Mar 10

A Step in the Right Direction in D.C.

By mikebarrett

The Trail Blazers came into Saturday night’s game at Washington feeling the heat, and brimming with frustration over what’s been a very difficult stretch of the season.  The Wizards came in with a ton of confidence.  They had already beaten Portland, in February at the Rose Garden, and were coming off a big win over the Lakers. 

In the end, Portland’s desire to right the ship, and get their first win on this road trip, carried them to a 110-99 victory at the Verizon Center.  It’s not a win that solves all that has been plaguing the Blazers, but it at least partially relieves the pressure everyone around this team has been feeling.

As Nate McMillan told me after the game, “it felt like we were connected tonight,” a term he loves to use to represent the good nights versus the not-so-good nights.  It simply means the Blazers were playing the right way, were efficient, sharp, and were focused.  Yes, it’s just that simple at times.

LaMarcus Aldridge only took 15 shots in this game, but scored 30 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and dished out three assists.  After the game, Aldridge said he was happy to get the win, but insisted that this doesn’t change anything.  In other words, win and move on to the next one.  I sensed the win provided more relief than that.

Following the first two losses on the trip, there were some obvious intermediate goals in this game- get off to a good start, take care of the ball, and get to the foul line.  Portland was good in all catagories.  They carried a three-point lead to the locker room at haltime, turned the ball over only seven times on the night, and ended up 26 for 27 from the line. 

The Blazers were 25 for 25 in the final minute of the game, but Raymond Felton then split a pair the perfect night was over.  In the locker room Gerald Wallace joked loudly that Felton owed everyone $20 bucks for ruining the perfect night at the line.  Felton shot back that he was owed $20 bucks from everyone because he didn’t commit a single turnover.  I’ll go with Felton on that one.

Say what you want about Felton, he’s been much, much better as of late.  In this game he scored 21 points (20 in the second half), pushed the tempo while staying under control, and distributed the ball efficiently.  Even though Washington’s John Wall scored 25, Felton and the Blazers adjusted well in the second half and were effective in keeping Wall out of the lane.

Most importantly, the Trail Blazers were able to build a late lead and kept this game from getting close in the final minutes.  Given Portland’s record in one or two-possession games, no one wanted to see this come down to the wire. 

Sunday we’ll head for Indianapolis, and get set to take on the Pacers on Tuesday night.  Indiana, one of the elite teams in the east, lost a heartbreaker at Miami on Saturday night, and take on Orlando on Sunday.  After the game against the Pacers, it’s New York, Chicago, and Oklahoma City still on this trip.  Obviously, it doesn’t get any easier.  But, it’s a step in the right direction.  And, following the losses in Minnesota and Boston, that was enough on this night.

Previous Story: Fork in the Road
Next Story: Run Down in Indy


  1. I've watched the PAC 12 tournament. I've been watching agressive defense.

    Then I watched tonights game. Washington is as bad as it gets in the NBA right now and we struggled. Maybe not the right term, the defense looked like I can't be bothered again. The Blazers look like they are just going through the motions and they ran up against a team that cared even less. I'm passionate about the Blazers and I hate to see them degenerating to this.

    by Ancientone on 3/10/2012 10:02 PM
  2. Hey Mike: great blog.
    I felt the two teams tonight were closely matched and our experience is what got us the win, and of course 26 point on the free throw line whereas Washington missed about half. And that was the difference in the game.

    I thought Camby getting rejected may have lit a fire under the team, they played with much more determination after that. Thank you Joel.
    We may get the monkey off our back and play better team ball by the time we play b2t with the Pacers and the Knicks.

    by Hg on 3/10/2012 10:08 PM
  3. I missed the game tonight. First one in two years. In emergency with daughter-in-law. I'll catch the rerun on comcast for sure.
    I heard Camby got thrown out. I love it. That is the attitude I have been looking for. Go down fighting. Or better yet get kicked out winning.
    I like what you said LMA said. "This doesn't change anything". He's right. Keep that thought. All 15 boys. Nothing is going to come easy. Back to what LMA said.

