In a very nondescript afternoon game on MLK Day, the Portland Trail Blazers played well enough to easily hold off the New Orleans Hornets by 7. It was exactly as exciting as the score indicates. In fact, this was a game seen by very few people, to the benefit of both teams.
[Programming note: For you folks at work, this game will be replayed tonight at 6:30pm on Comcast Sportsnet Northwest.]
LaMarcus Aldridge led the Blazers with 22 points and 9 rebounds, while Crash Wallace, Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews also scored in double figures. Raymond Felton added 12 assists and 3 steals. Meanwhile, former Blazer Jarrett Jack contributed 21 points for the Hornets, who clearly miss Chris Paul.
If you searched for the definition of "unmemorable" online, video of this first half would appear. The Blazers never seem to play well in day games, especially on the East Coast. They looked lackluster, bored, and just plain tired. However, the Hornets simply didn't have the talent to take advantage of the situation. So, the Blazers still led by 2 at halftime. The less said, the better.
LaMarcus Aldridge was apparently given some smelling salts in the locker room, because he was ALIVE to start the second half, hitting his first 5 shots as the Blazers surged to a 16 point lead. The Hornets worked the lead back to single digits... for about 15 seconds, and Wallace hit a 3-pointer. Portland led by 13 after three.
The Blazers decided to stop playing around, and opened the fourth quarter by bumping the lead to 17. However, their offense just couldn't keep rhythm, and New Orleans kept working the lead back down, but not to single digits until it was too late to make a difference. The buzzer sounded, and the Blazers were happy to leave town with a win. Gerald Wallace seemed to hurt his hand late, but continued to play. If this becomes significant, we'll have updates as news arrives.
Read the box score here, and stay tuned for Dave's recap. The Blazers get a day off, then play Wednesday, in Atlanta on ESPN. -- Tim