mikebarrett

Feb 06

Cold Spell Late Dooms Blazers

By mikebarrett
These are the kinds of games the Trail Blazers have been winning, and these are the kinds of games the Mavericks have been losing.  At least on this night, things turned around for both teams.  Dallas hit the big shots late, Portland came up empty on a couple of huge possessions, and the Mavericks picked up the 105-99 win.  

Coaches and players constantly say you can't get too high after a win, and can't get too down after a loss, but this one stings for Portland simply because of what a victory would have meant. As we said before the trip started, the most important games on this six-game trip are the first three because they come against Western Conference opponents. 

This was not only the opportunity to start the trip 2-0, but would have guaranteed at least a split in the season series with Dallas, and given what else happened on Wednesday night in the NBA, would have moved the Trail Blazers back into the top 8 in the west.  

Given that Portland had lost 21 of it's previous 26 games in Dallas, you can't say a win was expected, but the fact that they were in a position to grab a game, in that building, makes it a missed opportunity and that hurts.

In some games you see a pretty consistent-style battle, with strategy staying basically the same. This game was truly a tail of two halves.  Guards did the scoring in the first half, and front-court players carried the load in the second half.

The Trail Blazers were scorching hot from deep in the first half, hitting 9 of their first 16 three pointers and that helped them build a 12-point lead.  Wesley Matthews, like he did Monday, started the game very aggressive and was certainly in an early zone.  But, he ended up being the only Blazer to hit a three in the second half, and that one was a desperation heave when the game had pretty much been decided.  He'll also be thinking about the three that he missed in the final minute that would have tied the game at 97.  It was right on line, but rimmed off.  After that, the Mavericks all but put the game away.

Damian Lillard, who usually waits until the second half to take over offensively, did his damage early in this game, scoring 15 points, and hitting 3 of his 4 three pointers in the first half.  It was amazing to see him actually not record a field goal in the second half.  I haven't gone back and checked all the box scores yet, but I don't remember a game this season when he was held without a field goal in a second half.

LaMarcus Aldridge though, who scored just 9 points and grabbed 3 rebounds in the first half, was the go-to guy in the last two quarters.  Aldridge got himself into a zone, and ended the game with 27 points and 10 rebounds.  JJ Hickson recorded his 27th double-double of the season, ending with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

We've spent a lot of time talking about Nic Batum's sore wrist, and clearly it's still a major issue for him.  He's simply not even looking to shoot right now.  He still needs to be on the floor, and does enough other things to be a factor, but hopefully this thing clears up soon.  Despite his inability to be a huge factor in the offense, he still ended with 9 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists.

The Mavericks were led by O.J. Mayo, who had 20 points at halftime, but had just 8 in the second half.  Vince Carter turned out to be the crunch-time star for Dallas, and ended with 17 off the bench.  He missed Monday's game with the flu, and seemed to have plenty of energy in this one.

It was yet another game involving the Blazers that was decided by six points or fewer- their 24th, and 18th in their last 21.  But, this time, they simply weren't able to close the deal in a game they felt like was there for the taking.

This trip doesn't get any easier now, as we move on to Houston to take on the Rockets.  After scoring 140 on Golden State on Monday, they fell in Miami (no shame in that) on Wednesday night, 114-108.

Talk to you on Friday.






21 Comments

  1. it was a tough loss.
    Put it behind you and move on.

    by allie-oop on 2/6/2013 10:39 PM
  2. Hey Mike: thanks for the update, I do not feel bad about the lost, as I thought the Blazers came to play ball and it was the shots just didn't go in at the end. I keep saying if we are behind after the first half, we usually win the game, if we are behind we have enough energy to be a closer. We all complain about getting so far behind than have to play hard to catch up, maybe our short handed crew is trying to tell us something.

    Anyway it was a great game and very competitive from both sides.

    by Hg on 2/7/2013 12:46 AM
  3. Important game for both teams. More important for Dallas I think. A loss would have been devastating for their season. Yet the Blazers nearly knocked them off in their house.
    Did you see Mike, at the end of the first half, coach Stotts headed for the wrong locker room. Wesley caught him and spun him around. Both of them laughing about it. Nolan seen what happened and was laughing too. It was funny. Nice to see coach Stotts has his teams respect and has fun with them. Good for him.
    Time to cool off the Rockets.

    by Divotking on 2/7/2013 12:49 AM
  4. Divotking, that would have been funny, I am suprised the Dallas announcers didn't mention it.

