Feb 06

Blazers Escape From Ohio

By mikebarrett
We survived minus-17 degree temperatures in Denver, the ice rink that was Indianapolis, and a Saturday night snowstorm in Cleveland.  Most of all, however, the Trail Blazers avoided becoming that team.  That team, as in, the one that would be the talk of the NBA for being the team the Cleveland Cavaliers beat to snap their record losing streak.

It was very obvious the Blazers were the team feeling the pressure in Saturday night's game in Ohio.  Sure, the Cavs were badly wanted to end the skid, but Portland was desperate to see that it didn't happen on its watch.  We realized a couple of weeks ago that if the Cavs would be unable to get a win before we faced them, our game would be for the NBA record.  You don't want to be in that position.

The plan was, get in, get a win any way possible, and run for the airport.  So, at least in terms of last night, it was mission accomplished.

As you know, nothing totally goes as planned in Blazerland however, as in the second quarter yet another player went down with a freak injury.  After a steal at the defensive end, Dante Cunningham was decked by a Samardo Samuels elbow, suffered a fractured bone between his right eye and nose, and had to leave the game.  This was after Cunningham was moved into the starting lineup to match the Cavs small starters.

We'll get into more of the details at a later time, but Cunningham is fine, and flew home with us, but it was scary.  He bled a lot, and it was from his nose and a eye socket.  X-rays taken during the game showed a small fracture in a place you don't want a small fracture.  He told me on the plane he felt like his eye had been knocked out.  Don't be shocked to see Dante wearing a custom-fitted facemask for the rest of the season.  They'll check things out now that we're home, but the good news is that he appears to be okay.

What the injury did was throw the Blazers rotation out of whack.  Even though it seems they should be used to this, it was tough to overcome.  What they needed was something else to carry them through this situation on this night.  They found help from an unexpected offensive catagory- the three-point shot.

The Trail Blazers hit a season-high 12 three pointers, on just 19 attempts, and were able to get past the Cavaliers 111-105.  Nicolas Batum was 5-6 from behind the arc, Wesley Matthews was 5-7, and Rudy Fernandez was 2-5.  The Blazers shot 54 percent from the field, 63 percent from behind the three-point line, and 88 percent at the foul line.

True, the Cavs aren't known as a talented defensive team.  But, you still have to knock down the open looks, and Portland isn't always able to do this (I'm telling you things you already know).

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

Matthews ended the game with 31 points, Batum had 21, LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 and 10, and Rudy had 17 off the bench. 

Displaying his clutch shooting touch late in this game was Andre Miller.  He came to the fourth quarter without a field goal, and has been struggling lately on his mid-range shot.  It never seems to bother him though, and he hit three huge shots in the final minutes.  He hit with 4:30 left in the game, dropped another with 3:35 to go, and yet another, to put the game away, with 1:02 left.

The Blazers finished the trip 1 and 2, and now come home to take on the Chicago Bulls before turning around and going east again.  It's the craziest schedule we've ever seen.  



  1. um the blog is black on black only way to read it is highligth the words

    by jamie (guy) on 2/6/2011 10:48 AM
  2. Mike thank you for the post. My screen shows black on white.

    I sure hope Dante is going to be OK. I listened to in on the radio and it sounded pretty spooky.

    I don't think losing to Cleveland would have been as bad as going three or more losses in a row. You know sooner or later Cleveland will win one, and that won't be a disgrace, but I have to admit that I hope it is before we play them again.

    I have stated that we are beat up and our active roster is not that of an elite teams roster, therefore any win is a good win and anyway you can get a win

    Chicago will be another rough game as now they all become rough. With Camby starting to practice and getting him back in the game will be great.

    Any more news on BRoy yet? can imagine how antsy he is getting,


    by Hg on 2/6/2011 11:21 AM
  3. great blog mike. the trip back east sounded horrible at best. glad you all madeit home ok and welcome back to our rain and clouds probably a welcome sight huh glad dante is going to be ok. i sounded pretty bad....face mask probably good idea from now on. glad for the win and so glad we did not lose this one. I have always enjoyed your blogs so insightful....

    by oregongal47 view (TG) on 2/6/2011 11:51 AM
  4. Thanks for the update on Dante. Are they considering surgery to make sure the bone is in place? I'm not sure how much more our resilient crew can handle. I was wondering if you have a sense of the mindset of this team. Are they just numb to the parade to the hospital or simply more determined than ever to play through it? I would be curious to hear your take on Nate's mindset since it is pretty clear this team has taken on the character of their coach.

