Feb 15

Blazers Breakthrough by the Bay

By mikebarrett

Okay, so explaining away Tuesday night just got more difficult.  And, Wednesday night was proof once again that the entire practice of trying to predict what is going to happen in the NBA is fruitless.

There was really only one thing that did hold completely true, stat wise, in the game against the Warriors- when the Blazers lead after three quarters chalk up a win.  When they trail after three quarters, run and hide.  If you were wondering why we were calling the final seconds of the third quarter like it was the end of the game, that was the reason.  I had just given that stat on the broadcast, and you don’t mess with a trend.  Yes, the Trail Blazers are now 16-1when leading after the third quarter.  They are 0-12 when trailing.

So, AT HOME, the Blazers give up 124 points to the Wizards, who are averaging just 90 points per game on the season.  Then, 24 hours later, on THE ROAD, they hold the NBA’s 4th highest-scoring team to 91 points.  They lose to the Wizards, a team they’ve dominated in recent years, and then without their leading scorer and all-star, they beat the Warriors in Oakland for only the second time in the last 13 years.

Perhaps most importantly, the Trail Blazers won in a game that was decided by five points or less for the first time since opening night.  Knowing that they were 1-9 in those situations, and having so many heartbreaking finishes fresh in our minds, it actually seemed a little surprising that Brandon Rush missed a three pointer which would have won the game for the Warriors.  But, to win on the road, in this league, you have to get some breaks.  Finally, the Trail Blazers did. 

With Aldridge watching the game on TV from Portland, the Trail Blazers had to dig deep.  Golden State came into the game playing their best basketball of the season.  They had won three in a row, and five of their last seven.  The thought was, if the lowly Wizards could torch Portland from the field all night, the Warriors were liable to score 150 points and shoot 80 percent.  The difference was, obviously, defense.

It wasn’t like the Warriors didn’t shoot well in this game in the first half.  It was pretty amazing that they shot 56 percent in the first half, and trailed, on their home court.  Portland then tightened the screws.  They clamped down and held the Warriors to 14 for 37 shooting in the second half, and just 37 points.

Portland, meanwhile, did what they had to do offensively to win this game.  They ground out points any way they could.  They shot just 41 percent from the field.  They got to the foul line.  They won battles for loose balls.  And, after being outrebounded by the Warriors 15 to 5 after the first quarter, the Blazers end up winning the rebounding battle 41-39.

Gerald Wallace normally gets his points on the break, or by driving down the left side of the lane in traffic.  Going into this game he was a 23% three-point shooter on the season.  But, adding to the many oddities of the last two nights, he went four for four from behind the arc in this one.  Wallace led Portland with 24 points, and was also a perfect 8 for 8 from the free-throw line.

Jamal Crawford though hit the shot of the night.  With Portland trailing by two with just over a minute left, Crawford stuck a long three pointer over his former high-school teammate Nate Robinson.  That gave Portland a 91-90 lead.  Afterward Crawford thought back to that exact same shot that he missed on Saturday in Dallas that would have won that game.  But, the important thing was that he hit this one, and helped Portland rally for the win.  They were down, after all, 86-81 with just over three minutes left.

The Trail Blazers have been searching for a big road win, and something to build their shaken confidence in close games.  Perhaps this is it.  They have beaten the Lakers in L.A. more often than they’ve beaten the Warriors in Oakland in the last six years.  In other words, this was very significant.  And, to do it without their star, meant even more.  As my esteemed partner said on our pregame show before the game, sometimes injuries are a blessing in disguise.  It’s not that you ever want someone to get hurt, but it can challenge a team in a way that’s tough to duplicate otherwise. 

For the first time in a while, they passed this test, in a hostile environment, in a close game.



  1. Mike:
    I was waiting for you to blog before I called it a night.
    There were many trends that ended tonight, not only GW's 3's but he scored 24 on the road, at GSW.
    Portland won at GSW,
    I believe Wheels said they made more 3 pointers then GS
    and many others I can't remember.

    I told my wife, Vicki, that I would really be pleasantly surprised if we won this game. I love pleasant surprises. If we had lost in that closing second, I would have still been proud of the Blazers for showing the fans that they do have pride. and I am not sure it wasn't pride that won the game for them.
    Thanks again for the quick blog now I can go to bed.

    by Hg on 2/15/2012 11:45 PM
  2. In watching the blazers, I notice something interesting. Every time one of our, call it "all-stars", call it closers, call it Mr. 4th Quarters, call it whatever you like, every time we have "The Guy" go down injured, there is always someone else who rises up and blossoms into something amazing. I cite Brandon/LA as the latest. We have been talking forever ( or so it seems ) about the talent of Nic Batum...... could this be the time he becomes what we all know he can be? Is this where he takes the reins? Are you listening Nic?

    Also, godspeed to LA. Recover soon bro, but DON'T RUSH IT!!!

    by Olallie on 2/15/2012 11:51 PM
  3. Thanks for the quick blog, Mike! Replay showed that Rush's three-pointer was late and wouldn't have counted. Red light was clearly on before ball left his hand.

