Let’s be honest, none of us want to read a recap of this game. The Blazers pulled off a win, defeating the Denver Nuggets 111-102, but it was a pretty sloppy game overall. In an attempt to embrace the Blazers’ perfect 3-0 record, I’m only going to briefly review some of my thoughts from tonight’s game. (Positivity wins championships!!!)
- Portland had a total of 25 turnovers, while Denver had a total of seven. This is just flat out embarrassing. In true team mentality, the turnovers were pretty equally distributed throughout the guys who saw playing time tonight. Honorable mentions in the turnover category include Kurt Thomas, who has a beautiful ZERO written next to his name in this column, and Jamal Crawford, who had a team-high of six. While Portland earned the win, this turnover business is something that seriously needs to be addressed. Denver collected 29 of their 102 points off of turnovers. In an attempt to state the extremely obvious – this is not good.
- While on the topic of stats, here are a few nice stats that shouldn’t be overlooked despite the turnover category absolutely screaming for attention. The Blazers shot 51.9% from the field, 40% from the three and 91.3% from the free throw line tonight. Tonight was a pretty great shooting night for the Blazers, even though it didn’t really feel like it until the last quarter of the game. (Denver shot 40.2% from the field, 20% from the three and 84.8% from the free throw line.)
- Every Blazer who saw playing time tonight had at least five rebounds. This is awesome. Defense, everyone! Collectively, the Blazers grabbed a total of 50 rebounds. All I can say about this is…respect these years. Paragraph on why everyone needs to respect these years to come shortly. Denver only grabbed a total of 30 rebounds, which definitely helps explain how the Blazers won this game despite turning the ball over 25 times.
- Wesley Matthews was on fire tonight. He was due for a good game since he has been pretty ineffective during the first two. 15 of his 25 points came from threes tonight. (Note: Not once did we see him throw up the three goggles. Is there a correlation between this and Rudy and Patty not being on the team anymore? I’m going to say yes.) These threes from Wesley were huge tonight. Based on his history of streakiness, I expect he will continue to shoot lights out for another game or two, then have a few so-so games, then score 25+ for a few games, etc.
- Kurt Thomas, you are cordially invited to join Andre Miller’s blue-collar worker club. (RIP Dre’s days as a Blazer. It will always be Dre Day in my heart.) I was very unsure of this signing when it first happened, but after the first two preseason games, I added Thomas to my list of players I approve of. After watching him in the first three regular season games, I’m more than happy to have him as a Blazer. The dude played for 12 minutes tonight, shot 3-3 from the field and 1-2 from the free throw line for a total of seven points. He also grabbed six rebounds, and he did not turn the ball over ONCE. As Andre Miller would say, Thomas is a “blue-collar worker in this league.” He goes in, does his job, scores when he needs to, and gets the job done. He did have three fouls in those 12 minutes, but I’m willing to let those slide. I feel comfortable having him in the game when Camby needs a rest.
- Nic Batum made some great contributions on the defensive end tonight. He tied his career high of four blocks tonight, and all four of them were just beautiful. He also grabbed six rebounds. While he did shoot pretty poorly tonight, he remained fairly confident and aggressive throughout his 21 minutes on the court. And his single three-pointer came at a crucial time toward the end of the second quarter, lighting a spark underneath Wesley, Jamal and Felton. I still believe this can be a breakout year for Nic, and once he believes it too, it will reflect in his play.
- All I am going to say about Jamal Crawford is that he’s much more successful when he’s not the one running the point. If you don’t believe me, look at his numbers. He scored 14 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter. The difference? He was not the one running the floor – Felton was. Nate McMillan, please advise.
- I like Felton more and more every game. (Note: Please do not confuse this as him joining the other 25 guys on my favorite players list.) I hate to use this word because it is so overused by everyone’s favorite coach, but Felton just kind of scraps. He gets stuff done. I don’t know how else to describe it. And now, based on my extremely vague description of Raymond Felton’s game, one might think that was a quote from Nate McMillan himself. Another thing I noticed about Felton tonight – the ball falls the same way almost every time he shoots it. It’s almost as if the ball literally just drops from directly above the basket and falls straight down without even touching the net. The net doesn’t really ever swoosh when Felton shoots. Anyway, shout out to Felton. He definitely made a large contribution to tonight’s win.
- Finally, I’ve saved the best for last. Marcus Camby has been straight ballin’ this season. He won’t get much honorable mention from the mainstream media, but he deserves a lot of credit for this team’s success. He provides rebounding consistency to a team that struggles with defense, and I absolutely love him for that. I already had him on my list of favorite Blazers prior to this season, but with LA still taking time to get his game back, Camby’s contributions are even more apparent. Keep up the good work, Marcus. We all respect those years.