Blazers Drop First OT Game
By mikebarrett Posted in: Nuggets
What stings about this loss is simply the fact that you just don’t get these opportunities in Denver very often. Well, that’s not the only thing disappointing about it, but that’s the first thing that came to my mind after the final buzzer sounded.
But, it’s hard to be too awfully dejected when you use some perspective and consider what the Trail Blazers did down the stretch of this game to give themselves and opportunity to win. They battled back from nine down in the final quarter, and the ball was in Damian Lillard’s hands with the clock winding down in regulation with the score tied. I’ll take those odds, especially in Denver, where the Trail Blazers haven’t won since December of 2007.
The rookie, who has come through in so many situations like this so far this season, had this game-winning attempt rim off, and the Blazers went on to lose in overtime 115-111. It was their third-straight loss by fewer than six points. Coming into this stretch, the Blazers had been 11-2 in such games. Rather than believing that the law of averages would eventually catch up, I’d rather focus on the fact that this team continues to show the fight and resolve necessary to be a playoff contender, and have shown the ability to do it in some very hostile environments.
Denver is one of the hottest teams in the NBA, winners of 9 of their last 11 games. At home, they’ve been even better, boasting a 15-2 record, which is the second-best home mark in the NBA. At home, they’ve been absolutely dropping the hammer on opposing teams, like they did to Golden State their last time out. The fact that they couldn’t ever put away the Trail Blazers is a positive sign for Portland.
Back to that last play of regulation, I loved the trust Terry Stotts had in his rookie point guard by not taking a time out to set up a final look. The Blazers know what they do in those situations, and by not taking the time out didn’t give Denver’s defense a chance to set themselves. Instead, Lillard, already so comfortable in these situations, missed a shot that we’ve seen him hit time and time again.
Then, in overtime, the Trail Blazers fought to get the game tied after Wesley Matthews drilled three. Then, they were ultimately done in by a three pointer from a guy who had hit exactly four on the season coming into the game. Give Wilson Chandler credit, he dropped the huge shot. The Blazers had a chance to tie, but Lillard missed a contested three. That was a play that was designed for Nic Batum, but Andre Iguodala simply wouldn’t let Batum get the ball.
I always talk about the averages, and the numbers, during our broadcasts- perhaps a little too much. But, this game bucked a lot of the trends we’ve seen so far this season. When the Trail Blazers shoot over 45 percent, they win. Coming into the night, when they’ve got 45 percent or better they were 13-1. They had also been 12-2 when scoring 100 points or more. And, Denver had been a so-so 8-8 in games decided by six points or fewer.
So, the Blazers come through this stretch of four games, four that we had circled, at 1 and 3. They beat Miami, and then lost at Golden State, fell at home to Oklahoma City, and lost in overtime in Denver. All three were decided in the final minute.
Now comes the chance to protect the home court and get things back on track. Even though the upcoming schedule isn’t as daunting as what we’ve just gone through, nothing is going to be easy. First up, they play the second of a back to back on Wednesday night at the Rose Garden against Cleveland. I hate using the term “trap game,” but that’s what this is. The Cavs were watching our game from their hotel rooms in Portland and will be very well rested.
You never feel satisfied after a loss, especially when you’ve had such a great chance to win it. But, all things considered, this Trail Blazer team showed me a lot in this game, and through this stretch. The final result wasn’t what they wanted tonight, but things are trending up. That’ll have to be enough on this night.