The Blazers played an incomplete game on defense, but rode MVP candidate LaMarcus Aldridge (who also scored the last 15 Blazers points) and his career-high 44 points to a 110-105 victory over the Denver Nuggets. This game was pretty close most of the time, save for a run that put Denver up 15 points in the first half, but the Trail Blazers gutted it out and leaned heavily on their All-Star. A pretty decent strategy, if you ask me.
This game begins and ends with LaMarcus Aldridge. It’s tough to use any word besides “sublime” to describe his late-game performance. He had 8 straight free throws in the game’s final 1:07, and was the only Blazer to score from 9:19 to go in the game. That’s unheard of. His defense worked well when they needed it, as he blocked the stuffing out of Ty Lawson and avoided fouls in the game’s waning minutes. The Blazers continually force-fed him when they needed offense, finding success nearly every time. His career-high 44 points on 15-29 shooting was supplemented by 13 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks. M-V-P! M-V-P!
Wesley Matthews had a very good game, and the eye test was backed up by the stats. He had a team-high +11, and his 24 points came off 8-15 shooting. He also played spirited defense, especially later in the game (like most of the Blazers), and was someone you wanted to have had on the court the whole time, save for that fatigue thing that comes from playing 48 minutes a game.
Robin Lopez nearly had another double-double with 11 and 9, and his late-game offensive rebounds kept possessions alive that would have both swung the momentum had they not gone the Blazers’ way, and gave them sorely-needed points. He also had 2 blocks. A nice game from him.
Nicolas Batum was Nicolas Batum. 6-7-10 with 2 steals, but was holding his broken finger at every opportunity. It’s a shame he’s so often playing at less than full capacity, but his out-of-bounds lob to Matthews for a MONSTER slam was just perfect.
Damian Lillard had another bad game… for him, anyway. He missed all of his threes on his way to 11 points and just 3 assists. He will bounce back sooner rather than later. He did, however, have a disgusting dunk in traffic that will probably be on a few highlight reels. He got up pretty high, too.
CJ McCollum looks like an NBA player, and he’s ready for more minutes if they ever present themselves. 11 points, 2-4 from deep, and a really, really nice crossover to a pump fake to get his defender in the air long enough to jump up for the foul. A crafty veteran move from a rookie playing his first few games coming off injury.
Thomas Robinson looked quite nice in his 10 minutes, gathering 5 rebounds and 2 steals to go with 4 points. For the first time maybe ever, his spin move actually worked, but instead of trying to shoot he passed out of it. He also started that spin move far from the basket. Who knows? Maybe that will work for him someday.
- The Blazers shot just 4-18 from deep and had 38 paint points to Denver’s 42, yet still won. What’s that, Charles Barkley?
- LaMarcus was holding the game ball during a nationally televised TV interview with TNT. When asked, he said he’s keeping the ball. He deserves it.
- LMA on how he’s developed his post game, “I got stronger every year. When I was younger, I wasn’t strong. Now I’m much stronger.” Yes you are, sir.
- The Blazers forced 2 shot clock violations on the Nuggets in the 2nd half.
- The Blazers defense throughout the game slowly transitioned from “Ha! Okay,” to “not bad,” to “geez, don’t’ play so rough,” to “MERCY.”