Ever since the trade deadline, many have been quick to put a fork in the Portland TrailBlazers season. For good reason too, losing a coach and two work horse type players would crush any team, let alone this Blazers team.
Yet, each and every week, we see a glimmer of the potential this Portland team had to start the season, some even thought they had a shot to contend in the Western Conference .
But for one reason or another, each uplifting win had typically been followed by a debilitating loss. Before this past week, the Blazers hadn’t won back to back games since January 23rd and 24th, and had been successfully playing themselves completely out of playoff contention.
With this in mind, its refreshing to see the players still competing at a high level, and seemingly enjoying themselves.
Which gets us to the point of this column…
Returning to NW Sports Beat, after a two week hiatus, is my recognition of the best Portland Trail Blazers from the prior week.First Star: LaMarcus Aldridge (4/6: Overtime W @ Dallas)
Are you even surprised that LaMarcus Aldridge makes this list for the 600th time this year? Portland’s only All-Star returned to Texas this past week as the Blazers squared off against the reigning NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks.
Down 12 points at the half, Portland battled the entire second half, including a 30 point third quarter, to push this game into overtime.
LaMarcus Aldridge handled Dallas
Aldridge played his part by chipping in 25 points, on 11-24 from the field, 12 boards, 2 assists and a block in 44 minutes of action. The crowning achievement of his performance came with time ticking away in the overtime quarter.
Tied at 97 with just seconds left, LaMarcus Aldridge performed a step back move on Dallas forward Brendan Haywood before dropping a 17 foot jumper right as time expired.Second Star: Raymond Felton (4/6: Overtime W @ Dallas)
It wasn’t all LaMarcus Aldridge last Friday night, but the play of one Raymond Felton that was also key in propelling Portland to victory.
Felton’s performance against Dallas showed Blazer fans the kind of point guard that we so desperately needed when management signed him last summer. However, Felton’s ups and downs have been widely criticized, but even his harshest of critics were silent after Friday night’s contest.
Felton dropped 30 points, on 12-18 from the floor and 5-8 from beyond the arc, to go along with 6 assists, 7 rebounds and 2 steals in 43 minutes of play.
When I saw the box score after the game I had to do a double take; Felton put up these kind of numbers going up against Jason Kidd, and the rest of the defense savvy Dallas Mavericks.
Now if only we could see this kind of play out of Ray on a consistent basis, we might have a bit more to look forward to for next year.Third Star: Wesley Matthews (4/2: L v. Utah)
The one person who has seemed to benefit most from the Gerald Wallace trade is Wes Matthews. Relegated to the bench after an awfully slow start to his season, Matthews was put back in the starting five with the departure of Wallace.
Last Monday’s game against Utah showcased the skill-set Matthews has to be a complete two-guard in the NBA on a nightly basis. Wes put up 33 points, on 10-12 from the floor, 5-6 from three point range and 8-10 from the charity stripe, to go along with 3 assists, a rebound and two steals in 40 minutes of action.
While this performance did come in a home loss to the Jazz, Matthews is proving that he belongs in the starting lineup, and with more performances like this he should continue to crack the starting five.Dunk of the Week: LaMarcus Aldridge dunks on Gerald Wallace
It was hard to pick just one dunk this week to showcase, as the Blazer’s were recording highlight worthy dunks in nearly every game.
There was the alley oop from Wes Matthews to Aldridge in the Jazz game, a JJ Hickson putback slam also against the Jazz, and an alley oop from Felton to Hickson against the Nets that were all worthy of this recognition.
The dunk I decided on, however, was picked due to the fact that it featured a former Blazer on the wrong end of a poster dunk.
LaMarcus Aldridge throws down a monster slam on Gerald Wallace, officially welcoming him back to the Rose Garden. Enjoy.
– Video courtesy of TheBlazersVideos YouTube channel.
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© Rick Stella for North West Sports Beat, 2012. | Permalink | No comment |
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