PORTLAND — One noticeable difference since their tough loss to the lowly Orlando Magic on Tuesday has been the presence of LaMarcus Aldridge.
While the thought is that the Portland Trail Blazers have been revitalized by his presence, head coach Terry Stotts feels as though the Blazers’ resolve is what has stood out to him most.
“After the Orlando game I think there was more resolve going into the Atlanta game and the Chicago game. I wouldn’t necessarily say reinvigorated but our resolve was very good those two games,” Stotts said.
After that game, the Blazers coaching staff made the players aware of where they stand.
“We have four teams that are right on our tail. That’s why the Orlando game was a game to realize where we are in the standings and the importance of every game,” Stotts said.
Trusting Barton and Robinson
Since Aldridge’s return, two of the players who found playing time in his absence have continued to do so in second year players Will Barton and Thomas Robinson.
Stotts feels, at least for now, that he has to continue going with what’s worked.
“Thomas has played with LA (Aldridge) which is something we hadn’t looked at earlier in the season,” Stotts said. “I think we have to stay with that. I think Dorell at the four is something we’re going to continue to look at. Will with his length, I think he has the ability to create things at both ends of the court.”
Stotts stressed that he still wants to see improvement out of Robinson and Barton.
However with Robinson playing alongside a guiding hand in Aldridge and Barton’s length, it appears that along with Dorell Wright and Mo Williams they’ve found a rotation.
That is, at least until Joel Freeland returns from injury.
Different game, similar opponent
As of Sunday, the Blazers have won two straight games and are fresh off a double-digit victory against the stingy and slow-paced Chicago Bulls.
Any misstep could be costly and Stotts has made it clear to the team where they stand. The message hasn’t changed on Sunday.
“Every game matters,” said Stotts about what he’s told his team. “Memphis is a team very much like Chicago where every possession is important like playoff basketball. Our mindset has to be the same that its been the last two games.”
Much like the Bulls, the Grizzlies not only defend well but they work very hard to limit their opponents chances to score.
“We have to make sure that every three they take is a big deal and that they’re not going to take 110 more of them,” said Memphis coach David Joerger. “(It’s important) that we restrict the number of possessions and the number of looks that guys get.”