Damian Lillard: B+ Lillard followed up his excellent debut with another strong performance against the Thunder. His shot selection was a little iffy, but he once again looked completely comfortable running the offense. He had 7 assists, and would have had more in the first quarter if anyone besides Wesley Matthews was hitting anything. He also cut down his turnovers from six on Wednesday to two tonight.
Wesley Matthews: C- Matthews got off to a scorching start, hitting four three-pointers and scoring 14 points in the first half. Then he completely disappeared in the second half. It’s great to see him driving and drawing contact with more confidence than he did last season, but his no-show in the second half is not encouraging.
Nicolas Batum: F Early foul trouble prevented Batum from developing a rhythm, and his shot was ice-cold the entire night. He shot 1-for-11 from the floor, with his one make a three-pointer on a great feed from Lillard in the second quarter. He was nonexistent on the glass, too, collecting one rebound the entire night.
LaMarcus Aldridge: B- One step forward, one step back. After grabbing only three rebounds on Wednesday, the 15 he pulled down tonight are a good sign. But LMA was even more reliant on his jumper than he was against the Lakers. He ended up with 22 points, but they came on 8-22 shooting, almost entirely midrange jump shots. He needs to go back to the post game that made him so successful the last two seasons.
J.J. Hickson: B Hickson isn’t a good defender by any metric, but it was good to see him working on both ends the entire night. He finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The Bench: F Portland’s bench was nonexistent in the first half. The first points by a Blazers reserve player came on a Luke Babbitt three a few minutes into the third quarter. The bench ended up with 15 points on the night, on the heels of 13 they scored on Wednesday. And that, in a nutshell, is why talk of sneaking into the playoff race is completely absurd.
Three Things We Saw:
1. Joel Freeland saw his first NBA minutes in the first quarter. He was active on the boards, pulling down three rebounds in five first-half minutes. His two points came off free-throws near the end of the game.
2. Babbitt’s 8 points on 3-5 shooting in the second half at the very least made a case for him to get back into the rotation after a DNP-CD on Wednesday. I’d much rather see Will Barton and Victor Claver get minutes (Barton played the final minute and didn’t do anything), but anything that decreases Sasha Pavlovic’s minutes I’m in favor of.
3. Meyers Leonard once again looked lost on both ends in 15 minutes. But he’s stayed relatively out of foul trouble and hasn’t been bogged down by being overmatched. For now, that’s all we can expect from him.