mikebarrett

Feb 13

Lillard's Big Night Not Enough

By mikebarrett
It was pretty heady stuff from Portland's super rookie, once again on a very big stage, and he did it right in front of the planet's best player.  

After the game finally ended, and the Miami Heat were able to finally dispatch the pesky Blazers, my eyes were locked on LeBron James, who practically sprinted toward Portland's bench to find Damian Lillard.  He gave him a hug, shared a few words, and then moved on. Lillard showed great respect, but didn't appear to be in awe.  In fact, I'm not sure I've ever seen him in awe of anything. 

It was another huge moment, during a season of huge moments, for Lillard.  We mentioned on the broadcast that if you are looking for notoriety in this league, while playing in a bunch of very late games (as far as the east coast in concerned) out west, then work to turn a few heads in the big markets on the right coast.  We all remember what Lillard did in New York, and last night he posted 33 in Miami, as the Blazers did themselves proud against the hottest team in the NBA.

Nationally, this game was all about LeBron, understandably so.  He set an NBA record, posting 30 or more points for the sixth-straight game, shooting over 60 percent in all six.  This has been the most dominant stretch of James' career, and that's saying something.  He ended with 30 against Portland, shooting 9 of 13 from the field.  He also had nine assists and five rebounds. Most importantly, for him anyway, the Heat beat the Blazers 117-104.

This was a very entertaining game.  It was a game of runs, and I'm convinced had their been another five minutes on the clock Portland would have found a way to mount another charge. 

The Heat wanted to hit Portland hard early, and they did.  They jumped out to an 11-point lead with a storm of dunks, three pointers, and smothered the Blazers defensively.  But, the Blazers calmly went about their business, didn't get rattled, and went on a huge run to take a 14-point lead.  After the Heat put together a 21-6 to close the half, and then picked up right where they left off in the third quarter, they looked poised to run away and hide again.  But, the Blazers then ripped off another run and reclaimed the lead.  

The one thing that'll be forgotten is that the Blazers battled back to grab a 102-101 lead with just 4 and a-half minutes to go in this game.  They did this despite LeBron's MVP-type play, and Miami shooting 60 percent from the field.  Miami's final run though was finally too much for the Blazers, who went down swinging.

I've only mentioned two players so far, but it actually turned into a pretty good battle between six players.  Miami's big three against Portland's big three (on this night anyway) of Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Wesley Matthews.  Miami won this battle, but won it only 86-82.

As I mentioned on the broadcast, when the Blazers shoot a high percentage, up until three games ago, it's almost always resulted in a win.  Earlier in the trip they had been 18-2 when shooting just 45 percent or better.  After shooting 53 percent against the Heat, the Blazers have now lost three-straight games when shooting 45 percent or better.  Before the Orlando game the Blazers had been 9-0 on the season when shooting 50 percent or better.  They're now 9-2.

On Sunday Lillard went 1 for 16 from the field, and a lot was written about how he perhaps has finally hit "the rookie wall" and maybe is showing signs of being worn down.  He assured everyone after the game that he was fine, still confidence, and not worried.  In Miami his play certainly put everyone at ease.  It was typical Lillard.  He was brilliant.

We've finally reached the final stop on this long trip, as we arrived in New Orleans very late last night.  I'd by lying if I said everyone isn't road weary.  When you get to this point of the season it isn't just this trip that's taking its toll, it's the combination of all of them, and of all the games that seem strung together as one long one after a while.  When you're having success you can almost ride a wave of emotion and adrenaline.  But, when you're fighting through a tough stretch, like this team is, all the late nights and miles travelled are much more impactful.  In short, we're all ready to come home.

Talk to you tonight.



16 Comments

  1. Final score looks like we lost more decisively than we did. It was an entertaining game and a well fought one!

    by dockaren on 2/13/2013 9:17 AM
  2. Where'd Nic go.

