What a week to be a Portland Trail Blazer fan, what a week indeed. Last week the Blazers managed to go undefeated, with a record of 2-0 on the road and 3-0 at home, for a season record of 7-2. This isn’t the same team as last year; they’re a squad that has five players averaging double digit scoring, five players averaging five-plus rebounds, and two time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge is nearly averaging a double-double with 21.9 points per game (ppg) and 9.1 rebounds. Also of note, reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard has averaged 19.6 ppg, 5.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds. What has all this lead to? Wins, the Blazers have beaten some decent squads over the last week, including the Boston Celtics at TD Garden (something the Blazers haven’t done since 2004), the surprising (5-4) Phoenix Suns, the Detroit Pistons and the Sacramento Kings twice. The Blazers have also bested the Western Conference’s top squad, the San Antonio Spurs, and the division rival Denver Nuggets.
The Kings victories were critical confidence boosters for this new Blazer squad. The favorites coming into both meetings, the Blazers were coming off a blowout loss to the Houston Rockets that shook their growing confidence from the earlier wins against the Spurs and Nuggets. The Blazers greeted the Kings at Moda Center for the first leg of the home-and-home double header. In a comparable fashion to their preseason meeting, the Blazers got up early in the first quarter and never looked back, winning 104-91. While rolling hot, the diverse squad traveled to Sacramento to log another win, 96-85. The noteworthy news from this meeting was the horrendous shooting night from Lillard, who went 1-15 on the night. The Blazers were unfazed as six players had over eight points to carry the load.
Following the Kings conquests, the Blazers next hosted the Pistons at the Moda Center. The Pistons put up a good fight before falling 109-103 to the Blazers. Oregon native and Medford sensation Kyle Singler put up only two points, four rebounds and three assists for the Pistons in his return to Oregon. The Blazers though saw a bounce back game for Lillard, who knocked down 25 points, and again had six players in double digits, including two bench players as Wesley Matthew’s hot start to the season cooled off with just three points.
Looking for revenge after losing what was slated as a warm-up season opener, the Blazers played the Suns in Rip City. The Blazer ended the first quarter on top, but fell behind after losing the next two quarters. With just 15 seconds left in the fourth quarter and the Blazer down by two points, Damian Lillard streaked past multiple defenders to put in the easy go ahead game winning lay-up. A remarkable performance from back-up power forward Thomas Robinson, 15 points and eight rebounds in only 16 minutes of play was key to the win.
Finally, Friday the Blazer ended a nine-year streak of losing at TD Garden when visiting Boston. The Blazers easily beat the lowly Celtics 109-96. Aldridge logged a double-double (27 points & 12 boards).
Portland’s sixth man, Mo Williams believes the team’s court pace is leading to the Blazers success, “I thought we kept the pedal to the metal,” Williams said. “And that’s the sign of a good team.”
All these wins are great and all, but what does it mean for the Blazers? It means Portland, pending a big injury, finally has proven bench depth, has faith in in themselves, and is winning the important winnable games.
I know exactly how you feel, as a Blazer fan myself, I am quite concerned this will all come crashing down (like Brandon Roy & Greg Oden’s knees, or the 13 game losing streak to end last season or the horrible season before that…okay, I’ll stop now), but currently I am enjoying every minute of being the second best team in the NBA Western Conference. The Blazers are ahead of some powerhouse teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors and my favorite to hate the Los Angeles Lakers. Not to mention the Blazers are steadily climbing up many experts power rankings, average a handsome top ten spot.
The Blazer’s Matthews has confidence in his squad, “Man, why aren’t we 9-0?” Enjoy it Portland and hope it lasts.
The Blazers will look to keep this momentum rolling as they wrap up their nine game road trip with a tour of BMO Harris Bradley Center to play the Milwaukee Bucks Nov. 20th at 5:00pm, followed by hosting the Chicago Bulls Nov. 22nd at 7:00pm, both are being broadcast on Comcast Sports Network.