    by Just Tim on 2/6/2011 12:24 PM
  5. A win is a win. It's very concerning that we struggled as we did. Our tauted defense struggled to hold that offensive power that is Cleveland to 52% shooting and were being beat on the boards until the 4th. The energy that is required to play good defense has been lacking this entire road trip. A really good team will play sharp defense even when the offense isn't going well. We aren't doing that yet.

    by Ancientone on 2/6/2011 12:32 PM
  6. Well, I am not going to complain about a win. With the season we are having, ANY win, in ANY way, is good. We have lost so many games we shouldn't have and won a few we shouldn't have. Our team is running on faith alone, with a sprinkle of talent and good luck from time to time. Nevertheless, with Camby coming back soon, and BRoy likely returning sometime in March, I think we make the playoffs. Here's some work I did from another forum asking how the 5-10 spots would shake out:

    "New Orleans - 30 game left, they are 32-20: 15 Home/15 Road, 21 against potential playoff teams (7 of their last 8 games)

    Denver - 31 left, are 30-21:14 Home/17 Road, 19 playoff teams (5 of their last 8) *The ROAD is going to kill them. 10 of 12 Road games from March on are against playoff teams, and the other two are the Clips and the Kings + They have 2 B2Bs in their last 6 games*

    Utah - 30 left, are 30-22: 14 Home/16 Road, 20 playoff teams (6 of their last 8) *Fall off at end

    Portland - 31 left, are 27-24:17 Home/14 Road, 22 playoff teams (6 of last 8) *7 B2B, with the last 2 being over the final 4 games, both sets being split H/R*

    Memphis - 30 left, are 27-25:18 Home/12 Road, 21 playoff teams (3 of last 8) *Big push at end - In their last 9 games, they have only 4 playoff teams, 6 are at home, and there's only 1 B2B

    Phoenix - 34 left, are 23-25: 16 Home/18 Road, 19 playoff teams (5 of last 8) *March is a killer - 8 Road/8 Home, 9 playoff teams + Clips, Kings, Houston on Road, and 3 B2Bs

    Potential playoff teams - EAST: Boston, Miami, Chicago, Atlanta, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Indiana, Charlotte; WEST: San Antonio, Dallas, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Denver, Utah, Portland, Memphis, Phoenix

    I am assuming Melo will be gone soon! I am also making the prediction Brandon Roy returns in early March and that Camby is back by Friday's game against Toronto

    The Grizzlies and the Blazers have an advantage of being at Home, the Grizzlies have the lightest schedule to finish up with, Denver probably has the toughest path as they are terrible on the road, and Phoenix has the most work to do. Just guessing, but I say:

    5. Hornets
    6. Grizzlies
    7. Blazers
    8. Jazz
    9. Nuggets
    10. Suns"

    by SisillaRiann on 2/6/2011 12:44 PM
  7. I was at the San Antonio game, at home, last Monday and seeing everyone perform up close gave me renewed confidence in the Blazers...not that I'd given up on them but my gosh, the lack of luck they've had. But, the last 5 minutes of the Cav game last night, didn't surprise me...but I Loved It! I've also got to mention how great the interview with Wesley Mathews was. The guy is a great player and a pleasure to listen to, when interviewed. I'm loving this years Blazers. Talk about heart, guts, determination and resilience. Our Blazers have it all!

    by kaemicha on 2/6/2011 1:09 PM
  8. Well, we're missing our star player off the bench. Missing most of our usual starting lineup. Had lots of injuries... and we won. Let's leave it at that.

    All I can say is the Cavs schedule lightens up for them a lot, and I would not be surprised if they won fairly soon. Especially since the "non road win" Wizards come to their stadium soon. Will be an interesting game. They look determined, and were. They really didn't look like a 24 game losing streak team last night, so I am fairly confident they can pick up a win. I'm just glad it wasn't against the Blazers.

    Meanwhile, I think we can beat the Bulls. We got a good defensive unit, so we can attempt to slow down Rose. Key here is to not allow any foolish open looks, and to have good shot selection. One of our reasons we won last night is that the ball was moved fairly well and the shot selection was decent.

    by Herr on 2/6/2011 2:44 PM
  9. I'm with Rice on the elbow incident MB. I didn't watch the game but I heard his comments on one of the replay videos I watched. The second I saw the replay without commentary I thought "post review flagrant with a fine and/or one game suspension."

    Not a pretty win but not an ugly one either. Good to see the 3(goggle) amigos makin' it rain in unison for once.

