Blazers notebook: Ghost of springs past help Batum, Blazers focus

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers writer

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PORTLAND — Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge both remember the 2010 playoffs all too well.

The Portland Trail Blazers grabbed a hard-earned split in Phoenix, coming back to a raucous crowd ready to take a lead in their first-round series. The Blazers had everything in front of them: the atmosphere and the momentum.

Alas, they forgot to play the game.

“They were more ready than us,” remembers Batum. “I remember Jason Richardson got 40 or something like that and Steve Nash was locked in. OK, we have the best crowd maybe, but on the court we have to do the job too and we didn’t do the job that time. We have to be on the same mentality that we were the last two games.”

Richardson scored 42 points in that game and there’s no telling whether being more ready can prevent James Harden or the Rockets from having a big game. But unlike previous times, the Blazers are remembering to stay ready.

“We haven’t done anything yet and we’re in a great position, but it’s not done,” Aldridge said.

Frustration mounts for McHale

Kevin McHale thought it was a silly question.

Asked before Friday’s game if frustration is mounting with his team trailing in the series, the Houston coach minced no words.

“Everybody’s frustrated,” he said. “If you get your ass kicked and you’re not frustrated, you’re in the wrong business.”

Opportunities in transition

In the playoffs, the Blazers have increased their per-game scoring in fast break points and points off turnovers. The Rockets didn’t have a major weakness offensively coming in, that is until you look closer at their offensive turnover rate that is second to last in the league.

Terry Stotts would like to see more out of his team offensively in transition, and that doesn’t necessarily mean more turnovers.

As transition defense remains the top priority for the Blazers, there are still opportunities to hurt the Rockets with quick opportunities of their own.

Columbian Sports editor Micah Rice contributed to this report