More than anything, I think this run of terrible play from Portland has exposed what kind of Blazer fan I am. Watching Portland continually chuck up bricks, get beaten for loose balls, and give up on defensive possessions on their way to another embarrassing road loss, this time to the Indiana Pacers, I kept thinking, all this team needs is one guy to step up. Or maybe one stretch of solid defense and offense to get their heads in the game, and turn it around. I kept trying to convince myself that this season’s woes have been more about a couple of bad games, a couple of bad possessions, at not something more.
Clearly, that’s not the case. Tuesday showed yet again that there is something wrong with this team. Something more than just a couple of possessions with poor execution. Something more than opponents playing their best ball of the season. This team is broken. You can tell when they shoot 31% from the field while managing to get a grand total of 64 field goal attempts. You can tell when they give up layups on defensive possession that lack anything resembling defense. You can tell when a loose ball bounces through the lane with two seconds left on the shot clock, and ends up in the hands of Darren Collison for yet another easy lay-up.
The Blazers have 24 games remaining, which is quite a few, and three more on this road trip. They’ve got time to turn it around. They’ve got time to try and catch fire and make their fans believe they care. But if they continue to play like they’re already beaten by the second quarter, the chances that anything good will come from what remains of 2011-12 will continue to shrink.
Will a trade help? Maybe. Probably not. A trade might excise one of Portland’s many roster problems, but it probably won’t have much impact on the end of the season win total. Maybe it will have psychological impact. Maybe if guys know that bad play will get them shipped they’ll try to play better. I feel like that’s unlikely though. These guys know the NBA is a business, and they’re well trained not to take anything personally.
But onto the game, for however long I can take it. Tuesday’s game went a lot like many of Portland’s losses this season. One team cared. The other team didn’t. One team played like they couldn’t afford to lose. One team played like they had no idea how to win. Guess which one was the Blazers.
To be honest, Portland might want to hold on to this game tape if only to watch the Pacers and get an idea of what a team looks like when they’re clicking. Indiana was making jumpers, tracking loose balls, and getting maximum production out of their role players.
No Pacer maximized as much as Lou Amunds0n. The journeyman power forward had probably the game of his season, finishing with a game high 21 points on 10-of-11 shooting. Nobody really expected Lou to be the difference in this game, and to be honest he really wasn’t the difference, but when I mentioned in my preview that it would be role players that would win or lose this game, this is what I meant.
Nobody on Portland shot well Tuesday night, so it’s unfair to point to one guy and say he had more of a negative impact than any other. I will say this, though. There was a stretch in the first half when Danny Granger, Paul George, and David West were on the bench with foul trouble. The Blazers did nothing to take advantage during that time. Making the most of opportunities is how you win games on the road.
How do you not win games on the road? Shoot 20-of-64 from the field, 5-of-22 from three, and get out rebounded 50 to 38.
Portland heads to MSG on Wednesday for a date with the struggling New York Knicks. Any time would be a good time for the Blazers to pull out a big time win.
Just a couple things:
- Luke Babbitt led all Blazers in +/- with a nice +10. LaMarcus Aldridge was on the bottom end with a -18. Starting lineup change anybody?
- Marcus Camby left the game early on with an injured shoulder, playing only five and a half minutes. No tossing around of a third-string power forward Tuesday night. Bummer.
- The first big trade has apparently gone down sending Andrew Bogut to Golden State for Monta Ellis and others. Portland gets Milwaukee on the first game back in Portland.
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