Nov 03

Blazers Rally for First Road Win

By mikebarrett
We've talked about how young teams need to see results following all of the hard work.  And, how big wins can boost the confidence of the entire roster.  For this year's Blazers, this was exactly what they needed.  Yes, we're just three games into the NBA schedule, but these are the kinds of wins that pay dividends later in a season.

The Blazers rolled into Houston Saturday night and ruined opening night for the Rockets.  They were unveiling their massive new center-hung scoreboard, were showing the home fans James Harden and Jeremy Lin for the first time in the regular season, and were hoping to move to 3-0 following two big road wins.

Instead, the young Blazers spoiled the whole thing.

LaMarcus Aldridge, who's always at his best in Texas, put the team on his back at times in the second half, got huge help from Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nic Batum, and J.J. Hickson, and led Portland to a 95-85 overtime win.

Aldridge ended with 27 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists.  Fittingly, he put the nail in the coffin in this one, popping in a jumper out top that gave Portland it's 10-point margin of victory.

Lillard continued his amazing start, scoring 20 points, and also dished out nine assists and grabbed 6 rebounds.  He hit two huge three pointers in overtime, and outplayed Lin, who ended with just 13 points.

Hickson once again registered a double-digit rebound total, 12 on this night, and also added 9 points.  He fought, scrapped, and recorded multiple floor burns in helping his team to the come-from-behind win.  

Batum, who had the great first game against the Lakers, but went just 1 for 11 against the Thunder in Oklahoma City, had a rough first half in Houston.  Halfway through the game he was 0 for 4 with 0 points.  In the third quarter, Batum recorded 13 points, and recorded two big-time blocked shots.  

But, who gets the MVP honors on this night?  They could have gone to any of the above, but Matthews has been put through the ringer in these first few days of the season.  He's had to spend most of his time on the floor in these games guarding Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and in this game, James Harden, who came in averaging an NBA-best 41 points per game.  It sounds strange to say he held Harden to "just" 24 in this game, but considering what Harden has been posting, this was a huge success.  Harden had to work for everything he got, and wound up shooting just 8 for 24.  He came into the game against Portland shooting 64 percent in his first two.

Matthews also turned one of the key defensive plays of the night when he stripped Harden of the ball with the clock running out in regulation.  Harden was about to attempt what would have been a game-winning shot, but had the ball slapped away by Matthews, and overtime became necessary.

In the first half, it certainly appeared the Rockets were on their way to another win, and a 3-0 mark.  They had the crowd fired up, and had a 12-point lead in the second quarter.  It was actually remarkable that the Blazers were able to go to the locker room at halftime trailing by only 8 points.  

The third quarter changed everything, and overtime slammed the door shut.  A big early-season win, and the first road victory was the reward on this night.

We're now in Dallas, and Monday night wrap up this three-game trip with a game against the Mavericks.  


  1. Ex-NFL football coach Chuck Knox used to love players who, as he put it, came to work every day with their lunch pail and hardhat and did the dirty jobs no one else wanted. He would have loved JJ Hickson!

    I propose a new nickname for JJ: either "Hoover" or "Shop Vac." That's because he vacuums the glass and cleans up messes in the paint.

    Next we get a Dallas lovefest. La Marcus returns home and Coach Stotts reunites with Coach Carlisle and most of the players he helped coach last season. The love ends at tipoff and the Blazers go on to win!

    by dgpdx on 11/4/2012 3:47 AM
  2. Hey Mr Mike:
    You and the Wild one has said countless times that the big key to a win on the road is to stick around keeping the game close and hit it hard at the end; I guess the formula works, but let me tell you I was more then nervous that first half. The strangest thing in viewing had me grumbling to begin with, the only channel on the NBA package had a sign on it saying the game would be joined in progress. Fortunately I have NBA access with audio and got to listen to Wheels, but let me tell you, he was not painting a very good picture of the game.

