Blazers Give One Back
We are now in Atlanta, and are getting set to wrap up this four-game road trip. We got in very late last night, and this being the second of a back to back, this will be a short blog.
As you know, it was a very disappointing night in Charlotte for the Trail Blazers. Your fears don't always come true in a situation like this, but that's exactly what happened in this game. We spoke of a let down, following the huge win over Miami, and even discussed that with Nate McMillan before the game.
This wasn't what I would term a let-down game. That's not what got the Trail Blazers on Friday night. This was the almost unavoidable reaction to having beaten Charlotte easily six days earlier, and having most everything come to you pretty easy early in this game. Your natural reaction is to relax, and that's exactly what the Blazers did.
During the third quarter, the Bobcats had a huge draught. They went from the 11:09 mark to the 5:10 mark without scoring a point. Obviously, this is where the Blazers should have absolutely buried them.
When we went to the fourth quarter, and could see that Portland's lead was only going to be six points, that was scary. We said on the broadcast at that time, the Blazers were playing a very dangerous game. It was kind of similar to the game at the Rose Garden less than a week ago. The Blazers toyed around with the Bobcats, and them slammed the door in the fourth. There was one major difference, however, on this night. Charlotte had Stephen Jackson back in the lineup. He's a guy who can get very, very hot, and can turn out your lights if you let them hang within striking distance. That's exactly what the Blazers did, and Jackson was brilliant in the fourth.
Wesley Matthews, of course, felt awful about missing a free throw in the closing seconds that would have tied the game. But, this wasn't about Wesley. This was about Portland thinking they could downshift, but it on cruise control, and live to tell about it. Again, that's a dangerous way to live, especially at this time of the year, and especially on a road trip. Lesson learned? Let's hope so.
It's a costly loss, and time will tell just how costly. Yes, you could look at this with the idea that the Blazers probably weren't expected to win in Miami, so we're even money heading into the final game. But, you want to get greedy after a win like that, not relax and give one back. That's exactly what happened.
Now then, the Blazers find themselves in a position to completely reverse the awful feeling that followed last night, with a big win in Atlanta tonight. A long flight home will follow this game, and it'll feel a lot longer if the Hawks have their way with the Blazers again, and the trip ends as a 2-2 split. All won't be lost, of course, but the Blazers are going to really feel the loss to the Bobcats, if they don't get the job done tonight.
I'm off to prepare for tonight's game. It's the second of a back to back for the Blazers, and it's the same deal for the Hawks. They lost in Chicago last night. And, the Blazers know that this Atlanta team had a very easy time at the Rose Garden almost two weeks ago. The fear of being embarassed again should be a very good motivating factor in this game.
Talk to you after this game.