Feb 27

Hawks Lock Down Portland

By mikebarrett
Following a trade, it's sometimes nice to get a game (or a practice) to attempt to mesh and make adjustments.  A game against a lesser opponent would have perhaps provided that for the Trail Blazers.  But, Sunday night, against a big, physical Atlanta Hawks team, Portland didn't have that luxury.

The Hawks, who were coming off an impressive win at Golden State on Friday, holding the high-scoring Warriors to just 79 points, were equally as brilliant in this game.  They came in with a solid defensive game plan and had the Blazers frustrated offensively.  They built a 23-point lead, and held on for a 90-83 victory at the Rose Garden.

Two things I do know- Atlanta is not as good as it looked tonight, and the Trail Blazers are not that bad.  But, a combination of factors led to the result we saw on the court tonight.

Portland was not only trying to deal with the process of integrating Gerald Wallace into the system, but also were trying to adjust to having Marcus Camby back in the lineup.  They were trying to play him, but limit his minutes.  And, even though Brandon Roy is back, they placed a restriction on his minutes as well. 

What really threw the Blazers for a loop early in this game, however, was when LaMarcus Aldridge banged knees with an Atlanta player and had to leave the game for an extended period of time.  An already out of sync offense was struggling for any decent look at the rim against one of the better defenses in the NBA. 

It's either a combination all of the above, or, the Blazers just couldn't hit a shot to save their lives.  Yes, sometimes it's just that simple.

Despite getting off to a very slow start in this game, Portland trailed the Hawks by only one point after the first quarter.  What followed that was a totally bizarre second quarter.  The Blazers shot 8 for 28 in that quarter, while the Hawks went 7 for 12.  I don't think I can remember a time when a team attempted 16 more shots, in a single quarter, and still lost the quarter by double figures.  That's crazy.  It tells you just how jumbled the Blazers were offensively.  And, again, you've got to give some credit to Atlanta's defense as well.

The Hawks are big, and love to get you in a half-court game.  The way they worked the double team on Aldridge was impressive, and slightly different from what we've been seeing.  But, it wasn't enough to tilt the contest in their favor that dramatically.  What killed Portland was its inability to hit anything from the outside.  If you're that off the mark from the perimeter, it makes defending Aldridge that much easier.  The Blazers simply never made them pay for leaving people open.

The Blazers scrambled back in this ballgame in the fourth quarter, and did have an impressive rally going.  But, every time they would start building momentum, the Hawks would answer with a huge shot and restore order.  The biggest shot of the game came from Jamal Crawford, who buried a three with 1:34 left to push what was a six-point game to nine, at 85-76.  That was that.

The Trail Blazers, in the middle two quarters, were a combined 11 for 44 from the field.  No matter what else you do, that's tough to overcome.  They certainly couldn't overcome that on this night.  They finished the game at 39 percent from the field, but even that's a little misleading because they had to go 12 for 21 in the fourth (57 percent) to get it to 39 percent for the game.

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

The loss was especially painful on this night for a couple of reasons.  The Rose Garden was lively and loud before the game.  The crowd had given Wallace an incredible welcome, and was buzzing, ready to see their team blitz another team from the east.  Instead, the Hawks grabbed, held, pushed, and shoved their way to a nice halftime lead.

The NBA scoreboard was also cooperating on this night, as New Orleans and Memphis were both losers in this game.  It was a chance to make up ground, and pass the Hornets, and get back into fifth place in the west.

It wasn't a devastating loss, but it was a costly loss.  We won't know how costly for a while.  In this tight race in the west you just can't afford to be giving away home games.  The Blazers now stand 2-2 on this five-game homestand, and wrap it up Tuesday night when they host the Houston Rockets.  The Rockets, by the way, walked into New Orleans and beat the Hornets on Sunday.

