Apr 05

A Missed Opportunity

By mikebarrett
I have absolutely no explanation for what happened in the NBA on Tuesday night.  You'd have had an easier time accurately picking the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament than predicting the upsets in the league on this evening.

Sure, you get the occasional shocker in the NBA.  Sometimes you'll see a couple of surprising scores on a given night.  But, not like this.  Not during crunch time, with so much on the line.

Four teams, with nothing to play for, beat four heavily-favored teams, with everything to play for, and in all four cases, did it on the road.  That just doesn't happen.  I doubt that makes you feel any better about Portland getting whacked at home by Golden State, but at least we weren't alone in our frustration.

Houston, with its playoff hopes basically on the line, fell at home to the lowly Sacramento Kings.  Memphis has been as hot as anyone, rarely showing any cracks.  But, the Grizzlies fell at home to the L.A. Clippers.  The Blazers, coming off wins over Oklahoma City and Dallas, were blitzed in their building by the Warriors.  And, the Lakers, desperately trying to catch San Antonio, were dealt a mind-numbing loss by the Utah Jazz, at the Staples Center.  The same Jazz team that has had trouble playing dead over the last two months.

So, you could say it was just a very strange night, and the Trail Blazers at least didn't lose any ground.  And, hey, they clinched a playoff spot with Houston being upset at home.  But, in reality, this was a huge missed opportunity.

First of all, give Golden State some credit.  The Warriors aren't awful.  Heck, in the east they'd be just one game out of the final playoff spot.  We all know they've given Portland fits in recent years.  But, this was at the RG, where the Blazers had won 8 in a row.  And, on a night when the scoreboard around the league finally went in their favor, this was the chance Portland had been waiting for.

Early in this game the Blazers were staying close using smoke and mirrors.  They were giving a jump-shooting team wide open shots, and were giving them extra possessions by turning the ball over.  They were also getting outrebounded by a team that outrebounds no one.

To be tied at 47 at halftime with Golden State?  That should have been the wake-up call.  You dodged a bullet.  The second half is when you flip that switch you've been looking for and steamroll this team.  That sounds good, but it didn't happen.  Well, it did, it was just the other team doing the steamrolling.

The Blazer defense went from bad to worse in the third quarter, and it was target practice for the Warriors.  They buried the Blazers in the third quarter, outscoring them 37-21.  Portland appeared to go into panic mode, and started tossing up three pointers.  They ended the game going 3 for 21 from behind the arc, so that didn't work.

Golden State shoots 50 percent from the field, the Blazers 41 percent, and school was out.  The Warriors hand the Blazers their worst home loss on the season, on a night when the Blazers had the table set perfectly for them to take advantage of a rare (at least lately) Memphis loss.

The positive news (and there is some) is that the Blazers did clinch a playoff spot.  But, we all know they covet the sixth seed in the west.  They were holding their destiny in their own hands.  Now, they are going to likely need some help to avoid getting the Lakers in the first round. 

What's left isn't easy.  The Blazers play Utah Thursday night, and the Jazz, coming off the win over the Lakers, will get point guard Devin Harris back for that game.  Then, they host the Lakers at the Rose Garden on Friday.  After that, it's Memphis at the Rose Garden, followed by a game at Golden State. 

The positive, again, is that you clinched and didn't lose ground to the Grizzlies.  The bad news is the team that was watching from home, New Orleans, just saw their window of opportunity slide wide open.  Yes, they want Dallas too.  And, they've got the season series with Portland in their back pocket.

Burn the DVD of this game, and quickly turn the page.  On Tuesday night, there were four teams saying that.  We just didn't expect the Blazers to be one of them.

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

Thursday's game is on TNT, so the TV crew isn't going to Salt Lake City with the team on Wednesday.  Mr. Rice and I will be hosting Trail Blazers Courtside on Wednesday, from 6 to 8, on Comcast Sportsnet, 95.5 The Game, and trailblazers.com. 

