The Blazers almost pull the improbable off by winning back-to-back games against plus .500 teams.
Portland played one of their better games in over a month in beating the Memphis Grizzlies last night in a thriller 97-93. They kept the momentum going as they visited their hated rivals the Los Angeles Lakers. As it always is when L.A. and Portland get together, the old adage “you can throw out the record books when these two teams play” was in effect, however I must admit I didn’t think the Blazers had what it takes to make this a ball game. I’m betting most of you didn’t either.
I was pleasantly wrong. LaMarcus Aldridge was a man possessed as he single handedly kept Portland in the game as he shot 10-12 in the first half (6-6 in the 2nd quarter) for 21 points. He was absolutely manhandling Pau Gasol. The main problem was that the next highest scorer for Portland had six points. It was a one man show in the first half which usually doesn’t bode well for teams after halftime.
The Blazers did get some contributions from Wesley Matthews with 16 points, and newly acquired J.J. Hickson with 14 points. I gotta say I love Hickson’s energy even with some of his crazy attempts at the rim. Aldridge finished with a game high 29 points, but I was a little puzzled as to the few touches he got in the second half. At no point during the game did it look like the Lakers could stop him. So why give him only 6 shots in the entire half? If I’m Aldridge I’m ticked off. I love the Blazers playing as a team and sharing the basketball, but down the stretch when you need a bucket it has to go through him.
On the other side the Lakers gave a huge dose of Andrew Bynum, who just like Aldridge, couldn’t be stopped. He scored 28 points on 12-20 shooting. Kobe Bryant started the game hitting five of his first six shots, but dramatically cooled off and missed his next 11 in a row. He finished with 18 points on 5 of 17 shooting. So with Bryant having an off night why could the Blazers not pull this one out? One answer could be that Raymond Felton finally had a Felton-like bad game shooting just 2-11 from the floor. Or it could be that Jamal Crawford also couldn’t buy a bucket as he went 3-14. But the real answer to Portland’s downfall tonight was Ramon Sessions. Their newly acquired point guard played like a veteran posting a double double of 20 points and 11 assists. He, along with Bynum, seemed to make big bucket after big bucket down the stretch. The point guard position has been the main problem for L.A. all year and it looks as if they may have found an answer to it. At least in the short term.
The Blazers pulled even or within one multiple times in the second half, but could never take the lead. The Lakers lead wire to wire winning 103-96. Tough loss, and to the Lakers makes it that much worse. Maybe this was the perfect game for Portland though. It was entertaining from start to finish, and they played well with lots of energy. They also lost. As I have preached before, if the Blazers are truly out of the playoff picture than losses only help them for the draft. Yes, in my heart I was rooting for a win, but in my head this loss is not so bad.
Next up is a home game against Golden State which is a team in shambles right now. I fully expect a win. At the very least a close loss. I have been known to be wrong as recently as tonight though.
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.