Monday night, I'll be hosting Trail Blazers Courtside, with Michael Holton.  Our scheduled guests are Nate McMillan, Gerald Wallace, and Patty Mills.  Patty may bring Rudy Fernandez with him, but that's yet to be determined.  Join us, on the radio (95.5 FM), on television on Comcast Sportsnet, or by logging on to trailblazers.com for the live stream.
Previous Story: Roy to the Rescue


  1. Mike:

    This game was just to mixed up. Camby just getting back and gets 2 quick fowls, then LMA leaving with a banged knee. Our shots quit going in and the whole team had to stay back to try to rebound and that let Atlanta run with easy baskets. I thought we played OK. the bright side is we can play much better. Everything right now is learning tools and timimg for the new with our new players.

    by Hg on 2/28/2011 12:49 AM
  2. man, lamarcus was getting hacked left and right in that first half with no calls. the officials were awful!

    with each passing game i am appreciating more and more what miller does out there. he's a midget amongst the giants cleaning up the glass.

    i agree, the shots simply weren't falling. we had open shots and they just didn't fall. i imagine once guys can feel eachother out a little more they'll be more comfortable and we'll see a higher shooting percentage.

    i was glad to see gerald wallace out there. i can't wait until he feels more comfortable. i understand his approach 100%. he's the new guy and he doesn't want to take over and disrupt things. i don't think it will be long before he has a good feel for the team. we'll be just fine.

    go blazers!

    by thedanman on 2/28/2011 12:56 AM
  3. Just got back from Portland. I live in Olympia,Wa, so take about 2 hours to get home. Been to about 10 games so far, and only losses were this one and the OKC game, and on top of that, last 3 years Ive gone to prabaly 30 games, maybe more..and the only other loss before this season was a Chicago..so Im usually feeling very good, cause the Blazers are like 80% winning when I go. LOL...moving on..oh yeah drive home sucked...weather is just horrible. But yeah It was nice to see Wallace get the standing ovation..crowd was super excited about it, everyone was pumped to see where this team would go.

    And Atlanta just sucked it all away..I mean we just went cold in the 2nd..and yeah MB is 100% right, when LA went out, it was like oh oh what do we do now. But I think what hurt us even more, was when we tried to get back those points in the 3rd. We went to jump shooting team, alot of threes, and if we would have just tried to get our offense going with some hard earn 2's I think it would have made a difference. But Atlanta was hitting all thier shots when they needed.

    Its gonna take some time boys&girls for this team to gel. Just gotta throw this one away and look forward, not much else to say..sometimes you just cant make a shot and its the way it is, I know Im moving forward, and feel pretty good about this team. GO Blazers!

    by whitefeather21380 on 2/28/2011 12:58 AM
  4. Lets face it, it wasn't just the shooting that was off. We looked like the Keystone Kops the second and third quzrters. I've purged this one from the VCR.
    Are you sure Wallace is 6'7". He looks a lot smaller. Not and impressive debut. But then I'm not a fan of the trade. I hope it works out. We look like the smurfs.

    We're lucky LMA just bonged knees with the minutes he has been forced to play. I'm sorry but Nic is not a center. Mr P hasn't got much other than size going for him and he was able to dominate the middle when he was in.

    We really need to find some size to finish out the yr. We don't need D. Howard but we can't turn into the smurfs when Marcus and LMA. need to sit down.

    by Ancientone on 2/28/2011 6:20 AM
  5. what bummed me was a missed opportunity. OKC is struggling and the Blazers can't capitalize on it; they had a chance on Wednesday also, but blew it against the Lakers and now this one. Got to take advantage of your opportunities.

    by blazerdarren77 on 2/28/2011 6:36 AM
  6. thedanman: The ESPN woman agreed with you on the officiating. They said they have been in town before the Lakers game and one thing they have noticed is LMA not getting the respect of the Refs like the super stars get, even though he is packing the team on his shoulders and constantly driving to the rim. If LMA got the fouls that Kobe got, not taking anything away from Kobe, and LMA, Of course could make his free-throws, the game would have been much different. Last nights game could have been the same. But all in all it wasn't the refs, Atlanta just took it to us.


    agreed on the needing size, I think that was the biggest difference in the game. We had to stay back and try to corral rebounds and that let them leak out when they got the rebound.


    there is always missed opportunities with the Blazers. It seems like the story of their lives. But, we can't put the whole season in one game, there will be other oportunities and some we will miss and some we will capitalize on. At least OKC now knows what it does to your team when a key player is out for a period of time.

