Just a short recap here. This game in one sentence: The Portland Trail Blazers manage what was once thought impossible, and lose a game in the opening 12 minutes.
Either the Blazers got unlucky, and caught the Lakers on the one day this week they decided to care about basketball, or Portland wanted to prove that they could lose big to both Eastern Conference lottery teams and Western Conference contenders. Doesn’t matter. The Blazers never really showed up for this one, although they did follow up a franchise-low for points in a quarter with seven with a season-high for points in a third quarter with 36, and instead of talking about how Portland built on an impressive home win with an equally impressive road win, we’re left looking at a team that half way through is one game over .500 and one game outside the Playoff picture.
The Blazers might be able to get away with one more game like the one they had Monday and still be able to salvage this season. But they’d better make sure that for every time they completely fail to show up they blow a team out of the water. Otherwise, come the end of April Portland fans will be left picking teams to root for, the Blazers will be auditioning new coaches, and we’ll all be circling the NBA Draft on or calenders. It’s a good draft this year, there’s no doubt about that, but you know what’s better? The Playoffs.
Mid-way through Portland’s debacle of a first quarter, the closet genius Reggie Miller mentioned that when you look at the Blazers on paper they should be in the top four in the West. A more obvious statement has never been made. So, what are we to make of the fact that a loaded roster can’t get the job done?
Possibly there are too many new pieces that haven’t had the proper team to integrate. Maybe there’s a crisis of leadership. This team is without its agreed upon figurehead (Brandon Roy) and so far nobody’s stepped in to claim the role he left behind, not even LaMarcus Aldridge. Maybe its coach Nate McMillan. He hasn’t really ever had a healthy, veteran-heavy lineup in Portland. Maybe he works better stretched to the max. Whatever it is, the Blazers need to figure it out, and figure it out in a hurry.
The Lakers are good when they want or need to be. Let’s be honest, they needed to beat Portland, and they did. But more than anything, the Blazers beat themselves Monday night. They played scared, they played stupid, they played hard, but they didn’t focus that energy into playing well or making the right choices on either end of the ball.
Portland has 33 more chances to make something of this season. That’s plenty of time. But if they continue to step on their own feet and left whatever it is that seems to be the problem get in the way of playing the type of basketball they are most definitely capable of playing, it’s going to be a long second half. And if it goes that way, it’s not going to end pretty.
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