    At half time with me grumbling, sad and ready to fire the NBA package that I had paid a good hunk of money to obtain; the game came on TV as the second half started and I saw with my eyes the Blazers in a comeback mode.not that I don't like Wheels eyes, but he was already in his whining mode and wasn't very optimistic, The second great unexpected thing was it was you and the wild one that was announcing the game. Usually, I have to listen to opposing announcers on away games. Plus the Blazers in their comeback mode took control of the game, Batum was waiting for me to see and started his revengeful, I told you so mode, and all was well finally. Boy talking about the tell of two halfs this was one of them.

    Anyway all is well that ends well and this ended with a great performance by the Blazers. It was asked on Blazer edge how many jumped out of their chair when we hit two threes in a row in over time that gave us the win? I was for one already out of my chair and dancing just getting to overtime, let alone with those two dagger shots. Wow, to stay the least.

    I am sure your inside info is better then my media info, but if you had told me we would start the season out with a 2- 1 record with the opponents we had and a new PG, I would have laughed at you. Plus if My Batum would have had a decent game against OKC, we would have been 3-0. My wife said that was all she needed was some excitement in my senile jabbering, to make her day LOL.

    @jyp300, what a great game, I was about ready to crank up the bus and find your home when I couldn't watch the game the first half, but all ended well. It didn't sound like the first half was worth watching anyway.

    by Hg on 11/4/2012 3:54 AM
  3. Excellent game by th starters, but if we don't get more production from the bench we are eventual going to have problems.


    by mgb on 11/4/2012 4:11 AM
  4. @mgb: Of course you are right, but we have to be patient, just the third game into the season with Price coming off an injury and Freeland, Claver, and Leonard just getting their feet wet, and of course losing Elliot Williams. I don't know if we will ever get production from the bench, but we do have a little potential. In many cases if they can just be place holders it would help.

    by Hg on 11/4/2012 5:09 AM
  5. @ Hg, I beg to differ, it's more than a little potential (Freeland, Claver, & of course Meyers WILL produce L8r this season but next yr... look out! ;) AND u didn't even mention THE guy w/ IMO the MOST potential, Will! :) THE problem continues to b Babbit; in OKC, he helped w/ some points BUT I don't think his defense will ever b there :( Also, I believe Nolan is close to the player he's going to b; he'll never b good enough to start for any team in this league (or @ least he shouldn't ;) but he's able to grow just a little bit more to become a serviceable "placeholder" (Nolan's absolute ceiling is to b as good as Price & he's got a ways to go b4 we can make that comparison ;)

    @ dgpdx, I'm w/ u on the idea of ur nicknames but howz 'bout Mr. Clean (he does the tough jobs/gets the job(s) done, he's tough, & he "cleans" up everything ;), JJ THE Hammer Hickson (I've actually been using this 1 for a while; I like this 1 because hammers r tough & they 4 for hard-hitting blue-collar work ;), or JJ the Hardhat Hickson (I can c announcers using this1 but I'd prefer they use the 1 I've been using ;)."

    ps GREAT games (ALL of them :)! I'd break 'em down but I wanna leave ppl something to add ;) Hahaha! I'll just say to our guys, no matter what happens in Dal. on Mon., MAINTAIN focus; don't b rattled when Dal. starts to put together runs/plays; MAINTAIN ur cool (BUT bring ALSO MAINTAIN the aggressiveness/energy) & stick to Stott's plans (obviously what I've just said NEEDS 2 b done EVERY game but I just wanted 2 give our guys a reminder/some words of encouragement especially for our young guys to take to heart ;). Go Blazers! Let's go kick some DalASS!

    by Simpson on 11/4/2012 6:28 AM
  6. Hey, Let's play 10 games before we declare our bench is bad. I am glad to see all those guys getting playing time so they can work out a few things. Coach needs some time to see how everyone fits together.
    Just saying...

    by mzelena on 11/4/2012 6:43 AM
  7. Matthews is playing like a man possessed. He is the type of leader that leads with his actions not words. His teammates see how hard he works and it spreads like a virus. Win or lose, when I see that kind of effort, I tune in.
    We might want to lock up JJ for more than one year. He is proving himself night in and night out.
    Coach Stotts is everything we hoped for. His players work hard, communicate, play with confidence, all while having fun. Sounds like a good place to go to work. It's getting the most out of your employees.
    Nothing to lose. Everything to prove. GO BLAZERS !!

