BLAZERS IN REVIEW
Recap: The report card grade really should be “W” for weird, or maybe “SP,” for split personalities, as the Blazers once again played a week of basketball that prevents us from drawing any real conclusions about this team.
It began ominously, when LaMarcus Aldridge sprained his ankle in the opening minutes against the lowly Wizards on Tuesday, and continued that way when Washington trounced the Blazers in what may have been their worst defensive effort of the year.
But one night later, still without Aldridge, Portland flies down to California and beats the Warriors in Oakland for just the second time in 14 tries. It seemed as though the Blazers would ride that momentum at home against the Clippers the following night when they led by as many as 18 points in the third quarter. But after scoring just 11 points in the fourth (four of which came in the final 20 seconds), Portland endured one of its most painful losses in the year — and its fourth straight loss at home. Additionally, considering he was held scoreless in the loss, the anti-Raymond Felton buzz was as high as ever.
So what happened two nights later when the Hawks came to town? Aldridge returned, the Blazers won by 20 and Felton had his best game in nearly a month.
Nobody has put away the microscope, but for at least one day, nobody is calling for Raymond Felton’s head either. Before Saturday night, the Blazers point guard had just two games since Jan. 21 in which he shot better than 45 percent from the field — and those came against the Bobcats and the Hornets, who own the worst record in the league, and the worst record in the Western Conference, respectively.
Then, against the Hawks, he goes 6 for 11, scores 14 points, dishes out eight assists, and finally “felt like myself again.”
The key to him finding his confidence?
“I took some time to myself,” Felton said. “I needed some Raymond time.”
By the Numbers
22.7 — Nicolas Batum’s scoring average since being inserted into the starting lineup four games ago.
33 — The number of points the Blazers scored in the first quarter vs. the Hawks — five more than they scored the entire second half against the Clippers in their previous game.
15 — The number of minutes rookie point guard Nolan Smith logged Saturday night — his high for the year.