For the third time this year, I get to write an article about how the Blazers turned in another winless week. For reasons coming, this was not as bad as 0-3 suggests, but unfortunately, the standings see no difference. Here is how the week broke down:
Monday 12/23 loss at home against the New Orleans Pelicans
You can’t shoot 4-29 from three and win many games in the NBA. The Pelicans left the door open for Portland by shooting just 40.9% from the floor, but the Blazers insisted the Pelicans take the win and outdid the Pelican struggles by shooting 40.7% for the game. This helped the Pelicans improve to 8-23 on the year.
Thursday 12/26 loss at the Utah Jazz
The Blazers lost the first quarter by 15 and the third quarter by 10, but they still managed to battle back enough to make the final score look respectable. Portland bounced back from their dreadful shooting night to hit 15-34 from deep (44.1%) including 7-12 from Damian Lillard, who lead the Blazers with 34 points. Donovan Mitchell led all scorers with 35.
Saturday 12/28 loss at home against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Portland didn’t win a single quarter but fought all game. The Lakers were clearly the better team and Portland has no answer for LeBron James or Anthony Davis, especially after losing another player when Skal Labissiere went out with an injury. But the effort was there, and Portland made it competitive even when it seemed it shouldn’t have been. Lillard led all scorers with 31.
Let’s find some positives
It’s easy to find the negative in an 0-3 week, so I won’t dive into that. But this is not as bad as it seems. Portland lost to the Lakers and Jazz, who have both been consistently a level above the Trail Blazers the whole year, and while the Pelicans have been one of the NBA’s biggest disappointments, they have won three of their last five since losing 11 in a row before that. Well, at least they didn’t snap the losing streak against Portland! And if Portland is going to have a winless week, at least they only played 3 games. That’s all I have for positive takeaways for the team,
The Blazers decided to mix things up against the Lakers by starting Skal Labissiere to help match up with the James/Davis duo. This was a big step for Skal, who has been one of the few positive surprises for Portland this year. Unfortunately, three minutes into the game, Skal pulled himself from the game in obvious pain and will be reevaluated shortly. More tough luck.
Anfernee Simons got off to a great start this season but the regression has been significant. Simons had only hit double figures three times this month before averaging 13.3 points per game on the week. On top of that, he chipped in 7.3 rebounds on the week in 25.3 minutes including his first double-double. His growth may be the best takeaway from the year. Oh and on top of the good week, he did this:
Highlight of the Week:
Anfernee Simons goes freight train against the Lakers
WHAT. A. DUNK.— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) December 29, 2019
"I've got places to be, and it doesn't involve you..." -- Anfernee Simons
Next week’s games:
Next weeks look ahead:
The calendar has aligned to help the Trail Blazers start the year off right with two of the NBA’s cellar dwellers, the New York Knicks and the Washington Wizards. To add a little momentum, Portland also gets to end the year with the Phoenix Suns, who people are only beginning to realize are not that good either. Portland has already defeated the Suns and Knicks this year. I’m imagining myself at this time next week thinking about how much more fun it is to write about a 3-0 week than the reversal.