Portland went 2-2 this week. While it was average by normal standards, it raised the Blazers winning percentage, so take that however you'd like. That said, in a season like this, winning and losing isn’t the only way to gauge success. For the first time in over a month, the Blazers played hard and competed in every game. With a continued effort like the one we saw this week, expect the Blazers to find themselves back in the playoff picture.
Monday 1/13 win at home against the Charlotte Hornets 115-112
A rough third quarter almost ruined a 16 point halftime lead but Portland held their ground, in part from a huge 4th quarter from Anthony Tolliver. Ultimately, they were able to take down the Charlotte Hornets. Damian Lillard led all scorers with 30.
Wednesday 1/15 win on the road at the Houston Rockets 117-107
Russell Westbrook rocked the baby. Westbrook told Dame that Dame couldn’t guard him. The Blazers came away with the win in Houston. All victories feel good, but road wins against Houston feel a little something special.
Friday 1/17 loss away at the Dallas Mavericks 120-112
It’s rare that Damian Lillard isn’t the best player on the floor, but against Luka Doncic, that’s the way it feels. Dame looked great, with a 34 point, 10 assist line on 25 shots, but Luka topped him with 35 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and a career-high eight made threes. Portland played their tails off and would beat most teams with an effort like this. Only a player like Luka could get in the way. CJ McCollum went down with an ankle injury that didn’t look good. We are currently awaiting more information on his status but he missed the next game against the Thunder.
Saturday 1/18 loss away at the Oklahoma City Thunder 119-106
Mark this down as the Gary Trent Jr game. A second round pick last year, Trent’s previous career high was 19, but a 30 point outing against the Thunder will be the new total to shoot for. Trent went 12-19 from the floor including 5-9 from deep and also added three offensive rebounds and three steals. Yes, the Blazers lost the game, but they were without the majority of their regulars, and it was fun to watch the young Trent have his night.
This team didn't work on the court or on paper, so Blazer fans have been awaiting anxiously for Woj to let us know how Neil Olshey was going to undo his mess. The best breakdown of the trade on the internet can be found here. In short, Portland sent Kent Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver, and two second round picks for Trevor Ariza, Caleb Swanigan and Wenyen Gabriel. It turns out to be basically a salary dump plus the addition of a 34 year old Trevor Ariza and Blazer summer league legend Caleb Swaingan. Ariza is averaging six points and four rebounds per game this year. This is more than likely a deal that preceeds a bigger deal so we will have to wait to grade it until then.
Monday, 1/20 at home vs the Golden State Warriors
Thursday 1/23 at home vs the Dallas Mavericks
Next week’s preview
A two game week couldn't come at a better time. Multiple players, including Damian Lillard, have been dealing with sickness, the team is working on enduring the trade, and the roster remained flush with injuries. Hopefully, the Blazers can take a game or two this week because the following two weeks are going to be one of the most brutal stretches on Portland’s schedule.