Although we are well into the season, certain teams, like the Blazers, are still very much trying to find a launching point. Injuries have changed the roster, as has poor play. It was time to call in for some reinforcements, if you want to call it that. The Blazers signed Carmelo Anthony to join the squad. His impact will be felt next week when he suits up, but what led to the desperate signing can be found in week 3.
Sunday 11/10 - Home win against the Atlanta Hawks, 124-113 in OT (4-6)
It took an overtime win at home against a young team, but Portland was able to snap their four-game losing streak with a win over the Atlanta Hawks. Damian Lillard scored 30 points in 44 minutes to lead the Blazers, but Anfernee Simons provided the spark off the bench, tallying 20 points in 24 minutes on 8-12 shooting.
Tuesday 11/12 - Loss at the Sacramento Kings 107-99 (4-7)
This was the tough one. Portland had a chance to build momentum off of their win against the Hawks by coming in and getting a W against a Kings team that was without two of its best players, De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley. Instead, Portland offered up one of the most lackluster performances on the season, failing to hit 100 points for the first time this year. A 6-24 performance from the bench certainly did not help.
Thursday 11/13 - Home loss against the Toronto Raptors, 114-106 (4-8)
Portland came out with some pride against the reigning NBA champions but once again, it wasn't enough. Lillard was held to just 9 points and there is not enough offense on the roster to make up for that. Rodney Hood led all Blazer scorers with 22. Toronto got a 66 combined points from Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam. Portland had no answer defensively for either. The Raptors were without starters Kyle Lowry and OG Anunoby.
Saturday 11/16 - Road win against the San Antonio Spurs, 121-116 (5-8)
Boy, this was a nice one to get. Portland led by 18 after the first quarter, trailed by six after the third quarter, but ultimately pulled the game out. This was one of the better performances the Blazers have gotten out of CJ McCollum this season, who finished with 32 points on 13 of 25 shooting. LaMarcus Aldridge had 30 and 13 for the Spurs.
Blazer Rookie Nassir Little is averaging 4 points per game this season on 30 percent shooting this year but may have found a way to become an extremely important piece if Portland is to get this season back on the right track. Saying the Blazers are in desperate need of a defense-capable forward would be an incredible understatement. Portland may have been able to pull out wins against teams like the Clippers and Raptors if they had any type of presence in that spot. Little has shown signs that he may be able to be that guy. His offense is not at an NBA level yet, but for a team that has zero other options defensively, Little is a must-play.
Carmelo is back!
Before the San Antonio Spurs game, it was reported that the Portland Trail Blazers are using their final roster spot to sign Carmelo Anthony. And yes, the one from two years ago. I just got through mentioning that Portland needed some defense at the forward positions, but quite frankly, they need offense too. No one has any idea how Melo is going to effect this team but it certainly isn’t going to make them worse...at least we hope not.
The Spurs win helped clear up what was looking like another difficult week for the Blazers. It was also the first game of a six-game road trip, so that helps what could be a grueling week coming up. Dame has still been great, but he was less great this week. You wonder how much the usage is wearing on him. The trade talk is swirling all over Portland, but positive signs from Little and McCollum, plus the addition of Melo, may be enough to keep the boat afloat until Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins return from injury. Next week will be telling,
Monday 11/18 at Houston Rockets
Tuesday 11/19 at New Orleans Pelicans
Thursday 11/21 at Milwaukee Bucks
Saturday 11/123 at Cleveland Cavaliers
Two really good teams and two not so good ones are ahead of Portland. Unfortunately, the Blazers will be playing the Pelicans on the tail end of back-to-back road games so that doesn't make for an easy week. Looking ahead makes that Spurs victory that much more important. 2-2 next week would be good for Portland.