    by Hg on 2/28/2011 7:16 AM
  7. Atlanta may have well been wearing all leather, a spiked collar, and sporting a whip, the way they dominated the Trailblazers. Portland's defense (and I use that term loosely) was atrocious, and the one and done offense was hair-pullingly frustrating. My mane looks like I just underwent 20 rounds of chemo. But what really defies logic is why Rudy continues to play the point. I counted at least three times where he was stuck in the air with the ball and had nowhere to go, then frantically tries to pass through a swarm of defenders. A cardinal sin for any point guard. Enough already! And I know I'm going to love Wallace but attempting a reverse layup amidst a forest of trees called the Hawks' front line is akin to a fan making a half-court shot for a new car. It is successful about every three years or so.

    by Phi Slamma on 2/28/2011 9:45 AM
  8. we seemed to start out fairly well, but right about the time LaMarcus went down, shooting dried up. we went through droughts in the second and third quarters and, despite a nice effort from Andre, were never able to fully recover. it was one of those games where you could point to a little of a lot of things which lead to the loss, rather than just one.

    though i would have liked to seen Gerald light up the scoreboard, given his learning curve to the offense, i was fairly pleased with his performance. i had read about how tough he is and what is offensive capabilities are, but i was surprised at his speed. i recall once in particular when we were transitioning to offense when he looked like a sprinter heading down court. the style and game plan will come to him, but he's already got the hustle and aggressiveness which will help this team.

    i don't really want to sit here and rehash points already made. it's a loss; a tough loss, but as you said, MB, not a devasting one (it might have been had we dropped the game by 23 rather than seven). we regroup and move on.

    there was an interesting side note to the game. when i logged on to the blazers chat for the game, i noticed a swarm of new chatters. no, they weren't hawks fans crashing the party; they were charlotte fans following Gerald, and the blazers. one went as far as to say the blazers were now their west-coast team (i've actually said that about the bobcats over the past few days). what i didn't know is that some blazers fans chatted on charlotte's in-game chat earlier in the day. had i not been busy, i might have joined them. just as we want to keep up with Joel, Dante and even Sean, these fans are following Gerald. and they're polite too; in fact, they remind me of true blazers fans. it was great to see a commaradarie between fans of the two teams.

    houston is coming up on tuesday. we know we can beat them. it's up to us to take care of business at the rg!

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 2/28/2011 11:21 AM
  9. I notice, Mike, that you mentioned all the reasons the Blazers struggled except the absence of the players traded away. I understand that's the drawback of working for the team; you can't look like you're second guessing their big move. But you have to know that it would have made a big difference when LaMarcus went out to have either Dante's energy--plus his knowledge of the system and his own role--or Joel's size to neutralize some of their big bodies. You do at least allude to the trouble of getting new pieces to mesh, but the absence of missing pieces that used to fit is also part of the story. But I don't want to dwell on this one; it's too depressing. I saw it coming, but these are the occasions when I really hate being right.

    by Islander on 2/28/2011 11:26 AM

  10. over the last 20 games of the season, the blazers will go 16-4 with a scrambling defense.

    the L-train needs some time off those wheels. my knee would hurt after playing 50min and 55sec a couple nights before. get the big man some rest!

    it will be good to have camby and the rest of the team together against the rockets and kings. time to put together a couple Ws.

    by reverse on 2/28/2011 11:27 AM
  11. travisd,
    Yeah LMA needs a breather.

    It's reality-check time, friends and neighbors: the Blazers are not winning a ring this season. It's obvious and we all know it. So why is LMA playing 40+ mpg? Why is Roy playing over his allotted mpg? Why are we taking these chances on another throw-away season? Desperately clinging to the hope of advancing to the 2nd round is going to kill this team.

    How long before LMA's knees give in? How long before Roy is under the knife again? How long before Camby folds once and for all? How long before Miller fails to escape the notice of Father Time? There's no way to answer these questions, but there's a sure-fire way to increase the likelihood that they get asked: run the players into the ground for NOTHING, and see what happens.

    I say, respect the doctor's recommendation of 15mpg for Roy, limit LMA to 35mpg, and Camby 20mpg for the rest of the season and into the playoffs. I say, experiment with the rookies and new acquisition in different lineups. I say, treat this season as another developmental year rather than a title shot, because we all know that's the case.