    by Divotking on 3/10/2012 10:17 PM
  4. Nice to see a win at last, even against a bad team, but it's hard to care too much when it becomes clearer every day that the team won't do anything this year. Once we get past the trade deadline it may become easier to focus. The game against the Celtics drove home the truth that the changes made this season have failed, and that the coach has apparently lost the team's confidence. Given that the acting GM apparently wants above all to be in position to retool next summer, I think we can rule out a big trade aimed at short-term gain. So I'd expect to see a trade or two before the deadline that will gain draft picks, and wouldn't be surprised if the coach is let go. At this point there's not much left of the season except playing for pride, and the beginning of an idea about what the future team might look like. I just hope Elliot's recovery isn't too prolonged. I'd like to see more of him.

    by Islander on 3/10/2012 10:21 PM
  5. if anybody wants to jump right to the video where Camby got ejected u can find that vid here http://www.nba.com/blazers/tbtv/video.html?videoID=3299...
    BTW already 2 comments i can agree with that already pointed out the fact that this team needs that kind of spark. It may be akward to some to know that Camby getting ejected will create a spark, but hey it had something to do with our win and im glad it happened here in this game because we NEEDED it! Especially being where we are and what this team has been through this wholllle dreadful season! Thank you Camby, just don't pull a sheed and have a habit out of it. But we need wins, somehow!

    Now I can only imagine what's going on in the player-only meetings right after a loss. It would be irritating to me because after a while it's just, enough of player meetings, that's all we do is talk! someone needs to walk! and that's where management comes in. And i'm going to pull a kobe here by saying we need to do something or do nothing at all and just play the waiting game. I'm tired of hearing trade talks, either trade or don't trade! simple as that. Because you know what it does. It hampers the players attitudes towards playing the game. Let's forget about it all and Portland, now is the time to put up or shut up! Let's start winning now!

    by Ballinrotation365 on 3/10/2012 10:39 PM
  6. How quickly things can change. First Felton starts playing like the PG we thought we were getting all along, then Ricky Rubio goes down for the season with a torn ACL. I guess we won't be seeing Luke Ridnour back in P'town anytime soon after all. I never understood why Minny would want to trade him anyway but there's always stuff we ordinary fans aren't privy to.

    A workmanlike effort against the Wiz tonight, with the expected result. LA broke his mini-slump in a big way. What's up with Batum though? In his last two outings he's seemed as if he's not feeling well. Is he under the weather some?

    by dgpdx on 3/10/2012 11:39 PM
  7. One more thing: The ejection of Camby was bogus! Did the refs have the same replay look we got? If so, how could they miss seeing Seraphin's forearm shoved into Camby's throat? Plus he was holding Camby down with that hand to keep him from rebounding. Should have been a foul on Seraphin and maybe a T on Camby.

    by dgpdx on 3/10/2012 11:43 PM
  8. lol camby 100% deserved his ejection. seraphin had no malcontent towards camby. you see in the replay they he was going to rebound the ball after the make. not intentionally putting his forearm in cambys throat. so yeah. camby basically throwing him down deserved to be ejected. because it wasn't a basketball play.
    but i'm still glad it happened. it's nice to see some fire out of someone on this blazers team. not willing to laydown for people. would be nice to see it out of more players. I've seen LMA come close to that fire, gerald as well. but need some more of it. lots of nice guys on the team. granted it's washington but heres hoping that the fire camby showed rubbs off and gets people going. everyone knows how good this team looks on paper, but they're performing at a very low level.

    by Brandon Weinant on 3/11/2012 2:05 AM
  9. @Don: Like Brandon said Camby did deserve a Flagrant foul. I think after Seraphin's forearm shot to the throat a flagrant foul 1 would have been efficient though. The Wiz announcers said that Seraphin had already gotten a T for his action before Camby lost his cool. But then, Camby is no fool and maybe on a second night of a B2B, he wasn't going to play much more anyway. So getting the troops fired up may have saved the day or give some meaning to the road trip.