    Labron 'nuf said.

    by Ancientone on 2/13/2013 9:19 AM
  3. Miami had every reason to do what it took to win this game. They did. No way were they going let the Blazers beat them again. They are the champs. They keep adding pieces to their team. They have the best player in the world.
    Winning is everything. Everybody wants a championship. Miami didn't do it their first try. The Blazers are headed toward that goal. For now I want a team I can be proud of. I am proud of this Portland Trailblazer team.
    I predicted 2-4 on this trip. However I thought one win would come in Orlando. Tonights game is big. Can the Blazers dig down inside and find the focus and energy to finish the first half before the break. I think they can. Pick2click. Batum. He's going off.

    by the golden ladder on 2/13/2013 9:42 AM
  4. I missed the game, but proud of the effort against the champs. We did get them at the RG, so at least we earned the split. I can see we are growing, though this stretch has been tough for sure. Really proud of Damian - great sign of things to come. Props to LeBron though and gotta love that he came over to Damian after the game to share some words.

    by Anees on 2/13/2013 9:54 AM
  5. One thing I was surprised about in the post-game coverage was that no one stringing together highlight clips picked out the LeBron goal-tend that wasn't called as the turning point. We're tied, he gets away with one--not exactly the first home-team call--and they go down and score and from that point the game unravels for the Blazers. I'm not saying it really mattered that much, because you can't blame one play when you get killed on ten straight after that, and it's probably mostly coincidence that the guys hit the wall them, but it felt wrong for the play to be forgotten when it felt so pivotal at the time.
    Hope the guys have enough left in the tank to pull one out tonight, but they haven't done well this year in back-to-backs. Maybe the coach's decision to sit all the young bench players until the last minute means that he plans to sit all the starters tonight and just let the bench guys show their stuff. That would at least be more interesting than watching tired starters run out of gas while they lose yet another game to a team they should beat.

    by David Maclaine on 2/13/2013 10:25 AM
  6. Mike: I only got to watch the first half, and I was already proud of the Blazers as they withstood a couple of defeating runs, so bad in fact, that I thought maybe the Heat was playing with us, but when we got ahead in the first part of the second quarter, I knew they were in a dog fight. I never watched the second half yet, but it sounded as good as the first half.

    One thing, I expected to see Batum take over in the fourth, but apparently not, maybe the rest from the all star break will help it heal. One thing I do know, as long as he keeps abusing it, it will not heal. I don been there. His lost scoring hasn't hurt us that bad yet, but when DLill had a bad game against Orlando, his shooting would have made the difference. that could have been true last night also.

    by Hg on 2/13/2013 11:34 AM
  7. David, you're absolutely right. I thought that was not only a huge non-call, but the beginning of an important momentum shift for the Heat. MB rightly called as we inbounded the ball after Mia. got a bucket that it was a big 4-point swing. I was very surprised that nobody mentioned it after the game. But then again, we are fairly familiar with being on the bad end of a missed goaltending call. ;)

    Mike, fantastic job with these post-game blogs. I've been enjoying reading them for awhile now, but I figured I should actually say something with all these other awesome Blazers fans. Thanks for writing!

    by Justin Nichols on 2/13/2013 11:51 AM
  8. Next year Portland has three players in all-star game. LaMarcus, Batum, Lillard.
    Finally for all you tough critics out there, Damian gets a pass from me for his performance against the Heat. He'll do better. LOL

    by the golden ladder on 2/13/2013 12:19 PM
  9. could only follow the game on twitter as i was at a class function for the State of the Union, but it looks like we were battling most of the way. it certainly looks different than the previous few games. so, it seems like a good effort, but glad to see Damian explode after the dud from the previous game. LaMarcus is an all-star and that's what we're seeing on the court.

    i want to give the bench some props. they're not in there to blow the game open, but they played pretty well last night (in addition to the orlando game). the vets especially seemed to help when we needed them to.

    i realize it's difficult to hold down guys like James & Wade, but allowing 117 points to anyone is not going to get it done, even if some of those points come in garbage time. we've got to shore up the defense or we're not going to win many more games. we're dropping in the loss column and now the Lakers are just a half game back of us.

