Blazers week in review 3/18




Blazer Bravo

In the second quarter of the New York Knicks game, Blazer center J.J. Hickson had an opportunity to defend the rim but rather backed off as Kenyon Martin punctuated a bounce pass with a thunderous dunk.

Then, later in the fourth quarter, forward Chris Copeland slipped behind LaMarcus Aldridge and seemingly had a clear lane to the basket for an easy two until Hickson decided to ‘D’ up.

Hickson slid over, contested Copeland at the rim and drew the offensive foul.

Risking the embarrassment of finding himself on the wrong side of a SportsCenter highlight, Hickson made the right play — just as Detroit Piston guard Brandon Knight had done on March 10 against the Los Angeles Clippers.

The DeAndre Jordan dunk featuring Knight’s unsuccessful defense was a “spectacular” sight — as even Aldridge described it — and spawned countless jokes and Internet memes.

Even so, before the Blazers played the Pistons on Saturday night, coach Terry Stotts praised Knight and criticized the response that followed his effort to do his job.

“I think you’ve got to go make those plays. and I have a lot of respect for Brandon Knight going after that play. He made the right basketball play,” Stotts said. “The initial reaction was to kind of make fun of him, but I think then the backlash was very supportive of him making the right basketball play. He shouldn’t be ridiculed for getting dunked on.”

Blazer Beef

So, that was good J.J. — the hustling and rebounding double-double man.

Now here’s bad J.J. — the starving point guard who should stick to hustling and rebounding.Hickson snatched a rebound in the closing seconds of the first half of the Pistons game, then absent-mindedly launched a long pass down court that missed everyone except for the fans paying for the expensive seats on the baseline.

Luckily for Hickson, just moments later Piston forward Charlie Villanueva threw an even uglier pass while trying to execute an inbounds play and gave the ball back to Portland with 1.9 seconds remaining.

• • •

In the Tuesday night loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, Nicolas Batum played passive on the offensive end and for the first time all season, finished a game without a field-goal make.

Batum missed five attempts — while mostly staying on the perimeter — and his four points all came from the free-throw line.

By the Numbers

8 — The streak of consecutive games in which Damian Lillard had scored at least 20 points, stretching from Feb. 27 until March 14. The longest such streak by a Blazer rookie belongs to Calvin Natt, who reached 20-plus in nine games in a row in 1980.

18.7 — Portland’s average of the personal fouls committed a game, ranking the Blazers sixth overall as one of the best teams in the league that plays defense without fouling. Last Thursday, the Blazers only had 16 fouls in the win over New York.

20,636 — Rose Garden Arena attendance for the Knicks game. The count ranked as the second-highest sellout of the season — the top-grossing gate belongs to the Clippers on Jan. 26 at 20,672. It even surpassed the opening night total against the hated Lakers (20,401) and a visit from the defending champion Miami Heat on Jan. 10 (20,536).