    What is unacceptable is to run LMA, Roy, and Camby into the ground just for the dream of the 2nd freaking round.

    by 500Dogs on 2/28/2011 11:51 AM
  12. This is how I viewed last nights game.

    First half - awful officiating against the Blazers and in heavy favor of the Hawks. I applaud Nate McMillan for getting the T. But, sadly the refs don't change their views on the game anymore based on a T.

    Second half - the Blazers panic being 10 down, and try to buy a basket. They shoot threes (which they suck at, might I add), and for every one that doesn't go in, the Hawks grab a long rebound and score in transition, making the Blazers go flat. Not only that, but when in the Blazers were in good position to score, the refs called a soft foul to make the game seem fair by making the personal fouls and free throws at the end of the game equal. There was at least 3 times a foul (a soft foul) hurt the Blazers when it was called on the Hawks.

    Was a bad game. The Blazers REALLY need to stop shooting three point shots. I'm getting really annoyed with Wesley Mathews, Rudy Fernandez, and Batum sitting on the three point line. Even though Wallace didn't shoot well, I'd already put him in the starting position because he looked much more aggressive than Batum and Wesley have ever been. They're good players, and good shooters, but they are NOT three point shooters. Both have the potential to put up 20+ a game, and have before, but they didn't do that by camping out on the three point line.

    Against Denver, we got lucky, but we made the same mistake by favoring the three point line late in the game, and besides Rudy and Roy, they all missed in the fourth quarter.

    Against LA, we were given wide open three point shots. Had just one gone down, we would have won that game. But, Batum and Mathews not being superb three point shooters, we lost the game.

    It happens with being a young team, but we need better shot selection. The shot selection for the Blazers has been very pathetic in my opinion.

    by Herr on 2/28/2011 5:03 PM
  13. Jarron Collins might be a good journeyman big to pick up. He's experienced and can bang and rebound.

    by Ancientone on 3/1/2011 9:37 AM
  14. We may have a chance to get Juwan Howard back, Miami may have to waiver him to make room for Bibby

    by Hg on 3/1/2011 10:50 AM
  15. Hey Mike, i hope everything is going well for you and your family. I was just wondering if you read the recent interview with Joel Freeland. It's a good one.

    Joel is one of the best players in Euroleague, right now. He's come a long way. I still have no confidence in the blazers' ability to make use of their international prospects, but i hold out hope in getting Joel and Koponen every year.

    With all the need for bigs and back up PG, you would think it would be a no brainer. However, we've allowed these guys to get so wrapped up in what they're doing overseas that it may be difficult to get them to want to come to the NBA.

    We should have done it long ago and let them develop here, in my opinion. Now, it just appears we wasted first round pick after first round pick for nothing. It's disturbing.

    I loved KP when he was here. We still have no clear reason why he was fired. I didn't like the move when it happened and still wish i knew why.

    However, Cho did a great job at the deadline this year. Moving forward, I hope to see more great stuff from him this offseason. If good health continues, i'd say we're pretty close. I still believe our dreams and hopes of becoming a contender ride on the health of brandon roy. When it counts, he's still the best we have by a long shot.

    You take it easy, Mike. I love your broadcasts with the wild one. Here's hoping for a first round playoff series victory.

