Each week, Team Mom highlights her favorites plays, players and other things that made the Trail Blazers fun to watch. Who is Mom’s Favorite this week? Did anyone get put in the dog house? What were your favorite things this week? Let us know in the comments below.
Mom’s Favorite: Takin’ Care of Business
(To be read to the tune of Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s Takin’ Care of Business)
The Trail Blazers took care of business this week. They beat three inferior teams in decisive fashion, averaging 120 points, 47 rebounds and 28 assists per game. No giant holes to dig themselves out of. No overtime. The Blazers jumped out to leads and held on down the stretch. Even the rookies saw the court this week.
This is something of a turnaround from just six weeks ago. After starting the season strong, they hit a rough patch in mid-November. Between Nov. 21 and Dec. 29 their record was 8-11. We knew it was going to be tough--nine of the games were on the road and they would play a trio powerhouse teams, Milwaukee, Golden State and Toronto. The maddening part of that stretch was that eight of their eleven losses were to teams with worse records than theirs. In fact, over the season, 13 of their losses have been to teams with the same or worse record than theirs (at the time the contest was played).
Since Dec. 30, they have won six of seven games and their only loss was to a team with a better record (Oklahoma City Thunder). The last time they lost to a team with a worse record than theirs was the loss to the Utah Jazz on Christmas.
The Blazers will be put to the test against Denver on Sunday. No matter what happens, though, the fact that they did not play down to their opponents during this week’s home stand is a positive development for a team that has struggled to put away inferior teams.
Gold Star: CJ’s dance moves
CJ McCollum’s dance moves were impressive on the court and on the dance floor this week. McCollum led the team in scoring, averaging 23.7 points per game. His shooting percentages were up considerably over his season averages, improving from 46.2 percent to 56.9 percent from the field and from 33.7 percent to 40.9 percent on 3-point shots.
He dazzled the crowd and confounded the Hornets on Friday, scoring 30 points in just 29 minutes. He zipped along the baseline for a turn around fade-away jump shot, dared his defender to reach for the ball, drove opponents into each other while they chased him around and completed a four-point play.
Meanwhile, McCollum and Lillard’s All Star campaign is heating up -- heating up so much that McCollum’s Napoleon Dynamite-inspired dance moves were blocked by Facebook for being too suggestive.
Facebook has taken down the video of @CJMcCollum dancing because he is "performing seductive or implied sexual acts." That's not a joke.— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) January 10, 2019
The video was later reinstated. McCollum had a nice week on the court, but these are the moves most of us will remember:
Dunks are fun. The Trail Blazers had 15 dunks this week including five alley-oops (listeners to the podcast know that means I will be pledging five more tickets to Blazers Edge night). Five different players got in on the action: McCollum had one, Al Farouq Aminu and Jusuf Nurkic each had two, Jake Layman had four and The Hammer himself, Meyers Leonard, threw down a team high five dunks this week.
This Jusuf Nurkic Dunk. Last year Nurkic completed 61 dunks in 79 games. This year he has 41 dunks in 43 games. He is still nowhere near as prolific as some of his contemporaries in the league (Joel Embiid has 71 and Andre Drummond has 73) however, he is starting to dunk more in the the natural flow of the game. Here he used his gravity to propel himself to the rim rather than break up his forward motion to gather and flip up an awkward shot.
The truth about Evan Turner’s biceps: The Trail Blazers included a picture of Evan Turner flexing his very impressive guns on the cover of the Jan. 7 program. His biceps were so large that some questioned the veracity of the photo. Soon after, Trail Blazers photographer Bruce Ely provided the original, untouched, photo on his laptop to silence the doubters.
Original on my laptop. Scandalous. pic.twitter.com/oRiHZ7di43— Bruce Ely (@bruceely) January 8, 2019
Friends helping friends find inner peace. On Wednesday night against Chicago, Zach Collins had 16 points, nine rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block before fouling out. Despite a productive box score, Collins was frustrated after picking up his sixth foul and dropped his mouthpiece twice on his way to flopping down in a huff on the Blazers’ bench. Sensing the young player’s tension, McCollum offered some tips for relaxed breathing and Maurice Harkless provided a gentle backrub. Awwwww.
Homecoming Week in January. It was fun to see former Trail Blazers Noah Vonleh, Robin Lopez and Nicolas Batum at the Moda Center this week. Vonleh’s 16 points and 14 rebounds both tied season highs.
All-Star fan voters: The second round of fan votes were returned this week and Portland’s All-Star Damian Lillard was sixth among guards. Sixth. Derrick Rose--who it pained me to even look up on Google--was in second place. Second. Lillard is 1.3 MILLION votes behind Rose. Sixth place doesn’t even get Lillard featured on the ESPN graphic:
Damian Lillard deserves better than this. Don’t be in the dog house: vote for Damian Lillard today and every day between now and Jan. 21.