    Now take care of the Clips!

    by dgpdx on 2/16/2012 12:41 AM
  4. This win really should not be that surprising if the blazers are as good (on paper) as some think they are. Home, Road,...doesn't matter if you are good enough....but this game really displays how Tuesday night was inexcusable. The blazers defended GS great for much of the night.

    by Jaredtherebel2001 on 2/16/2012 5:07 AM
  5. that was a squeaker. a wins , a wins, a wins, a win. but, it was ugly.

    our point guard position is a real bleeder for this team but what can we do? trade? wouldn't it be nice if this team had a plan and a manager who could implement it?

    we looked like chickens running around with our head cut off. that's how it is. felton is absolutely stinking it up out there. he isn't getting anyone going or running this team. and crawford is no point guard. bless his heart he's doing his best playing out of position.

    i wish i could enjoy this win a little more but it was the warriors and we barely pulled it off.

    go blazers!

    by thedanman on 2/16/2012 5:10 AM
  6. We outrebounded someone. Diving for balls and actually gaurding people. GW had a better shooting percent from the 3 line than on layups. Batum is doing everything and hopefully he will continue to get the opportunity to show his talent. He's still tentative at times (They set him up for an open 3 at the end of the third quarter and he didn't take it).

    I like the team that scrambles much better than the one that acts like it doesn't care.

    by Ancientone on 2/16/2012 6:19 AM
  7. Okay, i have to post on a positive for the blazers as well as the negative. this game should have been won by the warriors, but the blazers showed in this game, im not going to look down road and try and predict what they will to the next opponent, they showed they not only needed a win but wanted it as well. my favorite part of the game was when felton hauled down a rebound with madness and passed it back out to give the blazers another offensive possession. i think ray ray is feeling the pressure of living up to what he has been capable of before with former teams he's been on. this win can or cant wake these blazers up and get them started back on a journey of wins, at home or on the road. it should feel good to the guys that played tonight that this game was one in the win column instead of the other column. take this win and build off of it because history is meant to be changed and the blazers definitely beat the history of not beating the warriors all to hell. good job guys.

    by Imwytdashyt Epps on 2/16/2012 7:12 AM
  8. @thedanman;
    As this season continues, I am going to say there is not a such a thing as a ugly win LOL.
    Our backcourt is scary bad, Wesley is at least a good defender and does try his hardest, I do worry about Felton. It may be that he doesn't fit this team. I am hoping that we drop Armon Smith and get Patty back. He has experience, can hit the three knows the plays and is loved by me.
    My man, enjoy all our games, remember
    1. The Blazers has problems with fast PG's and guard orientated offenses. That is why we got a whoopen from Washington. It wasn't so much that we played rotten D as it was that they were zipping past Felton and Matthews so fact that the interior D had little chance, plus they had us scrambling so much to protect the paint that we couldn't get back to the shooters.
    2. We don't usually even win on the road
    3. Blazers has only won 2 times in 13 years at the GSW's
    4. Gerald not only played his first great game away from the Rose Garden, but lead the team in 3 pters.
    5. Speaking of which we actually made more threes then GSW. (Of course that is fools gold because if you live by the three you die by the three) but it was great seeing them fall at least one game when they were needed because of LMA being out. Maybe the BB Gods are not so mad at us anymore.
    6. We had to show the world that we had pride, and even a hard fought win or a hard fought lost, we showed true grit.
    7. You can’t win games on paper.
    We played the game right and won the game right, and broke many trends tonight
    Enjoy the games while you can, and all the wins. For tomorrow they may take TV completely away and price the games so high you can't by a ticket. OR MORE BLUNTLEY, WE JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT TOMORROW WILL BRING US LOL.

    by Hg on 2/16/2012 7:21 AM
  9. A win at Golden State.....priceless.Hoping this will propel us to better days,the hustle last night,incredible.Camby on the floor diving to make a steal....Nic is really stepping up too, good to see.
    Verdict is still out on Raymond...just not sure if he is going to step up or b steped on.

    by DowntownVinnie on 2/16/2012 7:53 AM
  10. Greatt game, amazing win. Going into this game I did not expect a win given the situation: back to back, on the road, at GSW, and especially without LMA. But I am thrilled they proved my skepticism invalid last night! GO BLAZERS, BEAT THE HAWKS!!!

    by dockaren on 2/16/2012 8:27 AM
  11. At the 2 minute mark. Robinson tries to penetrate. Camby disrupts the shot then gets the rebound. Outlet to Ray, passes to Gerald. Wallace strokes a 3 with no Blazers under the rim, plenty of time on the shot clock. SWISH!! That is not Blazer ball but it should be. Gerald at that moment had no other thought but win the game.

