By Jonathan Ryan Davis
Portland got the win, but they did not look like a playoff team. Against a team who has only won two games since their third game of the season, the Blazers needed to grind out a close victory when they should have pummeled this inferior team. Portland used the same style of play that resulted in a home loss again Houston: laziness, lack of energy, laziness.
On a night when Portland shot well above 50%, arguably their best shooting night on the road, one would assume Portland would walk away from the Big Easy with a comfortable double-digit win. Jamal Crawford was his old self, Raymond Felton seems to have rediscovered his shooting touch after returning from a sprained ankle; yet the Hornets still had a chance to win the game in the 4th quarter.
Portland has the pieces to be an elite defensive and rebounding team. In terms of defense, for the five minutes they applied defensive pressure to the Hornets, the Blazers dominated the game, forcing repetitive turnovers and converting them to easy baskets. Then that energy disappeared and NO stayed in the game. Throughout the rest of the game, the Blazers showed a lack of motivation to crush the Hornets.
Portland has also forgot how to rebound. For the past week, the Blazers have been manhandled on the glass by teams that should not be able to muscle Portland in the paint. Between Camby, Aldridge, Wallace, Batum and some girthy bench players, the Blazers should be one of the best rebounding teams in the league. During the great stretch run to start the season, Portland ranked near the top of the league in rebounding efficiency. However, Portland has forgotten an elementary skill of basketball: boxing out. Portland must correct their lackadaisical play on the boards to reassert themselves as a contender in the West.
The real test for the Blazers will come tonight when they face a Mavs team who is starting to play great basketball. By rebounding and playing pressure defense, Portland can leave Dallas with a momentum shifting win. Yet, there is no way Portland wins tonight if they play like they did again the Hornets.
Now that LMA has been named an All-Star, and he had his post-All-Star letdown game, he needs to take this team on his back and change the attitude of the Blazers. Tonight will be fun to watch...