    Herr, I agree 100% about the Bulls game. It's a statistical wash but the Blazers have the x-factor in their favor (insanely rabid Rose Garden attendees.) Also the motivation of Memphis nipping at their heels doesn't hurt.

    by shynz0r on 2/6/2011 9:15 PM
  10. How's DC? Chicago's a good rebounding team, we need him on the boards.

    by Tobyus Sanchezo on 2/6/2011 10:26 PM
  11. That was a weird trip. There was no huge surprise in Denver--it figured that we'd fade late going back-to-back there--but I was shocked that Nate kept sending Wesley back on the floor, especially after the second injury. Sometimes you really do have to think about tomorrow. I was having flashbacks to the on-court breakdowns of Gross and Walton that destroyed the championship team the following season.
    Despite the reckless endangerment, Wes was back for the meltdown in Indiana. How many shots in a row did Andre miss to start that game? I'd love to see a stat on our shooting percentage for the first five shots of the game during the last dozen games. I mean, when was the last time we actually made our first shot? Anyway, the new Indiana coach had cleared up a lot of the foolishness that let us take them in Portland, and they killed us going to the hoop, the foul line and on the boards.
    In Cleveland we finally got hot from outside. I know they left us open out there--it's apparently their habit--but we've missed a lot of open ones in the past. This time it was like there was radar guidance to the hoop. I knew Dante wouldn't be coming back; I popped over to finish up some dishes during a commercial, while you guys were still talking about getting him stitched and back on the court and it flashed through my head "fractured orbital bone; out for the season." I'll be thrilled if your rosier prognosis holds up for that last part.
    The Bulls game will be a good test of whether the Blazers really can stay in this race. The next road trip is against teams we should beat, but Indiana was one of those teams too, and it would help everyone's confidence to launch the trip with a home win against a contender.

    by Islander on 2/7/2011 12:05 AM
  12. Islander:

    It is true we need DC for tonight because of Camby still being out.

    I disagree with you on this game being a test to see if we stay in the play-off race though. Although every game is important from here on out, this game without Camby and Eowyn Amarie saying that BRoy may be back in March gives me hope that there is a lot of BB to be played before play-off time.

    You should know by now that you can't give up on the Blazers, because of one or two games. It is true that we have lost four out of the last six games, but they are all without Camby.

    If Dante is out for the season as you predict then tonight's game would be hard to win. It would be hard to win even with Dante since Camby is out. Nevertheless, we can put LMA in that 2ND PF spot :), and slide Batum to the other PF spot, slide Matthews to the 3 and insert Rudy. That would be rough but we could still do it. Of course, I don't know how Batum would handle Booser, but I am not sure anybody we have on our team can do that.

    Anyhow, I am not giving up hope.


    by Hg on 2/7/2011 4:03 AM
  13. EowynAmarie:

    Thank you for the in-depth research on the play-off race. I surely could not disagree with you on the out-come, but I do question the positioning of Utah, Portland and Memphis.
    1. You can't predict Utah with Sloan's coaching record. 2. Memphis is good, but if BRoy is back as you predict in March, with the new LMA we will be good also, with a better bench with BRoy or Batum being the sixth man. 3. Everything changes after the All-Star game as everybody gears up for the final push. 4. There is no way of predicting injuries as we all know. A great in-depth post. I thank you Miss EowynAmarie

    by Hg on 2/7/2011 4:23 AM
  14. HG: 1. It seems to me that Sloan has lost his touch a bit. And Deron is NOT happy. They have a tough schedule. I gave us the edge over them simply because we are playing at home 3 more times than they are and have 2 less games on the road, 2. Memphis has the easiest schedule of all the potentials, especially at the end of the season. IF Brandon really does make it back, there will be adjustments and whoever ends up on the bench (Batum or Wesley) is going to need time to adjust to that as well. NEITHER of them were very good coming off the bench. I don't see us getting Roy back as some kind of magic dust. In fact, I expect it will be a liability, at least initially. 3. Right, but since ALL of the potentials are playing between 19 and 22 playoff teams, it stands to reason that those teams will be pushing just as hard, making games won before harder to win and games lost before extremely tough. This was something I considered when looking at the schedules. 4. Injuries?? I didn't even consider them, too superstitious, lol!

    by SisillaRiann on 2/7/2011 9:07 AM
  15. EowynAmarie:

    Touché, except I don't believe BRoy willl be a liability unless he pushes for a number one scoring option on offense. Any time you can get a consestent scoring threat with our shooters it is a plus


    by Hg on 2/7/2011 9:20 AM
  16. What we know is that Brandon was a liability before he finally gave it a rest. It seems to me that the biggest danger is that too much hope attaches itself to his comeback. If teammates again defer to him there's a risk that he will again slow down and stereotype the offense while being of marginal value on defense. But I really just prefer to think of him as gone for the season; I'm waiting expectantly for Marcus and hoping for the best with Dante.

    by Islander on 2/7/2011 10:04 AM
  17. Islander:

    BRoy was a liability because of injury, not because he can't play BB when he is healthy. If he has no pain and can keep both legs under him, he is the most consistent shooter we have regardless of whether he is slower or faster then some. It only takes three fast players for a fast break.

