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!
Road Review: Downed In Detroit To End Roadie
By sarahhecht Posted in: Blazers, Pistons
DETROIT 94, PORTLAND 91
Loved: Nicolas Batum finding an early rhythm
In his first start this season Nicolas Batum definitely made his presence known. Determined to make his first 12 minutes count, Batman shot 50 percent from the field and drained two free throws for ten points. But his impact was more than just a scoring punch. He pulled down three big boards and spent the quarter covering the floor. His energy bursts made it seem like he was everywhere, a needed kick for the tired legs of his teammates.
Loathed: Early fouls on both bigs
LaMarcus Aldridge and Marcus Camby both got themselves into early foul trouble. You may think one or two of the calls were questionable, but even if they were, they still happened. You have to adjust to how calls are being made, it’s part of the game. And you absolutely can’t rack up two fouls with six minutes left in the opening quarter. Luckily, both of these bigs were able to keep their fouls in check for the rest of the game.
Loved: Expanding the rotation
Eleven Trail Blazers saw minutes in the second quarter. Outside of Nate McMillan’s normal rotation Nolan Smith, Luke Babbitt and Chris Johnson joined the mix. They held their own in their limited minutes, but didn’t see enough court time to make any notable contributions.
Why do you think Nate McMillan decided to give the young guns run so early in the game? Whatever his reasoning I like the decision. We have to increase the rotation to make it through this grueling season.
Loathed: Eleven-point halftime deficit
Heading into the half trailing the struggling Pistons was just as much a surprise to me as I assume it was to the Trail Blazers. After controlling the first quarter (though the score didn’t reflect it) Portland’s defense started to fall apart. Detroit was easily able to get inside for simple buckets and left the Trail Blazers’ heads spinning as they walked to the locker room.
Loved: LaMarcus Aldridge putting his game face on
Coming out of the half LA found a second wind, albeit a temporary one. He shot 3-of-4 from the floor and sank two free throws for a total of eight points. He was the main reason the Pistons weren’t able to crack this one open to an even more absurd lead.
Interior defense AND perimeter defense were ugly in the third. Tired legs shouldn’t be an excuse for defending the inside. Not getting out to the perimeter when you’re dogged is one thing, but that’s the time when you park inside and lock down the middle. Portland did neither of these and Detroit was able to extend their lead to 13 at one point.
Loved: LaMarcus Aldridge going left
There is one specific moment from the final period that makes me smile. Aldridge backed his man toward the basket and took the ball hard to the rim while going left. LEFT! We’ve heard about him working on it during the offseason, and I know he’s done it before. But tonight it stood out as a brilliant moment in an otherwise stress-inducing ball game.
Loathed: Failure to take advantage of Detroit’s cold spell
The Pistons scored 21 points in the final quarter, their fewest of any period on the night. Trailing by only four at the open, Portland kept it close and looked to take the lead a few times to no avail. In the end this was another story of the Trail Blazers failing to take advantage of a team when they were playing their worst basketball of the evening.
This was not the outcome Rip City was looking for tonight.
A 3-3 end to a long road trip would’ve been comforting after a tough start to the swing. But 2-4 is a little tougher to swallow. Following a strong start to the year the Trail Blazers needed greater success on this roadie to feel more comfortable as they hit the meat of an incredibly difficult January.
Now it’s on to a back-to-back-to-back starting at home on Monday to finish the final five games of the month. Let’s get back on track in the Rose Garden.