sarahhecht

Jan 05

‘It’s Like Point Guard Heaven’

By sarahhecht
Thirty-one. Twenty-eight. Seventeen. Sixteen.

That’s the number of points scored by each of the Trail Blazers who hit double-digits in tonight’s 107-96 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Ten.

That’s the number of assists Portland point guard Raymond Felton doled out as those points were scored.

Felton may not be the first to jump out from the stat sheet tonight—he shot 3-of-14 from the floor and scored eight points—but his impact on the triumph over the Lakers goes far beyond just a shooting percentage.

Over the last six games the Trail Blazers have visibly bonded as a team. With that we’ve seen them play more cohesively and we’ve seen Felton’s true potential in Portland begin to blossom. His unique court-vision is complemented by his uncanny knack to find players nobody sees coming and complete passes that can only be described as circus-like. It’s an ability he says will continue to improve as the season rolls on.

“People who watched me over the last six years understand that that’s what I have in my game,” Felton said. “I’m the type of person, I see passes before they even form. I see things happening before my teammates do. So now that we starting to get that chemistry they know it’s coming.”

Felton knows his role on this Portland team. Surrounded by a roster built to have four or five guys score 15-plus on any given night, he’s proud to recognize the shift his play has, and will continue, to take in Rip City.

“I averaged 18 in New York, I had to. I ended up averaging 15 for the year. This might be a season where I may not average that,” Felton said “I might average 11 to 12 points a game, but I’m gonna be in the elite, the top, in assists because we got so many scorers my job is so easy.”

After a performance like tonight it’s easy to see what he means. His game-high ten dimes were seconded by Derek Fisher’s six and followed by fellow Trail Blazer Marcus Camby’s four. On a night when your team racks up 20 assists, owning half of them is definitely a success.

But it’s not just his assist stats that have Felton beaming, it’s also how those leads were executed. He didn’t hesitate one bit to gloat about the abundance of scoring opportunities his teammates present him each night.

“You got guys that can score at all kinds of angles,” he said. “You got slashers, you got three-point shooters, you got post-up guys, you got pick-and-pop guys, you got roll guys. It’s like point guard heaven.”

Watching Felton capitalize on the talent of his teammates while doing the same with his own skill-set is giving Trail Blazers fans the same feeling.

We’re in point guard heaven.

7 Comments

  1. OK miss Sarah, you may not feel giddy after the OKC game, but how about now?
    I sure am getting flooded with an inner glow that I can walk when it is so dark I can't see my hand in front of my face without a flash light LOL. That may not be giddy, but it sure feels great.

    I am pretty upset with TNT for not having a 2nd option for watching the game, I know they were bound to the triple overtime game, but they could have left the split screen up or as BE suggested use TBS for the second game. Or, let KGW televise the game.

    Nevertheless, the second half was ample time for me to see this team is for real. The job they did on Bynum alone was spectacular, the continuous pushing of the tempo didn't only have the Lakers on their heels, exposed their poor transition defense, but also wore them to a fizzle. Bynum and Kobe was really the only Lakers to show up tonight and they were just getting worst and worst, whereas the Blazers were getting better and better.

    I could write a book on everything I loved about this game in the second half and very little about what I loathed.

    I guess I loathed the same thing as I did in the OKC game, I only got to watch half of the game.

    One more thing before I quit chewing your ear off, Do you think Nate will go further into the bench tonight against the Suns, I have no complaint about his rotation, but would love to see Smith and Williams get there feet wet. Since it is on KGW along with ESPN this time will there be a pre show and post show?

    BTW, although we only seen half the game, the TNT crew was very complimentary of the Blazers with nothing but praise for the team and Nate.

    Later Miss Sarah,

    by Hg on 1/6/2012 1:51 AM
  2. hey Sarah. i've been concerned over Raymond's turnover ratio (last night being an obvious exception). my gut feeling is that as the season progresses, he'll get more and more comfortable with finding is open teammates.

    i'm also concerned with his shooting. with the exception of denver (and i could be wrong about that being the lone exception), it doesn't seem like he's found his shooting touch. i realize he's not supposed to be our leading scorer or anything like that, but if he's going to take 14 shots, i'd like to see him make more than three.

    what i do like about Raymond is how he's pushing the ball down court and setting the tempo. that was extremely important in last night's game, especially in the 2nd half. perhaps if that flow is maintained, the other parts will come around.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 1/6/2012 10:24 AM
  3. @Kassandra: I was wondering about Raymond's game also. But I wonder no more. He is learning the idiosyncrasies of the other players and making them better. That is half of being a great PG. He has great court vision and of course speed. Like Wesley, Nico, and Crawford his shot will come and go. but if he keeps playing like he did in OKC and tonight against the Lakers, I fear not. the fact that him and Gerald has played together in the past shows in how Gerald preformed tonight.

    by Hg on 1/6/2012 11:12 AM
  4. Raymond's shooting and turnovers might look bad, but really you have to put this in perspective. Raymond isn't a player that has to put up good numbers to have a huge positive impact. Even in some of the earlier games where he has plenty of turnovers and poor shooting, the fact that he's pushing such a crazy pace is putting the other team on it's heels. He's the big difference between this years team and last year. This team has so many great players and the ones who put up the numbers will always get the credit and the glory, but in reality, aside from LA, Ray may be the most important player on this team. Without him, I think we'd probably be a completely different team and not nearly as good. Plus, how could anyone complain? 5-1, quality wins and have you ever had more fun watching a team? This pace is incredibly entertaining.

    by hallj8291 on 1/6/2012 11:34 AM
  5. Sarah, you have a great knack for sniffing out incredible quotes. I think "point guard heaven" is an excellent phrase to embody this team. Love that Ray recognizes he doesn't need to provide an offensive scoring punch and that he see his primary job as facilitating. LOVE it!

    by SisillaRiann on 1/6/2012 2:46 PM
  6. @Hg, Be giddy! Last night was a statement win for the Trail Blazers, and it'll be even more so if we can capitalize tonight in Phoenix.

    To answer your question about the bench: yes, I think Nate will get deeper into the rotation. After a long night for the starters yesterday, he's got to. The game is on KGW and there will be pre-game and halftime shows, but no post-game.

    @Kassandra, I too was concerned about Felton's turnovers early. But I'm now starting to think it was a product of being new to the team. His style of passing is reliant on chemistry and other members of the team knowing he may pass to them at any moment. We're now seeing them learn this and those previously turned over balls are becoming assists. As for shots, he'll get his touch. I'm not worried about that in the least. Especially since the pressure is off with him being surrounded by so many scorers.

    @hallj, I agree with every point you make. Well said.

    @EA, thanks! I'm doing my best to ask the right questions and bring you as close to the team as I can.

    by sarahhecht on 1/6/2012 4:58 PM
  7. A true point guard looks for the player that has the best chance to score and Ray Felton IS one of those guys. If he keeps it up like he did on Thursday night, the league will be forced to recognize this guy as a premiere point guard in the league. His comfort level with Wallace and the ever improving chemistry with Aldridge is a GREAT way to get started. So glad he's on our team!

    by blazerdarren77 on 1/6/2012 5:01 PM
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