the fourth which really helped the comeback, and he ended up +8 for the game. i thought Joel played very well in a little under 18 minutes with six points, five rebounds and a block. he'd played more minutes than planned the previous couple of games, so it was nice to give him a couple minutes extra rest last night.

    we actually lost the rebound battle, 42-39, but five blazers had at least five boards each. we also shot 85 percent from the foul line and 50 percent from three-point land. i think all these were contributing factors in the win.

    however, there were too many turnovers in the first half and that hurt us as the pacers established their lead early. i realize making in-game adjustments is difficult, but it looks like Nate found the lineups which really helped get the job done. i hope Andre is able to play tomorrow against sacramento.

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 1/23/2011 1:50 PM
  15. great blog great win and it is great to this chemistry and versatility come together! I fondly call this team the miracle on the hardwood floor based on the us hockey team of 80 called miracle on ice. I was not worried. mike b is so right you cannot make this kind of stuff up and believe it. this team is so inspiring.

    I was at the game thursday and i never heard the rose garden so electric. i had not been since the start of the jailblazer era. it felt good to hear and see the fans really into this team. I wanted to be the sixth man and help this team battle.

    I want a blowout on monday so maybe i can go to sleep before three am. which seems to be my habit on game nights. im tired of being tired. yes keep on the gas and win these easy games while you can. i say protect the garden. good job guys.

    rudy is amazing to watch and continues to amaze me. I think he finally has more freedom and is feeling more of that fitting in. ty patty for helping him adjust.

    by teresa galer on 1/23/2011 2:30 PM
  16. i just read some breaking news on portland calling up d-leaguer Chris Johnson. his numbers look good but then again, that's d-league. he's 6'11" and 210 pounds so he's not bulky, but he might be an upgrade over Sean.

    story:

    http://nba.fanhouse.com/2011/01/23/chris-johnson-called-up-by-trail-blazers/

    profile page:

    http://www.nba.com/dleague/playerfile/chris_johnson/career_stats.html

    by Kassandra on 1/23/2011 3:27 PM
  17. I missed the game last night (I was in a cardiac cath lab haveing a tube stuck in my heart) but I have felt for some time that we have a group of vety versatile players. With atheletes that can cover different positions well there are so many things you can do. Last night Nate did the right things.

    by Ancientone on 1/23/2011 5:25 PM
  18. how proud i am to be a Blazer fan. the way they keep playing and fighting through anything that comes their way just adds to my belief that they can pull off a win against any team they play; we definitely have the best fans in the league and it's not even close!

    by blazerdarren77 on 1/23/2011 9:51 PM
  19. My son and I went to his first game last night. He is a fan forever now. Great to see a comeback like that. Don't get me wrong, I want to win as much as anyone but the passion and determination these guys play with is almost enough. Hat's off to Nate. He's the real hero in all of this.

    by teradasan on 1/23/2011 10:18 PM
  20. SUBJECT: to nights game against Sactown.

    ALTOUGH OUR TEAM IS BRUISED AND SICK THERE IS NO REASON WE CAN'T MAKE IT SIXS

    GO BLAZERS

    HG

    by Hg on 1/24/2011 10:24 AM
  21. I agree with you Mike. Nate is doing a fantastic job. As if he didn't do enough last year but once again, he shows his value all over again. One of the best coaches in the NBA.

    Congrats to LaMarcus on player of the week. Very well deserved!! That's an understatement.

    Proud of that Portland team. Rip City & Go Blazers!

    by Bull Frog on 1/24/2011 4:01 PM
  22. These guys...like last year... are great fun to watch because of their ability to over come and provide quality basketball no matter who can...or will... step on the floor.

    I'm taking my wife to the Spurs game Feb 1st. (she's never been) can anyone clue me into if it's possible to get in early enough to have any contact with the players? Our seats are close to the tunnel (sect. 116 row B) and I'd love for her to get the chance to hi-five or even get an autograph from one of the guys.

    by ilikeemall on 1/24/2011 4:31 PM
  23. Also I'm really new here and I don't know if MB actually interacts with the folks on here but I have a question for him... I lived in Albany from 1966 to 1976. My sister was in a band with a dude mamed Mickey Barrett and it seems like there was a Sporting Goods store there named Barretts... Any connection?

    by ilikeemall on 1/24/2011 4:34 PM
  24. Also I'm really new here and I don't know if MB actually interacts with the folks on here but I have a question for him... I lived in Albany from 1966 to 1976. My sister was in a band with a dude mamed Mickey Barrett and it seems like there was a Sporting Goods store there named Barretts... Any connection?

    by ilikeemall on 1/24/2011 4:34 PM
  25. congratulations to LaMarcus for being named nba western conference player of the week. it's well-desereved!

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 1/24/2011 4:42 PM
  26. Well MB... I guess we know why it's not a Doctorate Degree, LOL..

    Tough Loss.. but maybe this will tick us off enough to take it out on Garnett and the Big Cry Baby!!

    I'm excited about the new kid.. but i think.. tonight might have been a better night to try him out than the next couple of upcoming games, eh?

    How about that Dante?!?! I'm looking forward to him frustrating Garnett!!


    GO BLAZERS!!!!!!

    by Blazermaniak on 1/24/2011 10:15 PM
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