A great all-around game from the Portland Trail Blazer as they routed the Phoenix Suns 109-71 at the Rose Garden. The Blazers got their revenge after losing to the Suns 77-102 in Phoenix on January 6th. Every Blazers player scored in the game except Marcus Camby who finished with 20 rebounds in only 24 minutes. LaMarcus Aldridge led all scorers with 23 points; he also had seven rebounds and three asissts. Jamal Crawford had nine rebounds and 10 assists and Elliot Williams contributed eight points in nine minutes off the bench.
There isn’t much in the way of analyzing to do in a game like this. Mostly, you’ll just watch the highlights above, or check out Marcus Camby erasing Telfair’s shot, Nicolas Batum floating through the Lane for a dunk, or the Matthews-Aldridge alley-oop break. You’ll forget the 9 early Blazers turnovers and the rest of their sloppy play that had them shooting in the mid 30% range and down by four after the first quarter. Instead you’ll see that they end up shooting 47% from the floor, 85% from the line, limited their turnovers to 5 in the final 3 quarters, limit Phoenix to 9 and 12 points in the 2nd and 3rd respectively and continued their rebounding streak with a +17.
And finally you’ll remember, particularly those of you who’ve been clamoring for it, that Elliot Williams got nearly 10 minutes of playing time and showcased it with 4-8 shooting and two monster dunks and a some defense. For those of us who’ve been following the team for quite some time, we’ll also remember how glad we are that Sebastian Telfair is not part of it anymore.
After a game like tonight you almost wish the team were playing again, to take some of this momentum forward. Swarming defense, creating steals and opponent turnovers truly sparks this team’s offense, which is directly evident in the transition game and points in the paint. The one thing that holds true is that when the Blazers combine a healthy rebound advantage and decent to good shooting they can score in bunches and compete with any team.
Looking at the power rankings ( The Blazers are now back to 6th under Hollinger’s Metrics) some things come into focus. Note that Portland has beaten 5 of the top 11 teams, including 3 above them and lost to 2 of them. Some more numbers: 6 of Portland losses are single digit ones, 4 of them by 3 points or less. It’s easy to get nervous when Portland is playing down to teams and there are issues with turnovers and FG%. Panic is enhanced by a short season and a string of 1st round playoff exits. The Trail Blazers share the best home record in the league at 9-1 and have shown they can beat the top teams. These close losses may hint that they are close to turning the corner on the road as it only takes a slight increase in efficiency to get the job done, a large increase produces blowouts like we saw vs Phoenix.
The Blazers now enjoy two fulls days off before heading to Utah where the Blazers don’t have a great history. It’s time to take that energy and intensity from home and bring it on the road. Go Blazers!