Previous Story: Blazers Blow Past Dallas


  1. The second half was very difficult to watch, but keeping track of other scores around the league took some of the sting out. I hope Marcus will be OK and able to be back on the court on Thursday (and Friday). Got an email that Fed Ex will be bringing my playoff tickets to me probably tomorrow. I'm hoping to get to use more than two of them! GO BLAZERS!

    by Pamela Porter on 4/5/2011 10:31 PM
  2. It sounds like a bad night in the NBA tonight. I guess this was a good night not to listen. We will bounce back. At least we did it when all the other teams did the same thing.

    by Hg on 4/5/2011 10:40 PM
  3. I gotta disagree with you Mike that we didn't lose any ground. We're not racing only Memphis but New Orleans, and New Orleans holds the season series against us. So now, if they win out, THEY get the 6th spot not us. So we did in fact lose HUGE ground tonight. The Blazers held their own destinies in their hands and failed to take advantage of it. Now they have to hope for New Orleans to lose, otherwise its probably the Lakers for us (unless we decide to tank the rest of the games specifically to get the Spurs now that we're guaranteed a playoff spot).

    by Richard Ackerman on 4/5/2011 10:46 PM
  4. I'm surprised Mike. No one is mentioning the game at all except the bad things. The truth is the Blazers played the Golden State game. Give Golden State ALL the credit. This isn't new to them, this is how they beat teams. They forced Portland into their game, controlled the tempo, controlled everything, and made the Blazers fight to lose rather than win. It worked, and they got the best of the Blazers and won. They flat out deserved it.

    Portland, on the other hand, deserves this loss as well. They played stupid, they played scared, and they played horrible. I heard boos. I would be booing them too. They didn't play their game. Golden State did that, but you have an opprotunity to get it in your favor, but shooting 23 three pointers (what GSW wants) isn't how you beat them. You bailed them out on the defense by taking dumb shots, you bailed them out on offense by daring them to shoot, and you lost because you didn't play. End of story. Game over. There's no fluke. No Curse. None of that crap. We just lost. It was bizarre, but yeah.

    Sorry about that, I just think we got dominated.

    Now, moving forward, this game does sting. It makes me ponder if we can beat GSW at all. They have our number. They really do. Also, Utah isn't just a walk in the park, but you HAVE to win that game. THAT game decides if we play LAL or Dallas. If we lose that, I can guarantee that all hope of playing Dallas is GONE. Win that game, win against the Lakers, win against Memphis in a tight one, and the end game at GSW won't be such a pressure scenario.

    Can we do it? Absolutely. Honestly, the only thing slowing us down is ourselves. Our opponents will be tough, but when we're playing our best, we can beat the Lakers at home. We can beat the Jazz on the road. We can beat Golden State and Memphis. We can do that, but if we're going to go out there and hand a win to a team that's not going to do anything with that, might as well get prepared for a quick exit in the playoffs against SAS or LAL.

    Now, here's my predictions, and honestly, I might need to stop making these because whenever I do, I look like we're right, we ride the highs, and eventually fall to a team we shouldn't (remember when I said we'd go 4-0 on that road trip?). Anyways, what I'm thinking is that Houston is not done. They aren't after all. Chances of them making it are VERY small, but I see Houston going into New Orleans and winning tomorrow. That happens then BAM, tonights game means nothing except the missed opportunity to gain a bit of ground. At that point, if we finish all our games, it means nothing. If NOH drops 2 more games, I'm saying Portland is in the 6th seed and playing Dallas. That's just my guess. I think we're winning the next 4 games.

    Now, about this game. Golden State made us play their game, we brought no defensive effort nor intensity, and we didn't hit our shots. It could have been the simple matter of one team having an off-night, while the other team saw the rim wider than Ralphy May.

    One thing I'd like to add, is that I'm going to personally walk up to Nate McMillan and back-hand him across the face if he puts Wesley Mathews on the opposing teams top player, especially if Batum and Wallace are able to play. We wouldn't be 0-3 against LAL if Wallace was on Kobe. We wouldn't be 1-3 against OKC if Batum was on Westbrook. I love Wesley Mathews, and he's a good defender, but he's very overrated as a defender on the Blazers. He's probably our 5th best defender behind Gerald, Nico, Camby and LaMarcus. Just my opinion, but this game wouldn't have been tied, and probably headed in our favor, if Curry wasn't able to get to the hoop so easily in the first half. Who guarded him? Wesley.

    by Herr on 4/5/2011 10:49 PM
  5. OUCH.......This was the steal of the week game so I purchased some tickets and headed down to the game. Well this one hurt, very hard to watch. I will say this though, I go to the RG quite a bit and from the get go the atmosphere really wasnt the same. The fans were not quite "as" loud as they are..plus all the times where on the big screen you see Charge!! or other things to movtivate the Blazers to play better was not there as much, it just seemed alittle odd all around.

    I dont think we under estimated this team, I just dont think we executed and we sure didnt play defense. Lee,Ellis,Curry just killed us, but specialy Lee..he seemed to just bury those shots or tip in's anytime we seem to get something go, which was not much. They gave LA a hard time all night, and no one really stepped up for us.

