Trail Blazers Answering The Questions


VIDEO: Blazers hold off Spurs in battle of West titans

With four losses in six games from the end of the old year through the first week of the new one, it was easy and popular to say that reality might finally be taking a bite out of the Trail Blazers. Losing to the lowly likes of New Orleans, Philadelphia and Sacramento will do that.

There were questions about Portland’s 3-point happy offensive attack, ability to engage in elite level defense, to have the kind of tough inner stuff that marks the true contenders.

It was one thing to snap out of the funk with a couple of home wins over the Celtics and Cavaliers. It is quite another to deliver against the upper crust.

The Blazers’ road trip to San Antonio, Dallas, Houston and Oklahoma City is nothing but hard, crusty competition, four games in five nights against nothing but Western Conference playoff teams.

So it was satisfying and maybe revealing that the Blazers took the opener against the No. 1 seeded Spurs. They followed that Saturday night with an easy 127-111 win over the Mavericks, behind 30 points from LaMarcus Aldridge.

“To beat the best team in the West on their floor, that sticks out,” said coach Terry Stotts. “Like I said, we showed a lot of resolve at both ends of the floor…I thought we showed our mettle.”

It was more than the usual bundle of points from Aldridge, Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews and more than another night in triple-double neighborhood by Nicolas Batum. It was a game than could have gotten away from the Blazers after coach Gregg Popovich’s ejection that lit a fire under Manu Ginobili that lit a Spurs charge to a 78-77 lead.

If there was a time when the Blazers’ resolve and mental toughness was going to be pushed to the limit, this was it. The fact that letting it slip away could have set a bad tone for the start of the grueling road trip only made the situation more urgent.

It was a time for poise over panic, and the Blazers delivered.

Their recent slippage notwithstanding, the truth is Portland has been coming up big against the elite teams all season. The win over the Spurs gives them a 6-1 record against the top five teams in the Western Conference.

Going into tonight’s back-to-back game at Dallas (8:30 ET, League Pass), the Blazers are just one-half game behind the Spurs for the top spot in the conference and it’s even possible that with a strong finish to the trip, Stotts could be in the running to coach the Western Conference All-Stars in the Feb. 16 All-Star Game.

“We have a pretty good record right now,” Matthews said. “We’re beating teams that are upper echelon, home and road. We just got to keep our heads down and stay humble and know that we can compete with anybody. We’re not getting too full of ourselves. We’re sticking with the process.”

The trip continues at Dallas, Houston and OKC with a chance for the Blazers to provide their answer to any questions.

25 Comments

  1. Blazing city says:

    As even a long time blazer fan i gotta say this is shocker! They have done their job so far to perfection and cannot be blamed or asked for anything to put them into fault. Glad to see them winning and cruising with the wins past all of these teams the way they do. Only with couple additions to the team and players like mo trob nd lopez they have turned this thing around and exceeted all expectations. Paul allen must be smilling by now having his hawks now in finals and what appears his blazers might follow that step two. Now winning superbowl and nba championship would make it a crazy year for him nd ppl all around nw region. I believe they are capable of nd the time is right for the grabs this year. Go blazers! Dont let of the gas pedal and just keep on surging and winning like you do ;)

  2. Sunshotterthanblazers says:

    I hope wherever the blazers finish they meet the suns, cause they will get killed (Suns 2-1 so far this season) and that loss came off a Lillard game winner. Up the Suns!

    • blazermania says:

      Watch the blazers extinguish the bird of the rising sun by 45 in the next game just to make a statement.

  3. Wakeup haters says:

    These guys continue to impress, ball movement is inredible! Unreal what they have accomplished so far , they might just go all the way!

  4. blazermania says:

    Haters keep hating and Blazers keep winning!

  5. J Dawg says:

    I see Portland going deep into the playoffs this year. I kinda joked before the season it would be the Blazers and Miami in the Finals….it may come true!

  6. OKC says:

    Since 20 games into the season I’ve though OKC and Portland would be in the western conference finals. The Spurs are great, but when I watch them play OKC and a few of the other elite teams it just seems so hard for them to score sometimes while the other team can still get easy buckets on them.

    If you think they will reach the finals though, I would have to disagree. Maybe its my bias, but with a healthy Westbrook (really hoping actually taking the prescribed amount of time off will keep him healthy again) I think the Thunder will win in a 7 game series. The Blazers lack luster defense might haunt them in a long playoff series.

  7. okc2014 says:

    I think it’s refreshing that the Portland Trailblazers are playing so well and getting lots of press. I always thought last year that Damien Lillard got snubbed for the All-Stars. I KNOW Kevin Durant and company are not scared, but as an OKC fan, even I am afraid of the Portland Trailblazers. They play this week in OKC. I’m biting my nails!!!!!

