The Portland Trail Blazers have managed to do it again – losing the 2013-2014 NBA season opener to a Phoenix Suns team that will battle for a lottery pick in next year’s draft, only to follow it up with wins over the Denver Nuggets and the 2012-2013 NBA Western Conference Champion, San Antonio Spurs. Give me hope, crush it and then give me hope; I see what you’re doing here. I better call my cardiologist.
Well folks, the Blazers did it, and in a dominating, beautiful fashion. They broke in the newly named Moda Center with a bang-out 115-105 win over the Spurs.
With the kind of magic only seen when the Blazers take to the court in Rip City, they improved their field goal percent each outing (40.7-42.7-55.6) and hit an above average 40 percent of three point shots against the Spurs.
Behind these improved numbers, the Blazers All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge started the hot steak with ten points in the first quarter over future Hall of Famer, and four-time NBA Champion, Tim Duncan. Aldridge would finish the night with 24 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots. However, the highest point total came from 2012-2013 NBA Rookie of the Year, Damian Lillard. Lillard logged 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists while matched up with five-time All-Star Tony Parker. Also of note, the Blazers had six players in double digits and Nic Batum recorded a triple double (11 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists).
The statistics are great, but how in the heck did the Blazers beat the Spurs? 55.6 percent from the field is a number you normally only see in a video game. The refreshed Blazers were hot and actually showed some depth, unlike last year. With five dangerous players on the court, the Spurs were not able to double Aldridge or Lillard as much as they would have liked. Blazers head coach, Terry Stotts, told The Oregonian, “I like it. It’s difficult [for an opponent] to game-plan if you have different players capable of making shots and plays.”
The scoring is great, but the real difference for the Blazers is a word not often on the top of a list of their strengths—defense. The Blazers made a point of remedying that problem this off-season by bringing in the seven-foot Robin Lopez, and it showed Saturday as he was +13 on the night with 12 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots. It’s not stats that the Blazers need from him, it’s his presence in the paint. “He just kept plugging,” Stotts said. “He plays hard at both ends of the court, he goes after every rebound, made a big block down the stretch, his presence in the paint makes a difference. You feel his effort, and you feel his energy.”
Portland, it is time to put your heart on the line and invest in the Blazers. You will not be let down. The Blazers aren’t going to win the NBA Finals this year, but we’re going to have a damn good time at least riding the ride.
Next, the Blazers will welcome the Sacramento Kings to the Moda Center Nov. 8th at 7:00p.m. to kick off a two-day double header. The game will be broadcast on Comcast Sports Net and NBA TV. The second meeting will be at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento and broadcast on KGW at 7:00p.m.