    Well we better win rest of the games now, we need that 6th seed. I know some of you are all about bring on the Lakers in 1st round, but thats seriously asking for trouble. Dallas would be a much more suitable opponent, and if we got past them, them thats huge motivation to face a Laker team in 2nd round. But well cross that road when its comes lol. Time to get our butts in gear and go beat Utah..and we need to start getting more physical..theres more to say..but anyways im tired.

    by whitefeather21380 on 4/5/2011 10:51 PM
  6. Golden State put on a clinic and they deserved the win. That said, the Blazers looked flat-footed and a step slow all night. Being unable to hit an outside shot also was a huge factor, as was the play of David Lee who owned the boards all night and posted his best game as a Warrior.

    Ironically, tonight's results may have put Dallas in position to pick who they want to face in the first round as they host New Orleans on the last day of the season. If NO is even or one game behind us, a Dallas loss there could give NO the sixth spot.

    Maybe we shouldn't care who we draw in the first round -- as long as it isn't the Warriors!

    by dgpdx on 4/5/2011 11:16 PM
  7. Just a few notes on a bad night.
    1) We won't go anywhere in the playoffs, if we can't shoot any better than this.
    2) The Blazers avoid turnovers against pressure by slowing down, instead of sharply counterattacking. After our terrible turnover string in the first quarter, we stopped giving the ball away. We also stopped moving the ball very well.
    3) Golden State had a simple offense, ran it every time and got their shots over and over. The Blazers kept trying out different things, ran out of time, and got bad shots.
    4) The loss of Camby hurt us; he was snagging rebounds the way we needed. Getting outshot AND outrebounded won't cut it. But since the trade we have no useful depth at our big spots, so a single freak spill and we're in trouble.
    5) Lately when LaMarcus is a little off early in the game we only occasionally remember to play through him. He had some bad patches during his monster streak, but the Blazers had no real options, so they kept going to him, and he figured out what to do to beat the other team. Now we try other stuff, and some nights the other stuff doesn't work.
    6) Quick guards who can shoot burn tend to burn our switching defense. Golden State has quick guards who can REALLY shoot, so they expose the problem particularly well.
    7) I'm not fretting about our first-round opponent, because we're our own biggest enemy. Anyone will beat us if we don't play hard, and exploit our strengths, and minimize our weaknesses.

    by Islander on 4/5/2011 11:48 PM
  8. If the Blazers are gonna take some time off to rest for the playoffs, they'd better start being up front and honest about it, by announcing ahead of time that the scrubs are going to play. Kinda like San Antonio did. To watch a lazy, sub-par performance from a team that we just saw wail on the Mavs was pathetic.

    by Tobyus Sanchezo on 4/5/2011 11:54 PM
  9. Grizz lose by 1, Lakers lose by 1, Rockets lose by 3,,,,,we lose by 21.Ouch, not just a upset, but a kicking!

    Ok, we play poorly against bad teams, I guess the good news is we are not going to meet any bad teams in the playoffs.

    by mgb on 4/6/2011 12:32 AM
  10. One thing I like about Portland is the fans rarely boo their team or players. And when they do, it's deserved. This one stunk rotten and the fans didn't like the smell. When you take time out of your night and spend your hard earned dollars on an effort like that it makes you sick. This was a lousy performance. Get it together blazers. Making the playoffs is only making the playoffs.

    Go Blazers!

    by thedanman on 4/6/2011 12:57 AM
  11. Sorry about Marcus hope he is ok. Im worried a tab bit about losing to the Jazz the Lakers and to the Warriors in Oakland . The fight will be is when the Grizzlies will be in the rose garden to see who is #7 seed. I know lakers will be the # 2 seed. I remember the year 2001 and 2002 we played lakers in the first round it was over especially in 2002 at the rose garden Fisher nailed the coffin that ended the season I was at that game and I just sat there like it rip my heart out. I have to bowl wednesday night I will record your show Mike the court side. My prayers to canby.

    by jyp on 4/6/2011 2:14 AM
  12. Rudy an Roy shoot 3/20. At least when Butler lost in the NCAA with similar shooting they played tenacious defense.

    by Ancientone on 4/6/2011 6:09 AM
  13. MGB: You are me can't decide what is embarrassing for the team. You have to ask them. It sounds like their reply is we just couldn't make our shots or they just had a bad game. Either one excuses them of embarrassment.

