While the Portland Trail Blazers' 2012-13 season ended in disappointing fashion, the year was filled with memorable games and moments. This Blazers team was exciting to watch with its strong group of starters. The bench, however, wasn't exactly exciting, as they struggled to provide any production.
The Blazers weren't expected to be competitive this year, but the strong play of Damian Lillard gave them a chance. Throughout the year, they proved they could beat any team in the league on any given night, but also showed they could lose to any team.
Here is a look at the most memorable games of the year.
The Blazers started off the calendar year in style against the New York Knicks as Portland escaped Madison Square Garden with a 105-00 victory. The Blazers were stretched to their limits by Carmelo Anthony, who took advantage of the Blazers' weak interior defense. Anthony scored an impressive 45 points on 14-of-24 shooting from the field and 12-of-14 from the free-throw line.
While the Blazers finished the year with solid victories against good opponents on their resume, not many came on the road. Portland's 11-30 record on the road was a huge disappointment, as the team collapsed during the second half of the year.
Against the Knicks, the Blazers proved they could go on the road and take down a top team in the league. The Blazers got big contributions for Damian Lillard, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge and J.J. Hickson, who combined for 84 of the 105 points.
Damian Lillard didn't take long to justify his top-10 selection in the 2012 NBA draft. The sixth overall pick burst onto the scene in his first NBA game with a stunning 23-point, 11-assist debut. Lillard helped lead the Blazers to a season-opening 116-106 victory against the Los Angeles Lakers.
While Lillard had a tremendous season, the first game is especially memorable because it showed what the Blazers had. From the moment Lillard stepped onto the court, the Blazers were more competitive than expected. In what was supposed to be rebuilding year, Lillard immediately made the Blazers much better.
The game was also memorable because the team beat the Lakers and started their season off with a victory. While the team crashed down the stretch of the season, there was initially hope, in part because of wins like this one.
While Damian Lillard's season was filled with moments that point toward him becoming a league-wide star, there was no bigger single moment than his game-winner against the then New Orleans Hornets. After inbounding the basketball with 4.2 seconds remaining in a 92-92 game, Lillard calmly caught the return pass, took a dribble, crossed over and smoothly knocked down a triple at the buzzer.
The cold-blooded finish was extremely impressive from the 22-year-old rookie, as he showed the coolness of a tested veteran. Lillard's willingness to take the big shot and knock it down highlighted his instant impact as a leader for this team.
Another impressive aspect of the game-winner is that Lillard wasn't having a great game before that final possession. He only had 13 points on 4-of-13 shooting, including 3-of-9 from downtown. When the Blazers needed him to knock down a shot, Lillard did just that.
There aren't many teams that got the better of LeBron James this season. In one game at least, the Blazers did just that, as they upset the Miami Heat at home in January. The Blazers overcame a seven-point deficit to start the fourth quarter and held off the Heat to gain probably their most impressive victory of the season.
The big storyline from this game was Wesley Matthews hounding James throughout the game and limiting him to 15 points on 6-of-16 shooting. While James was still productive with 10 rebounds and nine assists, his scoring output was notably down.
The defensive performance was completely necessary as the Blazers offense struggled to score points. The Blazers combined to shoot 37.5 percent from the field, while the Heat shot 45.5 percent. The Blazers bench added just eight points.
On the offensive end, Nicolas Batum was the Blazers' leading scorer with 28 points. Damian Lillard only scored 10 points, making the victory even more impressive.
While beating the Miami Heat was a huge victory, the Blazers embarrassing the San Antonio Spurs in Texas was the most memorable game of the season. After entering halftime tied at 57-57, the Blazers outscored the Spurs 79-49 on their way to a 136-106 victory. The loss was the second-worst home loss in Spurs franchise history.
While the Spurs didn't have Tony Parker, they did have the rest of their players available.
The 46-point fourth quarter was the best of the season for the Blazers and the most fun to watch for fans. The barrage of points was exciting, especially against a strong defense.
The Blazers were on fire throughout the game, as they shot 61.6 percent from the floor and 61.9 percent from beyond the arc. The team got five threes from Wesley Matthews and three from Damian Lillard. The rookie point guard finished with 35 points for the game.
Another highlight from this game was Eric Maynor's best performance of the season with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
The victory showed the Blazers can beat any team in the league on any floor. This game provided a great preview of what the Blazers front office is hoping to build.