As the team heads out on the road I’ll share my thoughts on the highs and lows of each game and how they impact the team and season going forward. Let’s discuss!
Road Review: Hard Times Continue In Sacramento
By sarahhecht Posted in: Blazers, Kings
SACRAMENTO 95, PORTLAND 92
Loved: LaMarcus Aldridge’s All-Staresque dunks, shooting 61 percent
How about shooting 61 percent in the first half? That's a huge gauge of control in that department. Raymond Felton was hitting, Aldridge was on fire and Kurt Thomas wasn’t taking no for an answer. The spot on shooting was the perfect compliment to the early defense by the Trail Blazers. They were active, reading their marks well, getting blocks and being all around disruptive for the Kings. All good pieces to begin competition back on the road.
Add to that the beast that is LaMarcus Aldridge. You don’t even need words. Just watch.
Loathed: Allowing Sacramento to close the lead
Up thirteen. Cut to three. Back to nine heading into the break. Yikes. That’s a roller coaster. Not only on the scoreboard but in the minds of the Trail Blazers who are already battling the mental pressure and performance anxiety of playing away from home. Adding a lack of control and playing like a yo-yo does nothing but exacerbate the mental tension. Get control and maintain it for your own piece of mind. And of course ours too.
Loved: Jamal Crawford’s fourth quarter
Plagued with horrendous shooting, 38 percent from the floor to Sacramento’s 53 percent, the semi-saving grace of the fourth quarter was Jamal Crawford. It’s an odd statement to make since he shot 3-of-8, but his 9 points were the most of any Trail Blazer in the final frame and they came at important moments. The guys weren’t taking shots, a trend we’ve seen in the last few games. They’re are getting wide-open looks and refusing to pull the trigger. The hesitation is crippling.
Crawford doesn’t do that. He shoots and shoots and shoots. Some may fault him for it but on a night like tonight he was exactly what the doctor ordered. Get buckets to try to swing the momentum to your favor. It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it.
Loathed: 13-point third quarter, fast break finishing, complete meltdown
It’s easy to dissect this second half, so much went wrong. Being outscored 24-13 was the beginning of the meltdown for Portland in this one. It started with fighting the shot clock early in the third and getting poor looks at the basket. A shooting drought ensued, the Kings closed the gap, put the pedal to the metal and didn’t look back. The momentum shifted in that third quarter and the Trail Blazers couldn’t get enough footing to take it back.
The second half rattling was a slippery slope for Portland who seemed to let the frustration of their previous road woes creep back into play. It’s like a bad jinx. So odd in fact that simple fast breaks, 3-on-1 style were botched. Twice. It was another road meltdown to add to the list.
There has to be a break-through sometime, right?
It may be naive of me, but I honestly thought the Trail Blazers would pull off a win in Sacramento tonight. Yes, we were on the road, a treacherous place for us, but we’d also seen this Kings team twice already this season. Of all the road games so far this year this would be the one I’d imagine us to be the most prepared for.
Instead we encountered the same problems that have plagued us all but three times in our ventures away from the Rose Garden. The scary part here is how difficult it is to narrow down the problem to something specific. Numerous issues haunt the Trail Blazers whenever they make camp in a visitor’s locker room. Shot selection, momentum, playing the opponent’s game, take your pick. To me the most glaring is the inability to close out.
Tonight marked the seventh time Portland has lost by five points or less while on the road. The seventh! Setting the pace and controlling the first half MUST carry over into the third and fourth quarters and more importantly the final minutes of a basketball game. There are no excuses. The guys need to figure this out before it’s too late and serious damage is done with potential playoff implications.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, no time to dwell. On to the next, Denver in our house.