Cold. Rainy. Perfect.
There is no weather forecast that could detract from the Trail Blazers’ return home, no cloud that could block that ray of light.
Portland, which will host the Kings on Monday, just came back from a six-game road trip — longer than any trek last season — in which it finished 2-4 against mediocre competition. Moreover, it ended the trip with a loss to a Detroit team that now stands at 4-13.
And if we’re talking about records, the Blazers are now 9-7. Yes, it is two games above .500 with seven of their next 10 games at the Rose Garden, but in the incessantly cut-throat Western Conference, it means that if the playoffs were to start today, they would not be part of them.
Sure, there were factors during the trip that went beyond on-court play. Center Marcus Camby missed three and a half games due to an ankle sprain, and Gerald Wallace sat out Sunday against the Pistons with a sprained right middle finger. In games in which one of the two was missing, Portland went 1-4.
But there were certainly issues between the lines as well.
The Blazers continue to struggle with their outside shooting, having made just 13 of their past 54 attempts. Additionally, Portland has had major issues finding production from its bench, particularly Jamal Crawford, the player once dubbed to the second unit’s centerpiece. On the road trip, Crawford was just 22 of 76 shooting and never finishing a game better than 40 percent.
LaMarcus Aldridge has remained the constant for Portland, entering Monday’s game averaging 23.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.