    by Divotking on 11/4/2012 7:58 AM
  8. Hey Simpson:
    You are not differing with me, as I agree with you, I just didn't want to write another book as I just wrote one above. I was just talking about now not next year, Next year some of the players you mentioned may be gone as this is a weeding out of culls and undergrowth year. Every NBA player has potential, and it is too early to say what that potential will be. You picked on Nolan, but remember he had no training camp last year and he is only playing PG by default, so his potential is not for sure reached. I don't know about Babbitt, he looks awkward, but he can nail the three.
    I didn't mention many players, because I don't know what the potential is.

    by Hg on 11/4/2012 9:48 AM
  9. That's ok Hg I lost weight this summer and I can afford a few snacks.

    These guys are fun to watch. The starters are carrying the load right now but I have been watching the rookies. Leonard is moving his feet instead of swatting at the ball,setting picks and clogging the middle. Barton shows real potential as does Freeland.

    If we can get our shooting average up we won't be anyone's push over.

    by Ancientone on 11/4/2012 11:02 AM
  10. I'm really enjoying watching this team. Brandon Roy is no doubt a swell guy and I wish him the best, but his entire era was characterized by plodding isolation slow ball. Then we got the season of Fatty Felton where even when they won I felt a little dirty, and when they lost I was frequently enraged. This team is young and unjaded and they play hard. Maybe Lillard will emerge as the new version of Derrick Rose and we'll see the improvement out of Nic that has been long hypothesized and they'll win 45 games and sneak into the playoffs... But even if they don't, it promises to be an entertaining season...

    by Carrite on 11/4/2012 12:23 PM
  11. @ Hg, the part where u said "' I don't know if we will ever get production from the bench..." sounded like you'd already given up on our bench this yr. but if we're on the same page (which we usually r ;) then cool :) I like all our guys but u may b right w/ some of them not being here next yr. :( Nolan's a good person & as a player he shown flashes of what we need from him (which is to give Dame or some1 else a breather) BUT... unfortunately he's also shown us plenty of critical mistakes; IF he can't become a playmaker & is ONLY a 2 guard, we need to get rid of him ASAP but IF he can become a playmaker (which I believe he can, similar to Price), then if we don't have a better option, we should keep him (sorry 2 sound so callus but we're in the biz of winning ;). It's true Nolan had no training camp last yr. BUT he DID have 1 this yr. & I did base what I said on everything to date. U r right about Babbit looking awkward bc that's exactly what's going on; he's a great shooter but he's not an NBA player (or @ least an effective 1).

    @ Carrite, i love our guys & support the crap out of 'em but I predict that they will win 41 games (I don't want 2 b negative, simply a realist. 41 after ALL that's happened 2 this team so fast is VERY respectable. I also thought giving them 41 WAS optimistic BUT realistic! Hahaha! ;) & I DO consider this a successful season :) Should we win 45-47... THAT would b BIG time AND I believe that's good enough to get into the playoffs!

    by Simpson on 11/4/2012 1:13 PM
  12. @Simpson: Hey I am a homer, I am not about to give up on any of our players, including Nolan. I was just saying to MGB that we had to be patient, but that doesn't necessarily mean who we will or who we won't get production out of, I said that because I just don't know.

    Nolan did have one year with Nate as a coach and Felton and Jamal as teammates, so I figure he is starting from scratch also.
    I am just a fan that doesn't make decisions of who goes who stays, who plays good and who plays bad, As long as we win as a unit the synergy might make the parts = more than the whole. Heck if Barton can set up plays let him and Nolan play together because it really doesn't matter which does it and they can both create off the dribble. Again I am not debating with you just learning to see and use the tools and parts that we have.

    by Hg on 11/4/2012 3:35 PM
  13. Good article as usual Mike! I love defense and Wesley is a great defender. Nicolas in the 2nd half looked a whole lot like his hero Scottie Pippen. It was and exciting game and our starters looked fine. Our bench, well, not so much. I don't know how Leonard can play that many minutes and only log 2 rebounds. Nolan came off the bench and immediately threw the ball away. Ouch! I actually think All our other bench players are going to get better. Barton looks like he'll develop an NBA game. Sasha already has one as do Price and Jeffries. Freeland and Claver have a lot of potential but in my opinion Nolan and Luke's main job should be to keep the bench warm and only get in a game when we have a 20 pt lead in the last minutes of the 4th qtr. I'd rather see quicker development of Barton, Claver and Freeland than Babbit and Smith. Still really happy with the overtime win!

