The Blazers went 2-2 last week, and the losses were excusable. It started with a 14-point loss to the Thunder, which is about as good as Portland can expect. Oklahoma City has been barreling through the best teams in the league lately, including the Bulls and the Heat, and rational fans shouldn’t expect the Blazers to get the upset given that their opponent is playing for home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
The week continued with a six-point home win over the Hornets, which isn’t particularly significant in its own right, but became memorable when Luke Babbitt hit his first four 3-pointers and scored a career-high four 3-pointers. The more Luke plays, the more it seems his shortcomings were a byproduct of his lack of confidence and not his lack of skill.
Next up was a one-point loss to the Clippers, in which Portland overachieved. They hung tough with a Western Conference playoff contender, which is no easy task for anyone in the league on the road. And it took a bucket from Chris Paul in the final seconds — not to mention a non foul-call at the end of the game — for Portland to fall 98-97.
And finally, Portland earned a convincing win over the Timberwolves on Sunday, holding Kevin Love in check.
Yes, the Blazers were .500 for the week, but it was an above average performance.
Heading into Sunday’s game vs. the Timberwolves, J.J. Hickson was averaging 16 points in his five games with Portland — quite an upgrade from the 4.7 he averaged in Sacramento for the majority of the season. He almost single-handedly carried the Blazers to a victory against the Clippers on Friday when he scored 29 points with LaMarcus Aldridge sitting on the bench.
Hickson credits his resurgence to a change of scenery. If he keeps playing like this, Portland fans will hoping he doesn’t have another change of scenery next year.
By the Numbers
6 — The number of 3-pointers Luke Babbitt has missed in his last 19 attempts. That’s good for a 68.4 percent clip from distance over that stretch.
65.5 — J.J. Hickson’s shooting percentage with the Blazers heading into Sunday night vs. Minnesota. He was shooting 37 percent with Sacramento.
3 — The number of games in which the Blazers trail the eighth-place Rockets with 13 to go. It’s not over yet.