The Blazers nearly came back from a 23-point second-half deficit tonight, but Orlando made just a couple more shots and the Blazers suffered their first home loss of the season.
As I often do, I joined the in-game chat for the game. Sarah (RipCitySarah or Sarah Hecht or even dot-tv Sarah -- whichever she prefers) was there, as well as many of the regulars; Teresa, Albert, Kylie, Darren and Brian. Heck, even Mike (BlockParty) braved the late east coast hours to join us from Charlotte.
As you undoubtedly know, things did not start well for the Blazers, falling down 8-0 from the outset. Orlando seemed to make every shot -- especially three-pointers -- while the Blazers seemingly made few of theirs. The Magic were dominating in nearly all aspects of the game and, ultimately, the scoreboard proved that.
Well into the third quarter, things were still not going well for the Blazers. They had battled back, but Orlando had answered. At one point, the Magic were up by 23 points.
It was around that point when one of the regular participants in the game chat, who had been critical of the Blazers defense and general performance for much of the game, called it. "Game," the poster said.
The person added a couple follow-up critical statements, specifically stating why they thought the team was not doing as well on the season. There were other chatters telling the person to have faith and that the game was not over yet. In fact, Sarah even told the person that she disagreed and that the Blazers still had a chance in the game. Sarah even quoted the person's own word, "realist," in her statement. The person responded.
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"If me being a realist makes us come back to win, then so be it."
Yes, I said that. For I am the one being skeptical, in the game -- and in the past few games -- regarding the team's performance.
The Blazers almost proved me wrong. They almost came back. In the fourth quarter I found myself switched from skeptic mode back to cheerleader mode (I believe all of us have a bit of both sides in us). As we narrowed the deficit, I was more and more hopeful that this would be one of those miracle comebacks.
However, as you know by now, it was not to be.
Don't get me wrong. I have absolutely loved everything Blazers for nearly 90 percent of my life. Nothing has changed. There was nothing I would have loved more last night than to see that comeback.
Be that as it may, I have been increasingly concerned with the team of late. Against the Clippers Tuesday night, they were solid and put themselves in a great position to win. Against the Cavaliers, they dominated the second half and won the game. However, against the Suns on Friday and during the first three quarters tonight, they looked like a team who didn't know what to do in certain aspects of the game, especially defensively. Sure, Orlando was making shots, but from what I can tell, they were shots not being contested by Blazers defenders.
That is a problem, especially as they embark on a six-game road trip. There are no guarantees in any of these games. I want to be a cheerleader. I am, however, still skeptical and trying to look at this in a realistic way. Yes, I do consider myself a realist.
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NOTES ABOUT ORLANDO
* Despite once being down by 23, the Blazers had just eight turnovers for the game.
* Jamal and LaMarcus each shot 10-17 from the field, and lead the Blazers with 24 and 23 points, respectively.
* Nicolas, who shot the ball excellently and scored 14 points, had a game-high plus-17 efficiency rating.
* Nicolas and Jamal, who each scored nine points in the win against the Clippers, each had 10 at halftime against Orlando.
* Luke saw action in just his second game of the season in the third quarter. He missed his only shot (a trey), but had three rebounds in 4:25 on the floor.
NOTES ABOUT THE SEASON
* The Blazers three losses have come from teams representing just two NBA divisions (Pacific - Clippers and Suns; and Southeast - Magic).
* Despite the loss last night, the Blazers still hold the second-best record in the Western Conference. They would host the Jazz in the first round if the playoffs began today.
* The Blazers are one of 12 NBA teams who have played 10 games thus far. Only one of those teams (the 76ers) is leading their division. The Blazers beat the 76ers in what will be their only meeting this season, on opening night.
* The Blazers home winning percentage is 86 percent. During the lockout-shortened 1999 season, the team had an end-season home winning percentage of 88 percent.
So the Blazers are off on their first road test of the season. The realist has a few questions in her mind. Can the Blazers bottle up the Rose Garden energy and use it to propel the team to some quality performances and wins? Can the Blazers break .500 and go 4-2 on the trip? 5-1? Are you crazy enough to think they can go 6-0?
Are you a dreamer? Are you a cheerleader?
Are you another realist?
Note: Photo courtesy Oregonlive.com. Blazers' Nicolas Batum battles Orlando's Ryan Anderson.
In Kassandra's Words features regular blogs throughout the year. Comments and questions are welcome and encouraged. Seasons begin and end; players come and go; our Blazers are forever. Please follow on twitter: @PDXKass