When I played college basketball (don’t be fooled it was small time hoops … lol) I remember coaches always saying things like, “If we play together and none of us care who leads the team in scoring or rebounds or any other stats, then we will be successful.” Honestly I always thought it was a crock, but these Portland Trail Blazers are proving that it’s certainly true. Yes there are two studs that lead this team in LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard but Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum and even Mo Williams are capable of leading this team in scoring on any given night. Balance has been the key to this amazing 11-2 start for Rip City and this week was no different. Let’s rewind it.
Monday, Nov. 18 108 – 98 WIN over the Nets
Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.
The Brooklyn Nets have performed to the exact opposite level of their expectations coming into the 2013-14 season. On this night they were missing Deron Williams and Brook Lopez so it was even more dire than normal. The Blazers started slow and gave up 40 points in the first quarter, but turned it around and pulled out another victory.
MVP: Wes Matthews. Matthews poured in 24 points — most of them in the first quarter — and six rebounds as his hot shooting to start the year continued. Matthews went 5-for-8 from the land of 3, but it was the defensive side of the ball that received the praise after the game when Matthews had this to say:
“We’re not going to outscore teams on a consistent basis and win. We have to practice what we preach, which is defense, and that’s what we were able to do tonight”
LVP: Nicolas Batum. Batum logged 34 minutes and managed to shoot the ball five times. FIVE! Somebody tell this man the Blazers aren’t paying him $11.3 million to hang out on a consistent basis. Seven points and six rebounds is not going to cut it.
BENCH: The bench managed 25 points with Mo Williams leading the way with 12 points, five rebounds, and six assists.
Wednesday, Nov. 20 91 – 82 WIN over the Bucks
BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wis.
The Bucks are having a very rough start to the season and have been ravaged by injuries as well. They were missing Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova and Brandon Knight for this game. The Blazers were at full strength and were locked in from the start of this one. The final score was not indicative of the actual look of this game as the Blazers controlled it from start to finish.
MVP: Damian Lillard. Lillard continues to struggle with his shot, but we’re only 13 games in and I fully expect him to turn it around as the season progresses — imagine the Blazers with Lillard being more efficient, scary! On Wednesday night Lillard still put up 19 points, six rebounds and three assists while shooting 7-for-18 from the floor and knocking down two 3s.
LVP: Thomas Robinson. Most of this is not on Robinson; it’s on Stotts. Robinson is an energy guy that needs minutes to reach his full potential for this team — until that happens you will see nights like this: 13 minutes with four points and two rebounds.
BENCH: The reserves only managed a combined 20 points on Wednesday with Dorell Wright leading the way with nine points and five rebounds — his nine points came all on 3-pointers.
Friday, Nov. 22 98 – 95 WIN over the Bulls
Moda Center, Portland, Ore.
WOW. If you weren’t fortunate enough to view this gem — first of all, get league pass already — then I feel bad for you. The Bulls came out and punched Portland right in the throat — however, it wasn’t a knockout punch. One thing coach Terry Stotts and the coaching staff have been great at is halftime adjustments. This was no different as the Bulls were up 59-44 at half. The Blazers outscored the Bulls 34-12 in the third quarter and the fourth was a back-and-forth barnburner. On a sad note, Derrick Rose left the game with an apparent right knee injury and did not return — safe recovery, we all hope.
MVP: Robin Lopez. RoLo posted a great line with 13 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, while shooting 6-for-10 from the floor. The Blazers were manhandled on the glass 52-39, but Lopez kept things reasonable and showed his worth as the starting center on a playoff bound team.
LVP: The entire bench. The reserves totaled 53 minutes and only managed eight points? The Blazers are on the low end of the league in terms of bench scoring but this was similar to last season where the starters did everything on most nights. To make matters worse, Mo Williams accounted for ALL eight points. Step it up bench mob — Rip City needs you!
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Wes Matthews is clearly on a mission this season. He started out scorching hot and then was an early season snub from the All-Star ballot and he has taken it to heart. All Matthews did this week was average 22.3 points and 3.7 rebounds while shooting a ridiculous 48 percent from the land of plenty.
Matthews is on pace to hit 253 3-pointers this season. Last season Stephen Curry set the single-season record with 272 made 3s, so that puts Matthews in great company when it comes to chuckin’ the trey. If he was to hit that mark then he would have the fifth highest total of 3s made in a single season!
Agree or disagree — hit me up on twitter: @Chris_Reichert
Tags: Brooklyn Nets Chicago Bulls Damian Lillard Derrick Rose Dorell Wright Lamarcus Aldridge Milwaukee Bucks Mo Williams Nicolas Batum Rip City Rewind Terry Stotts Thomas Robinson Wes Matthews Win Streak