The Blazers played a white-hot team in the league’s most difficult home-court tonight and played them to a draw. That’s a performance you can’t be upset about. Portland brought hot shooting to lead at the intermission. However, the Nuggets cranked up the defensive intensity in the second half and had a 9 point lead with less than 4 minutes to play. At this point, finally, the Blazers seemed to have figured out what was working. That is, Denver could simply not stop the Blazer’s half court offense without turnovers. After big shots by Hickson, Batum, Aldridge and (the game tyer) from Matthews brought the game to overtime, the Blazers figured to have a working strategy for how to win the game: go to Aldridge in the post against defenders with no answer for him.
In overtime Aldridge responded by scoring four points and assisting on Portland’s other two field goals, while Portland played largely adequate defense on Denver’s dribble drive offense. However, a contested triple by the ice-cold Iguodala, a scramble-drill 3 by Gallinari after excellent Blazer defense kept Denver in it until Wilson Chandler and JJ Hickson’s hilarious “pick and roll defense” provided the backbreaker. On the night there really was nothing to separate the teams, which should be an encouraging sign, as the Nuggets have been playing very good basketball lately. I would take the ability of the Blazers to pick themselves up and force overtime after the barrage of turnovers staked Denver to a substantial lead as a sign of character if I believed in such things .
Thinks I liked:
LMA doing work: Denver had nobody who could stop or even slow down LaMarcus after Koufos was benched, and Aldridge played like it. He torched McGee with spins and fakes, and simply shot over Faried, then capably passed out to Wesley for a wide-open 3 to tie the game when triple teamed. Aldridge should kill these defenders and it was nice to see him do it.
Batum’s all around game: Obviously Nic’s game is primarily predicated on hitting it from downtown, but he was efficient (getting to the FT line, getting to the rim, hitting from mid-range) on a night when the triple wasn’t going down. He also chipped in 7 dimes, more evidence of growth as a facilitator.
No timeout at the end of regulation: The result was not great but you’re unlikely to do much better against a set defense. In the past, timeouts have resulted in Lillard heroball anyways so why call a timeout to do the same thing Damian did anyways?
Things I didn’t like:
Lillard passive against pressure: A point guard really has to be assertive and look to make things happen against a trapping defense. Lillard was all too happy just to pass the ball off and wait for it to come back as opposed to making the cutting pass.
Help defense: Ty Lawson can skate by anybody, but there just has to be a second level of defense there. The only time Lawson was contest at the rack was when Lillard came from behind to rip the ball away.
This shit: It is worth looking at again. Did Hickson submit the single worst defensive play in the history of the NBA?