So Wednesday wasn’t Portland’s night, that much was clear. Coming off one of the very best victories in recent memory, one could expect the Blazers to have a let down, and those with that expectation were not disappointed. Those that wanted to see Portland build on a big win, and add to it with another big win, were. Disappointed that is.
Things didn’t start out poorly for the visiting team, Portland led by one after one and at the half, but everything started to turn sour for the Blazers just before halftime. Wesley Matthews, one of the few Blazers this season that has experienced only limited injuries, collapsed to the court after his ankle gave out in an attempt to make a move off the dribble. Matthews was carried off the court with two minutes remaining in the half and Portland leading by three, and although Matthews would return, allaying our worst fears that yet another Blazer would be sidelined for extended amounts of time, the Blazers were never quite the same.
In the second half, Portland struggled to keep Denver from scoring. On the offensive end, the Blazers were never able to find their first half rhythm, looking out of sync for most of the remainder of the evening. Wesley scored all but two of his 19 points before leaving the game. When he returned, after getting immediately sent back to the bench after hitting knees with Carmelo Anthony, Wesley was a step slow, and obviously favoring his ankle. It seemed unlikely that Matthews was going to be able to contribute, but Coach Nate McMillan had no other choice but to leave him in. None of the Blazer bench players were doing much of anything at all. Rudy Fernandez and Patty Mills contribute five and six points each, and were unable to pick up where Matthews left off. Dante Cunningham’s 10 points were not enough to make up for his running mates, plus his 26 minutes were double those of the starter he replaces, Joel Przybilla.
Like Tuesday night, Wednesday’s game turned into a blowout almost in a blink. Although Portland stayed close most of the way, once Matthews left they weren’t really in it. They weren’t getting killed though either. That changed late in the fourth quarter. Nicolas Batum nailed a three with just over five minutes to play, making it a 10-point game with plenty of time to spare. Instead of mounting a comeback, Portland would manage only eight points the rest of the way. It wasn’t so much a melt down by the Blazers, it was the Nuggets delivering a knockout blow to a team that had been knocked to the canvas half a dozen times already.
Some people advocate a “no watch” policy when it comes to game tape. The theory being, watching tape of a good game may not help a team grow, and watching video of a bad game only serves to take the morale to new lows. I’m not an coach, and have never been a coach, but I see the value in watching tape. Having said that, I would say take Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s game tapes and chuck them. Tuesday’s was a great game, Wednesday’s was a horrible game. Wednesday’s loss doesn’t negate Tuesday’s victory. Just like Tuesday’s game only counts for one win, Wednesday’s only counts for one loss.
Not every game will Andre Miller be completely ice cold, and not every game will Wesley Matthews get injured every time he touches the ball. Put Wednesday in the vault, and move on to the next one.
Portland travels to Indiana to take on the Pacers Friday.
Just a few thoughts:
- Tomorrow we will know if LaMarcus Aldridge will make the All-Star reserve squad. My money is on yes, he will.
- Portland will travel to Cleveland to take on Cavaliers to finish this road trip. Cleveland is in the midst of a nearly historic run of futility. The Cavs, as of Wednesday night, had lost an astounding 22 games in a row. The record for consecutive games lost in a single season is 23. If Cleveland wins against Memphis, in the game before Portland and Cleveland meet up, it will be a moot point. If not, Portland could be the team to hand the Cavs a record setting loss.
- Chris Johnson, Portland’s D-League call-up, finished the 10th day of his 10-day contract on Wednesday night. Johnson looked alright in his second game experience. Johnson has a ton of length, and given time he could be a roster player. With Camby still out, Portland can keep Johnson by signing him to a second 10-day contract, after that it gets a little more complicated. If you have questions about the future of Chris Johnson feel free to ask Ben Golliver from Blazersedge, he loves to explain this kind of thing.