sarahhecht

Jan 18

Road Review: Disappointed In Atlanta

By sarahhecht Posted in: Blazers, Hawks
As the team heads out on the road I’ll share my thoughts on the highs and lows of each quarter and their importance to the game, team and season going forward. Let’s discuss!

ATLANTA 92, PORTLAND 89

First Quarter

Loved: Jamal Crawford hitting his first two shots

A driving layup and a fadeaway jumper were two nice shots to get things going for Crawford off the bench. Back on his former turf for the first time as a Trail Blazer, he started the game nicely. Though he didn’t hit again until the fourth, his buckets in the first contributed to keeping the score close.

Loathed: Twenty-nine percent shooting

No team gets anywhere shooting 29 percent. Hitting just 7-of-24 from the field will get this team into a world of hurt against most teams. To be brutally honest, Portland was lucky to be down only four. What really gets me here is the guys were getting decent looks and shot selection wasn’t bad. Lid on the bucket?

Whatever it is, something has got to give.

Second Quarter

Loved: Craig Smith’s hustle

The winner of the workhouse award is Craig Smith. In his 11 second quarter minutes he shot 2-of-4 from the field, 3-of-5 from the charity strip and scored seven points. More importantly, his strong line was amplified by the hustle he demonstrated. Smith coupled with Kurt Thomas to own the paint for the Trail Blazers and keep them in the game. Way to go Rhino!

Loathed: Joe Johnson getting hot

If the goal was to keep Joe Johnson and Josh Smith from getting hot the Trail Blazers held to half of it until the second. Smith scored six in the first quarter and Johnson was limited to none. That little triumph was negated when Johnson got started with a jumper and followed it up with two quick three-pointers. Letting him flip the switch helped Atlanta take a nine point lead into the half.

Johnson was a dagger for Portland. He led the Hawks with 24 points.

Third Quarter

Loved: Fast start

A quick seven-point burst at the hands of LaMarcus Aldridge and Raymond Felton put Portland right back into the game after trailing by nine at the break, a shooting spurt the guys desperately needed after hitting a measly 36 percent in the first half.

The positive here is the Trail Blazers were again able to turn the tides from the opening periods. It may not have lasted long, but they demonstrated the capability.

Loathed: Inability to close out quarters

It took Atlanta one minute and seven seconds to take their lead from three to 13 at the end of the third. They started this run with 2:58 left in the quarter. If that doesn’t say the Trail Blazers are struggling to close out quarters, I don’t know what does.

Portland absolutely has to end strong. I don’t think it’s a stretch to affiliate the ability to close quarters with the ability to close games. A skill that would’ve paid dividends this evening.

Fourth Quarter

Loved: Nolan Smith

Five minutes from Smith in the fourth felt like ten. When he checked in at the end of the third Portland was down by seven and the lead grew to 13. The Trail Blazers kicked it into gear again to begin the quarter and went on a 13-0 run to tie the game. All with Nolan on the floor. He moved well, passed well, and hit a good-looking jumper from downtown.

Smith’s strong shift late in the game was a nice treat.

Loathed: Missing free throws

Down by six. Two free throws missed. Bad news.

Late game trips to the charity stripe are clutch, especially when they minimize the number of possessions needed to win a ball game. Tonight Atlanta’s lead would’ve been cut to four. Instead it was quickly increased to eight with just over a minute left to play.

Mentality is a huge factor late. Being within reach and carrying momentum gives teams that extra push to believe they can grind it out. But a time comes when a three-possession game becomes out of reach. That time came tonight, and could’ve been avoided had late game free throws connected.

Overall Impressions

This was a big loss for the Trail Blazers. The worst of the road trip in my book.

I viewed this game as defining of this swing. Win and we take momentum into the final legs at Toronto and Detroit. Lose and the pressure is on to keep the trip at 3-3 and not let it fall into the disaster zone. Well, the pressure is on.

So even though I’m frustrated with the loss, I’m not disheartened on the season. Long road trips are hard. And after all the rule is to win at home and split on the road, right? A 3-3 outcome is still completely doable.

2 Comments

  1. Sarah,

    I don't want to be the fan that thinks he knows everything. It just didn't seem like the players wanted this one. We had spurts where we were in the game and had the lead, but it echoes the same feelings as the Houston game. A little disappointed that we are gonna let a game get away from us that we could win, for whatever reason albeit lack of hustle or fatigue or lack of desire etc.. At this point, I think conditioning is an issue, they looked again like they needed some rest. It's clear that without Camby and Batum, we look like a little fish in the league (although I am not sure if that should ALWAYS be the case..). There were encouraging moments where I got excited but nothing was sustained. I am a fan of the Blazers always, win or lose, and a fan of the game of basketball so it's not the end of the World. All the talk and hype I think was very premature. Oh well, Blazer fan till the end. They did rally, I will give them that. I hope we stay positive and get thru this. It's a process.

    No Rip City tonight, Go Blazers

    by Bull Frog on 1/19/2012 12:15 AM
  2. Hey Miss Sarah, Why in the world can't we make shots. Watching Joe Johnson made me miss Brandon Roy, those two played so much alike.
    How bad was Batum''s eye, I sure hope it is OK. I think if we had him for the whole game we would have won.
    There was lots of good and bad that came out of this game. Most of the bad was that our shots just wouldn't fall. I thought we played Atlanta great, we just couldn't muster up enough offense to stay with them.
    I like Nolan and Rhino in the game. they give us a big boost of offense.

    I sure hope we can go 3 and 3. I am like you the last two games are doable.

    by Hg on 1/19/2012 1:00 AM
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