Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 11/17/14
Unfortunate Streak It’s hard to imagine at this point, but there was a time that the Portland Trail Blazers were above the .500 mark, riding high, and looking like playoff contenders. Now they are five games under .500 (29-34), third in the Northwest, and four games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the No. 8 and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 19 games to go. And while Portland could regroup and make a run for the playoffs, the recent play of the Lakers as well as a somewhat young and unconditioned Blazer team has many fans thinking that they may have to wait another reach to reach the playoffs once again. For some people who have not kept up with the Blazers as of late, their current standing may surprise some. At one point (as mentioned previously), Portland was one of the hottest teams in the league. With LaMarcus Aldridge leading the way and Damian Lillard contending for a Rookie of the Year award (of which he still is), the Blazers were flying high and ready to make the playoffs once again. Lillard is still the front-runner for ROY. (Photo: Bruce Ely/The Oregonian) After seeing their record to 25-23 after a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on February 4, Portland lost to Dallas. And then Houston. Then Orlando. Then Miami. Then New Orleans. Then Phoenix. Then Los Angeles.In the midst of recouping after a six-game losing streak that ended with an impressive victory over Indiana on January 23rd, the Blazers essentially self-destructed. They lost seven straight games and have now lost 11 of their past 15. That is not exactly the way you get yourselves into the playoffs. But as bad as their last month and change have been, Portland’s play has not been awful. In fact, besides maybe six games that they had no chance at the end, the Blazers lost most of their games by a very slim margin, evidencing the fact that their play has not been poor. Call it unlucky, but that’s exactly what Portland has been lately. They’ve played close games but either couldn’t find themselves all the way back or hold onto a slim lead. It’s been very frustrating. Nicolas Batum One of the most frustrating players to watch during Portland’s collapse has been Nicolas Batum. Once an extremely dangerous player on the court, Batum will now show up for some games and disappear for others. In fact, during Portland’s 4-11 stretch, Batum has scored 9, 24,19, 5, 3, 15, 22, 18, 10, 12, 20, 10, 2, 11, and 4 points. And while some of those numbers are great, they come on an inconsistent basis and are followed by 5,3,2, and four point performances that are absolutely dreadful to watch. If the Blazers want to have any shot of getting back on track and possibly making a late run for a playoff spot, they need Batum to play much more consistent basketball and find his rhythm. Damian Lillard Perhaps the brightest note for the Blazers during their regression has been Lillard. Undoubtedly the favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award, Lillard has continued to light up the competition despite getting to the point in the year where rookies have a tendency to start tiring. But not everybody is Damian Lillard. His most impressive performance came against San Antonio, when he accumulated 35 points, 9 assists, three rebounds, and two steals while helping to lead the Blazers to one of their four victories during their current 15-game stretch. What Needs to Happen The Blazers now head down the stretch run of their schedule when they face off against the New York Knicks on Thursday. This game will be the first of their final 19 games, a stretch that may very well determine what this team is really made of. And with only one game left on the schedule against the Lakers, the Blazers must do everything they can to show up every day and fight for that final playoff spot and remember that they have not really been out of any game during their past 15 contests. If they collect themselves, rally around the idea of still being able to make the playoffs, and find where Nicolas Batum goes on his days where he essentially doesn’t show up, Portland could still find a way into the playoffs–though this is starting to look more dreary every day. CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE BLAZERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Darrelle Revis, Ndamukong Suh exchange words after game

Curt Schilling's son causes scare at Logan Airport

Manziel's girlfriend tells Browns to put Johnny Football in

Scalpers in Detroit selling free Jets-Bills tickets for $125

Report: Redskins could bench Robert Griffin III

Broncos have meeting with scoreboard operator

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Cowboys could still pursue Adrian Peterson

Manny Pacquiao: I'm ready to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr.

John Calipari gets daughter's birthday wrong

Carson: Hall of Fame career not worth concussion problems

Tiger hires new swing coach

Is Sting making his WWE debut at Survivor Series?

WATCH: Odell Beckham Jr makes catch-of-the-year

WATCH: Marshawn Lynch's awesome post game interview

Video: RG3 gets crushed, his linemen look unfazed

WATCH: Dominic Raiola tries to cheap-shot Patriots' lineman

WATCH: Janoris Jenkins returns interception for 99 yd TD

WATCH: TY Hilton chokes up in emotional postgame interview

WATCH: Chris Clemons accidentally knocks ref's hat off

WATCH: Aaron Rodgers throws nifty TD across his body

WATCH: LeGarrette Blount does Antonio Brown's end zone dance

WATCH: Eagles take opening kickoff 107 yards for TD

Western Carolina coach blasts Kirk Herbsreit

WATCH: Young reporter asks Helfrich funny question

NBA 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!

Dominic Raiola admits to dirty play

WATCH: Revis, Suh exchange words

Manziel's GF wants her man to play

Cowboys to pursue Adrian Peterson?

Cal gets daughter's bday wrong

Carson: Career not worth concussions

Report: Gundy pursuing Florida job

Tiger hires new swing coach

WATCH: Jameis Winston shoves ref

Florida DL supports Will Muschamp with eye black

Jay Gruden: RG3 has been 'coddled'

LeBron: Love needs to 'demand' the ball

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.