Apr 03

Jazz Deal Blazers Crippling Blow

By mikebarrett Posted in: Jazz
I don't know if that was the final blow to the jaw of the Trail Blazers, the one that finally has the legs wobbly and sends them to the canvas, but we'll find out soon enough.  I do know this- we've had this same feeling after so many games lately that it's beginning to define this season. And, you don't want to be defined by close losses.

The Trail Blazers are now 4-12 in games decided by five points or fewer.  As we've stated on so many occasions, this is a category this team prided itself on in the past few years.  Get Portland in a close game at your own peril.  This season it's been just the opposite.  When the Blazers have gotten themselves into a tight spot, late in a game, the ground starts to rumble and cracks begin forming.  And, the close losses absolutely feed off of each other.  The erode confidence and it becomes even tougher the next time you're in a similar situation.

The Utah Jazz are not a better team than Portland, at least on paper.  But, the teams have one major difference, when looking at the stats.  Utah is 9-6 in games decided by four points or fewer.  That's it.  They've closed the door in tight games more often than not.  

Do the simple math.  The Trail Blazers have played 16 games that have been decided by five or less.  If they simple split these games, go .500 in the 16, they would be 29-25, instead of 25-29. That's just saying they win the same amount as they lose, in those situations.  Things would look a lot different, and a playoff appearance would be right around the corner.

So, even though this isn't exactly a profound thought, this is what this league is pretty much all about, correct?  Either you get a player who carries you across the finish line, when put in spots like this, or you're doomed to be an also-ran.  Yes, it's good that they've been in 16 very tight games, and have given themselves an opportunity to win a lot more than they have, but you've simply got to come up with more than 4 of those 16.

Let me also say this morning that I feel badly for Raymond Felton.  Holy cow, was he ever on an island last night in the final few crucial plays of that game.  It's certainly no fun to re-live what happened, but the Trail Blazers led the game 97-94, with 2:30 to go, and had the ball. After Utah pulled to within one, Felton dribbled the ball off of his foot and out of bounds.  One the next possession, trailing by one, Felton had the ball taken out of his hands by Jamaal Tinsley, and the Jazz scored again.  That was it.  

It also should be pointed out that Felton, for as much as you don't want to believe this, didn't lose this game by himself.  The Trail Blazers shot 5 for 16 in the fourth quarter, as a team.  And, other than the horrible moments late, Felton played his tail off.  He had just four points, but also had 8 assists and 9 rebounds, one night after nearly collecting a triple-double against Minnesota.
But, as we stated above, it's all about closing the deal, and what you do in the final moments of a game.  

The final few offensive possessions for the Trail Blazers ruined what was actually a very entertaining, and hard-fought game.  But, this was a huge game, and huge games are defined by huge moments.  The Blazers fell flat in the huge moments of this one.

What really stings is the fact that Portland could easily be up 2-0 on the Jazz in the season series. The first meeting between these two teams also ended with a freakish set of plays.  That was the game when Nic Batum had a clear lane to the hoop, and would have given the Blazers the lead in Salt Lake City, but had his knee buckle as he was during to dash down the middle.  He suffered the injury, and the Jazz grabbed the ball and scored at the other end.  Crazy stuff.  You couldn't make it up.

All of this is not to say that 46 of the 48 minutes of a game are meaningless.  And, again, they should be given some credit that they're battling like they are during games and haven't begin to fold it in on the season.  But, at the end of the day, this is another in a long line of Blazers losses this season that have been decided in crunch time. 

They're not dead yet, and will come out swinging again on Wednesday, but things will have to go almost perfectly the rest of the way for the Blazers to get themselves back in a position to pounce at a playoff spot.  They can do it, clearly.

The question is, when faced with this same situation the next time, will they have the confidence and composure to come up with the big play?  The problem now is, your past actions often dictate your future execution.  The Blazers simply can't rely on memory in these situations, and experience is such a valuable tool when building confidence.  In late-game situations, it's an understatement to say that confidence is lacking. 

They have shown us that they're capable to repeatedly getting themselves in a position to succeed.  Now, it's about pushing themselves over the top.  So far, their inability to do just that has them in this desperate situation with only 12 games to go.  


  1. I like the insights you provided there, Mr. Barrett. The first thing I am going to mention is that I feel really bad for Felton. I know he has been under fire for most of the season and he has been playing a lot better lately. I have been excited to watch him play since the coaching change took place. Mr. Barrett, you are totally correct that it is not his fault we lost this game. It is the team's fault. I would have loved to seen him make the right pass to seal the game and I wish he would have played better at the end. I also wish he had not missed so many shots. I was disappointed. What was even more disappointing was some of the comments I saw from people after the game that were directed at him. My sister and dad have shown me that true Blazers fans have much more class than that. I am kind of ashamed at what I read from them. If Felton is not working out for us we can decide not to have him return next year. That is all up to the team to decide. Personal attacks against him are uncalled for.

