mikebarrett

Nov 16

Blazers Hang On in Thriller

By mikebarrett
That's two games against the Houston Rockets this season for the Portland Trail Blazers, two overtime games, and two wins.  In the first meeting, on November 3rd in Houston, we learned a lot about Damian Lillard, as he scored eight points in overtime and put the game away.  In this game, we not only learned even more about Lillard, we saw many of his teammates share in the glory of a hard-fought victory.

Before we get started with any of that, it should be mentioned that the Rockets were very, very good in this game.  They established a 16-point first-half lead, answered just about every Blazer run, repeatedly hit huge shots down the stretch, and had a list of would-be heroes of their own. But, in the end, all they got for their efforts was another loss to Portland.

The Blazers meanwhile, turned around a game that looked like was headed for another close-but-not-close-enough finish.  They hustled, scrapped, rebounded, defended, and put together too many highlight plays to possibly recap this quickly after.

Player of the game for Portland?  Nic Batum?  Lillard?  Aldridge?  Meyers Leonard?  Wesley Matthews?  Take your pick.

Batum was incredible in getting Portland into position to even be in this game in the late stages.  If I had a dime for every person who predicted that Batum wouldn't play up to his new, fat contract, I'd be a rich man.  So far this season he's been worth every penny.  Seriously, this is all-star-type stuff.  

Batum got on one of his rolls late in the third quarter, and early in the fourth, and at one point scored 11-straight Portland points.  There wasn't much the Rockets could do.  Batum ended with 35 points, six rebounds, four assists, and five huge blocked shots.  There are only two players in the NBA now who have scored over 33 points twice this season- James Harden, and Batum.

Lillard also had a stretch in the game where he scored 11-straight Portland points.  In fact, there was a run where Lillard scored 16 of 18 points for the Blazers, with the only other two coming from Meyers Leonard, who was huge as well.  Lillard ended with 27 points, five rebounds, and five assists.  Leonard had eight points and eight rebounds, in his 27 minutes.

Matthews did his best against the NBA's top scorer, James Harden, and came up with his best defensive plays when it mattered most.  

And then there was Aldridge, who buried a clutch turnaround jumper that basically put the game away.  LaMarcus ended with 29 points on the night.

We've talked so much about confidence, and its importance to a young team just learning to play together in a new system.  This was one of those wins that's tough to measure.  Not only did they come back from a 16-point deficit, but even after Marcus Morris hit a three at the end of regulation for the Rockets, the Blazers didn't lose their poise.  They came back in overtime and won the game.

You can take it from here.  There are a lot of blanks to fill it, but I feel like I played in an overtime game, and I'm out.


18 Comments

  1. Batum's numbers are:

    20.8 points-per-game
    6.3 rebounds-per-game
    3.2 assists-per-game
    2.3 steals-per-game
    1.3 blocks-per-game

    .482 FG%
    .394 3P%

    Looks like all star numbers to me.

    by Shem on 11/17/2012 12:42 AM
  2. As a long-time Batun fan, I'm thrilled by his start this season. A few games back he started playing with fire in his eyes: no more Mr. Cool. And for a stretch there in this game he was hot, hot, hot. If he keeps it up, yeah All-Star may be in the cards. Probably not this year, though because there's a lag before voters catch up.
    I've got to say, though, this team is as Jekyll-and-Hyde as I've seen in a while. When they're getting flustered, turning the ball over and missing from the outside it gets very, very ugly, as in the first half tonight. When they get dialed in, it's a completely different team. Which is, I suppose, reason for optimism. It's a young team and there's a learning curve, and if they can just steadily increase the number of minutes they're playing like contenders, rather than letting the other team run it down their throats for yet another "and-one," they'll win a few games. When Nic and Damian and LaMarcus are playing like they did tonight it's obvious that we've got the quality "how can they stop that?" options a winning team needs.
    Interesting to see J.J. get benched early and play short minutes. This was obviously one of those times using a power forward who isn't much help on defense as a center just wasn't going to work, if we wanted to keep Asik under thirty points. It's nice that Meyers did the job off the bench.
    Chris on Talkin' Ball was talking about how Ronnie Price's contributions don't show up in the box score. Well, his fouls sure do; he's got to rank pretty high in ratio of fouls to minutes. I'm all for getting some tough D in there, but sending the other team to the line that much seems not especially helpful.
    All in all, though, winning the sort of game we're expected to win is a good thing. Sure beats the alternative.

    by David Maclaine on 11/17/2012 1:07 AM
  3. Glad the frenchie numbers are good. The team seems to be a only 5 men one.

    by sopadeajo on 11/17/2012 3:56 AM
  4. Hi Mike:
    This was one of those games that we were never quite out of it, but wasn't quite good enough to be in it for most of the game, but I was well entertained the whole game.
    The fifty-fifty balls were all going to Houston, The fifty-fifty fouls were going to Houston to the point of being exasperating. I was thinking that we were playing good enough to win the whole game, but our bad luck Blazers, luck had kicked into over-drive.
    I am not going to get into the refereeing much, but I do hope the Blazers joins Washington Wizards, Dallas and a few others in sending a protest to the NBA with films of the fouls.
    As you said Mike, Houston played a very good game tonight; the fact that we stayed toe to toe with them was a great feeling; I am trying hard not to be to much of a homer, but IMO, 15 points down to this Blazer team is absolutely nothing. Of course I would like to say I was never in doubt of the outcome, but of course I would be lying through my teeth, but I honestly never thought we were out of the game ever.
    Two home wins in a row is glory in it self; the fact that all the wins were nail-biters were heart attack city, So like you Mike I am out.

