sarahhecht

Mar 20

Humble Matthews Excels In Return To The Starting Lineup

By sarahhecht Posted in: WesleyMatthews
Wesley Matthews was a bright spot in the Rose Garden tonight as the Trail Blazers fell to the Milwaukee Bucks 116-87. But don’t ask him about his stand-out performance, because to Matthews the team comes first.

“My game doesn’t even matter because we didn’t win” he said. “I’m just trying to do anything I can to help the team win.”

Putting the squad at the top of the priority list is a quality fans and teammates alike value highly. It’s the life-blood of successful camaraderie off the court and essential to  chemistry on it. But sometimes, just sometimes, looking beyond the team to an individual’s accomplishments is important.

Tonight it’s justified.

In his last three games, including tonight, Matthews has consistently performed at a level higher than we’ve seen so far in this condensed season. The numbers tell the story.

In Chicago he scored 18 points on 55 percent shooting. He was 4-of-5 from downtown. Two days later in Oklahoma City he shot 50 percent and was a perfect 3-of-3 from beyond the arc. Tonight, he shot 46 percent from the field, drained 5-of-7 from distance and tied LaMarcus Aldridge with 21 points—they were the high-scorers of the game. Add to that a total of three assists, six steals, 12 rebounds and blocked shot and his stat lines are even more impressive.

This is marked improvement for Matthews who shot 45 percent from the field last season and 48 percent the year before, but has fallen to 42 percent this season. The disparity becomes even greater when his 36 percent three-point shooting is compared to last seasons 41 percent. Though he adamantly proclaims he’s not a three-point shooter the numbers don’t lie. Shooting 12-of-15 from range over three nights makes you a threat, even if you don’t consider it a specialty.

Those numbers certainly tell the truth about his advancement in the last three instances the Trail Blazers have taken the floor.

But like I said, don’t ask him about it.

Ever humble—sometimes to the point of frustration for me—he often deflects any questions asked about his own game and redirects to the team as a whole. Tonight when I asked him to sum up his performances over the last three games he gently shook his head and said, “You know I don’t like questions like that.”

It’s true, I do know. But when your game has recently excelled after a season plagued thus far with struggles you get an article from me. And it’ll be a positive one.

What he would say was this, Interim Head Coach Kaleb Canales knows his game well and with returning to the starting lineup he’s back in his comfort zone.

“I know K trusts me a lot and what I can bring,” Matthews said. “I’m just going out there and playing hoops. I’m getting back to what I’m used to doing.”

Whatever it is that’s changed for him, I’m glad it did. And even though he’s apprehensive to speak about his individual performance he’s earned some time in the spotlight. So here’s to many more deflected answers after top-notch performances.

5 Comments

  1. It's funny that he appears to not want the spotlight, since there are more than just a few local media/blogger types who seem to think Wesley wants to be a superstar. I can't count how many comments I've seen from this season stating something along the lines of, "Wesley just needs to accept he's a bench player & quit trying so hard."...you can imagine how I respond to that, knowing the words "accept" and "quit" just aren't a part of Mr. Matthews. I can only imagine how he would find them.

    For me, the constant Wesley cheerleader, to the point of blatant homerism and bias, I must say that I have found his last 3 performances deeply satisfying. I only wish they were accompanied by strong wins, since it's clear that's what he truly values.

    Nice work Sarah, to highlight this, on a night when BRoy was surely the easiest story to write about :)

    by SisillaRiann on 3/20/2012 11:03 PM
  2. I have enjoyed seeing Wes play at a level he is capable of playing at again. However this was the hardest loss of the year for me. I understand why Wes is so focused on winning hell im not even playing and i feel the competitive edge. But this loss was hard for me because even with bad knees i felt the answer was sitting court side tonight. Maybe he cant put up the numbers he used to but what we miss even more than his numbers because that can be replaced. We miss his leadership. As good as Lamarcus is he just isn't the leader the Broy and Miller were. And dont get me wrong i was one of the miller haters in the beginning but i have come to realize this team needs a leader more than any thing else. I think Joel brings the toughness side of leader ship but he doesn't bring the i am going to put this thing on my back and get it done leadership.

    I knew we were going to lose games and i don't mind losing but losing in the manner that we have been losing is just embarrassing. I will be a blazer for life but right now i am just plain sad. Not because we are losing but because of the way we are losing it just makes me sad.

    by Avgjoe28 on 3/20/2012 11:29 PM
  3. Woot Woot Wes Wes! You were the bright spot of the game tonight and deserve recognition. You did not disappoint the fans at home tonight and I appreciated it. Thanks for giving me someone to really cheer my hardest for tonight at the game! Keep up the good work! :)

    P.S. Wesley Matthews... I watched you shooting those threes before coming back from the halftime break! Threes were your specialty (at least) tonight!

    by Niki C on 3/21/2012 3:26 AM
  4. Hey Miss Sarah: It was great to see your Blog show up on my e-mail. I have been able to watch you on Blazer TV and love your enthusiasm.
    I have lots of hope for the changes that took place recently, but this takes time. To have Matthews getting his game back and back in the starting line-up may be the first of a long string of events.
    I haven't watched or listened to the Bucks game yet, but was really hoping for some consistent play from somebody in our back court. With three games of consistent shooting since Wesley has been put into the starting line-up makes him a shooter that we need. Now, to get the rest of the group going.

    IMO, Wesley isn't the dribble drive type player, or a great creator of his shot or anybody Else's. but to his credit he tried to employ that into his game plan, that is where everybody thought he was trying to be a super star, when in actuallity he was just trying to make his game better for the team. I believe he will develop the handles that he desires because of his hard work and not willing to accept his game as being what it is, he will continue to do what ever to MAKE IT BETTER. (see, I remember)

    by Hg on 3/21/2012 5:24 AM
  5. Wesley is inconsistent. He needs to improve his game at handling the ball and driving to the bucket. Something that Batum has worked on to his advantage, making him a more valuble asset. Hitting threes isn't gonna win you a play-off spot. You live by them, but then you die by them when they don't go in and as of late, they haven't been going in.
    The Blazers, right now, are bad on both sides of ball. Defensively they are getting burned and on the offense side of the court they look confused between a half court team and a running team. The problem starts with Felton. He is the only ball handler the Blazers really have. So, if the defense of the other team defends the point of attack and disrupts him, the Blazers will play like scrambled eggs. I feel a little sorry for Felton; he has really been thrown into a bad situation. I think what the Blazers management needs to consider over the next few years is "what" kind of team they want to build as opposed to "who" they can get. We've got money, but we lack management. (note the pronoun use) And it shows. Instead of calling out the players to step it up, I am going to ask Mr. Microsoft to step it up!

    by T on 3/22/2012 12:38 PM
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