Mar 01

Hard To Recognize, Hard To Watch

By caseyholdahl Posted in: Blazers, NicolasBatum, Rockets
Usually Nate McMillan is seething when he comes into the post-game interview after a performance like Tuesday night's 103-87 loss to the Rockets. But this time around, after the Trail Blazers were beaten soundly in their own house for the second consecutive game, McMillan seemed far more perplexed than furious, more incredulous than angry.

Though that was just on the surface. Hard to imagine he wasn't furious after watching a team that was one of the hottest in the NBA prior to the All-Star break dismantled by a Rockets team that is now officially nipping at Portland's playoff heels. But while trying to come up with answers to questions about what is exactly going on with his team, McMillan readily admitted that he too was unable to ascertain the answers to the questions that both the media and fans were asking.

"We've played harder than that," said McMillan. "Defensively, we didn't guard anybody. They score 52 points in the paint without really posting up. Offensively, we're missing shots, spacing, execution is not sharp. It was almost lifeless out there. That's not the team I've seen."

McMillan reiterated numerous times that the team that allowed the Rockets to shoot 58 percent from the field was not the team he recognized as his own.

"I don't know where our swagger, our spirit (went)," said McMillan. "We look like we're not having fun. There's no connection out on that floor. I think there's way too much thinking going on as far as 'I think it's me now.' I think we're thinking about me as opposed to you go out there and play and do the things you've been doing. That team, I don't recognize that team, what we did tonight and what we did in our last game."

There are plenty of theories as to how a team can go from playing so free and easy to what we've seen the past two games at the Rose Garden, and from the sound of it, McMillan has considered nearly every scenario, but with little, if any, resolution.

"I'm trying to figure out what or why," said McMillan, "but I know the last two games have felt the same. We've been a team that scrapped, movement, energy, hustle and our last two games we haven't even been close to that."

"It could be a combination of things. I can't say. I really can't. I just know that what I saw tonight and the way we're playing, we know we're better than that. For whatever reason, if you feel like you've been rescued because guys are returning and you can relax or whether you think you need to get a lot done in the minutes that you're playing... I can't say.

"Again, I think it's more mental than anything where we have to focus on team and what we need to do out on that floor, whether we're starting or coming off the bench, however we're playing to help the team win, make sacrifices."

The players in the locker room didn't have much more luck than their coach in figuring out where the pre-All-Star break Trail Blazers had gone, but like their coach, they had a few working theories.

"I don't know what happened the last two games," said Nicolas Batum, whose 22 points, 4 rebound performance was one of the lone bright spots for the Trail Blazers. "Denver was a good game, exciting. Even the Laker game. We got a good new guy, guys coming back, a couple guys left. It was a tough week for us. The week was weird a little bit... We've got to get back to where we were at."

Though no one could figure the specifics, there did seem to be a consensus that the issues facing this iteration of the Trail Blazers are mental. The talent is there; it's now a matter getting the mind follow suit.

"Hope tomorrow we're going to get back," said Batum. "Mentally we're going to be ready, because that's mental. Not about basketball... Got to set our mind in the right way and be ready for tomorrow and the last 22 games."


  1. i never dont watch the game if i DVRd it. i havent not watched a game this whole season. i think im gonna take your advice on this one. ouch. WAKE UP GUYS!!! lol. too much change too quick, theyll get out of this fog. hopefully soon.

    by Cristi on 3/2/2011 12:44 AM
  2. Tough loss, tough to watch. All I can really say is this team has played much differently since we did the Wallace trade. Few things changed. We lost Pryz and Dante for starters,they have been huge part of this team,specialy Joel. Then Camby came back in and Wallace is in the lineup. So now theres some lost direction maybe. First let me say this, I love Crash. Wallace is awesome player and he can help this team. BUT I think we really should have stuck with that we had for the rest of the season.

    But thats out of the question, so where do we go from here? Just gotta figure out how to fit the pieces of the puzzle back together...prabaly gonna take some time, and it could be a tough road ahead. If we can gel in time for the playoffs, then we are in very good shape, cause we certainly have plenty of talent.

    Right now Iam looking at this in positive way for next year. First off, While has been alittle up and down in his first few games since the comeback, Roy, overall looks good, and his knees are holding up. Also LA has improved sooo much. Wesley Mathews is a strong performer, Batum has up and down games, but overall has improved this year as well, his confidence is up. Wallace gives us another scoring threat, and until I see a drop in performance, Andre Miller is our quality pg. Alot of drama and crazyness has happen this year, good and bad. This year is not over by far, but we stay patient, we got ALOT to look forward too. But for that to happen, this team does need to fix its issues and get its swagger back, after that, I think things will fall into place.

    by whitefeather21380 on 3/2/2011 1:23 AM
  3. Charlie Sheen is on Twitter! That is all I'm taking from today.

    by tominhawaii on 3/2/2011 2:23 AM
  4. I kept saying if it is not broke don't fix it, but maybe we were already in a bad way and it was covered up by rhythm and synergy; now we have lost our synergy. We still got individual effort but not the team effort that made us great. Therefore, like everybody else, I think it is mental and rhythm. I think it is temporarily and I don't think it is all in the acquiring of Wallace, getting BRoy and Camby back. I think it is just as much losing Joel, Dante and even Marks. because Joel even playing hurt was the fire and the back bone of the team. Dante not having the experience of Wallace was still a big part of the team, and Marks was a great locker room guy, not saying that Wallace won't be, but that isn't automatically transferred over with his talent.

    All in all, since the trade deadline, we are in the same mode as rebuilding with lots of new parts, and that does take time, regardless of what Wheels think. All the answers has to come from the players.

    Great Blog Casey.


    by Hg on 3/2/2011 6:15 AM
  5. It seems likely a combo of the whole trade deadline drama and other players coming back. Minutes go down, players get rotated around. Some players might be concerned they'll get a lot less time on the floor while others like LA feel they finally get to take a breather because help has arrived. Either way, it's not fun to watch. One of the biggest joys I take away as a Blazer fan is watchin' the team have fun and play comfortably on the floor TOGETHER. These last two

    I do hate the trade excuse though. Plenty of teams are flourishing with new additions and big shake-ups.

    by shynz0r on 3/2/2011 10:49 AM
  6. shynz0r:

    regardless of what we feel it is the players that are in question. Maybe you hate the trade excuse and rightfully so, but matter of factly that could very well be the reason. You throw a new unpolished rock in the ocean next to a water polished rock and it takes time to get both surfices smooth and joined.

    My opinion only


    by Hg on 3/2/2011 11:06 AM
  7. I'd just like to know where LaMarcus went..... Seems like he's really shut down these past few games. I know he's being double-teamed, but he was before the All-Star break, too. Nobody wants to say it, but hey! Brandon's back~~

    by Pamela Porter on 3/2/2011 11:35 AM
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