    by riverman on 11/4/2012 8:36 PM
  14. i could only listen to this game, but it sounded very, very ugly. it was back and forth, low-scoring and ... well, ugly. however, what comes out of claiming the win is the guys gain confidence they can, indeed, accomplish the goal of picking up these tight games, as well as win them should they go to overtime. i think that goes a very long way.

    i find a certain irony that our most consistent offensive performer is Damian; a rookie. Wesley and Nicolas are first-half to second-half inconsistent players and i think we all have known that for a while now. LaMarcus has a great knack of coming through when we need him. we're seeing that.

    what i'm really worried about is the bench. we scored all of six points from the pine riders last night. imagine had we scored just three times that. this game would not have gone into overtime and it would have been a much easier win. Stotts needs to enhance chemistry in that second unit because the productivity is just plain not there.

    all that being said, this is going to be a season-long work in progress. we're going to take our lumps here and there and, fortunately, we're going to have moments like last night when we pick up games in which we might just play to the level of a loss. like i said, it was ugly, but i'll take it. i'm not the most patient person in the world, but i see that i'm going to have to be patient with this year's team.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 11/4/2012 8:49 PM
  15. just found out some interesting news. Jonny Flynn is now playing for the Melbourne Tigers of Australia's NBL. this is the same team Patty Mills played for last fall when the lockout was still in effect. kind of makes me wonder which guy from this year's roster will play for them next year!

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 11/4/2012 9:17 PM
  16. Love seeing you give credit where credit is due Mr. Barrett :) Our starters are awesome!

    Looking forward to seeing progress in the next game as far as the bench goes. I will also be looking for Nico to have the same level of effort he showed in the 2nd half throughout the game, regardless of his shooting.

    See you next time! Enjoy Dallas :)

    by SisillaRiann on 11/5/2012 2:30 AM
  17. Hey Miss Kassandra, you have it about right. If anybody would have told me that we would be 2-1 the top team in our division and we would beat LA and then beat Houston in their home opener, I would have called them a bigger homer then you and me. So like you, although it was UGLY, I will take the win. For me is was finally winning a road game. Remember last year was a big bugaboo away from the confines of the RG.

    The bench play is bad, and I am not sure patience will help, but Stotts rotating them in with a couple of Starters still on the floor is working, and the starters are getting more rest then Nate gave them. We very seldom found out how bad our bench was last year until the end because we only seen them is short stints.
    MB has said thousands of times that as games go by our expectation changes continuously, So it isn't so much gaining patience as it is to keep reminding me that I just wanted them to play hard and contend. I catch my self cursing because if Batum had had a good game we would have been 3-0. See how I am LOL.

    What do we expect from Dallas tonight, now that our expectations are changing? Does Stotts play it tough to show his old team up or give in to the coach that gave him a new start? Until Halloween night, I would not even be asking this question.

    by Hg on 11/5/2012 2:49 AM
  18. Simpson: You're right, Mr. Clean it is!

    by dgpdx on 11/5/2012 9:49 PM
  19. Good draft year for Paul. Russel Wilson-D Lill

    by Divotking on 11/6/2012 6:23 PM
  20. Mr Mike:
    I know you wanted to get home for some great home cooking, but your time is up, we need your input.
    I didn't think Lillard looked that bad even with all the attention he was getting from the Mavs defense, and of course Collison is one of my favs anyway. I campaigned for him all summer but lost. But Damian doesn't need to take a back seat to anyone.
    I am glad the Blazers has reply to comment fixed, so now everybody will be crying about me posting so much. But hey you can't keep a Blazer frantic down for long and you can't ignore the Blazers much longer, the road trip is far enough in the past, leave the home cooking and get back in front of your keyboard and give is some of your great insight. I am joking about the command, but serious about reading your post.

    by Hg on 11/7/2012 10:21 AM
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