Nicolas Batum did a lot of great things Sunday night against the Utah Jazz. He finished with 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting. He pulled down nine rebounds. He got his first fastbreak block of the season
courtesy of a lackadaisical layup attempt by Deron Williams. And he pestered Williams into a miss on what would have been the last shot of the game if any of the other four Trail Blazers on the court could have secured the rebound that Carlos Boozer eventually grabbed and putback to send the game to overtime.
"Last three games I didn’t bring a lot of things on the court, so (McMillan) doesn’t put me on the court," said Batum. "But tonight I tried to just come in quickly. I just tired to be aggressive on defense, rebound and make my shots. Tonight, first half I got in, so it was very good."
But none of those positives were going to wipe away the one that got away from Batum Sunday night. With just 6.9 seconds to play in regulation, Batum had a wide-open look at a 3-pointer after a Brandon Roy's drive forced the defense to collapse, but the shot rimmed out. Boozer would hit a buzzer-beater to send the game to OT, and the Jazz would eventually go on to win 93-89.
I spoke to Batum after the game with no intention of mentioning the miss that would have sent the Trail Blazers into a five-game road trip with a win. I was more interested in discussing Nate McMillan decision to go with Batum rather than Martell Webster through almost all of the second half, but Nico, unprovoked, brought up the miss himself.
"My last shot, I have to make this one," said Batum. "I’m wide open. I cannot miss this shot because you don’t have a lot of chance like that. I remember I got one last year, I made it against Jersey. I have to score this one. If I score this one, put away ... We have the game; I just miss. I put the team in a bad situation. I feel very bad tonight."
As nice as it would have been for Batum to send the Jazz back to Utah with the lasting image of a young frenchman hitting a baseline three for the win, this loss wasn't on him. It takes a whole teams worth of bad basketball to score only 10 points in a quarter, as the Blazers did in the final frame on Sunday night.
"We should win this game," said Batum. "Plus 25 with 15 minutes remaining? You can’t lose this game. You can’t lose this game."
Unfortunately, you can.