Whenever a team starts a game in any sport missing their first five attempts at scoring while simultaneously allowing the opposing team to make any shot they attempt, the outcome is most likely not going to be super awesome. The Portland Trail Blazers prove that point in starting the game 0 for 5 and letting themselves get into a deep hole early, eventually losing to the Orlando Magic, 107-104.
I know, the first thought after a game like this is, “Well, the Blazers have to be tired, they just played last night.” But as I type this, I’m watching the Blazers’ opponent from last night, the LA Clippers, hold off the Miami Heat in a tough game. So don’t give me that “tired” crap. Yes, I’m sure their legs are dead, but think, all teams in the league are going to have tired legs, going to be coming off playing back-to-backs and back-to-back-to-backs. Really, this is how it works in a short season, and the Blazers better figure out how to win these tough games.
I wrote on Twitter that some players were tweeting last night about how tired they were and how much they would need help from the fans. That suggests something to me: the Blazers are coming into games with the “I’m so damn tired, let’s just mail it in,” mindset, and I know you agree when I say that because that mindset shows.
Demonstratively the Blazers played most of this game with a cavalier attitude. That’s annoying and enough to piss off even the most dedicated and positive fans (Love you, Barbara.) Their movement on defense, even during their last run at the end of the game, left a lot to be desired. The Magic scored 16 three pointers, 11 in the first half, and shot 70+% for much of the first half. That’s embarrassing, that’s a lack of effort; that is not fatigue, that is laziness.
Yeah, I said it, L-A-Z-Y.
LaMarcus Aldridge and Jamal Crawford were the only Blazers with their scoring touch, scoring 23 and 24 on 17 attempts each, respectively. Aldridge was a step slow guarding Howard and rarely even budged on the switch, no surprise there. Wallace and Matthews had some big buckets during the Blazers’ run at the end, but otherwise were playing slightly out of sync. Well, that’s not fair to call them out, everyone was out of sync for the Blazers. But those two get singled out because they ended with 15 and 17 respectively, but their lackadaisical play on the defensive end clearly erased any production on offense they could muster. Inefficiency at its finest moment, I’m sure.
The story of this game (besides the Blazers playing their worst game of the season) has to be Batum’s playing time. After giving an interview to Dwight Jaynes prior to yesterday’s game suggesting his playing time will dictate when/if he signs an extension with the Blazers, he was given 35 minutes tonight and crucial down-the-stretch playing time. He shared time at the two and three, cutting off some of Wesley’s playing time. Even though the Blazers lost, he’s better in a lot of ways than Wesley is, and I think trying to do whatever it takes to make Batum happy is ultimately the best move the Blazers can make this season. His immediate increase in playing time also signals that the Blazers consider Batum a crucial part of their present and future and do not want to risk making him (any more) unhappy.
Let’s decompress and get ready for the upcoming brutal road trip. I expect a split, you?