Congrats to Kentucky for pulling out the NCAA Championship. But there was actually an NBA game happening tonight that most of you probably didn’t watch.
And for those that missed it, you missed a game so close to being reminiscent of what contests in the Rose Garden had been the past few seasons prior to this one—an up and down battle where the crowd lifts the Blazers in the final moments.
In those games the ball would be into the hands of Brandon Roy. The closer. Carrying his team.
Monday, however, Blazer fans found themselves in the care of Raymond Felton. And, oh, did the embattled point guard continue his downward spiral.
Up three points after a Wesley Matthews triple in the final minute Felton choked away a Trail Blazers victory single-handedly. In consecutive possessions Felton dribbled the ball off his foot then was stripped by Jamaal Tinsley. Both plays lead to points for the Jazz. Game over.
Despite the breaking the hearts of the Rose Garden faithful, the Blazers remained relatively cordial when when asked about the turnovers.
“I didn’t have the ball in my hands,” said LaMarcus Aldridge. “I don’t really know. For me watching it, just two tough turnovers.”
Translation? This was not my fault and it was ridiculous.
“It’s on me,” added Nicolas Batum, who inbounded the pass Tinsley stole from Felton, trying to take the heat. “We don’t lose the game on that play.” Translation? We totally lost the game on that play and, seriously, how in the hell did Felton not grab that?
Coach Kaleb Canales stood by Felton as well, explaining that games are not won and lost on single plays. And they aren’t. But in this case, a lack of poor execution and ball control were both serious factors, and that is all on Felton’s shoulders.
And what heavy shoulders they must be. Just watch his reaction after the game:
From excuses about Tinsley’s being out of bounds, to talking about how this will hurt, to comparing the fans that understand his game to fans that boo, Felton comes off as self-righteous. He must be benched. There is no way the cornerstones of this team (Aldridge & Batum) should be stuck sticking up for such boneheaded plays.
You only get so many chances and Felton used them up some time ago.