PORTLAND — Before Wednesday’s blowout win over the Bobcats, Blazers guard Wesley Matthews had gone 10 of 11 games in which he failed to shoot 50 percent from the field. Perhaps more significantly, five times during that stretch — he didn’t shoot better than 30 percent.
Following his 3 for 12 performance vs. Utah Monday night, Matthews was admittedly confounded as to what the problem was, searching for answers without clues to their location. Then, he sent a text.
“I was talking to one of my childhood friends. I sent him a text and told him ‘I don’t know what the hell is going on,’ Matthews said. “He was straight up with me. He said ‘you don’t look like Wesley out there. Wesley does everything.’ And I was like ‘you’re right.’ I’m sitting here focusing on playing defense and running the floor and hitting open shots, but that’s not really my game. I do everything — getting in the passing lanes, deflecting, getting to the free throw line. There are many ways to leave your mark on the game.”
This was the very advice Matthews’ mother, Pam Moore, bestowed to him during his youth, and she preached that very message once more earlier this week.
Blazers coach Nate McMillan echoed that notion during Wednesday’s shootaround, saying that if struggling shooters focus on all the other aspects in which they can impact the game, when it comes time to shoot “they’ll just react.”
The problem, Matthews said, is that he was already thinking like that.
“The frustrating part is that that’s what I was doing,” said Matthews, who hit 3 of his 6 shots vs. Charlotte. “I wasn’t focusing on missing shots. I was focusing on defense and running and stuff like that, and I was still missing. I mean, it wasn’t like I wasn’t putting the work in.”
But was it possible he was putting too much work in?
Golfers talk about sometimes walking away from the driving range worse then when they started, as negative thoughts pervade their heads to hold their muscle memory hostage. Matthews, meanwhile, was reportedly hoisting shots in the gym two and a half hours before the Tuesday’s practice started in hopes of tracking down his touch. Might he be doing himself a disservice?
“I don’t know, I don’t really believe in that,” Matthews said. “If it’s a mental thing, seeing it go in lets you know ‘I can do this.'”
That said, Matthews knows that if he’s not scoring, there will likely be another player supplementing LaMarcus Aldridge’s point total. He asserted how this year’s team has “so many weapons,” mentioning how the likes of Gerald Wallace, Raymond Felton, Jamal Crawford, Nicolas Batum and himself all have the capability of contributing a big night.
When it was suggested that there is no consistent No. 2 scorer on the Blazers, Matthews said a more reliable sidekick will come in time — even if its form is unconventional.
“I feel we have it. We have the potential to have it. We just haven’t established it,” Matthews said. “It’s something we may have to address. Right now, we don’t have that established second option — our second option is the fact that we have five other options. It’s not so much a Pau to a Kobe thing, it’s more like — we got LA (Aldridge) and the whole team.”
Matt Calkins can be contacted at 360-735-4528 or firstname.lastname@example.org