In a game surrounded by questions about the firing of Byron Scott, the Portland Trail Blazers broke the old adage that when a team loses its coach they win the games immediately following.
LaMarcus Aldridge finished strong with 20 points and 13 rebounds. The struggling Hornets lost Chris Paul, and an important home game.
Prior to the game, my one true target defensively was Paul. In the past he's been able to go off against Portland, but winning depended on whether or not we could stop him from getting his teammates involved.
Paul had a poor shooting night, and eventually left the game in the third quarter with a high ankle sprain and is expected to miss 1-2 weeks . I had nightmares of CP3 dropping 30 points and 15 assists, but he ended up not being a major concern, even before the injury.
It should be noted that this game started out with potential for the worst first quarter ever. Both teams were shooting way under 30 percent and I believe the score was 8-6 with three minutes left in the quarter.
No one seemed to be able to hit a shot and frankly, it was tough to watch. But as long as both teams struggle, it's never the end of the world.
The Blazers once again took control of the game in the third quarter. Last season, the third quarter seemed to be the death of this team, but so far things have changed, Nate has them ready following the half-time break.
Aldridge scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half and the Blazers cruised to victory despite the final box scores somewhat close result.
Neither team shot the ball well, especially from the three-point line. This game really came down to Portland hitting the boards on both ends of the floor. The Blazers out rebounded the Hornets 60 to 40 , with 20 total offensive boards. Obviously in a game like this, with such poor shooting, controlling the glass seals a victory.
Random Individual Thoughts
- Brandon Roy still looks out of sync. Even though he finished with good numbers overall, his jumper just isn't there yet. He was wide open at least four or five times and the shots weren't close. He also made a few bonehead plays early on, turning the ball over in traffic and forcing the issue. Sometimes I think he's just doing too much, but fortunately he has a solid supporting cast to pick him up.
- LaMarcus had everything going in the second half tonight. After sitting for most of the second quarter, he came out hot and strung together a streak of smooth jumpers. When LA's jumper is on, there is no better shot in basketball. He also put in work on the boards, getting his fourth double digit rebound outing in the last six games. Aldridge seems to be rounding in midseason form early in November. That bodes well for his All-Star hopes and the Blazers.
- No one shot particularly well for Portland, other than Aldridge. Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw had especially bad nights. Fortunately the Hornets were short-handed in the talent department, because our poor shooting will get you a loss against at least eight other teams in the Western Conference. Shooting will always be inconsistent, but taking better shots and making smart decisions helps the entire team.