    by Divotking on 2/16/2012 9:10 AM
  12. It was great fun to watch the team get a tough, unexpected win, sealed only in the final second. The chief difference between the joy of Wednesday and the depair of Tuesday was three-point shooting. The Wizards shot insanely well on Tuesday; the Warriors missed a lot of open threes last night. Portland shot threes like Portland has all year on Tuesday; on Wednesday Wallace finally found the range, after a season in which "Wallace for three...it's off" was repeated again and again, night after night. I cheered and went to bed happy, but nothing has really changed. Ray Felton still dribbles in place again and again with no idea what to do, no ability to dictate the flow of the game the way real point guards do. We're still thin on the front line, still play guys out of position to accomodate the fact that our best two players not sitting with a sprain are both small forwards. We're also still mostly sitting all our young players except Nic and Wes, while playing guys who won't be around when the team finally sorts itself out to make a serious run at a championship. Jamaal Crawford hitting a big shot to help a feel-good win against a team comes at the expense of giving Elliot and Nolan a chance to develop skills that will help us down the road. That's the trade-off Nate will always make. He wants to win now, and while that's admirable, I don't see how this focus on the here and now helps us get to the point where we can contend. I have no doubt that most of the young guys on the Wizards and Warriors who were drilling shots against us the last couple of nights, gaining belief in themselves as NBA players, would have been sitting on the bench with Luke if they "played" for Portland.

    by Islander on 2/16/2012 10:54 AM
  13. @Islander:
    Trade off or not the next game is all we have; You can't play for the future because we don't know what the future brings.
    I see your point as to developing young talent; Nate is not good at that regardless. This year I have to give Nate a little leeway, because of no training camp or preseason games to speak of. Nevertheless, I cannot imagine some of the rookies playing any worst then Felton.

    In my mind, I keep thinking that we drop Armon and pick up Patty. he is not the answer to our future, but he would be a great help now.

    by Hg on 2/16/2012 11:42 AM
  14. it's a win, and i'll take it. i actually thought we played pretty well and, even when we were down, we didn't let the game get out of reach (as we've done so many times this season). defense was certainly the difference, though we did leave their guys open for threes much too often.

    Crash and Nicolas were terrific, and Marcus claimed another double-double. these three guys are vital to the team usually, not to mention with Marcus out.as moral victories go, this is the biggest. we won a close game at a place we've had little success as of late with our best player out, and were led by 24 points from a guy who has struggled on the road this season.

    as Ancientone pointed out, we outrebounded golden state. we also won ... hmm, am i the only one not buying that as simply just a coincidence?

    i really don't much want to go on, except to say: Craig Smith 5 points and 6 rebounds in 12 minutes. why the hell isn't he playing more minutes? i suppose you could say it's a matter of matchups, but we're not going to have the luxury of keeping him on the bench tonight against the clippers. they've got some size and we're going to need the Rhino in there for at least 20 minutes.

    if you look at all the games from both sets of back-to-backs, we're 3-2 right now. a win tonight would make it 4-2. i think most of us could feel pretty good about that.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 2/16/2012 12:43 PM
  15. Hey Miss Kassandra:
    regardless of our difference in opinions on Pride, we can't say the Blazers were liking in pride last night. Even if the last shot for us didn't drop, we played with pride of the Blazers.

    by Hg on 2/16/2012 12:58 PM
  16. The Blazers showed me something last night that has really been missing for a while.....some heart...props....

    by DowntownVinnie on 2/16/2012 1:18 PM
  17. I too was hoping Rhino would get more time, he could have spelled GW having to guard David Lee who is a load. With the Rhino at PF, GW moves back to his natural SF position, and Nico moves back to SG, which I think is his best position. Add Camby and either Felton or Jamal, and that's a pretty nice lineup. The Rhino gives up a few inches to Lee but could lay some muscle on him and maybe wear him down a bit.

    by dgpdx on 2/16/2012 3:03 PM
  18. Let's hope having to guard David Lee and Blake Griffin on back-to-back nights doesn't take too much out of Gerald Wallace! Let the Rhino take some of that punishment, Nate.

    by dgpdx on 2/16/2012 3:06 PM
  19. Nate you have 50 or so fouls sitting on the far end of the bench. If the kid (Blake) goes off, hammer him. When he's tired his free throw shooting is suspect.

    by Divotking on 2/16/2012 5:52 PM
  20. it's tough to win when you aren't playing with a competent point guard. felton obviously needs work to get into game shape before a season. what was he thinking?

    by thedanman on 2/17/2012 12:00 AM
  21. True, danman, poor guard play has cost us at least five games so far. Difference between 16-15 and 21-10. That's huge.

    Big part of loss to Clips was fatigue -- third game in three nights for Blazers, third game in four nights for Clips. Both teams were out of gas and running on fumes in the 4th, but Clips had CP3 and he was the difference maker.

    by dgpdx on 2/17/2012 7:40 PM
  22. I will say it again. Rebounding and back up point. Jamal has done a decent job playing out of position at the point. If Nate does replace Felton at the point, then who is our backup. Why should Felton be more effective with second unit. Nolan has serious splinters in his back side. What makes me think that won't change.
    Trying hard to stay positive. There is time to straighten the wheels. I've seen moments of good ball. Then we take two steps back.

    by Divotking on 2/17/2012 10:25 PM
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