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The Weekly Breakdown: Injuries, Recoveries, and a Win Streak

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This week, we get to look into the last two weeks of Blazer basketball and life without Rodney Hood.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Portland Trail Blazers Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Author’s Note: Due to personal reasons, I was not able to get the weekly report out last week, so here’s two weeks worth of coverage in one post.

The best part of the Weekly Breakdown: the Blazers went 4-2. The wins were not necessarily impressive, all against sub .500 teams, but they were wins and they count all the same. Here’s how Portland shaped up.

The Games:

Sunday 12/8 loss at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder - 108-96 (9-15)

Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Carmelo Anthony combined to shoot (might want to close your eyes) 20-63 from the field. Unsurprisingly, that didn’t get it done. Life without Hood got off to a poor start.

Tuesday 12/10 win at home against the New York Knicks 115-87 (10-15)

This one felt good. Portland got up big early, stretched the lead, and kept the lead. That’s something I haven’t been able to write yet this season. Portland dominated in every facet of the game. Lillard led all scorers with 31 points in 29 minutes on 8-12 from deep.

Thursday 12/12 loss at the Denver Nuggets 114-99 (10-16)

Hassan bleeping Whiteside! Yes, he had 31 points on 15-21 shooting, 11 rebounds and four blocks. But that three-ball! Watching the big fella knock down his only three point attempt was fun to see. However, I don’t hope to see it much more often. Despite that, the Nuggets were just better on the night as the second rematch of last year’s Nuggets vs Blazer playoff series matchup once again did not go Portland’s way.

Monday 12/16 win at the Phoenix Suns 111-110 (11-16)

No Booker, no Ayton, no one cares. Phoenix may have been without their top two players but teams are not getting injury sympathy from Blazer fans this year. Portland found themselves down as many as 16 but was able to come back against the short handed Suns and win it on an and-1 finish from Lillard as time expired. Not an impressive win, but a win nonetheless.

Wednesday 12/18 win at home against the Golden State Warriors 122-112 (12-16)

Lillard and McCollum combined for 61 as the Portland Trail Blazers successfully took down the league’s worst team. Again, not an impressive win, but more successful than the last time these two teams faced off.

Friday 12/20 win at home against the Orlando Magic 118-103 (13-16)

Lillard and McCollum were the two leading scorers for the second game straight as they combined for 67 and guided the Blazers to their third win in a row. Portland got out to a 31-13 lead after the first quarter and never looked back. Carmelo Anthony went down in the first after banging knees.

Saturday 12/21 win at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves 113-106 (14-16)

Notice the theme, but Karl-Anthony Towns, the Wolves’ leading scorer, missed the game. Anyway, the Blazers took care of business against the struggling Timberwolves. Lillard led all scorers with 29.

Takeaways

A four game winning streak!

On the week, Portland lost to both teams that currently reside in the Western Conference playoff picture and three of the teams they beat were without without their best players. But while that completely matters in the story of the week, it certainly doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Four wins in a row is four wins in the standings. Portland has finally reached the playoff picture in the West for the first time this year. And while they have played poorly almost all year long, there is reason to believe that help, in the form of Jusuf Nurkic won’t be too far out. Optimism in Portland looms.

Life Without Hoodie

Portland isn’t the same team without Rodney Hood and the danger he brings from the outside. He was replaced in the starting lineup by Kent Bazemore, who averaged 11 points per game over the last five games, identical to his season averages. While the loss of Hood will never be filled, the uptick in minutes for young guys like Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little, has been a pleasant surprise and may be beneficial for them long term.

Next week’s games

Monday 12/23 at home against the New Orleans Pelicans
Thursday 12/26 at the Utah Jazz
Saturday 12/28 at home against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Next week look ahead

While the Blazers do have to face two of the top tier teams in the West in the Lakers and Jazz, the schedule plays in their favor. A potentially easy game at home against the New Orleans Pelicans is followed by two days rest before taking on the Jazz and Lakers in two of the next three matches. They will not be easy, but hopefully Portland can enter the matchup against the Jazz on a five game win streak.