Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 11/8/14
Top Blazers Each and every week I sit down to write this column I feel like I’ve seen a different Blazers team take to the court over the previous week. Some weeks the non-existent bench shows signs of life, or Damian Lillard shows why he could be an all-world point guard, then other weeks Portland seems lethargic, Nic Batum’s wrist costs Portland crucial possessions, or that non-existent bench lives up their namesake. This past week, as Portland began a torrid 6 game road trip, old problems began to show their face again; there’s one problem in particular that will not bode well for Portland on this road trip, and that’s defense. In all but one of the Blazers‘ four game this past week, they allowed the opposing team to score over 100 points (in their lone win, Minnesota still managed 98 points). You can’t win games by routinely allowing teams to score in the triple digits, it just won’t happen. So, by the end of the week, Portland witnessed it’s record dip below .500 for only the second time since the middle of December, and happen to be slumping at the wrong time, right before the All-Star break. While it may seem ideal to work out the problems during the break, it’s much more optimal to head in to the time off with a head of steam. With Miami on tap next for Portland, that head of steam seems highly unlikely. The next few weeks should provide some insight in to Terry Stotts’ mettle, and his true worth to this franchise. Now, on to the awards. First Star: LaMarcus Aldridge (1/4: W @ Minnesota) Damian Lillard continues to wow the crowds in Portland (Photo: Bleacher Report) On a nightly basis, Portland’s All-Star continues to shine brightest for this young team. After working off some of the early season rust, Aldridge has settled in as the primary option for this roster. In 39 minutes against the Timberwolves, LA put up 25 points–on 12-17 from the floor and an uncharacteristic 1-5 from the charity stripe–adding 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks and a steal in Portlands 100-98 win. The win kicked off Portland’s 6 game road stretch, but would be the only time they’d notch a win all week. Aldridge’s contributions against Minnesota powered Portland for all four quarters, further proving he was well deserved of a spot on this years Western Conference All-Star team. Second Star: Damian Lillard (1/4: W @ Minnesota) It’s beginning to feel redundant, and frankly irrelevant, to continue to point out that Damian Lillard is just a rookie, and seems far beyond his years even though he only has just over 50 NBA games under his belt. What the dynamic Lillard brings to the court, on a nightly basis, is one of the main reasons why Portland is battling for the 8th spot in the west, just past the half point in the season. Last Monday night, against Minnesota, his talents were on full display, yet again, as the rookie poured in 21 points–on 9-17 from the floor and a perfect 3-3 from the free throw line–while also contributing 6 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals. A stat stuffing performance from the point guard out of Weber State, and it certainly helped Portland secure a win in their first of a 6 game road trip. Third Star: JJ Hickson (1/6: L @ Dallas) While LaMarcus Aldridge has routinely killed Dallas during his time in Portland, it was JJ Hickson who put in the A level effort for Portland last Wednesday night. Seemingly playing for a big contract next year, Hickson has shown an incredible motor all season long, proving to be the double-double machine scouts thought he could be so many years ago. In 33 minutes, Hickson tallied 14 points–on 5-9 from the floor and 4-5 from the charity stripe–and grabbed 10 rebounds to go along with one steal. Yet another double digit rebounding night for Hickson, who fits perfectly in Portland’s frontcourt alongside LaMarcus Aldridge. Neil Olshey proved to make very sound decisions in last years offseason, so re-signing Hickson, again, should be one of his top priorities heading in to this summer. Dunk of the Week: Meyers Leonard vs. Minnesota Meyers Leonard reminds Blazer fans why he was worth the number 11 pick in the draft with this monster alley-oop slam. Enjoy. CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE BLAZERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

How much will Rousey and Zingano make for their fight?

Browns agree to three-year deal with Josh McCown

Peterson releases statement, no mention of the Vikings

Bulls general manager expects Derrick Rose back in 4-6 weeks

Ray Allen reportedly will not sign with Cavaliers if he returns

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Shane Vereen squashes rumor he wants $5 million per season

Jon Gruden on Meyer: 'Greatest coaching job of all time'

Vince Young to work out at NFL Veteran Combine

Report: Mike Wallace unwilling to restructure contract

Report: Colts targeting Brandon Marshall

Rakeem Christmas leads Syracuse in exercise of futility

WATCH: Knicks' Alexey Shved tosses wild pass into stands

Ten players ready to make the leap in 2015

WATCH: Reggie Bush says he won't quit football

PHOTO: ECHL team will wear Dr. Seuss jerseys

Report: Baron Davis in talks to join a contending team

Earl Lloyd and basketball’s cruel February

Pirates issue statement about ISIS executioner in team hat

WATCH: Dress debate threatens to derail Brooklyn Nets’ season

FIFA gave Fox the 2026 World Cup to avoid a lawsuit

WATCH: Charles Barkley rips analytics... again

Dark horse World Series contenders in 2015

The Jacksonville Jaguars need to step up

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Earl Lloyd and basketball’s cruel February

WATCH: Barkley rips analytics again

A-Rod: A con man returns to baseball

Bostick death threats show why some fans take sports too seriously

Russell Westbrook is surging into the MVP conversation

Five-round NFL Mock Draft

Key offseason moves for every MLB team

Rousey, Arianny Celeste get into it

Dallas sportscaster back with another powerful essay

The parallels of Rose and Hardaway

Offseason breakdown for all 32 NFL teams

On Josh Hamilton's addiction and feeling alone

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.