When you score 45 points in the first half you don’t expect to be down 17, yet that is exactly where the Blazers sat when the buzzer sounded. The Denver Nuggets are the league’s second highest scoring team behind the hard to love, easy to hate, Miami Heat.
I, like I’m assuming many of you, was very curious to see how Portland would play coming off the All-Star break. The Blazers ended the first half by pummeling the reserves of San Antonio, and did so by using a new starting lineup. As suspected the Blazers used that same lineup in Denver, however with different results. Portland came out a step slower and less physical than Denver which led to a seven point lead for the Nuggets at the end of the first.
Part of the reason for the lack of physical play by the Blazers is in part to Kurt Thomas being knocked out by a straight up kick to the head (accidental) on a loose ball in the first quarter. Thomas was diagnosed with a minor concussion and, due to the awareness of concussions in all major sports these days, means he would be out for the remainder of the game. From that early point on it really seemed like the lack of big muscle inside hurt the Blazers. I’m not making any excuses (well maybe I’m trying to…), and being out-rebounded by 18 is just a lack of effort. However, I know it hurt not having anyone be able to plug the inside and get double digit rebounds. Here’s to hoping Thomas recovers quickly.
The Blazers came out stronger and showed more effort in the second half, but could not fend off the high scoring Nuggets. The lead never went below 6 points for Denver in a 104-95 loss.
Jamal Crawford once again shined as one of only two Portland offensive contributors. Scoring 21 points on 8 of 15 shooting, he single handedly kept the Blazers in the game in the first half. I’m still not sure I like him in the starting lineup instead of Felton, but I do love how he can fill it up from downtown.
LaMarcus Aldridge added 20 points as the other main option for Portland. His buckets however didn’t seem to come at the big moments they needed them. If I wasn’t keeping a tab on the box score I would have sworn he only had 10 or so points. Maybe it was due to him not getting as much rest because of the All-Star weekend? Or maybe it’s because he doesn’t seem to have a left hand move whatsoever, and opponents can just stand on his right side? Or maybe he scored 20 points and I should just shut up and look elsewhere for answers.
Denver is a good team and we shouldn’t hang our heads over one game. There’s no time to. The most hated team in all the world comes into Portland tomorrow and we know how well the Blazers can play at home. I’m looking forward to it.
What do all of you think? What starting lineup should coach McMillan roll with? What do the Blazers need to do to climb the western conference standings? Are you thinking the same thing I’m thinking or am I full of it? Leave your comments below. I would love to hear what you think.
Now can I get a BEAT THE HEAT chant going?
About the Author
Written by Colin Chisholm
I'm a huge sports fan and basketball nut. I grew up in Oregon and now live in the great city of Chicago while trying to crack my way into the sports industry.