Tag Archives: Nicolas Batum

Yes Virgina The Trail Blazers Are Championship Contenders

Portland Trail Blazers

Trail Blazers

This season in the NBA we are seeing some teams struggling to play up to the expectations every fan had for them, like the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets. However, there is also a team that is playing surprisingly well and that’s no other than the Portland Trail Blazers. Portland is up to a 19-4 start in the season and it currently sits atop of the Western Conference. The Blazers have been really impressive up to now but can they really be considered as a title contender?

During the first month of the season it’s true that Portland had an easy schedule. They didn’t play against the best teams in the league. After a 13-3 start, lots of discussions around the NBA pointed out that the Blazers played only against weak opponents. Now, after a month and a half into the season and after beating teams like the Indiana Pacers, the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the month of December, it’s time to face the reality. Portland are one of the best teams in the league. At least they are playing like one and they will be contending for the Larry O’Brien trophy.

Damian Lillard is continuing to improve his performance, after winning the Rookie of the Year award last season. He is scoring 19.3 points per contest, dishing out 5.6 assists and grabbing 3.7 rebounds per game this season. His shooting percentages are decent, too, 39.7 percent from the floor and 41.3 percent from three-point territory. Where the 23-year old point guard makes an impact for the Blazers is defense. Lillard has found the way to use the strengths of his teammates when defending the pick-and-roll.
Of course, the presence of LaMarcus Aldridge is also one of the main reasons Portland has found that much success this season. Aldridge can be fairly considered as one of the best power forwards in the NBA this season. He is leading Portland in scoring with 23.5 points per contest. He is also averaging 10.6 boards per contest and shooting 48.1 percent from the field.

Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews are also playing vital roles in the team’s success up to now, averaging 13.6 and 16.3 per contest respectively. Mo Williams, Thomas Robinson and Robin Lopez deliver with consistency, while Portland is playing without its rookie and 10th pick of this year’s draft, C.J. McCollum.

It seems like Head Coach Terry Stotts is utilizing the strengths of each member of the team. Not only Portland has turned into a scoring machine this season, ranking second in the league with 106.4 points but they are also doing really well on offense. The Blazers sit at the 16th spot in the NBA in points allowed. However, the defensive system they are playing well has some principles that might prove out to be crucial during the postseason. The Blazers are forcing low-percentage mid-range shots from their opponents, while closing down perfectly on perimeter shooters and securing the paint.
The fact that with a month and a half after the start of the season the Blazers stand above teams-dynasties in the tough Western Conference, like the Oklahoma City Thunder, the San Antonio Spurs and the Houston Rockets is impressive. They should not be underestimated when it comes to championship contention.

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By:Chris Michaels

Clippers edge out Trail Blazers

Clippers 74 Trail Blazers 71
Thursday, February 16, 2012 7:30 PM

Location – Rose Garden, Portland, Oregon
Officials – #41 Ken Mauer, #44 Eli Roe, #65 Sean Wright
Attendance – 20665

CLIPPERS 74, TRAIL BLAZERS 71: Chris Paul scored all 13 of his points in the fourth quarter and Los Angeles sent Portland to its fourth consecutive home loss.

Blake Griffin had 21 points and 14 rebounds – his seventh double-double in eight games – as the Clippers rallied from an 18-point, third-quarter deficit to halt a six-game losing streak in Portland.

Paul was scoreless on 0-for-7 shooting through three quarters, but he scored nine points in a 12-2 run as the Clippers overtook the weary Blazers, who were playing for the third time in as many nights.

Mo Williams hit Los Angeles’ first 3-pointer with 3:50 to play to claim the lead for good and Paul followed with another shot from behind the arc for a 70-66 lead with 3:08 remaining.

Jamal Crawford and Nicolas Batum scored 19 points apiece for the  Portland Trail Blazers, which scored only 28 points in the second half and lost fourth straight at home for the first time since January 2007.

The Trail Blazers had scored the first seven points of the third quarter to build its biggest lead at 50-32, but the Clippers answered with a 20-10 spurt to get within 60-52 entering the final 12 minutes.

Batum scored 15 first-quarter points to get Portland off to a quick start en route to taking a 43-32 halftime lead.

GAME NOTEBOOK: Los Angeles scored a season-low 12 points in the second quarter. The 32 halftime points also were a season worst. … Portland is hoping that NBA All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge will be available for Saturday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks. Aldridge, who is dealing with a sprained ankle, is averaging a career-high 22.6 points per game. … The Clippers were 2 of 17 from behind the arc.

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