PORTLAND – Maybe Brandon Roy was right. He did need a little more time on the floor. He certainly needed more than eight minutes to help the Trail Blazers scratch in their playoff series with the Dallas Mavericks.
He got his eight minutes, and then some, in Game 3 Thursday night at the Rose Garden. And what the Blazers got was vintage Roy, including clutch jumpers, sick bounce off the dribble and an All-Star level performance from a three-time All-Star.
And it only took Roy roughly 24 minutes to get it all done. He finished with 16 points and four assists, two of those during a critical fourth-quarter stretch where the Blazers put the game away, off the bench.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle warned everyone Sunday about overlooking Roy. “You can never underestimate greatness,” he said of Roy. His words seemed prophetic late Thursday night.
The game was the emotional result of a wild three days for Roy. After the Blazers’ Game 2 loss Tuesday night in Dallas he vented about his role, and the eight minutes he played in that game. Wednesday basketball fans and observers from coast to coast and around the globe spent all their time examining every word he said. Blazers coach Nate McMillan had to deal with the fallout as well. Thursday morning Roy apologized for venting and vowed to do whatever the team needed him to do, in however many minutes McMillan handed out.
Thursday night Roy unleashed on the Mavericks, going to work from the moment he hit the floor — he entered the game to a standing ovation with 2:17 to play in the first quarter. He had nine points by halftime and had set the tone for the night.
“It all clicked for me. I just played tonight. I was in go-mode,” Roy said after the game. “I didn’t worry about nothing else. I didn’t worry about playing time or who was playing. I just said, ‘when it’s my time I’m going with it.’ And that’s the kind of mentality I have to stick with.”
The Blazers fed off of Roy’s emotionally charged performance in Game 3. Wesley Matthews went off from the start. He had 16 points in the first quarter, the most for the franchise in the postseason since Bonzi Wells scored 18 in the first quarter against the Mavericks on April 23, 2004. Matthews finished his night with a playoff career-high 25 points on 8-for-12 shooting.
“It’s been emotional for everybody,” Matthews said of Roy’s saga this season, and particularly the past few days. “You look at Brandon Roy and the first thing you think about is “All-Star. He’s had to sacrifice more than anybody and he’s a true professional about it. For him to have the game that he did at this moment was huge for us. We all fed off of it and everybody had a big night tonight.”
No one’s night was bigger or more emotionally charged than Roy’s.
He said he had 30 text messages alone from family, and many more calls and messages from friends and supporters, telling him to keep his head up. “Everybody — from the people in the parking lot to the ushers at the front door — have been saying the same thing, he said. They told me to, ‘play like Brandon Roy.”
Suddenly that seems like a great place to start!