    i've seen some discussion and noticed some tweets regarding the officials, including a pretty good one from my sister, Angi, asking the league to let the players -- not the league's officials -- determine the outcome of the game. i have no doubt in believing there were some botched calls going the superstars' way. can there really be any question that Stern and his cronies will do pretty much anything to make sure teams like the Heat and the Lakers have the best possible chance at winning? how many times have we seen the large-market and superstar preferential treatment? personally, i've lost count.

    i would love to see the Blazers be able to contend for a playoff spot and then a title, but i know that's not what the nba wants. there have been too many glaring instances where the league has shown its hand. i watch the Blazers for the players; the good guys who represent my home town full well knowing that since said home town is in a small market with a superstar the league barely gives the time of day, legitimate success is not possible. for these reasons, i love the Blazers, but i hate the nba.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 2/13/2013 1:12 PM
  10. After last night game against the hornets bye bye terry stotts

    by LA 2012 on 2/14/2013 9:17 AM
  11. Ancientone;
    Do you have any extra clothes pins ?

    by the golden ladder on 2/14/2013 10:12 AM
  12. I am probably a bigger homer then Mike, but let me tell you this game didn't only stink, it was thoroughly disgusting. I don't care how new or how in-experienced these players are, you should have enough self pride to give an honest days work for an honest day pay and the Blazers just didn't do that. Of course they had all the reason's and all the excused you can think of, but this game was an out and out lazy bunch of kids that didn't give a damn about anything then to go play and party for a few days. I am completely disgusted with the whole team.

    But Hey I have until next Wed. to cool off and for me life goes on anyway.

    by Hg on 2/14/2013 11:03 AM
  13. @Hg: i actually think some of the younger guys were getting some things done; namely Victor and Joel. i really was impressed with both guys.

    i really like Victor's game. he doesn't seem to be spectacular (yet) in anyone area of the game, but does a lot of things well. i'd say he's got a nice all-around game.

    Joel needs time on the floor, but i've had the feeling lately that he's becoming more forceful and aggressive. his shooting has improved, and he's rebounding and defending better. i'd love to see him become akin to another recent Joel we had on our team. i hope he gets enough playing time to develop into that.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 2/14/2013 6:26 PM
  14. I'm not big on bashing the officials but against the Heat there were several bad calls and non-calls, and yes, most of those seemed to favor the home team. Not only the LeBron goal tend but on one foul that benefited LeBron, there was clearly zero contact on seeing the replay and the ref was screened from seeing it even if there had been contact! I hate it when refs guess and call what they could not possibly have seen!

    We played a great game in Miami but, if we'd played that way against Orlando and Nawlins rather than Miami, we could have finished the trip 3 and 3. The Blazers need to learn to beat the teams they're supposed to! That's how the best teams do it.
    --
    don

    by dgpdx on 2/15/2013 2:56 AM
  15. What a stinker in N.O. To get the bad taste out of my mouth I am trying to look at the body of work. The team is still ahead of the curve in relation to preseason predictions. They have entertained us with thrilling overtime victories and come from behind wins. The fresh offense is exciting.
    Our core group have all elevated their game.
    We absolutely struck gold in the draft. Meyers at pick 11 perhaps has come along slower than some of us would have wished. Damian has more than made up for it.
    The direction the team is moving is clear.
    GO BLAZERS!!

    by Divotking on 2/15/2013 8:37 AM
  16. @Kassandra:
    I was overly upset with what I felt was the lack of effort, but I guess with Wesley going out, Nic playing with a sore wrist and LMA not making the shots that he usually make, the last game before the all-star break and I am sure fatigued from the night before was reasons for the collapse of a decent game.

    I also thought that Claver and Freeland played good; all in all, I guess I over reacted, and I have never done that before LOL.

    by Hg on 2/15/2013 10:38 AM
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