    by mrblazer on 3/1/2011 12:25 PM
  16. Hi Mike!! I know you read the comments on your blog as you definitely have improved on the negative Nellie comments during your broadcasting. Timbo hasn't even mentioned it in his game re-caps since I wrote on your blog about this. So good job!!!
    I heard the caller last night on Courtside...where he said he didn't like your mentioning the fouls or whatever he was talking about? It didn't even make any sense. Of course the audience wants to know where the fouls are for each team and you can mention this as many times as you want as this doesn't show up on the TV screen.
    My brother and his wife went to the game with my tickets...My brother said the refs were horrendous at the start of the game...no calls on one end, touch fouls on the other.
    I know everyone says the refs don't determine the outcome of the game and they shouldn't. BUT.....given the minutes the Blazers have been playing...LMA leaving with ??? God knows WHAT injury....and the Hawks playing with abandon KNOWING they weren't going to be called for fouls...how could these kind of calls NOT influence how well the Blazers played?
    Would YOU knock yourself out to get rebounds, into the paint when everytime you did you were either called for touch fouls or the other team was allowed to MAUL you when you DID go into the paint???
    Seems to me people take this sort of officiating too lightly.
    Apparently after the half the refs more than tried to make up for the horrific officiating in the first half...but by this time the Hawks had their rhythm and the Blazers had lost theirs.
    Found it too late...I'd love to know your REAL thoughts on this sort of officiatating.
    And I'd also like your thoughts on how a team overcomes this and doesn't let this affect them. I saw this once against Dallas with Mauer....seems like it would be great to have a sit down with the Blazer team and somehow make them get MORE FIRED up when this nonsense is going on...rather than just either give up or get rattled or out of rhythm...
    But like I said earlier...seems like this would be very difficult to overcome given the minutes the Blazers played the past few games...
    And another thing....someone needs to light a fire under Batums a**. He is my favorite player but he needs to STEP IT UP. Maybe he is just hitting the proverbial "sophomore wall"...though not a 2nd yr player..he played few minutes his 1st season..didn't come back till Feb last year and played this summer....and has been playing MANY MORE MINUTES than he is used to playing.
    I think it would be a good idea if he would build some muscle...go the route of Scottie Pippen vs. Prince. Scottie started out being built very much like Batum. You might want to mention this to Frenchie!!!!
    Thanks! Mary Joelle

    by natsthecat on 3/1/2011 1:08 PM
  17. Ancientone: you called it; i'm a little surprised it's only a 10-day contract though. we need to sign him to finish out the season (my best guess is that money plays a factor there) we also need the sign a backup pf for the remainder of the season. no one flashy or anything like that; more like an insurance policy type of player.

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 3/1/2011 3:52 PM
  18. This was a tough game.We were emotionally flat from the start.Crash was admittedly nervous.LMA got dinged early.
    I think we suffered from an emotional letdown from the overtime game.
    Atlanta is no slouch.they will make some noise in the eastern conference.Hinrich was a great signing for them. He adds youth defense and Talent at the PG.
    Man ,I hate bein poor right now,I keep readin on Twitter about people at the RG.I'm already jonesin to get back up there again,however the biz is ultra slow still, so it may be a while. Going to the RG is so magical for me. It'll happen tho, soon enough..At least I have Twitter to share others experience.The Net is a bountiful place.
    Oh BTW ,WTH,Jarron Collins makes Sean Marx seem like Dwight Howard.Whatever.BARELY a warm body.Obviously I'm not thrilled about this pickup ,b,ut he has 6 fouls to give at least :)

    by DowntownVinnie on 3/1/2011 4:39 PM
  19. Couple observations:

    1. Why is Andre Miller shooting the ball so much? When he gets burned on D, he wants to come back and score by going one-on-one. NOT the guy we want shooting the ball. Should impose a "shot fee" everytime he takes a jump shot from 10' or more.

    2. NONE of the Blazers can consistently breakdown their man and this leads to "back to the basket"-ball or pick-and-roll over....mostly leading to jump shots. This is NOT playoff series winning basketball.

    The lack of quickness is really starting to worry me.

    by The Anti-COMCAST on 3/1/2011 10:34 PM
  20. man did we look awkward out there! my assessment is there's too much hesitation and thinking. mcmillan hit it on the head about the thinking part. i'm guessing everyone is worrying about selfishness, selflessness, and self doubt.

    one person who needs to be more selfish is ALDRIDGE. he's our bread and butter. the rest need to play their roles.

    camby tips, rebounds, and passes.

    andre passes, rebounds, and knows when he needs to score.

    roy's job is to be clutch.

    batum fills gaps.

    patty sets tempo.

    rudy is creative.

    wallace is hustle.

    wesley is our defensive specialist. he drives and hits occasional 3s.

    my point is, our guys need to worry about what they do best and focus on that. we have the pieces. it's time to put them together.

    go blazers!

    by thedanman on 3/2/2011 8:15 AM
  21. Another tough losss.not much to say.seemed like a mirror to the Atlanta game.Bad time to atart a losing streak.C'mon B's.
    BTW,Carlos Arroyo just got released by the Heat.Should we pick him up?He could help as a shotmaker off the bench.Whaddya think?

    by DowntownVinnie on 3/2/2011 8:33 AM
  22. I completely agree with Anti-Comcast about Miller. Miller tends to shoot too much, especially down the stretch in games. I think his over-aggressiveness late in games has led to turnovers and a stagnant Blazers offense.
    I disagree with the comment that "NONE" of the blazers can breakdown their defender. I think Roy, Wallace, Rudy, and even Patty Mills have shown that they can get by their defender consistently.

