Links: Blazers Beat Nets For 7th Straight Win

Maddie Meyer

A coverage round-up after the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Brooklyn Nets to claim their seventh consecutive win.

The Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Brooklyn Nets, 108-98, at the Barclays Center on Monday night, improving their record to 9-2 on the season and claiming their seventh consecutive victory. The last time Portland won seven straight games in the same season was Dec. 2007, when the Blazers ran off 13 wins in a row.

Here's a round-up of coverage.

  • Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com writes...

The Blazers have some hallmarks of a team that's overachieving. They're shooting rather wild numbers from 3-point range so far -- fourth in the league in makes per game (10) and in percentage (.422). Wes Matthews, a career 40 percent 3-point shooter himself, is making a remarkable 53 percent of his 3-pointers so far. That included his first five attempts on Monday.
Portland came into the week ranked an unsavory 17th in defensive rating and so far has only beaten two teams with a winning record. Catching the Nets when so much of their team was beaten up could've been considered another positive turn of fortune.

...

"I'm sure there's people who are waiting for us to go on a five- or six-game losing skid and for us to go back to how we were," Matthews said. "They'll say we're taking too many shots, were taking too many 3s, we're too aggressive and all that other stuff. That's cool. But we're going to keep going at it."

  • Ken Berger of CBSSports.com writes...

The Nets moved like a glacier against the faster, more passionate, more organized Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night in a 108-98 loss that brought out the boos and inspired some vocal cheers from a smattering of Blazers fans. Kevin Garnett climbed out of his basketball grave and connected on his first six shots from the field, then made exactly two more the rest of the night. He finished 8-for-19.


...

This is not something that the Nets' rookie head coach, Jason Kidd, wanted to hear about or discuss in his postgame news conference. Despite his youth in the job, Kidd pulled out one of the oldest coaching tricks in the book on Monday night: He blamed himself.

"Just bad coaching," Kidd said. "I take the blame for this. The guys played hard and we got a little stagnant on the offensive end, so this falls on my shoulders. ... In the third quarter, we came out a little flat, and that falls on me."

  • Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com writes...

The fans in attendance at Barclays Center booed the Brooklyn Nets as they walked to the locker room after a crushing 108-98 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

A group of fans in the 300-level seating area began to chant "Let's Go Blazers, Let's Go Blazers" when the Trail Blazers were pulling away late in the fourth quarter. It was that bad. And it was bad coaching.

  • Joe Freeman of The Oregonian writes...

As [Wesley] Matthews answered questions from reporters after the game, Aldridge repeatedly called Matthews "Ballot," as in All-Star ballot, which Matthews has not been included on. The slight infuriated Matthews, who always is in search for extra motivation.

"He's playing angry,' Aldridge said. "I like it. He's mad about the ballot."

When a reporter told Aldridge that Matthews is always angry, the Blazers' two-time All-Star smiled.

"He is," Aldridge replied. "But he's next-level angry right now."

  • Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com writes...

Aldridge played with a bit of an edge Monday night himself in a matchup against Kevin Garnett, who has served as Aldridge's nemesis since his years playing with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

"I think he had one of those flashbacks of when he was in Minnesota and I was coming in as a rookie," said Aldridge, "because he was on fire."

  • Devin Kharpertian of TheBrooklynGame.com writes...

Following Monday night's game against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Brooklyn Nets engaged in some roster-wide "reflection," reflection that kept roughly 40 media members out of the locker room, pushed back into a far-off hallway, well out of earshot. Whatever words were tossed around the lockers, it was clear the team didn't want anyone to hear.

After reporters were allowed in, some 30 minutes later, we were introduced to a room filled with... us. The Nets had evacuated the premises, with some lingerers in the showers. A room filled with people felt wholly empty, replete with audio recorders and cell phones and people waiting to listen, not speak, with no one to listen to. Low whispers bounced off the walls about a myriad of topics, nearly none of those whispers by Nets players.

If that sounds like the remnants a closed-door team meeting, well, it probably was. But the players don't want you to think that.

  • Andrew Keh of The New York Times writes...

The Blazers opened the fourth on a 12-4 run, quieting the crowd and forcing the Nets to take a timeout. Minutes later, scattered boos - some of the first around Barclays Center this season - could be heard as the Nets slumped into another timeout, trailing by 12. During the next timeout, fans simply got up from their seats and left.

"They never lost confidence," Blazers Coach Terry Stotts said of his players. "They never stopped competing."

  • Erik Gundersen of The Columbian writes...

Once again, the bench was good as Thomas Robinson and Mo Williams both had solid outings in support. Robinson was especially effective in the second half as he finished with nine points and seven rebounds in 12:59.

As has been a trend on this trip so far, the Blazers closed the game with their small line-up of Williams, Lillard, Matthews, Batum and Aldridge. The Blazers dodged a couple of open threes missed by the Nets that could have made things tight again as they failed to make a field goal in the game's final 7:11.

As has been the case this road trip, the Blazers continued to take care of business. The Nets put an early scare into them but they stuck to the process and Brooklyn cooled off considerably.

Here are a few other Blazers-related links from Monday (before the Brooklyn game)...

  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com (Insider) writes that the Blazers' forecast has improved to 44 wins improved to a 44-win pace for the rest of the season (making for a 47-win season overall) thanks to their hot start...

Using the average of ESPN Forecast and SCHOENE projections to set preseason expectations, the best guess is that the Blazers will be a 44-win team this season. Their increase of four wins is one of the largest in the league, though not as big as that of teams like the Phoenix Suns (plus-nine wins) and Orlando Magic (plus-five) who have dramatically exceeded low expectations.

Portland's rating going forward still puts the team just 14th in the league and eighth in the Western Conference. The Blazers have jumped the Denver Nuggets (42.4), but need to play at this level longer to surpass the Dallas Mavericks (45.5) and slumping Memphis Grizzlies (46.2). Wait and see isn't a fun approach to power ratings, but it's appropriate with early surprises.

The Trail Blazers started 20-15 last season, heavily relying on their starting lineup. At that point of the season, Portland's starters played 72 percent of the team's minutes, tops in the league. That heavy load proved too taxing, as the Trail Blazers faded to a 33-49 finish.

A year later, the starters have changed, but Portland coach Terry Stotts is using the same strategy. Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez - the Trail Blazers' starters in all 10 games - have played 72 percent of the team's minutes, again No. 1 in the NBA.

"I'm really pleased with the way we move the ball," Stotts said on the bus to the airport after Portland's 118-110 overtime win in Toronto Sunday afternoon.

"The unselfishness. Different guys get their shots. We make the next pass. One guy might have a quarter and another guy might get another quarter, but I think we're playing pretty unselfishly. That goes a long way. And defensively, we're getting better. It's a long season, but I think what we've been preaching, it's showing the results. Everybody's buying into what we need to do to be a good team."

The acquisition of Robin Lopez from New Orleans to play center did not get a lot of national attention, but it was huge for the Blazers.

"He's really fit in well," Stotts said. "He's a selfless player who's all about winning, and he defends. Offensively he's been effective when he's had opportunities. More than anything else, when Tyson Chandler came to Dallas, he kind of brought that selfless defensive mentality to the team. I think Robin's done that for us."

  • The cameras caught Stotts doing a little jig in the first quarter.

Terry-stotts-dance_medium

PS Thanks to GetOver in the FanShots.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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