Jan 21

Aldridge Powers Portland

By mikebarrett
Now the big question- how much do they have left in the tank?  How much does LaMarcus Aldridge have left in the tank?  We're about to find out.

Following another very, very late arrival into a hotel, the Trail Blazers are set to wrap up this six-game road trip with a game against the Pistons in Auburn Hills.  This was the fourth time on this trip we've arrived at our hotel well after 3 a.m.  I don't remember a trip in my nine years where we've had so many short nights.  Yes, it's a factor.  The cumulative effect of all of this lack of sleep is what is concerning.

If LaMarcus is anything close to what he was on Friday night in Toronto, it won't matter though.

Aldridge had perhaps his most dominant performance as a professional last night, as he went for 33 points, 23 rebounds, and five assists.  Nothing the Raptors tried worked.  They chose to single cover LaMarcus in the first half, and he had a 20-10 game in the first two quarters.  

I'm sure this wasn't lost on any good Trail Blazer fan, but you notice how much better Aldridge is when Marcus Camby is on the floor?  Camby made his return from a sprained ankle, and grabbed 10 rebounds and took a ton of pressure off of Aldridge.  When LaMarcus is allowed to play his natural position, and not spend time covering at the center spot, he's so much better.

Not everything was perfect in this game, as the Blazers really didn't drop the hammer the way they should have.  Toronto was allowed to get right back in the game early in the third quarter, and cut Portland's lead to five.  But, that happens in the NBA.  The game was probably never really in doubt, but Nate McMillan would have rather had this turn into a 30-point lead, and a situation where he could have dumped the bench and rested his regulars.

Not only were Aldridge and Camby very good for Portland, but Raymond Felton busted out of his slump to some degree.  During Toronto's push in the third quarter, Felton had three very important field goals, and ended up with 14 points on 6 of 9 shooting.  Just having someone hit from the outside makes life easier on Aldridge and the frontline.

The Trail Blazers also outrebounded an opponent for the first time in 10 games.  They dominated the rebound battle 55-40, and that was nice to see.

Portland did end up shooting a poor percentage again, as they made just 33 of their 82, for 40.2 percent.  That's still very much a concern.  They're shooting around 41 percent on this trip.  That just makes life too difficult, and that has to improve.

Tonight it's Detroit.  The Pistons also played last night, but were at home, so the back-to-back factor isn't as much of an issue.  They were blown out by Memphis, and will likely come back a little stronger tonight.

I'll let you take it from here, because once again, this will be a very short day.  Game prep, packing, and getting set to come home will dominate the few hours we've got before we head to the arena. 

I'll hopefully post a blog from the air on the flight home, and hopefully we'll be talking about a 3-3 trip.  Tonight won't be a piece of cake, but yes, it's a game Portland should win.  Considering all that's gone wrong on this trip, a 3-3 record would be considered very respectable.  A 2-4 record, not so much.

Talk to you tonight on TV, and then after the game right here.



  1. Again LMA is an all star

    Nice to see Felton have a solid game

    Nolan Smith was solid and let Crawford play his real postion.

    Good to see Camby and his influeance on the inside defense.

    Although Wallace didn't shoot well he had a double in rebounds.

    Good to see Nick back on the floor

    by Ancientone on 1/21/2012 9:47 AM
  2. Hey Mike,
    LMA was a beast. It has been so fun watching that kid grow up. Remember when came into the league he had game but was pushed around by the stronger vets. Now he is doing the pushing. Beautiful. Camby has been so good for LMA on the court and between the ears. When we brought Camby here, he pushed LMA do what LMA does.
    Toronto badly needed a win. They came up against a better team that also needed a win.
    The team must be tired. Tonight will take a team effort from the entire roster. Kurt, Craig and Batum are important pieces tonight. We need Nolan and Jamal to do their thing when they get called. It doesn't get easier coming home to a triple. Watching other games, fatigue is part of the equation this year.
    A little shout out to Adelman. He's making progress.
    Tinsel town is struggling. The Lakers and their step sister the Clips.

    by Divotking on 1/21/2012 9:54 AM
  3. I posted on one your blogs saying that LMA needs to become a leader, and that I didn't think he had it in him. I kinda was proved wrong. One of the most dominating aspects of last nights game was that he set the tone early. I think he made like 6 of his first 7 for 12 quick points early, and set the tone for the rest of the game. The Raptors never led after it was 4-3 in the early going. True leaders set the team up for success, and that is what Aldridge did last night. Even though the score was cut close in the third quarter, I don't think Aldridge was totally needed, but it was nice to see him play and be some dominate regardless. His statline is impressive, without a doubt, but I think the best part is just that he set the tone early like a true leader.

    If he continues just that up, he won't need to score 33 and grab 23 boards (Although that'll always be nice), and he'll walk the walk after talking the talk.

    The thing about this team is it's super contagious, and always has been. That's how basketball works a lot of the time. If Aldridge sets the tone early, the team will follow.

    by Herr on 1/21/2012 10:12 AM
  4. Hey Mike: I hope I am not in your doghouse for mouthing off on your last post. I know you need not be defended, but when a poster opens a post with hey barrett, and ends it with the Blazers should be ashamed, I felt that was very disrespectful and my homerism took over. It was my bad, because I am old enough not to let my passion control my mouth, but sometimes it just happens, anyway I send my apology.

