Experts seem split on the Portland Trail Blazers’ up-and-down week. Following a blowout loss to a Raptors squad missing it’s starting center and power forward, the Blazers dropped an overtime heart-breaker to the Jazz in Salt Lake City. However, they were able to rebound for two gritty, down-to-the-wire victories over the Lakers and Thunder to close out the week.
ESPN, who ranked the team 10th last week, dropped them down to the 12th spot, with Vincent Johnson praising the heroics of Damian Lillard:
The Trail Blazers needed a Damian Lillard 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds left in the game to beat the Lakers on Thursday. It was Lillard's fourth go-ahead 3-pointer with less than two seconds left in the game since his rookie season in 2012-13, including playoffs. No other player has more than two over that span.
Sports Illustrated opted for a glass-half full approach and ranked the team 7th, up from 13th last week. Kenny Ducey, who compiled the list, also praised Lillard’s clutch play:
Just as I was feeling down about the Blazers, Damian Lillard took the wheel and led Portland to glory in consecutive games. As a lot of teams in this range waffle, but the Blazers have the weapons to duel with the West’s powers. Now, they just need to show the consistency.