Playing Within, Trusting Within
A ‘team’ is defined as this: a number of persons forming one of the sides in a game or contest. Okay, I’m certain you could have figured that out. But, following Monday’s 101-89 win over the listless Kings, I’m beginning to feel something is changing. Not because of the win alone, but how the team reacted in certain situations. Sure, they were behind the 8-ball early when Aldridge, Camby and K. Thomas all got 2 fouls each with 4+ minutes remaining in the 1st. But panic didn’t set in on any of their faces. I said to myself--alone in that lonely Home Court studio--, “It’s all good, not worried”. Guess I was right after that 32 point outburst in the 2nd quarter. A 20-2 run for the Blazers created just the separation Portland needed.
Now, it certainly wasn’t picture perfect for Portland. But I saw this Blazers bench seize the opportunity. They steamrolled the 5th best rebounding team in the league, 53 to 36. In fact, Portland dominated on that offensive glass all night.
While Nic Batum was virtually invisible (yup, my Pick To Click), others stepped up to pick up the slack. And I just can’t say enough about the recent play of Craig Smith. He’s one of those players you love to play with, and not against. Let’s face it, he’s a bully on the floor. His 10 points and 7 boards were huge contributions.
But the (see blog headline) real story was that of Jamal Crawford. He carried the team offensively. When the former 2010 6th man of the year is on, he’s fun to watch. Crawford is as fun to watch as any when he is in that zone. And he was, to the tune of a season-high 26 points. Look, he’s not shy at chucking up shots. But he’s more of a facilitator than people are giving him credit for. While he had been struggling shooting from the field, he’s second on the team in assists. He’s getting others involved, and said after the game, “I have to just be me. When I get going, after that it just clicks.”
Crawford is trusting guys more, and getting them involved. His 5 assists were tied for the team-high on Monday. Confidence breeds success, and I’m sensing that we are about to see this team come together more quickly than first thought. You hope I’m right, and I do too.
A nice feather in their cap can come Tuesday when the Blazers host the team that is tied with Houston for the longest current winning streak in the NBA, the Memphis Grizzlies (7-games). Bring it on say the Blazers!