Mar 29

Blazers Finish Sweep of Hornets

By mikebarrett

The Trail Blazers did what they wanted to do on Thursday night at the Rose Garden- it just took them a tad longer to put this game away than they expected.  Most of the credit (or blame) for that belongs to Monty Williams and his gritty New Orleans Hornets team. 

The Hornets, who’ve actually played very well as of late, beating the Clippers, falling by three to San Antonio, and then beating Golden State on Wednesday night, were simply just too shorthanded on this night.  They learned right before the tip they would be without Jarrett Jack, and were already without almost half of their roster.  That’s pretty much been their story this season.  Again, to their credit, they hung around and make this a tighter contest in the end than it probably should have been.

Portland finally looked to be over the top when they built and 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but then perhaps relaxed for a beat and the Hornets came charging back behind Marco Belinelli, who ended with a career-high-tying 27 points, on 7 for 11 shooting from behind the three-point line.

The Trail Blazers did some damage themselves from behind the arc, led by Luke Babbitt, who leads all second-year players in the NBA now at just a hair below 50 percent on the season.  Babbitt gave Portland a huge boost off the bench, scoring 16 points in just 17 minutes of action.  Opportunity is something he’s been given now, and he’s certainly making the most of it. 

But, the start of this game for the Blazers was a repeat performer.  LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points, 12 rebounds, and five big assists, against a pretty good defensive front line.  He was defended by Carl Landry, and Jason Smith most of the night, and also got Lance Thomas into foul trouble.

Raymond Felton, who missed Tuesday night’s game to be with his mother, returned to post a solid game.  Felton had 12 points, 10 assists, and four rebounds.  He played under control and didn’t force much, which is always a key for him.

Yes, J.J. Hickson is growing on a lot of people and continues to look for real.  Hickson, who was brushed aside by the Sacramento Kings, is loving this chance he’s getting in Portland.  He had 12 points, six rebounds, and countless hustle plays.  He’s a big reason why Portland was able to get this win.

Nicolas Batum put the nail in the coffin in this game, hitting a big three-point shot with just under a minute left.  That made the score 97-90, and completed a 14-point second half for him.  Problem was, he was scoreless in the first half, and has to continue to be more of a factor than that.  Also credit Wesley Matthews, who stayed red hot.  In his last six games, Matthews is 20 for 35 from behind the three-point line.  That is red hot.

This game started a stretch of seven games in the next 10 nights for the Trail Blazers.  Fortunately, most of those are at home.  Unfortunately, we’re headed to L.A. and take on the Clippers in the second game of a back to back on Friday night.

Talk to you from the Staples Center.

Previous Story: Thunderstorm at the RG


  1. It occurred to me during the game that there's really only one thing a player can control on the court and that's intensity. No matter how badly a game may be going, there is simply no excuse for not bringing one's best effort to every game. This applies double to rebounding and to defense where individual effort can pay huge dividends.

    One reason JJ Hickson is getting rave reviews for his play so far is that he stands out for his intensity on this Blazer team. Why should that be? Why should it take a late-season newcomer to highlight intensity for the Blazers? Figure that one out and we might see a greatly improved team on the court.

    by dgpdx on 3/29/2012 10:26 PM
  2. Mike thank you for the blog; I know many will say this was a poor performance from Portland, and maybe it was, but we played a lot of new players, had many players scoring and although we only played a half of the ball game, we got the job done.
    Anymore I don't know if we are playing bad and our bad play makes the opponents look great or what. but we did what we had to do in the first game of a B2B, without killing ourselves. Well Matthews may have some lingering pain from bouncing his head off the floor like a BB.
    Babbitt's shooting is a breath of fresh air after all the bad outside shots this season and countered Jamal's lack of shooting.
    There is nothing to say about JJ and Jonny except wow, I too am hoping for a long relationship with both.
    I think right now if we had Edblu back our second unit would be as good as our first unit.
    I do like LaMarcus and JJ playing together though. That was about the quietest 25 point LMA got. because he wasn't always the center of attention and that made NOH have something to think about. I am not knocking Nolan, and I know I am bias against Felton, but Flynn moved the ball more smoothly and kept the players better then both Felton and Nolan.
    I never worry about Batum, he may not be aggressive all the time on offense, but he never usually hurt the team.
    Anyway this late in the season and the play-offs getting dimmer, I thought it was a good game and very entertaining

    by Hg on 3/29/2012 10:41 PM
  3. I'm happy for the win and glad to see the younger guys getting some palying time. My one wish is that the team would play strong defense for more of the 48 minutes than they do, and especially that they wouldn't wait until the third quarter to get it going!

    by dockaren on 3/29/2012 11:16 PM
  4. Nice to see the Blazers win some of their games, but the Hornets are the real winners with a low record yet being a team that, in my opinion, is much better than their record. Portland meanwhile, unless they learn defense, is about as good as their record. At this point, it seems that some teams are starting to give in, knowing their chances have become unreal, and are looking towards the off-season and the draft.

