After three quarters of sloppy, careless basketball, the Blazers made a fourth quarter rally that came up just a little bit short, ultimately falling to the Clippers 93-88. If you’ve been following the Blazers for at least the past few years, you probably felt this game was pretty standard. It’s a vicious cycle that Portland seems to repeat quite often.
The cycle is as follows: play three quarters of careless, messy basketball and dig themselves into a rather large hole. Somehow wake up and realize they should try to play their hearts out in an attempt to damage control and win the game. One or two players heat up and score a few huge buckets. (Tonight, those players were Nic Batum and Jamal Crawford.) Bring the game within a few points, but fall just short at the end, ultimately losing the game.
We saw this exact pattern play out tonight in the Staples Center. The Blazers had another huge turnover night, but the Clippers matched Portland’s 21 turnovers with 21 of their own. They shot slightly better from both the free throw line and the three-point line, but the Clippers shot better from the field. Portland out-rebounded LA 46-38. Despite these fairly decent stats (aside from the turnovers, but they can just cancel each other out, right?), the hole they dug themselves into during the first three quarters was just a bit too deep to overcome.
A few thoughts on tonight’s loss:
- Jamal Crawford was big for Portland tonight. 21 of his 23 points came in the last quarter and a half. I just wish he would stop the unnecessary dribbling. He turns the ball over simply because he loses control of it, not because someone knocks it away.
- Nic Batum was huge for Portland tonight as well. He was 2-2 from the three, 2-2 from inside the arc and 1-2 from the line in the 4th quarter. He had some big rebounds too. I’m hoping tonight’s game was the confidence booster he needed to get back in the swing of his game. I hope more confidence results in him getting a few more than 26 minutes as well.
- While Gerald Wallace grabbed seven rebounds, he didn’t score a single point. The one thing I will say here is that he was only 0-5 from the field. I’m guessing that he probably felt like he was having an off night and decided he wasn’t the best person to be shooting the ball. Personally, I’m fine with that. Of course, there are also people who don’t agree with a player not taking shots when he’s having an off night because he may end up passing up easy shots. I tend to disagree with this because I believe that if a more conservative player like Wallace has an open shot they think they can make, they will take it. Wallace scoring a few points may have won us the game, but so would those missed free throws, missed three pointers and fewer turnovers. Since Wallace is one of our most consistently good players, he’s allowed to have an off night once in a while. Other guys should be able to fill in for his absence.
- Craig Smith finally got to play! While it was only for three minutes, he did grab two rebounds. I really like him, and I wish Nate would play him more often.
- I have absolutely no idea why Aldridge was the one taking that three with a little over a minute left in the fourth when we were down by four. The play should have been for Batum to take that since he was 2-2. Plus, when is the last time we saw LA shoot a three?
- On the subject of LA, it also baffles me that Nate hasn’t been running the offense through him late in games. I know he hasn’t been the beast of a power forward that he was last season, but he is completely capable of being that player, and it’s only a matter of time before he turns it on again. LA is the best player on our team, and the offense should run through him, especially in crunch time.
- Last year, I really enjoyed watching Blake Griffin. I was really drawn to his explosiveness. After tonight’s game, Blake Griffin is officially off of my “players I enjoy watching and therefore root for” list. The whining, the rude faces and the unnecessary ego on the court are too much for me. He needs another reality check from Andre Miller.