    • dd def says:

      as a die-hard blazer fan, i have to say it makes me quite happy for that feeling to finally be mutual! hahaha. okc has seemed to be the bane of our existence the past few seasons. lookin forward to another good matchup.

  8. Kristofer Logan says:

    “keep proving doubters wrong, cuz here in rip city…we never stop believin.” -Dame Lillard.

    Yup, the Blazers are for real. They’ve proven and continue to prove that they can win in any type of game. 1-4 in the starting line-up are all clutch players and even Lopez at the 5 has a tremendous +/- stat line. The Blazers are by far the surprise of the NBA this season and will have to prove themselves to not only the other teams, but to the media, to the officiating (which was evident in that San Antonio game, it’s a miracle we won that game because we had to defeat the spurs and the officiating also) and to rest of the world, that we are an elite team and we’re not going anywhere. I agree with the comments regarding the lack of blazer highlights even in the victories, but perhaps that’s another thing to motivate this great team. keep provin doubters wrong, go rip city!

  9. roneb says:

    While it’s great to see the columnists give the Blazers props, I’m fed up with NBA.com and their biased video coverage. Last night the Blazers get a convincing win over the Spurs and ALL FOUR video highlights were of the Spurs! Tonight they absolutely destroy Dallas in a veritable dunk fest and THREE OUT OF FOUR highlights are of the Mavericks! How do you notch two major victories over two of the Strongest teams in the west to reclaim the conference lead and have the NBA video editors only think it worthy of ONE video highlight? The bias against the Blazers is disgusting!

    • Marcus says:

      Same with every other website and tv channel,,,, Although espn.com has a bit more blazer footage than anyone else

    • blazermania says:

      I noticed that as well. It’s called jealousy. It’s a very common human characteristic.

    • Duke says:

      Why does this matter to you what others think? LOL.. The Spurs have had a .700 winning percentage for over the last decade and have won 4 championships and every year they are underated by the media. Why? because the big market teams bring in a lot of money to the NBA and it’s simply a big market money reality.. Portland will soon see what San Antonio has been through for the last 20 years… In the end just enjoy your ball club, they’re a good team.

  10. J4CK Nicholson says:

    I just hope the Lakers have this kind of management style. Really Jim Buss is destroying the organization. Why not swap with Jeannie instead?

  11. TrillyTrill says:

    Being someone from Portland, it really feels good to hear and see all the positive publicity the Blazers are getting. Of course as my home team, I’m bound to believe beyond what was expected of them, but to be honest I had no idea we could be this resilient and poise, I wouldn’t be surprised if they sneak into the finals past OKC or SAS. #ripcity

  12. Alex says:

    Terry Stotts has to be the front runner as of now for Coach of the Year.

    This team has been playing lights out for most of the season, and they deserve respect for their impressive wins and ability to close out fourth quarters like no other team this season (isn’t that near the top of the list for deep playoff/contending teams?). With great wins against top teams already I’m convinced they are a very dangerous team, and could sneak out of the West; catching opponents off guard by committing to playing consistent defense (because it is there as I saw in their win against OKC, it they just need to commit).

    The things I agree with are the lack of experience and the bench. Will they fold under the playoff pressure and can they sure up the second unit (or get lucky with their starters playing heavy minutes)? But this team is certainly championship material, we’ll see if they are mature enough to capitalize on their potential.

  13. pstenz91 says:

    The last four losses they had (mentioned in the article), were by a combined total of 9 points. Definitely would have been nice to pick up a couple of those games, but shows that they are playing competitively in every game, even if the shots aren’t falling.

  14. dustydreamnz says:

    I had them 8th in the West before season! All the good teams go through slumps, they are the real deal.

  15. Jensen says:

    They look like a college team, thats the key.

  16. i did, I luv Aldridge shot high release, post moves, rook of year lillard, wes can shoot 3. mo off the bench impact player and experience, add a 7fta lopez. LEGIT, but didnt think they would be on top of pack go blazwes

  17. B-Baller says:

    4 and 0 against the Spurs and Thunder. 6 and 1 against the top west Contenders. One of only 7 wins against the Pacers I mean where are the Haters going to get their evidence for hating now. The Blazers MIGHT fall off, but you gotta show them some respect for a record like that with the team they have and the expected outcome of their season. Everyone on TnT said they wouldn’t even make the playoffs, so being in it for the Numb 1 spot is legit, and some respect should be shown. Everyone Knew OKC and San Antonio would be Good, NO ONE thought the Blazers would

  18. BELI says:

    BLAZERS 2014!!!