Blazers Limp Home Following Trip
The Trail Blazers were given the warnings by the coaching staff, and were very aware of the potential for this being a “trap game.” I must have heard that term (from Detroit media members) 10 times before the game. There’s a reason the term exists, but the Portland players weren’t accepting that as a legitimate reason for the loss on Saturday night. We’ve used excuses, but they haven’t.
This was simply a disappointing loss on the final game of a disappointing trip. The best thing I heard all night was the captain on our plane say “flight attendants prepare for departure.”
The hope is that you can survive a game, and a situation like this. Detroit had played the night before as well, but played the game at home, and were awful in the first half. In the second half, however, they battled back and were looking to use that rally as a springboard to this game against Portland. Ben Gordon played on Friday for the Pistons, and Rodney Stuckey didn’t. Saturday night, Gordon sat and Stuckey played. That turned out to be a bad trade for Portland.
The Pistons haven’t been shooting the ball well, and struggle to score. Sound familiar? But, Stuckey provided just enough punch on this night to carry them through their tough stretches.
The Trail Blazers weren’t only on the 10th day of this trip, but were without their energy guy, Gerald Wallace. Wallace is a guy who can carry you through a game like this, when scrap and hustle mean much more than field-goal percentage. Wallace injured his right hand late in the Toronto game and sat this one out. Portland missed him.
There really wasn’t much sense of urgency when the Pistons took the lead early in the second quarter, after all, it was just the second quarter. Then the lead started to grow, and Detroit’s confidence started to grow.
When the Pistons’ lead grew to 16, it was time to worry.
The Trail Blazers did charge back, led by Raymond Felton and Craig Smith. There haven’t been a ton of positives that have come out of this trip, but the play of Smith has been one of them.
Portland had the ball and had cut Detroit’s lead to one on two separate occasions in the fourth quarter, but both times failed to convert. The Pistons held on for the 94-91 win.
If there’s one stat that started ugly, and remained ugly, throughout this trip, it was Portland’s field-goal percentage. We’ve talked at length about this, but when you’re top-three scorers from your backcourt are all suffering through slumps, at the same time, life is going to be tough. That’s the main reason the overall field goal percentage has been so low. Saturday night the Blazers shot 42 percent. Once again, stuck in that very familiar neighborhood.
Starting with the game in San Antonio (which seems like a month ago), the Blazers shot 41 percent, 41 percent, 47 percent, 38 percent, 40 percent, and 42 percent, respectively. When you’re struggling like that, your margin for error is simply so thin it makes it tough to win, especially on the road. You get away with that at the Rose Garden, but not on a six-game trip.
Now, it’s back home for one day off, and then a back-to-back-to-back set. The first two are at home, and the last game of the set is at Golden State, which is never a day at the beach for the Blazers.
I’ll let the debate begin, as I pass out on this plane on the way home. If field-goal percentage is your issue (and I think we’ve established that it is), then what do you do about it? Tweak the offense? Change the rotation? Or, just ride this out and assume that someone is going to snap out of their slump, with the others most likely following close behind? I like the last option, but you tell me.
Talk to you on TV on Monday. Sunday is for my kids. It’s been a while.