    I don’t care who the opponent is. LMA’s aggressiveness can’t be denied or rationalized. That was so great to see.
    I am still concerned about our shooting woes, but I feel it has improved.
    Camby didn’t only make LMA post up, he taught him how to post. The pick and slip as LMA described it that sets up the alley-oop was taught to him by Camby. And we are a completely different team when Camby can be in the game. Of course that does not take anything away from Thomas, as he is very valuable for the second unit.
    We have all said that Nate needs to use his bench more and with the B2B2B coming up, I hope it isn’t to late. If he uses his entire second unit with Nolan, Jamal, Nic, big Smith, and Thomas, and they can hold their own, we would be a much better team. Of course, I know Nate likes to keep two of his starters in the game as not to mass substitute, but the second unit, if given time to practice plays more together.
    The back to back short nights also hinders this fan, I move all my work to late at night where I can watch the Blazers, OBTW, I have got to watch you and that other Mike, LOL, in the last 3 games. That is terrific, but by pushing my work at the end gets me home about 3 in the morning and that makes it rough for the next night doing the same thing. That is the life of being a Blazer fan.

    I surely hope we can keep it together one more night on this road trip and still have enough in the tank come Monday.

    Thank you again Mike

    by Hg on 1/21/2012 10:36 AM
  5. Well so far, at least, we're not seeing any signs that our announcers are cracking under the pressure of so many games in such a short span; you guys still sound fresh, despite all the late arrivals. Let's hope the players can match that professionalism. I was miffed that the team didn't put Toronto away, so the subs could get more game time and the regulars could get more rest. I worry that the long minutes for starters will hurt us badly during the hard stretch of games that's coming up: no relief on return from the road for our warriors. I'm very much afraid that we're due for a bad trap-game result, like the hit Sacramento put on San Antonio last night. But it is nice to see Nolan and Craig get more time to show that they can contribute, and to see the team exploit LaMarcus' skills against a team that's overmatched by him.
    Because it's apparently my job to accentuate the negative, I have to say that I realized something worrisome about the Blazer line-up last night. Gerald and Wesley are too similar in their strengths and weaknesses. I find myself typing in the name of the wrong one of them half the time when I write about them. Both are high energy guys who provide pressure defense, and like to take the ball to the hoop. But neither is a true shooter, and both of them tend to get out of control on their drives, which too often end in charging fouls and awkward inside shots. The simple fact that they play a lot of minutes together accounts for much of what we've seen this season. It's a team that can sometimes overpower an opponent with steals and agressive drives, but also one that can score way too few points from the turnovers they create, locking the team into low-scoring defensive duels. Wesley seemed like a better player last season, when he was on the court with Andre and Nic, smoother, controlled players with distinct offense skills. I'd solve this dilemma by switching Nicholas and Gerald, bringing the latter in off the bench. With Craig showing some inside game, Jamaal available to shoot the ball, and Kurt so reliable on his little twelve-foot jumper, we have enough offensive weapons on the second unit. Why not let Gerald use his energy to keep that unit aggressive? The only reason I can see not to do that is that the organization really is committed to him as their long-term guy at small forward, and is willing to watch Nic take his potential elsewhere. But I'm not yet read to believe that the Blazers' brain-trust is that dim-witted.

    by Islander on 1/21/2012 1:02 PM
  6. why 'o why do i always miss the best performances or games?! kicking myself for that (having dinner with my brother and sister-in-law). i had anticipated about a 10-point win or so, and maybe even a score similar to the eventual final. when i looked up at the espn ticker and saw the score, then that LaMarcus had 31 and 21 (at that point in the game). eyes got big. this was exactly the type of game LaMarcus needed to lead by example. an absolutely terrific performance.

    i hope Ray can develop some consistency and draw from his outing last night. it's like Chuck Barkley told Tone; we'll be all right if we get some consistency at pg. gotta love that our starting front line combined for 43 rebounds. huge difference in this game.

    this really seemed like a team win led by it's leader. from the conversations i've had and in talking to several people and the boxscore, it seems like everyone contributed at least a little something. i also love the fact we didn't miss a beat when the Rhino came in (7 points and 4 rebounds in 9 minutes). yep, i'd say we've got the pf position covered.

    looking forward to the game tonight. i'm a little concerned at the fatigue factor, but overall, i like our chances.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 1/21/2012 1:15 PM
  7. A great day for basketball at my house yesterday! Not only do the Blazers win and LA have a monster game (with a lotta help from Felton), but Phoenix won in Boston! Love seeing Western Conf. teams winning against the East.

    To cap it off, a great game on ESPN between the Clippers and T'Wolves. Two teams on the upswing and the game showed that. These aren't your father's Clips and Wolves anymore. One could make a good argument that the Clippers have the best guard combo in the league and the Wolves have the potential to be a playoff team in a year or two. If they weren't in the Northwest Division (the NBA's best) they'd have an outside chance this year.

    by dgpdx on 1/21/2012 8:02 PM
  8. @dgpdx; I love it. Somebody who sees whats going on in Minnesota. Can't like the Clips. Like Billups, CP is a baller, Griffin is the future. Just don't like them. Want the Blazers to kick their collective @#$. Love- Minnesota. Atta boy Adelman.

    by Divotking on 1/21/2012 9:19 PM
  9. @Divotking: I've always had a soft spot for underpuppies and love to see them finally get their time at the top. And I've always thought Rick Adelman is a great coach. Would love to have him back in Portland any time.

    by dgpdx on 1/22/2012 4:39 AM
  10. Hg agrees with Divotking and dgpdx.

    by Hg on 1/22/2012 5:12 AM
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