*This is a weekly recap/state of the squad for the past week. It will date from games played the previous Saturday through yesterday (Friday). You might laugh, you might cry, but one thing you will definitely do — learn some stuff about the Blazers’ past week, duh c’mon guys.
So, we’re finally out of that “Oh, the Blazers are a nice story this season” phase right? Wait … there are still non-believers out there?! I guess 24-5 doesn’t mean what it used to. The Portland Trail Blazers are first in the Western Conference and STILL they can’t get no respect (RIP Mr. Dangerfield). This week should get some people out of that “feel good story” phase and into the “wait, this team is really legit” phase … if the chips fall the Blazers’ way.
This past Saturday the Blazers played host to the upstart New Orleans Pelicans (worst name in the league). The Pellies have the talent but have not quite yet figured out how to put it all together to start getting wins. Anthony Davis was solid with 21 points and nine rebounds and Tyreke Evans continued his resurgence with 21 points, six rebounds and six assists off the bench.
Portland was down at half by one but posted a 31-point third quarter (they lead the league in third quarter scoring at 28.5 per) to take a six point lead heading into the fourth. Lillard and Aldridge proved to be too much down the stretch and the Blazers won the game 110-107. Lillard led the balanced attack with 29 points and five assists, Aldridge had 18 points (albeit on 8-for-24 shooting) and Wes Matthews continued his career year with 18 points as well.
The Blazers got a five-day break before battling the Los Angeles Clippers Thursday night at the Moda Center. The Clippers came in with a 19-11 record but only 8-8 on the road and this one didn’t help either record. This was an amazing game as Chris Paul and Blake Griffin dazzled all night long. Paul finishing with a ridiculous 34 points, 16 assists, six steals and ONE turnover in 45 minutes played; Griffin was just as good shooting 15-for-27 from the floor in route to 35 points and 11 rebounds. The Clippers got 90 points from the trio of Paul, Griffin and Jamal Crawford but it proved to not be enough as the Blazers pulled out yet another late victory.
Portland got 32 points and 10 rebounds from its MVP candidate LaMarcus Aldridge and ultimately the balanced scoring won out as six Blazers notched double figures on the night. This was a back and forth battle all night and by all accounts the Blazers could have just as easily lost this game with Chris Paul missing a pull-up 17-footer at the buzzer in regulation. However, they continued their clutch play and are now 15-1 in games decided by 10 or fewer points — pretty stunning so far.
Tweet of the Week
Robin Lopez takes home the Tweet of the Week giving us this gem after the exciting win against the Clippers:
Goonies Never Say Die!!! #RIPCITY
— Robin Lopez (@eegabeeva88) December 27, 2013
Play of the Week
The Blazers only had two games this week so the you would think there wasn’t much to choose from; however it wasn’t easy making this selection. When it came down to it I had to stick with the Clipper game and give the nod to Nicolas Batum for this amazing game-tying shot to send it to overtime.
Tonight’s game is against the two-time defending champs — the Miami Heat. If ever a statement was going to be made, this is it. Don’t get me wrong, teams have beaten the Heat this year (they are 22-7) but a win versus them goes a long way to solidify what the Blazers have done so far. It won’t be an easy task as the Heat lost Friday night in overtime to the Sacramento Kings and will no doubt be upset coming into this big matchup with the team with the best record in the Western Conference. The good news? This game is at home as well where Portland is 12-2 so far this season.
After the Heat, the Blazers travel to Oklahoma City to take on the Russell Westbrook-less Thunder. Westbrook is out once again with knee ailments, which unfortunately makes this game a little less enticing, HOWEVER the Blazers cannot take this team lightly. Reggie Jackson has filled in nicely though it didn’t show Friday night as he shot an abysmal 4-19 in the win over the Bobcats. Having said that — the Thunder still have Kevin Durant and that alone is enough to get up for this game.
Two statement games just waiting to be had by the Blazers. Portland fans are tired of being slighted in the national media and these two games (along with the big win over the Clippers) are a way to get some notoriety and acknowledgment of the great season they have had to date. The alternate scenario — the Blazers lose both and pundits come back with “I told you their record was a product of an easy schedule” — prove em’ wrong Rip City!
**You can contact Chris about this article or anything basketball related on twitter: @Chris_Reichert