Following a short week for the Portland Trail Blazers, it made sense to roll the last two weeks into one post—and what a couple of weeks they were! 2020 had not been kind to the Blazers yet, as the Blazers posted a a 4-6 record before these last two weeks passed, but a 5-1 stretch, a trade that looks positive so far, and the looming return of Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic gives the Blazers every reason for optimism. And they are still the team with the NBA’s best player of the past 2 weeks: Damian Lillard. Count on his name coming up again.
Monday, 1/20 win at home vs the Golden State Warriors 129-124 (19-26)
The NBA’s worst team, the Golden State Warriors, led at half and looked to be the better team all night. But Lillard was not going to let this one slip away. Lillard dropped 61 points on 11 made three pointers and helped the Blazers survive in overtime. Consider this the beginning of Lillard’s tear.
Thursday, 1/23 loss at home vs the Dallas Mavericks 133-125 (19-27)
In Trevor Ariza’s first game with the Blazers, Ariza started and dropped a season-high 21 points. Not a bad entrance. Damian Lillard stayed hot with 47 of his own (eight made threes) but it wasn’t enough as Luka Doncic and the Mavericks led almost the entire game and put away the win.
Sunday, 1/26 home win vs the Indiana Pacers 139-126 (20-27)
Eight more three pointers made and 50 more points from Damian Lillard was more than enough to take down the Indiana Pacers who were without three starters. Portland controlled the game from the tip and got 28 points from CJ McCollum as well. Portland shot 20-35 from three on the game. That’s fire!
Wednesday, 1/29 home win vs the Houston Rockets 125-112 (21-27)
Huge letdown of a game from Lillard, who only had a 36 point triple double on 52% shooting and 6-12 shooting from three. That was sarcastic by the way—Lillard was incredible. Ariza chipped in another 21 point game as the Blazers used a 41 point second quarter to get the best of the Houston Rockets for the second time in as many weeks.
Friday, 1/31 road win vs the Los Angeles Lakers 127-119 (22-27)
The death of Kobe Bryant laid thick over this match, as it was the first Laker game played since the NBA icon passed. LeBron James looked distracted, Carmelo Anothony missed the game entirely, and the cloud of the tragic passing of Bryant never faded. But Dame also didn’t fade. Lillard went wild against dropping 48 points on seven more made threes to lead the Blazers over the Western Conference leaders. Lillard also chipped in nine rebounds and 10 assists.
Saturday, 2/1 home win vs the Utah Jazz 124-107 (23-27)
The Utah Jazz showed up to play, but the Damian Lillard freight train didn’t seem to notice. Lillard dropped 51 points against the Jazz on 9-15 from deep and added 12 assists. Once it was clear that Dame was still in the groove, the game was never in doubt. Hassan Whiteside had one of his better games of the season, giving legit troubles to reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. Whiteside finished with 17 points and 21 rebounds.
Damian Lillard was not the only player that has played well through the Blazers 5-1 stretch. There were positive performances up and down the roster, and the addition of Trevor Ariza was massive in creating balance to one of the most oddly constructed rosters in the NBA. The Blazers finally have a legit 3-and-D wing in an age when 3-and-D wings are imperative to roster make up. But let us not overlook the absolute rampage the letter O is on right now. Here are the numbers of the last 2 weeks:
- 48.9 points per game
- 10.17 assists per game
- 92/168 from the field (54.8%)
- 49/86 (57.0%) from three
- 60/65 (92.3%) from the free throw line
- 10.83 free throw attempts per game
- 7.16 rebounds
There isn’t a lot else to say. This is historically great and that has been incredible to watch.
Next week’s preview
The Blazers face three very good teams next week. They are all in the playoff picture and the Spurs are in the same group of teams jockeying for the 8th seed in the West. Portland has not been a very good team this year, but they currently have the best player in the NBA. As long as he’s hot, Portland has a shot in all of these matchups. I wouldn’t miss any of them if I were you.