    We really need to go on a run to close out the season regardless of whether we make the playoffs. I believe a lot of things can be determined over the last dozen games. We can get a better idea of which players can help us next year and it might be able to give Coach Canales a real chance to become our permanant head coach. Even though we might not make the playoffs I think there is always something to play for.

    One other thing and I feel funny about doing this but my sister said I should. I wrote a blog of my own here about playing to win at all times. Here is the link if any of you want to read it.


    by Angi on 4/3/2012 8:50 AM
  2. Hey Mike, I do feel this was the last gallant move by the Blazers. I of course hope they will play with the same heart for the rest of the season, or let all the bench play big minutes to be more prepared for the future.

    Sure we did spectacular the first quarter an made all those threes, but as Mr. Holton pointed out, it could easily be fool Gold, and we had to attack the middle. And as you and that other mike mentioned last week in a game I got to watch, with you and the other Mike announcing, that it is hard to continue to hammer inside when the opponents has a big line-up. In fact I think it was the Laker game.
    Long short, you mentioned that the past often dictates the present in games being lost when when the score is under five. but we quit as a team and on our coach in the past because of the same problem, so do we keep fighting with spunk or do we put our tails between our legs. I am hoping coach K has them believing, but at the same time I am like you, of the past haunting the present.
    I don't often disagree with you Kassandra and now Angi, but considering how big they are compared to us, with Joel's limited minutes, with Crawford out, as much as I hate to admit it, playing to the wire was expected, and the lost big lead had very little to do with us losing the game. It was choking at the end. I do blame Felton or the coach for that, because if he is that shaky under pressure, he should not be in the game at crunch time.

    Anyway, I am not a quitter as a fan, but I don't see much of a future in this season, I will continue to watch and root, but I am worried that the starch was taken out of the team last night. But hey, lets look at more time for JJ, Flynn and Talbeet. watching Jonny Flynn is exciting all by itself, and we need to find out about his future. I feel JJ has already obtained his Niche as a banger, rebounder and put back player which we desperately need. He didn't get many point or rebounds last night, but it wasn't for the lack of trying. I feel that Thabeet is a project, much as Batum and Travis was. I think if we keep him as our third string center, use Freeland, if he comes over next year, JJ, Joel and our newly acquired big, big center until Thalbeet gets ready.

    by Hg on 4/3/2012 9:22 AM
  3. All of those early 3's were fools gold. Then we relapsed into our lack of defense and rebounding attitude for two quarters.

    by Ancientone on 4/3/2012 1:20 PM
  4. The nail got hit on the head with the fools gold statement. As soon as I heard that I was like Yep. We threw up a lot of shots vs the Jazz in that first half, and the difference between this game and most games before is they went in. But our inside presence besides LA, was quite small, and our lack of defense hurt us bad.

    Hickson was not able to get his game going, that happens sometimes, not too worried. We should not expect JJ to be a 16-10 guy everynight, but even he can be a Pendergraph who scores more, Ill take it. LMA has played quite good lately, seeing him bump down inside and be more aggressive. However the Blazers did not really go to him in the 3rd, its wierd how at times they need offense really bad, it seems like they forget about him. They were throwing doubles at him, but atleast move the ball around and see what happens.

    This might have been the knock out punch, well just have to see. Bottom line is Felton needs to go. Yeah he has 5 crappy games per 1 decent game, but its that smile I see on his face almost every time he messes up, like he doesnt care. I would like to see a player or coach come in and put Batum under his wing and teach him to be aggressive EVERY NIGHT!!...cause when he is...I like what I see.

    by whitefeather21380 on 4/3/2012 2:09 PM
  5. 7 million. That is a lot of zeros. At critical moments of the game, you put the ball in you point guards hands to protect it and make good decisions.

    by Divotking on 4/3/2012 4:57 PM
  6. Paul Allen showed some loyalty. Good on him. He put Kaleb in charge because of the years of hard work Kaleb gave him. Paul knows Kaleb probably won't be here next year. New GM, new coach. A complete cultural change.

    by Divotking on 4/3/2012 5:01 PM
  7. I think raymond felton was looking at a court side fan's food when he got his pocket picked by a point guard twice his age and someone we all thought retired 8 years ago. He probably wouldn't have dribbled it off his foot if he hadn't snuck so many donut holes into his shoes on the bench to snack on thus making his foot stick out that much more.

    by pretzelboii90 on 4/3/2012 10:07 PM
  8. Just food for raymond... err... i mean... *thought*. haha

    by pretzelboii90 on 4/3/2012 10:08 PM
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