PORTLAND — Midway through the second quarter, the Rose Garden Jumbotron showed NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin.
He may have been the best athlete from Charlotte in the building.
Some might call the Trail Blazers’ 112-68 victory over the Bobcats an example of what they are capable of when they maximize their potential, especially considering their 44-point lead after three quarters.
More than anything, though, they just played a bad team — running circles around Charlotte like a Sprint Cup Series car.
“It gets to the point where it’s just embarrassing, and you don’t want it to continue,” Bobcats guard Gerald Henderson said.
But there was one particular Blazer who most definitely wanted it to continue.
Nearly a year ago, Portland forward Gerald Wallace was traded away from Charlotte to the Blazers in exchange for a handful reserves. He admitted to feeling scorned at the time, and even though the teams had met twice before Wednesday night, he seemed to have some lingering hostility.
After dropping 23 points Wednesday, Wallace was asked after the game if he felt sorry for his old team, with whom he spent six and half seasons.
“Not at all. Personally, I wanted to keep going, I didn’t even want tot come out of the game,” said Wallace, who said the win provided “closure” for the situation. “It stings. It’s one of those things where, like I said last year around this time, I didn’t feel like I was traded, I felt like I was stabbed in the back. This was my first opportunity to really get a chance to play against them. You get that out of the way and you move forward.”
It’s difficult to gauge whether a game like this can serve as any sort barometer for the Blazers’ future. Yeah, the margin of victory was their largest of the season and the eighth highest in franchise history, but they were also playing a team with just three wins.
But perhaps the greatest benefit the Bobcats (3-20) offered was renewed confidence for a Portland team low on self-belief. The Blazers (13-9) entered the game ranked 24th in the NBA in 3-point percentage. Wednesday, they were 7 of 14.
Point guard Raymond Felton came into the game shooting 36.2 percent from the field. Wednesday, he was 5 of 8.
Wesley Matthews came into the game admittedly flabbergasted by his absent shooting stroke. Wednesday, he was 3 for 6.
“I was just playing basketball out there,” Matthews said.
In fact, Wednesday, every Blazer was playing basketball. All 13 active players entered the game for Portland, and all but Nolan Smith scored. Elliot Williams had the most notable uptick in playing time, logging 17 minutes on the night and scoring seven points.
Williams said he focused primarily on pressuring the ball and acclimating to the teammates he was playing with “for the first time in a real game.” And looking back on it, he was satisfied with his performance.
“Of course you always need work, especially with that being my first time getting minutes like that,” Williams said. “But I felt like I played pretty well defensively.
Jamal Crawford led all scorers with 24 points, while LaMarcus Aldridge added 23. Henderson scored 16 points for the Bobcats.
The win moves Portland to 10-1 at home and expands their average margin of victory to 18.1 points per game at the Rose Garden. Thursday, the Blazers take on the Kings in Sacramento in hopes of improving their 3-8 road mark.