    by Hg on 2/7/2013 1:18 AM
  5. This is the best I've seen LaMarcus play his entire career. He has always been an offensive dynamo. Now he is doing everything at a high level. His rebounding has vastly improved. His defense is better against big and smaller players. His team defense is better. He is jumping out and getting back with more quickness than before. Recognizing double teams and mismatches is better, which has improved his passing. He has always ran like a deer but he seems like he is quicker now.
    How does JJ not get more loose ball fouls. He is always in the middle of the action. Banging around under the boards. If he doesn't get the rebound, he gets one finger on every ball. I think he avoids fouls because of his athleticism.
    See you in Houston.

    by the golden ladder on 2/7/2013 9:19 AM
  6. We were hurt badly in this game by the two phantom foul calls against Wes. But I have to say that, oddly, I'm in favor of the way the team lost this game. During that slow, slow start to the fourth quarter Coach Stotts kept the reserves in for as long as he could. I heard the usual carping afterwards on Talkin' Ball, about how the bench just couldn't contribute during that stretch, which is true enough--I especially feel for Victor, who does so many things right but has yet to show that he can shoot the ball--but it misses the point. I'd rather lose because we were giving the starters the rest they need than lose because we rush them back out there and make them play tired. You win some and lose some with each approach, but giving the reserves more time to learn and the starters more rest is obviously a more productive long-term strategy. And everyone in this organization has said repeatedly that they're not sacrificing the long term for fleeting success this season. To which end, they need to figure out what to do about Nic's injury, and if he's in any danger of making it more serious by playing, they need to get him surgery, or a month off or whatever it takes to get him well and truly healed. He has clearly shown how valuable he can be, and it would be reckless to risk that future value for the sake of a few games in a season when there's not the slightest chance of a championship.

    by David Maclaine on 2/7/2013 1:20 PM
  7. is there really any question what i'm going to say? i mean, right off the bat, could there be any question? with these past two games, would there be?

    PLAY 48 MINUTES!

    i'm gonna repeat that: play 48 minutes. look, i get a lapse here or there, but we really can't just decide not to show up for an entire quarter and expect to win any game, let along any road game. it was mystifying that by the 6-minute mark in the fourth quarter, we'd scored two points. to put that in perspective, if we'd scored at that pace the entire game, our finally tally would have been a measly 16 points.

    LaMarcus was having a strong second half so what did Stotts do? kept him out a couple -- or few -- minutes longer than he should. i'm not advocating running these guys into the ground (and i repeat my sentiment from the last blog: let Nicolas rest his wrist a while), but when you've got a hot guy, you've got to keep him in the game as much as you can. my 5-year-old sister would tell you that.

    continuously, Stotts' rotations have not maximized the roster we have what is needed on the court. last night was a glaring example of this. when will he learn? will he? as a side note, perhaps less joking around with his players at halftime and more planning on rotations would be more suitable for an nba head coach. i know there are those of you who simply adore Stotts and want to ordain him as the next mayor of Portland. so, that said, i will try not to say "i told you so" when he is dismissed within a couple more years.

    my other problem with the rotations is that we've usually got five guys who can be a threat to score when they're on the court. right now, we have four. i love Nicolas, but if he second guessed every shot he may take, he is not that threat right now. therefore, unless you are willing to let him sit for a couple games to let him heal his wrist, do not make him one of the two or three starters you always have on the floor. you're gonna have to go with two of the other guys and just know that Nicolas will be in there for his lock-down defense, some rebounds and assists -- but little to no points.

    we really should have won that game last night. it's not one of those that should have been lost essentially by the midpoint of the fourth.

    wow that was negative; however, warranted.

    i just saw this fan vote for the nbatv game of the night for next tuesday (feb. 12). the Blazers-Heat game is leading with 49 percent of the vote. however, Houston-Golden St. isn't that far back with 39 percent. i'm not too concerned with the other two games as the third-place option has just 9 percent. if you want to vote, here is the link:

    http://www.nba.com/nbatv/fannight/

    today is the last day to vote.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 2/7/2013 1:21 PM
  8. Maclaine;
    I know you are in favor of "pulling a Pop". On this road trip, Miami might be the place to do it. At least Nic. The Heat remembers who beat them when they came out west.
    About Victor. The guy is a solid baller. High IQ. His offensive game has yet to appear. He is still adapting to the NBA. He reminds me of a Dante. He needs to find the one shot he can make a living at. It will come.

