In front of a Rose Garden crowd that felt asleep for much of the night, the Blazers got their third straight win, and first consecutive home win of the season, downing the Bulls 102-94. This was almost certainly the Blazers’ most complete game of the season: they led at the half, got strong contributions from bench players Jared Jeffries and Ronnie Price, and saw all starters score double digits. As Ronnie Price’s ankle gets better, and as Terry Stotts learns how best to use Jared Jeffries, Portland fans may see more of these veteran-heavy rotations that allow some relatively stable minutes of rest for the starters.
Even with that bench play, LaMarcus Aldridge played 40 strong minutes, posting 18 points and 13 rebounds against the Bulls’ stout frontcourt. Nic Batum provided his now-typical third quarter fireworks, Wes Matthews bulldozed his way to 21 points, and Damian Lillard scored 16. For the Bulls, team balance and Joakim Noah were the story: Noah posted 16 points, 15 rebounds and 8 assists in an effort that would probably yield a triple-double on better team-shooting nights.
In fun not-really-news, Damian Lillard dunked on an uncontested possession to close the game, and had words with a few Bulls afterwards regarding the faux pas. This led to probably my favorite Terry Stotts moment of the year, when he got a little salty in his postgame presser after being asked about the dunk. After dealing with that question, you can see him transition back into full Stottsisms and praising the efforts of the bench:
Video note: Begging your pardon, but until I can figure out what’s up with my embed mechanism, you’ll see these best by clicking through.
Here’s Damian talking about the play. I find this interesting only because of how hilariously unbelievable it is that he “didn’t know what to do with the ball,” and also for the fact that his teammates apparently advised him not to repeat the mistake:
Lots to love there. Apparently, Damian Lillard’s response to people “running at him” is to just dunk the ball. That’s a solid instinct for an NBA player, I’d hazard.
Finally, here’s Ronnie Price talking about the bench’s role as he sees it, and their struggles—or lack thereof—so far this season.