Trail Blazers Survive to Beat Knicks as Aldridge Struggles

Feb 5, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks point guard Pablo Prigioni (9) steals the ball from Portland Trailblazers small forward Nicolas Batum (88) during the fourth quarter of a game at Madison Square Garden. The Trailblazers defeated the Knicks 94-90. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

 

The Blazers went back-and-forth with the Knicks and overcame a poor night (5-17) from LaMarcus Aldridge, but Aldridge laughed last with a fadeaway in the final minute to stop New York’s late-game momentum and seal the win, 94-90.

 

Players

LaMarcus Aldridge had a bad shooting game, but didn’t let it get to his head, and contributed in other ways, particularly rebounding. He finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists, with a block. Tyson Chandler may have given him fits, but LMA’s shot over him with 35 seconds left must have felt like relief mixed with, “you didn’t think I could do that?” LMA also jawed with Knicks devotee Spike Lee a little bit after that shot, good naturedly we assume.

Damian Lillard has been going through a rough patch. He’ll be fine. I will admit it would be nice to see him just take over for a little bit, or at least try, as so often his “cool and in control” essence can be misconstrued as a lack of fire. Anyone who knows Damian or watches him play knows he doesn’t lack fire, but when you’re playing badly, sometimes you just have to decide you’re going to play your way out of it. He hasn’t done that yet. He was just 4-12 and 1-6 from range for 12 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4  turnovers.

Nicolas Batum was dunking and weaving and bobbing, all the while wincing less than he has been, which is a good sign for his ailing finger. His team-high 20 points also came with 10 rebounds and 3 assists. His 9-14 from the field was sublime, and an aggressive Batum, as we saw tonight, can help the Blazers overcome poor shooting nights even from their two best players.

Wesley Matthews had 18 points, hitting half of his 6 three-pointers and adding 7 rebounds. He’s always worked hard, but he’s really starting to put it all together by working on specific areas of his game that heretofore were liabilities, namely his ability to drive and finish. He’s also posting up when the matchups suit him, allowing him to power in for himself or suck the defense in enough to kick it back out. A nice game from Wessey Wes.

Robin Lopez was just 1-5 from the field, but shot 7-8 from the line and got 3 blocks to compliment his 9 points and 7 rebounds. It’s tough to say where the Blazers would be without him. Probably nowhere good, as even his bad games make you thankful for a legitimate inside presence.

Mo Williams has not been shooting well lately. He was 2-7 in this one, but buoyed his scoring with 5 free throws, finishing with 10 points in his 20 minutes. If nothing else, the Blazers need him to be a threat, and he sort of does that just by bouncing around.

Dorell Wright, who only recently crept back into Coach Stotts’ rotation,  tallied 6 points (1-3 from deep) in 13 minutes. Good for him for at least trying.

Meyers Leonard looks perhaps worse now than ever. That’s not good. His -11 in 9 minutes wasn’t all on him… okay, it might have been. Just, ouch.

 

Mini-Recap 

The first 3 quarters of this game were tight. Lead changes came and went like 7-11 customers, and even when the Blazers went up 11 in the third, you didn’t get the feeling that anything was going to be cracked open.

After a Knicks run to get themselves up by 1, the Blazers pushed the lead out to 8, and looked ready to win this one up 89-81 with 1:07 left. The Knicks called time and promptly hit a three, only to have the Blazers turn it over, and give up yet another three to cut the lead to two.

The Blazers then went to Aldridge, who was 4-16 from the field and was bothered all night by Tyson Chandler With Chandler right on him, he proceeded to drill a long fadeaway jumper in classic Aldridge fashion, and you knew it was over.

The 35-14 Blazers are now 1-1 on their 4-game road trip, and get a day off before facing the league-leading Pacers in Indiana on Friday at 4:00 p.m. PST.

 

 

Topics: LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Portland Trail Blazers, Wesley Matthews

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