sarahhecht

Jan 08

Aldridge’s Second Half Success Propels Portland

By sarahhecht Posted in: Blazers, Cavaliers, LaMarcusAldridge
On the shoulders of LaMarcus Aldridge, the Trail Blazers officially put their ugly loss in Phoenix to bed with a 20-point defeat of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The 98-78 final score puts the game into the solid win category, but would have felt much better had it been earned in a more decisive fashion. The Trail Blazers took a 42-35 lead into the half after ending the second quarter on a 12-3 run. Prior to then the game was a back-and-forth with six lead changes.

“I just felt like we had to work harder. We needed to dig down and work harder on both ends of the floor,” head coach Nate McMillan said of the slow first half. “Defensively, we were kind of just like in a daze, kind of flat. It looked very similar to the Phoenix game. Then we got going.”

And get going they did. As has been the tendency with the Trail Blazers, play came together and clicked in the third quarter.

Team captain Aldridge racked up 14 of his 28 points on 50 percent shooting from the field in the third quarter alone. Add his 6-of-6 from the free throw line and his four quick-handed steals and it’s easy to see how his teammates were encouraged to follow his lead and break open a 12-point lead on the Cavs.

“I think our trend has been that defensively we’ve always gotten better in the second half,” Aldridge said. “And every game that we’ve won this year, I think we kinda feel you out in the first half and then in the second half we get our second wind and turn it up.”

Defense did click in the second half. Portland forced 14 turnovers for 21 points and found the extra step that was missing in Phoenix and through the first two periods tonight. That additional energy on the defensive end allowed for the offensive game-plan to be executed more smoothly.

“We want to go in the paint and establish ourselves through LaMarcus or penetration,” McMillan said. “Even though we’re pushing the ball, when we talk about attacking, we want to get to the rim whether that’s post-ups or penetration. If the outside shot comes from that, we’ll take that but we don’t want to settle for perimeter jump shots. So we want to play through LaMarcus.”

Turning it up tonight and executing, regardless of the timing, yielded results. Portland’s starting forwards Aldridge and Gerald Wallace outscored Cleveland’s starting forwards Antawn Jamison and Omri Casspi by a score of 44-13. Jamison, the Cavs’ leading scorer, what neutralized by Portland’s defense and put up a goose egg in the first half. He scored only three points in the second.

As Aldridge mentioned, the Trail Blazers seemed to have set a trend when it comes to putting together motion in the second half of games. A trend that proved successful tonight, but may be deadly in the future.

His stellar second half performance exemplified the impact the go-to guy on a squad has, he’s a game changer. If he can light it up two quarters sooner, wins like these will fall into the decisive category. A much more comfortable realm for a team pushing to greatness.

8 Comments

  1. Hip hip hurray, Miss Sarah:
    What a game. I disagree with you just a tab in the first half, that was just the results of two teams doing a number on each other. It was hard fought by both teams, and the Blazers never surrendered their superiority. You could almost tell from the beginning that the Blazers would wear down the young club and start scoring better, plus of course like LMA said, Nate made the right corrections at half time as he usually does.

    Now you got to realize that I don't think Cleveland bad outside shooting was all by live by the three die by the three, altough that is a plague that hits both teams, IMO, it was the Blazers hustle that prevented most of those threes from dropping.
    Rightfully so, the Blazers was playing a little cautious and conservative the first half to be sure they were not in serious foul trouble and without legs the second half. Not a bad strategy in my book as it has been said by the BB guru's that you cannot play lock-down swarming, in your face defense for the full 48 minutes.

    Anyway you look at it, it was a open to the end intensity filled game from both squads. I give both teams a solid A in their performance.