    by the golden ladder on 2/7/2013 2:47 PM
  9. Watch the ball movement. Watch the player movement. Look at the unselfishness. Modern style NBA.
    Go down the roster and see how every player has elevated their game. Every player. All on the same year. How does this happen ?
    Coach

    by Divotking on 2/7/2013 6:12 PM
  10. Nic is obviously hampered. Tendonitis, sprain, muscle strain, whatever, he needs rest to heal so that he can be efective again. Otherwise I think that Stotts is doing a good job.

    by Ancientone on 2/7/2013 6:41 PM
  11. @Divotking: i understand that since you found out my stance on Stotts, you have to try and interject some praise for him in each and every comment. go ahead; i don't much care. however, i'ts gonna take a whole lot more than a couple shots at me to change my mind,

    ball movement? sometimes. player movement? occassionally (otherwise, you must be watching a different team). player development? again, you must be watching a different team; the only elevating of anyone's game you've seen is what you get from playing together for 49 games.

    as far as the ridiculous substitution patterns go ... well, since you didn't respond to that, i'll just conclude that you agreed with each and every word i said.

    @Ancientone: i would submit that the fact Stotts won't rest Nicolas tells me that he's not doing all that good of a job. perhaps better than expected, but i would not call it "good" right now.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 2/7/2013 7:01 PM
  12. Why not shut Nic down until after the All Star game? That would give him 10 days to do whatever is needed to heal his wrist. Maybe it needs to be in a cast?
    We have no one who can adequately replace him, but who does? IMHO, it's not worth risking more serious injury to play him the next four games.
    --
    don

    by dgpdx on 2/8/2013 1:51 AM
  13. I'm also in favor of shutting Nic down but the Mavs loss was not on the starters, the bench again gave up the cushion and coaches want to win. 9 bench pts is not going to beat most teams on the road. The starters did their job building and maintaining a lead and the bench threw it away. Really disappointed to see that happen.

    by riverman on 2/8/2013 10:49 AM
  14. Stotts was forced to go with Smith. If Ronnie was healthy we win that game. Another -16 performance by Nolan.

    by the golden ladder on 2/8/2013 11:07 AM
  15. I can understand all the disappointment in the bench, the coach, new offense, bad defense, but what I don't see is how that has become an all of a sudden issue; We are far better then expected when the season started, just because we have worked hard to stay competitive, that doesn't speed up development that much, It is still a two step forward and one backwards growth.
    Riverman: do you think the bench blew that lead on purpose? do you think that Nolan isn't trying to do all he can? Just because we are close to making the play-offs doesn't change the rules or the game. We still have to be patient. If all the players are putting out their best at that6 precise moment than how can you ask for more? Besides we win as a team and lose as a team, so the Blazers lost the game including Batum's hurt wrist allowing the Mavs D to focus more on Lillard and Wesley.

    by Hg on 2/8/2013 3:19 PM
  16. Speaking of the bench: Freeland- is he still on the team? Barton: Seems to be learning slowly and shows potential. Claviar: Plays good defense but hasn't shown any offense, I'd like to see him go for it. Smith: Poor ball handler and can't handle pressure on the ball. Babbitt: Great shooter and developing defense and rebounding. Leonard: Not a student of the game, should have stayed in school, still doesn't understand the concept that you aren't going to get a rebound when you run all the way under or behind the board.

    by Ancientone on 2/8/2013 4:34 PM
  17. @Ancientone: You make some good points! Babbitt has shown improvement in his defense and has always been a decent rebounder, but his shooting is still not nearly good enough for someone who consistently drains shots in practice. He's also stopped taking those pull up two-pointers he was making so well earlier. I think he cam still be a productive NBA player, but he's gotta start shooting better soon...
    --
    don

    by dgpdx on 2/8/2013 11:32 PM
  18. To think OKC had no room for a talent like Harden. Scary.
    Nics back.

    by Divotking on 2/9/2013 12:02 AM
  19. Lets hope that brace keeps working untill his wrist heals.

    by Ancientone on 2/9/2013 2:56 PM
  20. @Ancientone, I hope so, I was wondering if Wesley's ankle is bothering him quite a bit and that was why he couldn't slow down harden. Anyway to beat Dallas or Houston we need to have all our shooters hitting. Babbitt couldn't hit, Wesley couldn't hit and Batum never tried to much until the second half. But remember my motto, live by the three and die by the three; you wait and see it will happen to Houston also; it already happened to Dallas.

    by Hg on 2/9/2013 9:07 PM
  21. Divotking: I think it was more a matter of OKC not being able (or not wanting) to pay Harden top dollar next season. Getting Martin for him was a stroke of luck too.
    --
    don

    by dgpdx on 2/9/2013 9:17 PM
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