The trade deadline is done and gone. All Portland did at the break, other than the Ariza trade last week, was dump off Skal Labissierre for nothing. It’s not the splash anyone was hoping for, but it’s hard to say I’m surprised. This week, the Damian Lillard fireball slowed a bit, but there was no chance that was sustainable. Even so, he still added another 40 point game to his resume. Here is how the week broke down.
Tuesday 2/4 road loss at Denver Nuggets 127-99 (23-28)
If you were concerned with the Blazers after Portland found themselves down nine after the first quarter, the second quarter must have traumatized you. Portland scored 10 points in the second (yes, all the Blazers players combined) and found themselves down 26 at half time. I’d tell you more, but I’m trying to forget this effort. The Nuggets dominated. Lillard led the Blazers with 21 and Nikola Jokic led all scorers with 29.
Thursday 2/6 home win vs the San Antonio Spurs 125-117 (24-28)
A great bounce back home win after getting embarrassed in Denver. Portland struggled early and found themselves down six after the third. But a strong defensive stand in the 4th quarter and a huge game from Gary Trent Jr. (6/7 from three) helped bring the Blazers a much-needed win against the Spurs. Dame, once again, led all scorers with 29.
Saturday 2/8 road
win loss vs the Utah Jazz 117-114 (24-29)
Well this happened. For those of you too lazy to click the link, Damian Lillard’s potential game tying layup was slapped away after hitting the backboard by Rudy Gobert, all but clinching the game for the Jazz. Caleb Swanigan ultimately missed a three at the buzzer that would have tied the game. Lillard was as mad as I have ever seen him after the game and rightfully so. He spoke out on the call but was not fined later. The refs admitted the mistake, and that’s as much as you can ask for. Unfortunately, it was a tough ending to what was an incredible game up to that point. Lillard dropped
44 42 in the loss.
A 2-1 week would have been a huge success; 1-2 is in line with expectations. The Spurs win was a good one as San Antonio threatens the Blazers chances at the number eight seed in the playoffs. If Portland is only going to win one game this week, that was the one.
The big surprise as of late has been Gary Trent Jr. Trent has averaged 13.9 points per game in his last 10 games and hit double digits in eight of those games. This week he averaged 15 points and shot 50% from three point land. He has emerged as the guy coming off the bench. To add to that, his defense has been phenomenal. Young Trent is making strides.
Next week’s preview
Although it is a three game week, nothing is happening after Wednesday due to All-Star weekend. Luckily, Lillard can be found in both the three-point contest and the All-Star game, so you can still get your Blazer fix over the weekend. As far as the week of games goes, it’s nothing easy for Portland once again. The Pelicans and Grizzlies are lumped into the group of teams all fighting for the eight seed in the West so those will be especially big for the Blazers.