Is there any other team that would make Tobias Harris look like Chris Bosh?
Is there any other team that would throw errant passes again and again, even after being told after consecutive post-game meetings that they need to be more careful with the ball?
Is there any other team that would treat screens like impenetrable walls on defense, only to watch the opponents dance around them like willow branches on offense?
Or is this Portland Trail Blazers team just that special?
One night after falling behind 17 and coming nearly all the way back against the two-time defending world champions Miami Heat, the Blazers faced an Orlando Magic team with fewer than 20 wins, plumbing the depths of the NBA standings, who hadn’t won a game in nearly a month… and still managed to lose by double digits, 95-85.
Sure, Robin Lopez got a season-high 20 points, and his 13 rebounds and 2 blocks were great… but you know there’s a problem when your plodding, methodical center leads your team in scoring.
And that problem could be called a lot of things– apathy, lack of focus, mental fatigue–and it could (and does) manifest itself in many ways–terrible passing, inability to get around screens, no ball movement on offense. Add 37% shooting (27% from three) to the mix, and you have a recipe for Suck Pie.
At this point, it hardly matters why the Blazers are acting… so un-Blazers like. You just want it to stop.
Portland is 14-17 since the end of January, and have fallen from near the top of the conference to just 2.5 games from not even making the playoffs. If that doesn’t scare you, maybe this will: only the 23-win Utah Jazz have done worse over the last 10 games than Portland. Every other team is making up ground.
Forget home court. If something doesn’t change, and quickly, the Blazers will not only miss the playoffs, but have their low lottery pick stolen from them by the soon-to-be-Hornets. The echoes resulting from that scenario reverberate for years, and might be the last straw for LaMarcus Aldridge, who’s happy to stay so long as the team is winning, but is absolutely not waiting out another rebuild.
If there’s any good news, it’s that these last 7 games in which the Blazers have gone 3-4 without Aldridge may be a distant memory as he’s expected to take the court Thursday at 4:30 p.m. PDT against the Hawks in Atlanta.
Will that get the Blazers back on track? Or has their confidence already been irrevocably harmed by embarrassing efforts unbecoming of a playoff team?
Only time will tell.