I rarely write a blog after a single game. However, following the Trail Blazers 84-82 win over the Mavericks in game four, I am left with no choice ... and that's a good thing.
I probably don't have to tell you about the outcome, or how Portland arrived to the victory. I'll startby repeating the name which has the BlazerNation rocking on this Saturday evening: Brandon Roy.
The Blazers dug themselves a hole for the first, shall we say, 34 minutes of this game. They were out rebounded, out shot and generally out played. Dallas led by as many as 23 points in the third. By the end of the third quarter, Portland had just 49 points.Yet, the most important points at that time were the last three. Brandon hit a three-pointer with just under two seconds.
Despite the score being 67-49 heading into the final quarter, Brandon and his team were merely getting started.
"The Natural" shot, drove the lane, faded away and maneuvered his way to 18 fourth-quarter points while leading a not impossible -- but highly improbable -- comeback. He looked like the Brandon of old; the Brandon who a few naysayers have said we would never see again. The naysayers were wrong.
Brandon took over this game, just like he's done for the Blazers countless times before. He did it in his style. He was slow, methodical and dedicated.
Portland narrowed the lead to 15, and then down to seven before a Jason Terry three-pointer extended Dallas' lead back to 10. Wesley Matthews made a driving layup and Brandon followed that with one of his own. the Blazers were down just 80-74 with 2:32 to go.
After a turnaround jumper by LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon hit a long jumper (nearly a three, but his toe was on the three-point line) to narrow the Mavericks' lead to two. Sean Marion made a short jumper to send Dallas up 82-78. It would be the Mavericks' last points of the game.
It was then time for The Natural to finish off the game. He was fouled on a step-back three, converting it into a four-point play, and the game was tied. His driving floater with 39.2 seconds gave Portland it's margin of victory.
He scored 18 of his 24 points in the final quarter. He also had four rebounds and five assists -- all in just 24-and-a-half minutes.
Brandon has had a frustrating season. There has been speculation that he will never return to be the player he was before. Mostly, there are a lot of unknowns about the future of Brandon's career. Perhaps at this point, he doesn't really know. Since his return just weeks ago from surgery on both knees, he's had a rough time of it (refer to my previous blog Roy has Earned Respect, Support
). It's been an incredible adjustment for him and the team, to figure out the best way to use him in the lineup. Truthfully, quite a bit of the time it hasn't gone well.
Brandon scored 16 points in the Blazers game three win Thursday night and was commonly referred to as one of the heroes of that game, and rightfully so.
On Saturday afternoon, he was amazing, incredible, terrific, wonderful and any other synonyms you'd like to add. True, the team should never have put themselves in that deep a hole in a playoff game at home (I'm guessing Nate is going to address that with the team over the next couple of days).
Brandon's performance in game four served two major purposes: One, Portland got the win and tied the series at 2-2. Two, he's put together two very strong games back-to-back. That's a huge confidence builder and it's only going to make him better and, therefore, the team better.
I can't remember seeing anything quite like the comeback in game four. I've been told that only three teams have come back from a deficit of 18 or more points entering the fourth quarter of a playoff game since the shot clock was adopted. That's in the entire NBA.
The win -- rather, they way in which the Blazers won -- may also pay another dividend. Of course, that depends on what's going through the minds of the Mavericks players up and through game five Monday at Dallas. How will they react after blowing that second-half lead? Will the ghosts of Mavericks playoffs past come back to haunt them? We shall see.
I support Brandon and I've been saying for quite some time in blog comments and and message boards. My point has been this: I understand that he may never be exactly the same as he was, but I want to know he's capable of it. My question was answered today.
Brandon Roy is back.