Blazers: Report Card (week of March 21-27)

By Matt Calkins, Columbian Sports Reporter

Published:

 

Report Card

Grade: B

Recap: The Blazers went 2-1 last week — the first win serving as one of the least memorable games this season, the second serving as the most memorable, and the loss ... well, the loss will be something Portland remembers intently until it gets a chance to avenge it.

Tuesday, the Washington Wizards came to town with just one road win this year to their credit. The Blazers established very early that win No. 2 would not come at the Rose Garden. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 22 points in the first half, and 24 minutes later, Portland was a 35-point victor. It could have been much worse.

But the Blazers needed to reserve those points for when the Spurs entered their house three nights later. While San Antonio was without Tim Duncan, it still possessed the NBA’s best record and appeared as though it would improve upon it while holding a six-point lead with just over a minute to go. Then, after a couple of Andre Miller buckets, followed by a Miller steal and a lob to Nicolas Batum, Portland escaped with a win at the buzzer that head coach Nate McMillan classified as one of the all-time great moments during his tenure.

But that momentum didn’t carry over for long. Two nights later in Oklahoma City — despite 40 points from Gerald Wallace, the Blazers fell to the Thunder, 99-90. It was a night of threats in which Portland couldn’t deliver on, the Blazers frequently making runs that kept them close, but never put them in the lead. Wallace’s total was the most a Blazers mid-season acquisition has ever amassed, but after losing to Oklahoma City for the third time in three tries this season, it just wasn’t good enough.

Nevertheless, the Blazers remain a half a game ahead of New Orleans for sixth place in the Western Conference.

In Focus

Gerald Wallace’s numbers in Charlotte were lackluster compared to that of previous years, but there was also speculation that his ankle was bothering him and he would return to his old form upon recovery. That seems to be happening now. Over his past three games, Wallace is averaging 27.3 points for Portland, hands down his best stretch of the season with the Blazers. More importantly, he doesn’t seem to be forcing his offense, as was evident against the Spurs, when he scored 14 points on 6 of 12 shooting.

But the biggest reason for Wallace’s improvement may be his comfort level within the Blazers’ system. Still without a permanent place of residency, Wallace said last week: “I’m comfortable, except for the hotel.”

By the Numbers

1 — The ranking Andre Miller gave to his assist to Nicolas Batum in the closing seconds of Friday’s win vs. the Spurs. Miller has 6,981 assists for his career — good for 14th all time. “That was No. 1 for me,” Miller said.

0 — The number of minutes Patty Mills and Armon Johnson have played in each of the Blazers’ past two games, leaving Miller as the only “true” point guard getting playing time.

6 — The number of Blazers that have had at least 20 points in one game over the past two weeks.