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News / Sports / Blazers

Blazers week in review, Jan. 24

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers Writer
Published: January 24, 2016, 8:04pm

Blazer Beef

It’s a lot harder to do part of the week in review when the team generally plays well in every game they had this week. Their lone loss on Wednesday to the Atlanta Hawks was more the Hawks being a better, more experienced team and making the key plays at the end.

But one thing that you can always criticize with this team has been their defense, which they’ve been winning in spite of.

The Blazers are 9-6 in their last 15 games, but most of the success has come from outscoring other teams. While that’s part of the puzzle and good enough to make the playoffs in the West this season, they’re definitely not where they want to be defensively.

In 11 games in January, only twice have the Blazers posted a defensive rating better than the league average.

Blazer Bravo

After another gem on Saturday against the Lakers, Blazers guard Damian Lillard deserves a little bit more love.

Over the last eight games, he’s averaging 26 points and seven assists while shooting 47 percent from the field and 44 percent from the 3-point line. As Western Conference coaches make their final choices for All-Star reserves, Lillard has solidified his case in the last three weeks.

Whether he makes it or not will be tough in the Western Conference, but it’s no doubt that he is deserving of his third selection. His teammate CJ McCollum has also been playing at an All-Star level, but the Blazers getting two selections is a pipe dream.

Whether Lillard makes the team when the All-Star reserves are announced Thursday, or if he’s added as an injury replacement, or if he doesn’t go to Toronto at all, he is deserving of being there again.

By The Numbers

28 — The Blazers have the 28th ranked defensive rating in the NBA since Dec. 1.

3 — The Blazers are tied with the Philadelphia 76ers as the third youngest team in the NBA in terms of average age.

44.1 — Opponents have a lower field goal percentage on shots at the rim contested by Noah Vonleh than any other Blazer.

The Week Ahead

Tuesday vs. Sacramento Kings (7 p.m., CSN): The Kings are in sole possession of eighth place in the Western Conference after DeMarcus Cousins’s monstrous 48-point, 13-rebound performance on Saturday vs. Indiana.

Friday vs. Charlotte Hornets (7 p.m., CSN): Nicolas Batum is scheduled to make his return to Portland after spending seven seasons in the Northwest. He’s having a career year, but his return could be in jeopardy as he nurses a toe injury that’s kept him out of the last two games.

Sunday vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (6 p.m., CSN): No. 1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns will make his first appearance at the Moda Center as a pro.

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Columbian Trail Blazers Writer