Recap: It was a four-game week that featured two of the worst losses of the season and one of the most dominant wins. Also in the mix was a victory over Sacramento, which, based on the Blazers’ performance, could have only come against a team like Sacramento.
What happened against Houston and Atlanta to begin the week is still unknown. Portland not only lost, it looked like a team that might not even win the Pac-10. The effort was non-existent, the execution absent, and the few fans that remained in the Rose Garden for the final minutes were raining down boos. Blazers coach Nate McMillan said after the Houston drubbing that he was going to start rewarding hustle when it came to playing time, and that his players need stop thinking so much about “me” and focus on the team. Something got through to them, because after squeaking past the Kings on the road, the Blazers hammered Charlotte by 24 points Saturday, limiting the Bobcats to 69 points, the lowest point total for a Blazer opponent all season.
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of that Charlotte game was the synergy of Portland’s second unit. With Patty Mills running the point and serving as an outside shooting threat, Brandon Roy became a more potent offensive threat by getting the ball off screens and penetration. He capitalized by notching 10 points in 20 minutes.
The Blazers needed to file as many wins as possible heading into this four-game road trip — in which they will meet Orlando, Miami, Charlotte and Atlanta. Every team but the Bobcats are above .500, and all four are in the Eastern Conference playoff mix.
LaMarcus Aldridge may not have been one of the 12 Western Conference players selected to the All-Star Game, but last week, he was just the fourth to be named conference player of the month this season. Aldridge averaged 27.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists while shooting 56.3 percent from the field in 12 games in February. The Blazers went 8-4 over that stretch. Aldridge confessed that he didn’t think he was going to get the award after all the All-Star disappointment. He was made aware that he was in contention, however. How? Teammate Marcus Camby started calling him “POM” in practice.
By the Numbers
16 — The number of technical fouls Dwight Howard has amassed this season, which will force the Magic center to sit out vs. the Blazers today as per NBA rules.
17 — The number of back-to-back games the Blazers will have played by the end of the season. So far they’ve logged 11 and have two on this upcoming road trip.
18 — The number of minutes Patty Mills played Saturday night. How is this significant? He was ninth in minutes for the Blazers, which had one of their better ensemble performances of the year.