When you go 3-0, with two of those wins coming without your best player, everybody deserves kudos. So, instead of beefs and bravos, we’re going to go with an extended edition of bravos.
Topping the list of players who deserve some applause is Damian Lillard.
Lillard took his game to a new level while LaMarcus Aldridge was out, scoring 30 points or more in the first four games without Aldridge including his masterful 31-point, nine-assist, seven-rebound performance on Tuesday against the Nuggets.
Robin Lopez, too, was huge in Aldridge’s stead and finished the month of February averaging 11.8 rebounds per game and Nic Batum grabbed a career-high 16 on Saturday.
The Blazers reserves also deserve some major kudos. Thomas Robinson’s monster double-double against Kevin Love, Will Barton’s constant energy and Victor Claver’s smart play have all been big.
It’s not only that they’ve been winning but they’re defending.
Like their last extended winning streak, it hasn’t come against elite competition. But it’s still impressive to note that over the last five games the Blazers have had the best defense in terms of points per 100 possessions in the league.
By The Numbers
94.3 — Points per 100 possessions allowed by the Blazers over their five game stretch, the lowest number in the NBA in that stretch.
21 — The amount of minutes Victor Claver played before playing the winning streak. He’s played 74 minutes over the last five games.
3 — The Blazers are currently in third place in the Western Conference, three games behind first place Oklahoma City and 11/2 games behind second place San Antonio.
The Week Ahead
Monday vs. Los Angeles Lakers (7 p.m. on KGW): Lakers guard Xavier Henry will be making his debut after missing the last two months. This is Lakers news in 2014.
Wednesday vs. Atlanta Hawks (7:30 p.m. on CSNNW and ESPN): The Hawks were treading water after losing center Al Horford for the season but they’re sinking now, losers of nine of their last 10.
Friday at Dallas Mavericks (5:30 p.m. on CSNNW): The Blazers start a five-game Western Conference road trip against a red-hot Mavericks who are 10-3 in their last 13 games.
Sunday at Houston Rockets (4 p.m. on KGW): The Rockets are currently one game behind the Blazers in the standings and a Portland win would even the season series, making conference record the tiebreaker should the teams finish with the same record after game 82.