    It sounds as though they have a problem though, opponents are going to continue packing the middle and double teaming LMA until we can consistently show them we can beat them from the out-side. It worked for the opponents pretty often through-out the year, therefore I see no reason for them to change. OTOH, we tend to pack the middle and dare teams to beat us from the outside, but I am not sure that is wise with GSW or OKC

    by Hg on 4/6/2011 6:41 AM
  14. Back on that rollercoaster ride. I found myself laughing towards the end of the game which is totally opposite of my normal reactions when losing. Somehow just as Herr said that team always seems to give us fits, much like Denver @Denver . I'm just glad we don't have to face them in the playoffs lol! I thought the players should have been pulled faster in that game to rest though, it was clearly lost early fourth quarter. Forget that one, Blazers will be fine. Hopefully Camby is fine, that was some head slam.

    by RipcityTodd on 4/6/2011 7:30 AM
  15. MB, i followed the game on espn gamecast as i had a surprise dinner to go to; it just seemed as if our defense went to sleep in the second half. i don't really have an explanation for it either. this is one of those which leaves you scratching your head, repeating "what?" over and over again.

    we know golden state has given us fits over the past few years, so we should know how to come into a game like this. Herr is probably right when he says the warriors deserve the credit for winning, but i do think some of the responsibility goes to our guys. we should be able to win against a team like the warriors.

    all i can say is that i'm hoping we can return the favor in the season finale.

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 4/6/2011 7:38 AM
  16. As soon as we couldn't pull away in the first half, I knew we were in for some trouble. It was made even worse by the fact that Golden State shot under 45% for the majority of the half and still stuck with us. Conventional wisdom tells us that guys like Ellis, Lee & Curry aren't going to continue to misfire. In the 3rd quarter, they got red hot and we tried to match them long-range bucket for long-range bucket, instead of using our size advantage down low.

    by DHawes22 on 4/6/2011 11:05 AM
  17. As I said Hg, it was a bit embarrassing. To lose is one thing, many teams did, but to get blown out on your own floor is another. Give it what ever adjective you want. They missed a embarrassing amount of shots against a bad team known for no defense and played no D themselves.

    by mgb on 4/6/2011 1:36 PM
  18. I'm glad we made the playoffs, but that is it!! I am soooooo sorry for Camby, he will be missed tomorrow night, I pray he is full strength on Friday for the Lakers!! We need to win the rest of the games to hold our position. It was very hard to watch last night. Come on guys, we want to make this a great playoff run and last night was scary!! GO BLAZERS!! LOVE YOU GUYS!!

    by dljensen on 4/6/2011 2:00 PM
  19. Well, I have previously said that I thought the Blazers were going to lose the game in Oakland. I am hoping that last night's loss reverses that :) The good news is...it is really unlikely we can or will play any worse than that for a long time to come!

    I love this team, I love these guys, and I love our coach. I have faith in them. It helps for me to remember that a few months ago, we weren't even supposed to make the playoffs. We were doomed to a season of mediocre basketball because once again the injury bug had taken a chuck out of our roster. Worst of all, our leader, the backbone of our team, and our only legit All-Star talent, looked like maybe he would never play a game again. The words "medical retirement" were widely mentioned repeatedly and it was everyone's biggest fear (not to say that has completely subsided of course). So, for me, to know that this dogged team has, for the second time in a row, against so many trials and tribulations, made the playoffs AGAIN....is a comfort. I know they don't give up, I know they will fight when their backs are to the wall, and I know that they are capable of incredible basketball :)

    Go Blazers!!

    by SisillaRiann on 4/6/2011 5:16 PM
  20. Islander: Your point #2 is an excellent observation! When we slow down and stop attacking it gives the other team time to set their defense and that makes it even harder to get our best shots. We need to keep pushing the ball and learn how to control our turnovers without robbing ourselves of momentum.

    Maybe we don't yet have the talent to play uptempo all the time, but it seems to me our best results have come from pushing the ball up court and getting shots in rhythm. We're not a great outside shooting team (obviously) and easy baskets don't often come to us when the defense is set.

