Blazer Run Sinks Nets
We had the intriguing Deron Williams topic set to go in our TV broadcast, and Blazer fans were ready to begin the courting process with signs and cheers. Then, with the teams warming up and the clock winding down came the news that Williams would miss the game due to a stomach virus.
That part of the show was over. Then, the worry came about the Trail Blazers losing their edge and intensity knowing New Jersey's best player wouldn't be on the floor. That is what often happens in the NBA, and it can be dangerous.
The Nets, who had won three of their last four, came in with designs on picking up just their sixth win ever in the city of Portland, and to their credit, seemed to almost feed off the news that Williams wouldn't play.
The Trail Blazers, who were going up against former teammate Gerald Wallace, appeared to get over the early emotional hump, and grabbed a 10-point lead. But, by halftime that lead was down to just two points, and the start of the third quarter went New Jersey's way, as they showed they weren't about to go quietly.
Still, the Blazers showed they had plenty to deal with a desperate, hungry team in the third quarter and build a 16-point lead. Then came the let down that was feared early, and the Nets climbed right back into the game. They used a 19-4 run to take a lead at 83-80.
Portland then decided to get serious and put together a 16-1 run to take the suspense out of the building. They seized control and won the game 101-88.
LaMarcus Aldridge led the way with 24 points and nine rebounds, and had plenty of help. J.J. Hickson, who continues to show that he may be here to stay, had 18 points and eight rebounds off the bench. He was also 7-10 from the field. Nic Batum put together his second-straight double-double (first time in his career he's done that), with 20 points and 10 rebounds. And, Raymond Felton, who suffered through a nightmarish end to Monday's game against Utah, rebounded well, and scored 14 points (on 5-8 shooting), and also dished out 9 assists and grabbed 8 rebounds.
Say what you want about Felton (and I know fans have said plenty), to be able to put aside all that went wrong Monday, and bounce back and have an efficient and effective game on Wednesday, was impressive. He played under control, ran the break well, and made good decisions all night.
Wallace was greeted, as expected, very warmly by the Portland fans. But, the night didn't go the way he expected it would. Wallace had three shots rejected by the Blazers, struggled from the field, shooting just 3 of 12, and was dunked on hard by Aldridge in the second half. Wallace ended with 8 points and 9 rebounds.
So, instead of Williams leading the Nets to another impressive showing, guys like Gerald Green, Anthony Morrow, and Kris Humphries kept them within shouting distance most of the night. Green and Morrow had 20 apiece, and Humphries ended with 21 and 11.
This is probably a too-little-too-late situation for the Trail Blazers, but they're not wanting to hear that just yet. The many close losses, including Friday's against the Clippers in L.A., and the freakish end to the Utah game, seemed like crippling blows at the time, and probably will prove to be in the end. But, they did they only thing they could do on this night- concentrated on getting a home win, and got one.
Now, it's off on the road, and nothing is easy about this trip. Friday night the Blazers take on the defending champs in Dallas, and then Saturday play the Bucks in Milwaukee. If that seems like a strange back-to-back set, it is. Blame the lockout for this one.
The Trail Blazers know that even if they continue to play well, and come up short of their re-set goals, they've got no one to blame but themselves.