    Earlier today, I had a thought. Aren't the Wolves and Thunder a bunch of fakers? Especially the Thunder. Am I suppose to believe they turned everything around and instantly became much better in one season? No, these fools played like garbage until they got their pieces, and now they're the clear favorites in the West. Wolves did the same thing, although injury and youth has put them in a tough scenario. Also the fact they're as good on the road as they are at home. Should Portland become that? No, so in a sense, its nice to know my team is trying to win games, but just doesn't have enough to make the playoffs.

    I will say that I think the NBA draft is rigged. And Portland needs to trade their pick acquired for New Jersey. What a steal it would be if they get Gerald Wallace and end up getting to keep their pick. Here's where it's scary for the Blazers. I have to ask some questions. Do people think it was just the fate of the ping pong balls that the Clippers, based in LA, got a Hollywood type of player in Blake Griffin? Griffin isn't going to be getting away with nearly as much in a different market, we all know that based on what we've seen over the years. The dude travels, camps, fouls, and flops all the time. The refs help him look good. He goes to Hollywood, giving him huge endorsements and makes a flashy, hollywood type of player go "home". Next season, after Gilbert Arenas destroys the Washington franchise, they all of a sudden get the first pick to save their franchise. Hmm... a bit fishy there. Then, next season the Cavs get the pick, to have the "rebirth of LeBron". All make a good story, but is it real? I highly doubt it.

    Now look in the Nets position. They're relocating after this season. They're scared that Deron Williams might be leaving, so they trade to get Gerald Wallace. Their owner lost the Russian presidency and they didn't get Dwight Howard, which is what they were going for. They're in the garbage. So, what is the NBA going to do? Give them their top 3 pick in this draft. Who cares? Portland fans are use to being disappointed by Stern and the NBA. We're still going to follow our team and the league knows that. So, it's a sacrifice willing to be made.

    Obviously, I have no proof the NBA is rigged besides simple speculation, but we've all seen this league over the years and have all seen our problems with officials. We've all seen how only big markets stand a chance. And, who knows, maybe the NBA's intentions aren't to give the Nets their pick. But, don't be cursing fate when the Nets do get a top 3 pick, curse the NBA. It's all rigged. Portland needs to get rid of that draft pick and get something good after this season.

    Just thought I'd mention that. I'm loving Kaleb Canales. Give young guys playing time, and they'll start performing good. This is what a lot of great coaches go through. They let young guys play, expose their talent, and next thing you know you've got either great trade bait or a player that can produce good off the bench. Or even a starter, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Look at the Spurs. They play young guys regularly, and currently are probably the best team in the West. Thunder are good but... I'm still not ready to think they're the Western Champs.

    by Herr on 3/30/2012 12:50 AM
  5. Not the best game, but a win is a win. I'm glad the Blazers are not one of those teams that just throws in the towel when the playoffs look like a long shot. I'd much rather have my team go down fighting then be the team that gives in and lets the rest of the NBA be right about them. Sure I'd love it if they despite all odds made it to the playoffs or whatever, but I can live with it if they don't. Just keep fighting guys and we are with you! Loving you coach K! Keep up the good work LMA! Always love you Nico! Keeping surprising us Babbitt! And JJ you have made a lot of new friends and fans! And everyone knows Blazers fans are the very best! Good luck tomorrow!

    by Niki C on 3/30/2012 3:56 AM
  6. dgpdx: You nailed it.

    by Ancientone on 3/30/2012 5:00 AM
  7. Well watching them win is much better than watching them lose lol. Nice to see the offense working tonight, and making some defensive stops when they needed to. Not the greatest game, but Ill take it. I always give props when they are deserved, and LA played much better tonight, deeper in the paint and overall good game. I am loving Hickson so far, he certainly takes some heat off LA and also has nose for the ball and is making consistent baskets.

    by whitefeather21380 on 3/30/2012 6:20 AM
  8. Enjoyed the win.
    I am still looking for rebounding and second chance shots.
    We seem lost in a sea of opposing team players under the basket.
    Loved the shooting last night.

    by allie-oop on 3/30/2012 6:52 AM

  9. I didn't see that much different in this win and OKC's lost either, except for the difference it the talent we played against. The fact that the team brought the defensive intensity up in both games in the third qtr and played gassed or half interested the rest of the game shows me they are not bringing it on Defense, and is trying to win games with their 3pt shots. That is definitely not working. But then when they show that they can get to the rim on the drive, they kick it out to the outside shooters opposed to taking the shot; the reason JJ looks so impressive is the same as GW looking impressive, neither is afraid to take the shot. If that is the intensity Don and Ancientone is talking about, then I agree. Batum is not afraid to take it to the rim and shoot, but he quits doing that after a few misses; that is also the lack of intensity on his part; maybe the fear that Nate put in them for missing or goofing up on D is still imbedded in them.

