Last week’s record: 2-0
Recap: Rarely has the idea of going into a playoff series sans home-court advantage been so appealing. Almost never has the thought of entering the postseason as a first-round underdog carried so much allure.
Riddled with injuries from Day One, owners of a six-game losing streak in Month Two, the Portland Trail Blazers have somehow climbed into fifth place in the Western Conference by way of a six-game winning streak.
It began last Monday with a 95-81 win over Minnesota, the Blazers victory marking the 16th straight over the Timberwolves and the fourth this season. Dante Cunningham’s 18 points and 13 rebounds were both career highs, and as Portland ended the first quarter with a 15-point lead, the next 36 minutes seemed a mere formality.
But it was Wednesday’s 106-99 win over New Orleans that made sleep so much easier to come by over the All Star break.
Laptops for Blazers writers should really start featuring a “LaMarcus Aldridge” key. It doesn’t seem as though his name can be mentioned enough.
The power forward who was the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week at press time showcased his inexplicably refined skill set once again, pouring in 34 points on 13 of 18 shooting. As a result, in one week, Portland leapfrogged Denver, Utah and New Orleans to settle into fifth in the conference.
That’s the good news. The bad news? With the Hornets, Nuggets, Jazz and Grizzlies lurking, the Blazers are just 1½ games out of ninth.
It’s no secret that LaMarcus Aldridge was omitted from the Western Conference All-Star roster, but there was still one member from the Blazers playing in Los Angeles over the weekend: Wesley Matthews.
The second-year guard took part in the Rookie-Sophomore game, which his team lost 148-140, but in which he scored 15 points, dished out six assists and grabbed four rebounds.
One of Matthews’ goals heading into the game was to whip out the now famous “3 Goggles” which select Blazers imaginarily don whenever they connect from beyond the arc. Matthews hit three 3’s Friday, and wasn’t shy about sporting the eyewear.
By the Numbers
The number of consecutive games the Blazers won early in the 2007-2008 season. Portland is currently in the midst of a six-game winning streak, a run it matched three times since 2008, but never surpassed.
Number of days until the trade deadline, which could completely shuffle the Blazers roster … or have no affect on it whatsoever. There have been several rumors involving Andre Miller and Marcus Camby as potential trade bait, but Portland general manager Rich Cho has never been one to even tease the media about a potential deal.
The number of Blazers to make the All-Star Game since 1994. Rasheed Wallace made it in 2000 and 2001, and Brandon Roy earned a spot from 2008-2010. Aldridge may have been snubbed, but a Blazers exclusion has become pretty commonplace.