After the Blazers overcame a six point fourth-quarter to deficit to beat the Nuggetts in overtime on Friday, coach Nate McMillan called it Portland’s best win of the season. It was the Blazers second-straight emotional overtime game.
The gritty, tremendous performance was followed by one of the their worst in recent memory.
Sunday the Blazers were simply atrocious. It was as if they entered Sunday’s contest against the Hawks completely sapped of any competitive fire.
The awful play bottomed out in the third. Down 36-48 at the half, Portland came out of the locker room and continued their offensive free-fall. The Blazers opened the third by hitting just one of their first nine shots. They had as many turnovers as field goals. By the middle of the period Portland were down 20.
The Blazer finally found their stride in the fourth, scoring 34 in the quarter. But it would be too little, too late. It’s also not hard to believe that the Hawks, who had played three quarters of inspired defense, simply stepped off the throttle.
Despite fielding near-blowout leads in the second half the Hawks did not look like a tremendous team. A further indicator of the Portland’s futility, Atlanta won soundly despite handing over a season-high 24 turnovers. The 90-83 final score doesn’t accurately reflect the Trail Blazers total offensive malaise.
Simply, they couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn. Portland shot a miserable 39% from the field and made a disgusting four of 21 attempts from behind the three-point line.
The loss became more disheartening as it severed as a welcome to the recently acquired Gerald Wallace, playing his first game in a Trail Blazers uniform, and a welcome back to Marcus Camby.
In 29 minutes Wallace showed flashes of the chaotic high-octane fury on both ends of the court that earned him the nickname “crash.” But Wallace also appeared to be pressing at times, dealing with the jitters that come from wearing a new jersey for the first time in seven years and trying to pay back a Rose Garden crowd who, in the last two games, have welcomed the former Bobcat with numerous ovations.
Wallace finished with nine points, five rebounds, two steals, a block and an assist. Wallace hit four of twelve attempts from the field including a three, but a number of his shots were ugly and well off target.
It’s too early to assess offensive Wallace’s impact—he needs time to learn the sets. That said, there seemed to be an almost immediate chemistry between he and veteran guard Andre Miller. They seem to share a similar savvy, and Wallace should feed off of Miller’s smart passing and eagerness to push the the ball up court.
Camby, meanwhile, showed signs of rust. Playing for the first time since January 7, Camby played 20 minutes, missed two shots and grabbed six rebounds. Clearly he will have to work his wind and rhythm back into game-shape.
A game after hitting a clutch three to force overtime, Brandon Roy came back down to earth. In his second game after returning from arthroscopic surgery on both knees, Roy was as ineffective as the rest of his Portland teammates. He hit three of nine attempts from the field for nine points.
Unlike Friday’s overtime thriller where he played 24 minutes, on Sunday Roy was kept within the doctors playing-time parameters of 15 to 20 minutes. He played 18.
The only Trail Blazer to shoot above %50 from the field was Miller. But when the rest of the team couldn’t buy a bucket, Miller’s team-high 20 points weren’t nearly enough.
Missing shots has been a common refrain from coach McMillan after losses this season. And Sunday’s pile of bricks was no different. In a way, it almost felt like the Blazers were due—-in the past few weeks Portland have been shooting the ball well.
Not on Sunday though. Eeek.