    Thank you for your quick Blog, I woke up from a dead sleep and as soon as my brain functioned I said OMG, It is time for Sarah's and Mike's blog, I jumped out of bed and with no surprise you were waiting on my computer. OK, that was a little suggestive, but not so bad from a 71 year old guy that loves humor.

    by Hg on 1/9/2012 12:35 AM
  2. Sarah - mentioned in my blog -1 Key Play - (cheap plug) that I am surprised the national media doesn't give LMA more respect. I feel like he's the league's best kept secret. I got to see him play at Texas and it was like watching a man amongst boys. Your thoughts?

    by BDF444 on 1/9/2012 8:37 AM
  3. I'm really liking Wesley's consistency (not counting the Phoenix game) so far this year. He may not have the all star credentials yet, but his role has helped lift this team. I'm also loving the fact that he's looking for his shot and hitting it when it matters most. It's plays like his that's making it easier for LaMarcus to get his shot.

    by blazerdarren77 on 1/9/2012 5:06 PM
  4. I think LMA is right on the cusp of major recognition. Everyone nationally KNOWS who he is and they recognize his skills. He just hasn't become a household name yet. It'll be interesting to watch his career unfold and see if he can break through to superstartdom.

    by sarahhecht on 1/9/2012 5:35 PM
  5. Sarah: All the NBA teams knows who LMA is, and I would just as soon they didn't, They all prepare for LMA when we play them. His job would be so much easier and he would win us all the games. But I guess I can't be greedy, He will get the recognition he needs from the coaches I am sure, I don't know about the popularity contest. the Best player doesn't always win the votes.

    by Hg on 1/9/2012 8:21 PM
  6. Sarah,Nice work. Are we giving out too many secrets here on strategy? lol. I unfortunately missed most of the first half, but felt Cleveland played a scrappy game, I felt well coached and very aggressive. I think the team (POR) counter attacked that with good timing, not letting the lead dwindle too small. I still feel like maintaining some kind of balance in regards energy-wise will be really important in A: getting a good seed in the playoffs aka home court and B: keeping our roster full and healthy. Keeping guys fresh and going into the bench in certain situations I think will make a difference, even though it was clear that the 'starter' group did not look like they wanted to come out of the game with around 4 mins left in the fourth quarter. I support what Nate did for the sake of keeping guys fresh and healthy for a bigger test against the Clippers. It's a hard call to make when we may need to keep guys on the floor to learn to play better together or to rest them. I say play it safe as much as necessary.

    My shot at redemption: I wanted to comment on one of these blogs - Kurt Thomas knows the game of basketball and is he ever dependable? Glad he came to the Blazers.

    Have a great night everybody

    by Bull Frog on 1/9/2012 10:19 PM
  7. Gonna say this about Lamarcus: He has two chances to up his name by bringing strong if not stellar games against both Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard. Even with good outings in head-to-heads though, it's unlikely LA gets REAL respect from FANS until the Blazers get to the WCF. The media mentions him all the time now, an decided improvement over years past.

    Another very nice blog btw Sarah :)

    by SisillaRiann on 1/10/2012 3:23 PM
  8. The Cleveland team was on the road and in the middle of playing several games in as many nights. It is a testament to their relative youth that they came out Sunday with high energy. If a few more shots had fallen for them, they could have made a run at the Blazers. I really liked watching Kyrie Irving. He was in control and made several great passes to set up players for easy shots. Cleveland was actually doing a really good job of playing with patience and we watched them work the ball quickly from one side to the other to get an open shot. They just didn't make shots when they had a good look. Regarding the fatigue that we are seeing from the Blazers when playing multiple games in a row, I have given this a lot of thought. My conclusion is that unlike most years where players have a Summer leaqgue session, and then an extended training camp where they can build stamina and get into playing shape. This season has not allowed that luxury. Nate will be forced to put his rookies out there when we get into the 6 game road trip next week. Look for Nate to get them in at times when he can shore up their play with veterans to help keep the other team from taking total advantage of them. Lets get the Clipps!! We owe thwm one!

    by bigblazerfan101 on 1/10/2012 3:38 PM
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