    When our outside shots are falling, like against Dallas, we can beat anyone. When they aren't, anyone can beat us unless we generate more easy baskets on the break.

    by dgpdx on 4/6/2011 5:48 PM
  21. Looks like the Lakers fell asleep at the wheel against Golden State too. That makes me feel a little better.

    by thedanman on 4/6/2011 9:01 PM
  22. thedanman,

    The Warriors are surprising good at home, 25-14, but terrible on the road, 10-30. I wouldn't have felt as bad losing on the road to them, but being blown out at home is another matter.

    by mgb on 4/6/2011 9:44 PM
  23. I found this interesting:

    1 LaMarcus Aldridge 21.6
    2 Gerald Wallace 18.8
    3 Andre Miller 17.8
    4 Wesley Matthews 15.3
    5 Marcus Camby 14.9
    6 Nicolas Batum 14.7
    7 Brandon Roy 14.1
    8 Rudy Fernandez 13.6

    That is the BLazers rank by PER. Top five are our starters followed by our bench rotation.

    Have to give BNM credit for posting this at ripcitytwo.com

    by mgb on 4/6/2011 9:47 PM
  24. I think the Oregonian writers and maybe a few others are not giving Golden State the credit they deserve for their wins of late. There is a lot of talent on that team and when they play really well, they can beat anyone, sort of like the Blazers.

    by dgpdx on 4/6/2011 10:24 PM
  25. Don:

    I agree with you. they have the best back court duo in the NBA and when they are both healthy and hitting, they can spread the floor and it opens up the paint for them and they are mighty hard to beat. I think the media and some of the fan's are looking at the wins and losses, not the team. They had injuries just like we did at the beginning and got beat. now they are healthy they can be a force to reckon with just like the Blazers.

    by Hg on 4/6/2011 10:37 PM
  26. My predictions of the Lakers slowing down are coming true. Let's win these games!!!

    Man, these Fox Sports guys on the radio are Laker fans that really underestimate Portland. Best team of the 6,7,8 seed is... Memphis? REALLY? They also said they fear Oakland more than Portland. Well, let's hope they're wrong about that. These guys are idiots.

    Anyways, we're going 4-0, New Orleans will drop the Memphis and Dallas game. Dallas doesn't want to be 4th seed, they won't be.

    Laker minutes today were a bit soft for how close this game was. I think they're resting up.

    And I also said, what you mentioned on Courtside MB, that the Lakers DO NOT want the Blazers in the first round. Even if they play well on Friday, I think we're winning that game. They know that. They're going to cruise, they are playing for nothing, and they do NOT want Portland in the first round. They want the Hornets. They're 4-0 against them, and convincingly. They know they should not be 3-0 against the Blazers, but rather 1-2 against us. Portland simply choked the last two games in the final minutes. Kobe and PJ are not idiots.

    I'm calling it now, we're winning on Friday, and the Lakers will be fine with that. HOWEVER, we will lose if we lose tomorrow. WE HAVE TO WIN TOMORROW. If we lose that, we are basically a clinched 7th seed, and LAL is going to turn on the switch and beat the crap out of a tired Portland team.

    I'll tell ya one thing Golden State scares the hell out of me. If Gasol wanted to make a case that he wasn't soft, he failed. Lee had 22pts and 17 rebounds. Blazers need to treat these next 4 games as if they were down 3-0 in the Finals.

    by Herr on 4/7/2011 12:07 AM
  27. Strange game in Utah tonight, not a lot of urgency but we never seemed to be in danger of losing either. Nice to see balanced scoring and not having to depend on LA so much. Nice to see Brandon's shots falling too. Now, if only Rudy can get it going we'll be in good shape for the playoffs.

    by dgpdx on 4/7/2011 9:35 PM
  28. Ya, the out come never seem in doubt. Nice win taking care of business on the road on national tv. Now...BEAT LA!!! :)

    by mgb on 4/7/2011 9:42 PM
  29. Yeah same exact feeling I had. You watched it and just figured the Blazers would win it, but it was not really pretty...kinda like a "meh" type of game. Both teams were going through the motions, and Portland was just making afew more shots that Utah. But there wasnt any amazing defense or anything exciting, so looks like we won this basketball Scrimmage lol.

    One thing I have noticed is LA. ouch..he is having more off nights, and is waiting for the double teams to come, instead of just taking quick dribble and poping up alittle hook or going to the rim. I dont know if hes just tired, Or with Roy in hes trying to go back to his old role, but gosh dam gimme that LA that was player of the month!! please.

    Hes a very good player, I feel he holds himself back at times. He is quite humble, I honestly feel he doesnt give a rip about stardom or being the man. Which is wierd for a guy who can prabaly have a nba career of 20-10 and be in the HOF with those #s. Oh well, lets beat those darn Lakers.

    by whitefeather21380 on 4/7/2011 10:51 PM
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