By Jonathan Ryan Davis
1) Who Says You Can't Turn the Ball Over 25 Times and Win?: Denver was impressive defensively tonight, forcing 25 turnovers to their 7. That's an 18 turnover difference. Therefore, the Nuggets must have won in blowout fashion, right? Not so much. With a 20 rebound advantage, 9 timely blocks, and superior shooting (52% to 40%), Portland overcame the thievery of Ty Lawson (8 steals) to seal the victory. If the Blazers could have held onto the ball, the game would never have been close. Portland hit their open shots, limited Denver to a single shot all but three times, and contested most of the Nuggets' shots. This is not the recipe for most wins, but it worked tonight.
2) Who Needs LMA and Crash to Win?: Denver did a great job bottling up LaMarcus Aldridge and Gerald Wallace. Throughout the night, Nuggets defenders collapsed on Aldridge and Wallace, forcing them to find the open man. Luckily for the Blazers, that is what they did. Aldridge finished the night with 6 assists, as he trusted his guards to knock down the necessary shots and carry the team to a victory. The first two games provided heavy doses of the forwards to seal the victories. Tonight, the guards stole the show, knocking down jumper after jumper. Wesley Matthews hit five threes in the second half, including four in a row in a three minute stretch of the third quarter to keep Portland in slight control of the game. And in the fourth, Jamal Crawford illustrated why he was 6th Man of the Year two years ago by scoring 14 of his 22. Tonight was also the coming out party for Raymond Felton who hit the critical three with two minutes left in the game, which provided the knockout punch the Blazers needed.
3) Never Give Up: The Blazers won tonight's game for one simple reason: they never game up throughout the game. When the Blazers lost a double digit lead in the first half, they fought back. When Portland turned the ball over with sloppy passes, they hustled back on defense to block a shot on the break or strip the ball from a driving Nugget. Nicolas Batum had four such blocks tonight (all things of beauty) and Wesley Matthews provided the game's critical steal by stripping Ty Lawson after he himself had lost the ball with less than two minutes remaining in the game. The result of Matthews' steal? Felton's key three pointer to ice the game.
4) Marcus Camby: His defense and rebounding are invaluable. Portland needs him to stay healthy if they hope to make a run this year. Kurt Thomas is a valuable backup; however, without Camby, Portland lacks their captain on defense. Here's hoping for a healthy season for all!
5) 3-0: It's awesome to be undefeated. When will we ever be able to say again that we were undefeated through the new year. This is historic stuff! How great would it be if we could remain undefeated after the new year. 66-0 has a great sound to it.