    I am not saying that BRoy will be the savior, but I do stand with hope until proven otherwise that you can't have to many reliable shooters. Our biggest liability right now is having inconsistent shooters having one that is reliable surely can't be more of a liability then we have. Check our win loss record since BRoy's departure. We are not burning up the NBA.

    I most definitely think of BRoy, Camby, and Dante as being back and healthy with Matthew's ankle and Batum's knee 100%, we can be a strong play-off contender.


    by Hg on 2/7/2011 10:22 AM
  18. hey Mike, i'm a little late here commenting, but thought i'd chime in with a few things.

    the threes did save us against cleveland. but moreover, the reason we won was from getting strong contributions from Wesley, Nicolas and Rudy. usually we seem to get some points from one or two of the guys, but saturday night it was all three. it gave us a really balanced attack.

    i'm really not putting a lot of merit into our total bench points since half of our bench is starting right now, but Rudy was great, and Patty's stint in the second half was really effective. between the two, along with Joel, they had 26 points off the bench. all things considered, i think that's pretty good.

    just a couple more notes: LaMarcus is tied for seventh in the league in double-doubles with 25 (a career high for a season for him - and counting). LaMarcus efficiancy rating for the season is +22.31. we shot 88.2 percent from the line. Andre had 13 assists and ended with a +15 efficiency rating.

    by Kassandra on 2/7/2011 11:02 AM
  19. Mike, also wanted to say thanks for the shout out during 'Up and Adam' today. well appreciated!

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 2/7/2011 11:03 AM
  20. Kassandra:

    I listened to the up and Adam[s show. I would say that I am not the only one that is a big fan of yours.

    Congratulations for the shout out from MB. It must be your beauty because we know you get your BB knowledge from your Dad LOL. Wasn't that the way our conversation started over a year ago that got me in the dog house with half the posters for being mean to a woman.

    All in fun Miss Kassandra


    by Hg on 2/7/2011 12:00 PM
  21. Hg: thanks ... but i think you were in the dog house for being NICE to a woman! i will always give credit to my dad! nevertheless, i liked what both Adam and MB said this morning. it was very sweet. it's just unfortunate that my regular schedule doesn't allow me to watch more often, but it's mid-term week and i didn't have my first class today because we have the exam on wednesday.

    EowynAmarie: that's a pretty good breakdown. i too believe Anthony will be traded, and i really wasn't expecting memphis to be in this position at this point in the season.

    something also to keep in mind: we own the season tiebreakers over the jazz, suns, rockets and clippers due to head-to-head records. we're tied with memphis at 1-1 in the season series with a third and final game in portland on april 12. of course, on the other end of the spectrum, we're trailing the hornets, 2-0 with two games left against them; one home and one away.

    but i digress. first things first; we need to get Dante' back, then Marcus. we need those guys up front for rebounding and defensive purposes. while LaMarcus has elevated his game terrificly, we don't really want him to be the only guy we have down low. whatever role Brandon steps into when he comes back, i'm looking at is as just one more weapon in our arsenal. Brandon is a pro, he's intelligent and he wants what's best for the team. my true hope, however, is that we don't change our current game plan. i'd like to see us continue to go through LaMarcus as our number one option. Brandon can still be effective in playing off of LaMarcus rather than the other way around.

    notes: Dante' may play tonight; he's listed as day-to-day; word has it he'll be wearing a mask to protect his eyes and nose. LaMarcus is the latest blazer to sign up for twitter; his id there is @Aldridge_12.

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 2/7/2011 4:16 PM
  22. Kassandra: I distinctly remember saying that you was a great analysis for a woman and 500dogs and MGB got on my butt, of course that was after you told me you got your BB smarts from your dad. Then I started being nice and got in more trouble. I remember feeling I was doomed if I was nice and doomed if I was naughty. I usually am nice, but have a bratty child inside me.

    Wow! midterms already, Are you going beaching on the spring break or are you coming back to OR as a northern gal?

    I don't know why people doesn't want BRoy back. It sounds like he may be back Friday against Toronto. Camby is also supposed to be back. Won't that be nice. They are at least experienced bodies.

    It is half time and tied 50 to 50. I took some time off my work to watch the game then I have to go back after the game to finish. So far, I am not sorry. Sure glad I got a sweet wife, she isn't even a BB fan.

    I would say good luck in your Mid terms, but I don't imagine you need luck as you are very skilled.


    by Hg on 2/7/2011 8:19 PM
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