    by Hg on 3/11/2012 3:57 AM
  10. I think the flagrant foul 2 was excessive. It seemed more like a in the moment reaction to a guy having an arm on your throat. You are gonna push that arm and person out of your face & space on instinct. Obviously both guys got caught in the moment. But I guess at the very least it got the guys moving. And Marcus was not proud of his actions and did not feel this was acceptable for a team leader. As well LMA did not pat himself on the back for the win. He as a team leader said they needed to move it along. Good reasonable attitudes. Hopefully a sign of things to come.

    by Niki C on 3/11/2012 5:00 AM
  11. But Camby's push came after the ball went in the basket, so it was not a caught in the moment deal. Of course Camby would not say he is proud of his action, he is still subject to a suspension from the NBA. Now, if the NBA Levy's a suspension then I would change Seraphin's action to a flagrant 2 also and suspend him.

    by Hg on 3/11/2012 5:27 AM
  12. What I saw on the Camby push was that what happened looked very different depending on the camera angle. From downcourt it looked like a gratuitous push after the action was over. From under the basket, in slow motion, it looked like a continuation of Camby pushing the arm away from his throat. I can see why he got a flagrant, but I don't understand why Seraphin wasn't ejected too. I thought the league had specific rules against jumping up and pushing another player; I thought that, regardless of the provocation, you weren't supposed to go out of your way to get into with another player. Jumping up to push him for putting you on the floor is different from standing there and immediately pushing back. We'll see if the league sees it that way in review.

    by Islander on 3/11/2012 11:46 AM
  13. Ejection, fine, suspension. All that is the side story. The story here is somebody finally put their foot in the ground and said no more. The wizards scored the ball our guy didn't like it. It's about time. The Blazers roster is full of nice cute players. They are talented but if they are going to turn this around they are going to have to find some toughness. We keep claiming we are a running team. A running team is about defense and rebounding. Both of which require hard work, effort and toughness. Defend your basket and control the boards.

    by Divotking on 3/11/2012 12:21 PM
  14. @islander:
    I never thought of that prospect. But with the technical foul that got a reaction from Camby plus jumping up after he was pushed to retaliate was the same thing that Camby did in his retaliation.

    by Hg on 3/11/2012 12:21 PM
  15. Hey Mike,
    10 years from now when run into Marcus Camby. You ask him what he remembers about the 2012 season. What he tells you is the team had been playing like sissys for weeks. We went into Boston and beat by I think 50 points. The next night we played a game in D.C. They had recently embarrassed on our home court. Nate took me aside and said. You are the old guy on this team. Our young guys watch you. At the 10 minute mark I want you knock somebody on their a#$. Get thrown out of the game. If you do that I will pay your fine. If you get suspended I will pay you for that day. I did it and we won the game. We played tougher as a unit after that went on a run. Made the playoffs. That's coaching.

    by Divotking on 3/11/2012 1:22 PM
  16. @divotking:

    Have you been smoking that wacky tabaccy?

    by Hg on 3/11/2012 1:42 PM
  17. I have heard it be said by multiple people that Felton has been playing better of late. Is it me, or did anyone watch the Celtic game? he was most certainly not playing "much better" in that debacle. I need to see a "consistent" string of games against varying levels of competition before I would say he has been playing "better". Just my opinion.

    by L.T.G on 3/11/2012 2:24 PM
  18. @L.T.G:

    I notice his lack of play in the Celtics game. but did better in the other games since the break. I haven't changed my mind about him because he is not a PG that helps the team or his teammates to be better.

    by Hg on 3/11/2012 2:33 PM
  19. Hg;
    Those days are long gone. My sorry attempt at some humor.

    by Divotking on 3/13/2012 5:07 PM
  20. And two steps back in Indy...

    by dgpdx on 3/13/2012 6:40 PM
  21. A new low. 5 assists. Really. Nate's teams have always been overachieving. Underachieving does not come close to describing this team. Bonding over steak dinner. Really. Even us die-hards are getting long faces.

    by Divotking on 3/13/2012 7:08 PM
  22. i didn't see the game, again. and again i don't regret it. what i do regret is breaking my hold out vow and buying nba league pass to watch the blazers. i wasted money but at least i can save my time.

    by thedanman on 3/13/2012 7:33 PM
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