There’s a game for IPhone and IPad called "Temple Run"
that is described by a site that reviews games developed for mobile devices, SlideToPlay.com
, as follows:
"In pretty much every treasure hunting adventure movie there’s one specific scene in which the plucky hero finally gets his hands on the treasure but then has to navigate a maze of booby traps in order to get out alive. Temple Run is this scene and nothing else.”
The game has gained a significant level of popularity and pop culture notoriety similar to what was seen during the “Angry Birds” craze of 2011. Various members of the Trail Blazers, whom, even with this season’s condensed schedule, have a fair amount of idle time, enjoy playing the game (and talking trash about their scores
on Twitter) as well.
Wesley Matthews, who could easily be described as the most competitive person on the team, may enjoy the game more than anyone else on Portland’s roster, and the description from SlideToPlay might explain why. He too is a plucky hero, though it’s a basketball, rather than an Indiana Jones-inspired ancient idol, that serves as the treasure he’s trying to get his hands on.
Or to be more specific, it’s made shots, particularly those from three-point range, that Wesley is trying to liberate from his own personal booby trap of a shooting slump. Through the last four games, all on the road, Matthews has struggle both from the field (31 percent) and from three (26 percent). And it should come as a no surprise that the Trail Blazers are 1-3 in those games. That’s not to say Matthews is the reason Portland is struggling through their first extended road trip of the season, but as the only Portland starter with a career three-point shooting percentage north of 33 percent, the absence of his marksmanship from range during the current trip cuts the deep.
“I'm pushing (shots),” said Matthews. “All my shots are long, which means I'm not getting underneath the ball like I usually do. I'm just not shooting it like I'm supposed to.”
It’s the “supposed to” that is keeping Matthews up nights. He’s averaging 14.1 points a game while shooting 43 percent from the field and 35 percent from three on the season, both respectable marks. But after finishing the 2010-11 season shooting 45 percent from the field and, more importantly, 40 percent from three all while playing on a bum ankle, Matthews was expecting better in 2011-12.
After the loss to the Spurs, he talked hopefully in the locker room about the time when the “lid” would come off the rim. Before the start of the second half of the game versus the Hornets, he pounded on the table in front of press row repeating the words “I’m not going to keep missing.” And after Wednesday night’s loss to the Hawks he tweeted that he felt as though he was “shooting at a damn carnival rim!” It was the night (or rather, the morning) prior to that game in which Matthews was unable to fall asleep until 6 a.m., and while that sleepless night might not be completely attributable to a shooting slump weighing on his mind, you can bet he thought about it more than a few times as he waited for rest to come, just as he thought about it in San Antonio and New Orleans.
“I might be second guessing (shots) a couple of times,” said Matthews. “Maybe too eager, pressing a little bit where I feel like I've got to knock this down, I've got to hit this shot, I've got to knock this down. So it takes away from the fact that you do it all the time.”
Lucky for the Trail Blazers, it’ll take a lot more than a few rough offensive outings to keep Matthews down, as he’s faced adversity that far exceeds a week’s worth of off nights. So he’ll keep shooting, even if they don’t all go in, and he’ll redouble his efforts on the defense end (he set a new career high in steals against the Hawks), which is how he was able to crack an NBA roster in the first place.
“Defense is something that I'm always going to bring with me,” said Matthews. “My thing is, if my shots aren't falling, then the player I'm guarding, his shots ain't going to fall either."
How long it will take for Wesley to escape his own personal Temple of Doom is unknown, and there may be more obstacles in the way of both Matthews' and the rest of the Trail Blazers' run through a season that has already provided an uncommon number of pitfalls. But the game is nowhere near over and Matthews still got plenty of shots to use before it's time to hit the reset button.