    I think that until we all realize that this is still Brandon Roy's team, and play the TRUE starting line up in (Miller, Roy, Wallace, Aldridge, Camby) the Blazers will be in a perpetual cycle of adjusting and will not be able to build any kind of significant chemistry with either the starters or the second unit.

    Also, when Aldridge receives the ball on the low block, the person who passes it to him cuts through down the baseline and the guard on the top of the floor rotates over. That guard should always be Brandon Roy or Rudy Fernandez because they can both hit the 3, they can both put the ball on the floor, and are both very good passers. That way when the double team comes to Aldridge he can pass is back out to a significant perimeter threat.

    by Veristhestone on 3/2/2011 9:17 AM
  23. Aldridge has become the forgotten man. Who got us where we are. Andre pass the blasted ball. Brandon put as much effort into setting up LMA as you do setting your self up. Rudy's creative passing, energy, quickness were missed.
    LMA is not assertive enough in demanding the ball. He is our big advantage over ALL of these people.

    by Ancientone on 3/2/2011 10:30 AM
  24. Veristhestone:

    I agree with you except that this is no longer BRoy's team. He is an important player in realm of things because of all he brings, but this is now LMA's team. That may be where our problem begins, the players are thinking like it is BRoy's team, but since he is on a very limited lease, he can't produce like a center of the franchise player. Therefore, just look at today, as Ancientone says, Aldridge has become the forgotten man and that can't be at this time because this is LMA's team and BRoy, Wallace, Batum, Rudy and Dre should do all they can to make scoring easier for our new all-star.

    by Hg on 3/2/2011 11:31 AM
  25. LA hasn't become the forgotten man, just other teams are defending him better. This is LA 2 and just like a new player once other teams have played him they are going to change their D and that's what teams have done recently. Now the Blazers and LA has to figure out how to beat that new D.

    I don't put these losses on the new players, Crash, Camby, and Roy, being added to the lineup, sure that has affected them, but they have lost to a couple good teams. Atlanta is a good team and the Rockets have been playing a lot better ball recently. We might not have loss as bad, but I still think there's a good chance we would have loss regardless of the new players being added to the lineup.

    by mgb on 3/2/2011 1:01 PM
  26. I feel the refs controlled the outcome of this game with early no calls that would have made the game close.

    by mbmurr1 on 3/2/2011 2:34 PM
  27. Veristhestone, this is brandon roy's team? are you out of your mind? Brandon will never be great again. mark my words. he might be ok and give you a couple good games here and there but the roy dream is over. over! i can't believe what i'm reading. that game tying shot does not alter reality. brandon is done as an all-star. branndon roy's team? please!

    Lamarcus has not been forgotten. chick hayes was quoted after the game and said he wasn't crazy about addleman's strategy to double team lma i quote: “Yeah … I mean … it’s all right,” Hayes said in a good-natured tone. “I’d much rather not have to double team. But hey, Coach had a game plan, we stuck to it. … (Rockets coaches) knew he was a bad passer off the dribble and double team.”

    i wish i could argue otherwise.

    by sudelander on 3/2/2011 4:33 PM
  28. LA has been a good passer off the double team, but where the double team is coming from is different from what I've read. They come from the far side which allows them to cover the cutter. Which means it's going to take extra passes to beat it and then we have to hit our outside shots.

    by mgb on 3/2/2011 4:45 PM
  29. Congrats to LA for player of the month last month!!

    by mgb on 3/2/2011 4:48 PM
  30. mgb, agreed. the double teams are more dynamic. we have to adjust to them though.

    by sudelander on 3/3/2011 1:56 AM
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