Felton Keys Victory over Warriors
Well, that was unusual.
Let me explain that by tossing out a few numbers from this strange game at the Rose Garden on Sunday night. The Trail Blazers shot 37 percent from the field, and hit 10 of their 30 three-point attempts. They managed only 24 points in the paint (Denver had 94 points in the paint one night this season). They were out rebounded 44-42 by a team that doesn't rebound, posted a season-low 14 points in the second quarter, and got 6 for 25 shooting from their bench (their reserves were outscored 28-16).
But, they won.
Before the game even started, this game had a weird feel to it. We always say this, but it's the unknown that kills you in this league. Scouting and game planning is so vital. That's why I always toss up red flags when a team is missing a star and a player you've never heard of is dumped into the mix.
For Golden State on Sunday, there was no Monta Ellis, no Steph Curry, no Nate Robinson, and no Andris Biedrins. Instead, they went with players like Charles Jenkins, Mickell Gladness, and Keith Benson. I pride myself on being overly prepared for games, but even I was scratching my head at times with the lineups that were on the court. So were the Blazers.
Everything seemed to start okay for Portland, as they jumped on top, and the outside shots were falling (at least a decent amount of the time). But, in the second quarter the Trail Blazers seemed to either get bored, or got overly comfortable with the idea that they'd roll to an easy win in this one, and a YMCA game all of a sudden broke out. The hard work and the scrap gave way to quick outside shooting and standing around. The Warriors held Portland to just 14 in that second quarter, built a lead as big as eight points, and carried a seven-point lead to the locker room at halftime.
The Trail Blazers got serious in the third quarter, and mounted their charge. They outscored the Warriors 29-16 in the quarter, things got back to normal, and the Blazers went back to sleep. That's when things got scary.
It almost looked like the Trail Blazers kept waiting for the Warriors to roll over and die, yet it never happened. Behind 27 points from Jenkins, almost doubling his career high, the Warriors hung tough and grabbed a 87-86 lead in the final minute. The Trail Blazers then went back to their bread and butter, and LaMarcus Aldridge gave the them the lead with a turnaround jumper, and then hit two free throws to make the final margin three, and 90-87.
As much as it looked like Aldridge saved Portland's bacon on this night, it was actually Raymond Felton who unlocked the cell time and time again, and let this team out of jail. Felton, in his most complete game of the season, scored 24 points (on 9 of 17 shooting), dished out seven assists, and committed just one turnover. He also led the team in hustle plays on this night, getting a hand on several loose balls, and popping two rebounds loose that the Blazers went on to recover.
Again, odd to see this kind of a game between these two teams. For all the strange stats I gave you above, the Blazers actually outscored the Warriors in fast-break points 12-4, and beat them in points off turnovers 20 to 4.
The margin for error is so razor-thin now for Portland, this was one of those games that could have serious put a nail in their coffin, as far as their chances to make the post season. The chances still aren't very good, but this was a must-win. It wasn't a work of art by any means, but they did win, and now move on.
It goes without saying that the Trail Blazers can't bring any of this same kind of a game to the Rose Garden on Tuesday and live to tell about it. Oklahoma City is coming back, and it'll take Portland's best effort to make that a contest. They can do it, as we've seen. But, OKC is locked in now, and will be out for blood.
We'll worry about that when the time comes. For now, take the win and turn the page. Might even want to burn the box score- unless, of course, you're Raymond Felton, who will tape this one to the fridge.