Gerald Wallace had an all-around performance with 25 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 block shots as the Portland Trail Blazers destroyed the Sacramento Kings at the Rose Garden. Portland outscored Sacramento 55-33 points in the second half and went on to win their second game 101-79. LaMarcus Aldridge continued playing well by scoring 24 points and grabbing 8 rebounds in only 33 minutes. Nicolas Batum contributed 15 points and 5 rebounds off the bench.
Blazers vs Kings 12/27/11 – Full Recap
If you had only looked at the final score of last night’s Blazers vs Kings game you may have assumed the Blazers coasted to a win. You would have been partially right as the second half saw the Kings shooting a lowly 24% on only 9 made field goals. What you would have missed would be that the Blazers themselves had a field goal percentage in the mid 30′s and that the team required a 16-2 run to bring the score even at half time. Luckily for the Blazers squad the momentum from that run carried forward into the second half riding on the almost manic energy of Gerald Wallace to a standing ovation and GER-ALD WAL-LACE chants from an adoring Blazer crowd in the final minutes.
No Blazer was more deserving of praise after the game than Wallace, so it was only fitting that the the fans and media heaped praise on the veteran small forward the Blazers acquired from the Bobcats at the trade deadline last year. You can see just how valuable his contribution was in the stat-line: 25 points, 8 boards, 5 assists and 2 blocks along with countless hustle plays and forced turnovers on the defensive end. It’s not hard to understand why several Blazer insiders quoted anonymous inside sources as stating that Wallace was now, “the heart of the team”. That’s all Wallace has to give, heart and the stats come where they may. This is the kind of player Portland needs right now, not just in performance but in effort and on the likability scale.
Alongside Wallace was LaMarcus Aldridge chipping in 24 and 8, very similar to his game 1 performance, though with a better shooting clip at 10 for 15. Marcus Camby, old reliable, again provides the core rebounding, 9 in total, and some timely assists totaling up for 5 in the game. Craig Smith’s 8 minutes wasn’t much on the stat sheet, but he provided muscle, some important rebounds and a few points in the paint when needed. And of course, we have old(er) reliable, Kurt Thomas, hitting open mid-range shots and taking charges. His positioning, off-ball offensive work and consistent defense don’t make the stat sheet, but contribute just as much to this teams wins. Nicolas Batum shook of another slow start and turned it on in the second half.
The most interesting thing about the game was the closing line-up, the one which allowed Batum to get back in the game. It featured Batum and Wallace playing together and Felton on the bench after a few turnovers. This provided ample mis-matches for the Blazers to take advantage as they are long, lean and quick. I will emphasize again that LaMarcus is meeting last years numbers while visibly battling fatigue due to lack of conditioning and that the Blazers are putting up more than 100 points a game. This will sound like a broken record for awhile across the league as players get “in game shape”. Imagine the possibilities with all cyclinders firing; Matthews, Felton and Crawford hitting their shots. This is a group that can cause some big defensive problems for a lot of teams as well as put up a ton of points.
Tempering enthusiasm slightly, the Blazers had a decent win at Philly, a team that will be most likely in the 4-7 seed area in the east and ended up winning comfortably against Sacramento, which they should have. Normally I would say Denver would be the first real test of the season, but it’s hard to say with their drastically different roster what the expectations are. Still, the Nuggets are a Northwest rival and in a shortened season this is a pivotal game. Not something you would often hear considering this will be only the third game of the season. If the three ball starts dropping for your Portland Trailblazers team, watch out.