Portland Trail Blazers: Power Ranking This Season's Most Exciting Games

Bryant KnoxFeatured ColumnistApril 20, 2012

Portland Trail Blazers: Power Ranking This Season's Most Exciting Games

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    In a season that seemed lost for much of the year, it's easy to forget that there were a number of great games for the Portland Trail Blazers.

    Admittedly, not every great game came out the way the Blazers and their fans would have liked—hence why Portland is looking in on the playoff race this season.

    The lackluster year that it was, though, has been filled with some exciting outcomes, which begs the question, which was the best game of the entire 2011-12 NBA regular season?

8. Jan. 20 @ Toronto Raptors

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    Final: W 94-84

    On the whole, a 10-point victory over the Toronto Raptors doesn't seem like anything worth mentioning.

    How about 23 points and 11 rebounds for LaMarcus Aldridge, though?

    In the first half.

    Finishing the contest with 33 points and a career-high 23 rebounds, Aldridge had one of the best performances from a Trail Blazer for the entire 2011-12 season that night.

    The first Trail Blazer to record 30 points and 20 rebounds in a game since Zach Randolph in 2003, Aldridge put the team on his shoulders that night and willed his team to victory on the road in Toronto. 

7. Jan. 3 @ Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Final: W 103-93

    Just days into the 2011-12 NBA season, the Portland Trail Blazers went into Chesapeake Energy Arena 3-1 and left with the feeling that they could compete with any team in the Western Conference.

    The game didn't exactly go down to the wire, but with it close enough down the stretch, LaMarcus Aldridge's best performance of the young season was crucial in the victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    The 6'11" power forward put up 30 points and eight rebounds to help seal the deal, and the game even featured the team's first skirmish of the season when Aldridge met Kendrick Perkins in a shoving match with the game already in hand.

    By the end of the game, the Blazers emerged as the only team out West at that point in the season with only one loss, and the momentum carried forward to a home victory against the Los Angeles Lakers just two days later. 

6. April 15 @ Sacramento Kings

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    Final: L 104-103

    The Trail Blazers suffered a late-season loss to the Sacramento Kings not too long ago, but watching Wesley Matthews drain shot after shot from long-range was exciting enough to keep fans interested in a meaningless game at Arco Arena.

    Matthews hit a career-high eight three-pointers in the game, including the go-ahead bucket from beyond the arc in the closing seconds of the game.

    It wasn't meant to be, though, as Marcus Thornton came down following the timeout and shattered the hearts of the Blazers with a game-winning step-back jumper of his own to win the game by one in regulation.

5. Jan. 11 vs. Orlando Magic

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    Final: L 107-104

    The Trail Blazers were on the wrong side of a nail-biter about two weeks into the season.

    That doesn't change the fact, though, that the team made one of the best comebacks that they would see all season long.

    The Orlando Magic were shooting the lights out at the Rose Garden, finishing the game 58.6 percent from the field and 59.3 percent from beyond the arc.

    Storming a comeback late in the game, though, fans rose to their feet as the team—once down by 23—brought it to within three points with less than three minutes to play.

    The Magic's shooting proved to be too much, though, as a full comeback wasn't in the cards, and the Blazers went on to lose their first home game of the entire season.

4. Feb. 11 @ Dallas Mavericks

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    Final: L 97-94 2OT

    A double-overtime game is exciting for fans on both sides of the occasion.

    Unfortunately for the Trail Blazers, they were on the wrong side of the marathon that took place in Dallas almost midway through the season.

    The Dallas Mavericks led by double digits going into halftime, but a strong push by the Blazers and a 12-foot jumper by LaMarcus Aldridge with 12 seconds to go in regulation forced a first overtime at American Airlines Center.

    Aldridge hit the game-tying shot again in overtime, and following missed shots by Shawn Marion and Jamal Crawford, we were headed to a second overtime in Dallas.

    The game finally came to an end when Crawford missed an isolation three-pointer as the clock expired, and the Blazers lost their third game out of their last four contests.

3. March 16 @ Chicago Bulls

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    Final: W 100-89

    Following the March 15 trade deadline, nobody knew what to expect from the new-look Portland Trail Blazers.

    The Bulls entered the game as the best team in the league, and despite not having Derrick Rose in the lineup, there was no reason to believe they would fall to the dysfunctional team from Portland.

    Interim head coach Kaleb Canales got his first victory, though, in a game that will go down as one of the most emotional of the season.

    The team seemingly played with the most energy that they had, had in weeks, and a surprise 12-point performance from rookie guard Nolan Smith helped the Blazers seal the deal in their first game moving forward toward the future.

2. Feb. 6 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Final: L 111-107 OT

    It's never fair to blame a loss on one play.

    There's no denying, though, that one bad call—confirmed by the NBA—helped shape the outcome of the Feb. 6 game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    The Thunder had been in control for a good part of the third quarter, but solid defense and efficient shooting from LaMarcus Aldridge helped the Blazers shrink the gap and make it a game down the stretch.

    A season-high 39 points for Aldridge was a mere footnote, however, after his block shot against Kevin Durant was called goaltending, and the game was sent to overtime.

    Poor execution in the extra period led to just the second home-loss of the season for the Blazers, and the game turned out to be arguably the biggest heartbreaker of the 2011-12 regular season.

1. April 6 @ Dallas Mavericks

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    Final: W 99-97 OT

    The Trail Blazers have had a number of exciting games in Dallas over the past few seasons. 

    The double-overtime loss in February. Marcus Camby's 20-rebound performance last year. Andre Miller's 52-point outburst in 2010. 

    None of these is as fresh in the minds of the Portland faithful, though, as the overtime buzzer-beating jumper by LaMarcus Aldridge.

    The playoffs were still a distant possibility at this point in the season, and 25 points and 12 rebounds from Aldridge helped inch the Blazers closer to their goal.

    Even Raymond Felton pitched in with a season-high 30 points that night, along with six assists, seven rebounds and two steals.

    As it turns out, the playoffs weren't in the cards this season, as the team has been officially eliminated from playoff contention at this point. 

    A game like this, though, reminds us why we're fans, as it was arguably the Blazers' most exciting game of the entire 2011-12 NBA regular season.