Good morning Blazer fans, Antonio here. And what a good morning it is. The Blazers played with emotions last night, but if a game ends in a win, we all worry a little less.
The Blazers and the feisty Bulls battled back and forth in a game that went from sure-win to heartbreaking-loss to amazing-win in a matter of minutes. When Damian Lillard rose up with two seconds left and knocked in his buzzer beating three to send the Bulls home, it capped off a thrilling last quarter. Let’s take a look.
Of course, we’ll start off with the main show: Dame Time. Lillard poured in 44 points on 15/26 shooting, including eight threes. Lillard’s recent games without backcourt mate CJ McCollum have shot up his averages to 29.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Lillard is playing at an MVP-level right now, and he showed it in the final 11 seconds.
Words cannot quite describe this sequence of events, but I can try. First, Lillard launched a superhuman 37-footer to pull the game within two. Great shot. But now the hard work. On the inbounds, Zach Lavine is doubled and tied up with Gary Trent. Amazing. But now, win the jump.
The ball is fumbled around off the tip, punched over to Dame, who side-steps over, fades away and lets it fly over Lauri Markkanen. In. Game. Amazing. But now the party begins.
Blown Leads Strike Again
With the Blazers up 20 in the third quarter, I decided to head over to get some Taco Bell for dinner. When I returned from my deliciously cheap college dinner, I turned on the TV to a four point Blazer deficient. The worst point? I wasn’t surprised.
Terry Stotts’ Blazers teams have had a history of blowing leads in quick fashion, and tonight was no different. Anfernee Simons and Carmelo Anthony were off, leading to iso miss after iso miss. The lack of ball movement by the Blazers backups was certainly eye opening. When Melo gets going, it’s certainly pretty, but if he’s off… it’s tough to watch. Dame’s heroics might have saved the Blazers this time, but the games would be more comfortable if Portland keeps its leads.
A Spark to Finish January
The Blazers left a broken, battered, and bruised January with a 8–6 record for the month. At 10–8 overall, they sit in the seventh seed in the Western Conference, but in close contact with both the fourth and ninth seeds. The goal for the Blazers should be to avoid the 7–10 play-in games.
Looking at the Blazers’ February schedule, that certainly seems attainable. Portland plays 10 of its 14 games on the road this month, but thankfully, COVID has hampered home-court advantage. Lillard’s shot to finish the month helps the team’s morale with players hurt, and hopefully will let the team enter February with spirits high.