    by Hg on 11/17/2012 5:04 AM
  5. Batum was my click to pick tonight and boy did he ever click. Woot to Nico for a spectacular game! Everytime he is my P2C he has outdone himself. He is an all star for sure. Cannot wait to see what the season holds. :)

    by Niki C on 11/17/2012 6:27 AM
  6. Anyone else noticed that Portland is the only team with three players in the top twenty of scoring points per game? Aldridge, Batum and now Lillard! This season has more potential than we may have thought!

    by dockaren on 11/17/2012 7:01 AM
  7. @dockaren;
    I was never in doubt of the scoring potential of those three individually, but I was in worry of them playing in unison as a team with each other. When Nico had it going, Damian and LaMarcus yielded to him, when he cooled down and of course Houston started paying more attention to him, that freed up LaMarcus and he started stroking it, then when they started bottling up the middle, and Keeping Nic under control that gave room for Damian. Now that is team ball.
    Now that doesn't say anything less of Wesley that was playing top D again, or JJ and last night Leonard keeping Asik under control. Maybe Leonard was just showing off for his brother and maybe Stotts let him play more for his brother, but either way or why I don't care, he played a great game.

    by Hg on 11/17/2012 8:57 AM
  8. And I had to miss this game! I was delivering a baby. Where are my priorities? I can stream the games at home but not available anywhere else here.

    Sounds like Asik was just too big for JJ.

    by Ancientone on 11/17/2012 12:27 PM
  9. Mike,
    I hope I'm not the only one who noticed that when Lillard was going off, you had screamed, "He has ice in his veins! Honey Badger just don't care!". I just thought that was HILARIOUS!! Anyways, yes Lillard went off (It's rediculous how he isn't on the All-Star Ballot), Batum is finally turning into an All-Star, and Aldridge was being Aldridge, lol. This season just might not be a write-off after all.

    by newellbrian on 11/17/2012 1:13 PM
  10. Well, fans/media/know-it-all-pundits have been saying for years that if Portland could just get TWO All-Stars, they'd have a legit shot at contending. IF Nicolas does indeed continue to play as he has since the loss in OKC, voted in or not, he will essentially be an All-Star level talent. Damian, in my opinion, already is. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, he has the coveted CLUTCH gene that VERY FEW players in this league have. He is absolutely unshakeable in crunch time and that is a quality that most teams just don't have. It sort of amazes me that amidst all the injuries, Portland has somehow managed to draft two unique, clutch talents in Brandon Roy and Damian Lillard. I know fans are upset that he's not on the All-Star ballot this year, but he will be on next year's for sure. Besides, fans can write him in if they want, and the coaches will also be at liberty to vote him in. So far, EVERY coach but Pop has had nothing but genuine respect for his game.

    This was a great win.

    by SisillaRiann on 11/17/2012 1:16 PM
  11. really like to know why my comment here was removed after writing a paragraph praising the team, coach and fans. Got a language warning and after proof reading it the only thing I could imagine was typing "great come from behind win? " Whoever is moderating the site should read more carefully and not waste a fan's time and positive support. I'm really disappointed with the loss of my comment for no apparent reason. I don't, nor have ever used foul language in a comment.

    by riverman on 11/17/2012 2:01 PM
  12. Last night we were given a tiny little peek of what the future of this team will be. The DAY LaMarcus becomes the 3rd option in the offense, IT'S ON in rip city. Having said that, after Batum had his run, D Lill did his thing we went back to LMA at the perfect moment. The Blazers played some of the smartest ball I've seen in a while. At least on the offensive end. Thank you Mr. Stotts.
    Having a scoring point guard is Christmas everyday. Brings me back to Terry Porter days.
    Hg you have it right. Houston got all the bounces. Something was shining in their corner. They should have won the basketball game. Yet the Blazers found a way to dig it out. Matthews calls it grit. I like it.
    SisillaRiann; What about Pop? Did he say something negative or no comment about Lill.

    by Divotking on 11/17/2012 4:59 PM
  13. Question everyone?????
    As Lillard is a rookie, won't he only be elgible for the rookie sophamore game????
    Brandon Roy never made it until his second year and he was ROY

    by Hg on 11/17/2012 5:10 PM
  14. I believe so Hg

    by riverman on 11/17/2012 6:23 PM
  15. by riverman on 11/17/2012 6:24 PM
  16. damien lillard is the real deal. it's so nice to finally watch a good point guard that plays for the blazers. i was definitely one of the naysayers about batum. i really thought he was gonna be one of those outlaws or websters that would forever tease us with glimpses of potential but never fully realize it. batum is finally showing some consistency with big performances. good win against the bulls. that lillard dunk at the end of the game made me smile. the game isn't over until the clock runs out.

    go blazers!

    by thedanman on 11/18/2012 9:46 PM
  17. Hey thedanman: good to hear from you. I do believe we found us a PG. He will get in lots of doggy doo for that last dunk, but it wasn't as bad as everybody thought.

    by Hg on 11/18/2012 10:37 PM
  18. Lill will never do that again. His entire career. That's a no no.

    by Divotking on 11/19/2012 7:53 AM
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