From the moment the game entered the fifth minute of play the Portland Trail Blazers looked like a beaten team last night. Tipping off a highly-anticipated 2013 season against the Phoenix Suns, last night was finally the moment Portland was going to flash their poise, speed, strength, and depth. That didn’t happen, though, as the Blazers looked sloppy and tense en route to a 104-91 loss.
While Portland was more than adept to stick with Phoenix’s fast-paced offense at the start of the game, the Blazers looked gassed by the sixth minute of action and allowed the Suns to go on a run that would create too much of a separation to overcome in the later stages of the contest. Combine that with less than stellar play from players you would expect to be reliable and you have the recipe for a gut-checking loss.
Not all was bad, though, as Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge showcased their NBA prowess, perhaps suggesting the two are finally ready to carry the team.
But all in all it was a poor effort from a team with a lot of hype — at least around the northwest corridor — heading into 2013. With that said, here are three players who dropped the ball in last night’s game.
Robin Lopez was a bit disappointing last night. (Bruce Ely/The Oregonian)
Once again Nicolas Batum showcased why he is one of those players you can — and should — never rely on. Sometimes flashing greatness, Batum looked like a mediocre player last night. Shooting 3-of-9 from the field, he was 1-for-5 from beyond the arc and racked up just seven points. While he did manage to rake in 13 total rebounds, his four crucial turnovers all but mitigated that impressive statistic.
Batum needs to learn to be more consistent, take smarter shots, and pay closer attention to keeping the ball close to his body if he is going to gain the trust of any Blazer fan this season.
So much for starting your career on a good note, Mo Williams. A player who started all 46 of the games he played in for Utah last year, Williams was supposed to bring a dynamic and needed edge to Portland’s bench while giving them the depth they needed to stick with teams throughout four quarters of play.
Unfortunately Mo highly underachieved last night en route to a disastrous debut for the Blazers. Unable to make a shot until the fourth quarter, Williams finished the game 1-of-9 from the field, 0-for-4 from distance, and scored just two points in 22 minutes of action.
Yes, even he wouldn’t be offended at your cringe and shudder at those statistics. Aside from his inability to knock down a shot last night, he also turned the ball over 3 times, a statistic that didn’t exactly help Portland against a fast-paced Suns squad.
I know Robin Lopez isn’t supposed to be the stellar athlete that his brother is but I still found myself somewhat strangely disappointed and turned off by his play last night.
Playing 34 minutes, Lopez took just four shots while converting one attempt en route to a whopping three points last night. Aside from his lackluster play inside, Lopez was also able to convert just 1-of-4 free throws and didn’t look impressive on the boards at all.
Though there is still plenty of basketball to play, if last night was an indication of anything it would be that Trail Blazer fans should not set their hopes high for 2013.
Here’s to hoping they get it turned around quick and manage to take a win from the Denver Nuggets on Friday night.
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