Here is what came to me tonight after the game.
This has been one heckuva road trip! By the time we get back to Portland, and it’s all said and done, the Blazers will have traveled to 7 cities in 12 days, and when you factor the round trip to and from Portland, it will be 8 cities in 13 days, a marathon of a trip that will encompass over 6200 miles. I’m tired, Wheels is tired, MB, the Wild ONE and the rest of the TV crew...tired, the staff is tired, and I can only imagine what the players feel like. These guys fight fatigue, hostile crowds, AND the opposition, trying to get victories. Not that anyone feels sorry for them, I mean let’s be real, they stay in the NICEST hotels and fly on charter planes, not to mention the locker room spreads after games, but none of that can keep a man from feeling tired! And the way they started this road trip (4 straight losses, including games at Detroit and Washington, 2 games we ALL thought were winnable,) I could certainly understand how this team could’ve packed it in and waited to get back to the friendly and comfortable confines of the Rose Garden. But this team embodies the spirit of a winner, albeit a YOUNG winner, but a winner just the same. Despite the early losses and the big deficits in the early goings of the last 2 games they have battled back to win them both in dramatic fashion! A double overtime win at Cleveland, followed one night later by a single overtime win at Charlotte. Yes, I know these were considered by many to be wins before the trip, but on the road you never know what can happen and when losses start to pile up life gets a lot more difficult out here. So here are some of the high points from the trip, as I see them.
1. Damian Lillard is really starting to understand the subtle nuances that go with being a point guard in this league and what it takes to deal with a double team in the Pick and Roll. In the last 2 wins he averaged 24 points and 10 assists.
2. The Blazers bench has started to come around after getting 29 points from the 2nd unit in Cleveland, led by Joel Freeland with 8 points and 8 rebounds. They turned around a night later versus Charlotte and scored 31 points, led by Luke Babbitt, who poured in 9 points, grabbed 5 boards, sank the game tying 3 in regulation, and scored 1 more in overtime, just for good measure. Oh, and Luke’s defense in p/r (pick and roll) situations was the best the Blazers have had all year.
3. Joel Freeland is looking like the prospect we thought he was. He is more decisive on the court, playing good position defense and overall, he just looks more comfortable.
4. I am NOT a fan of LONG road trips. As if missing my family isn’t bad enough, and I really miss them, I have managed to lose my cell phone (it was found on the tarmac in Cleveland, must be good karma,) I got off the plane in Charlotte and forgot my wallet in my seat (cleaning crew found it, I got it back, must be REALLY, good karma!) not to mention coming back to the hotel in Cleveland from lunch, heading up to my room (1033,) only to find my key isn’t working any more and having to go back down to the lobby to get re-keyed! Oh, did I mention, my room was actually 833? That would explain why my key was working anymore.
Don’t laugh, this road thing isn’t as easy as it looks!!! Well, off to the next city, hope to see you at the next home game. GO BLAZERS!!!