    I was raised by a tyrant step father, (ya I know you've all seen that movie--poor Harold) that imbedded many bad traits in me out of fear, I finally quit trying to please him, but some of the traits still lingered. Maybe that is what happened in the case with Nate. No matter how hard they tried they still got thrown under the bus when they didn't win or they made a mistake. If that is so, then we have to give a chance for Kaleb's way to sink in. that also maybe the reason the new players are outshining the old. Although, I personally believe it is that they are putting their best foot forward trying for a job.

    by Hg on 3/30/2012 7:49 AM
  10. Last nights' game wasn't particularly pretty, but a win is a win.

    Some thoughts I had watching the game. Keep Hickson in the second unit. We need his hustle and intensity and scoring potential there.

    I honestly feel sorry for Crawford. You could just see the frustration on his face last night after another awful shooting night. At least he isn't forcing them up last night unless he had to to beat the shot clock. Several other games I'd see him forcing contested 3's up early in the shot clock, and that's almost never going to work.

    Flynn looked really good last night, but not better than Felton. But I think Flynn also brings energy and tempo that could be very beneficial to the second unit. I like N. Smith, loads of potential, but I don't think he's ready for the NBA pace yet.

    Overall I think we've got some great building blocks, and a great foundation in LMA. Practice time and a training camp will make a huge difference. Neither of which we will see much of until September.

    by soulseeker on 3/30/2012 1:19 PM
  11. soulseeker:
    I am with you on keeping JJ as back-up PF, for next year, as for this year, since Joel doesn't score much having him in as a center while LMA is still in takes lots of pressure of LaMarcus. Of course we stagger the rotation so that would not be a problem.
    With no practice time to speak of with draft and FA, the problem is who do we keep and who do we drop. Flynn may not be as good as Felton, but if we go after an elite PG, Felton would not settle going back to back up PG, plus, after Felton's bad start, the problems with Nate, and the fact that we tried to trade him at trade dead-line and Most of all PA didn't care what we did he just wanted the problem corrected, tells me that Felton will not be on the return list.

    Playing out the season with Felton as our starting PG would be OK.
    My question is do we go after an elite PG, and use use Flynn as our back up PG next year, and use Nolan as our our third PG and some 2gd. I believe E Williams will be our 2gd along with Matthews, which is pretty good. It sounds like we will keep Babbitt to back up Nic and JJ to back up LMA, so our biggest question is Center. I think Joel will stay until he retires whether that be at the end of the season or not, I don't know; he is just happy to be back with the Blazers and doesn't care if he gets minutes or not. If we get a center of the future in the draft, Joel would be a great help in that respect, Also when we go small ball LMA or JJ can play center. Of course I am leaving out Thabeet, but I do not know at all what Portland might do with him next year.

    As you said practice and training camp will make a big different and more playing time as one unit will surely help with the team D.

    by Hg on 3/30/2012 2:04 PM
  12. The Blazers played better in this game that the OKC game. I watched both games in my living room, and that is my honest assessment. It was not pretty, but they step out on shooters when needed and made couple key stops. That being said, OKC is on another level in terms of talent and execution.

    by whitefeather21380 on 3/30/2012 2:55 PM
  13. I don't see Thabeet being on the team next year. Joel I think will stay as long as he can put up around 20 productive mpg. Thomas will retire when this season is over. Since true centers are really slim pickings right now in the NBA in general, most likely that will be one of our target positions in the draft. Here's hoping we draft one that has a track record of staying healthy. PG I think we'll be able to pick up on the free-agent market, and it sounds like there's going to be a few very good ones available. Whether or not we will be able to entice one to come here is another matter. If we can't lure one here, Felton is staying. If we can, Felton gets wrapped in a trade package of some sort.

    by soulseeker on 3/30/2012 4:06 PM
  14. I still see Flynn as being unproven, so if we are talking PGofTF, maybe he will materialize. Chad said they have had their eye on Flynn for years. But if they want an elite back court player immediately and we have Wesley and E Williams as shooting guard, then PG will be who we will probably go after.

    Chad said that Thabeet is a project that will need some training and worked, the FO was pretty high on him doing his draft, but as a project player, Maybe that will still happen and we can get and elite and HEALTH center in the draft. Joel would stay getting no minutes and being a locker room leader. That was from his mouth.
    There is so many ways to go it becomes mind boggling. I do think Felton will not be signed to another contract, because of the fans anger towards him.

    by Hg on 3/30/2012 4:30 PM
  15. Look for a blowout tonight. The Blazers are not playing good ball right now. Last night there were way too many layins and dunks by N.O. Teams are getting excited and confident when they see the Blazers on their schedule.
    I don't like to single out players in a negative way but c'mon Jamal. That's 5 smelly ones in a row. I thought Nate played favortism with Jamal. If guys start stealing Jamal's minutes it will be interesting to see where his mind goes. When Matthews went into his shooting slump he turned up the defense, rebounding and found other ways to contribute. I don't know if Jamal has those skills.

    by Divotking on 3/30/2012 5:18 PM
  16. @Ancientone: Thanks. We old farts gotta stick together ;-)

    by dgpdx on 3/30/2012 11:05 PM
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