Balancing Act Pays Off In Big Win For Trail Blazers
By sarahhecht Posted in: Blazers, Timberwolves
Sunday night the Trail Blazers soundly defeated the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves 119-106. Post-game stories often focus on a single player and their contributions, but tonight the story isn’t LaMarcus Aldridge and his battle with Kevin Love or Jamal Crawford breaking out of his shooting slump. It’s not even Raymond Felton’s near double-double. The highlight of the game on this night was the unselfish and team-oriented basketball played by nine guys to get six of them into double-digits on the scoreboard.
All five Portland starters—Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Felton, Wesley Matthews and J.J. Hickson—and Crawford put up strong offensive numbers. Aldridge gutted through some pain to lead the team with 26 points and 8 boards after missing the dogfight against the Clippers on Friday with a left elbow sprain.
“It was a great balance,” Crawford said. “Obviously, getting LaMarcus back makes things a lot easier on everybody else. We were able to support him.”
But it wasn’t just about team leader Aldridge. Batum had a great night with 24 points and five rebounds, Matthews added 18, Hickson went for 15 on 6-of-10 shooting and Crawford and Felton rounded out the six Trail Blazers in double-figures with 12 and ten.
“I think that’s the beauty about our team, we have balance,” Hickson said. “Wes had a good game – like you said, everybody had a good game. Everybody plays their part night in, night out, on any given night anyone can go off for 20 plus or 10 or more rebounds. So we just have a balanced attack.”
That balanced attack wouldn’t have been possible without the unity we saw as the team shared the rock. Twenty-two assists on 46 made baskets is a darn good ratio. The best part was 18 of those dimes came from Felton (11) and back-up Jonny Flynn (7.) When your point guards are passing well and the team is moving the ball the open looks become more frequent and confidence grows.
“I think passing is contagious,” Flynn said. “When you see people passing up open shots to get somebody else an open shot, others look at and say, ‘That looks a little fun.’ We like getting people involved. I always thought that – passing is contagious and I just try to push the ball up the floor and get other guys shots.”
After a successful offensive night at the Rose Garden, now comes the challenge. Replicate the cohesive performance of tonight to win two in a row and do it tomorrow against the Utah Jazz.