After yet another agonizing close loss last night I found myself having a certain feeling of deja vu. I felt as if I had seen the Blazers have a game that is completely winnable going into the last 4 minutes only to be on the losing end when the final buzzer sounds, so that got me to go back and look at some of the Blazers losses this year:
- Jan. 1st vs. LA Clips 88-93
- Jan. 11th vs. Orlando 104-107
- Jan. 14th vs. Houston 105-107
- Jan. 18th vs. Atlanta 89-92
- Jan. 21st vs. Detroit 91-94
- Jan. 25th vs. Golden St. 93-101
- Jan. 30th vs. Utah 89-93
- Feb. 2nd vs. Sacramento 92-95
- Feb. 6th vs. OKC 107-111
- Feb. 8th vs. Houston 96-103
- Feb. 11th vs. Dallas 94-97
In doing the math on those losses it turns into 11 losses by a combined 45 points. Looking around the NBA at a few teams that have around the same record as the Blazers and how they have fared in their losses the Blazers compare very favorably. L*kers 12 losses by 95 points, Nuggets 12 losses by 97, Utah 12 losses by 132. In a day and age where there is statistics for everything including the player that has the most points in the 4th quarter of games played on even numbered days that is right handed (which interestingly enough happens to be Luke Babbit) who knows if this stat even means anything.
There are purist out there that will conclude that a loss is loss no matter by how many points it is, which is correct and I'm not saying that the Blazers should win every close game that they are ever in, but I see it as something more. It's not a huge secret that since the days of Roy (teardrop, sad face) the Blazers haven't had a scorer that they can rely on in the 4th or that they will even agree to get the ball to. Now I'm not here to rip Coach McMillian, Lamarcus, Crawford, or anybody else all I am stating is that the Blazers currently stand at 15-13 and 8th place in the West. I just don't think that it is out of the realm of possibility to suggest that if the Blazers could find a player (whether it be in the trade market, free agency, someone finally stepping up etc.) that will be the man in the 4th quarter particularly in the closing minutes of close games that they couldn't be a 20 win team right now.
I am not an irrational fan that believes that the Blazers are the best team in the NBA, they have some glaring weaknesses besides not having a scorer in late game, close situations that they will need to address hopefully sooner than later. We as Blazer fans are in a very peculiar situation, one that I feel is the most difficult to deal with as a sports fan. Our team isn't at the top of the mountain where it is easy to be a fan and where everyone and their great aunt seems to suddenly love *cough OKC *cough LAC and they aren't at the bottom either where you expect disappointment from them and aren't really let down. They are right in the middle where each loss crushes your soul and you swear that you are done with them only to find yourself on the edge of your seat at the end of the game only to go through that viscous cycle of despair again.
If reading this post does anything for you I hope that it makes you see that this team may not be as sexy (take that in whatever way you would like) as the L*kers, Heat, or Bulls I feel they are a lot closer than most people think. Please keep in mind that this was a post of optimism in a time that many fans will be looking for answers. Thanks.