The first competitive game in over a week proved that you have to play all 48 minutes, or in tonight's game, 53 minutes.
The Blazers fell to the Hawks 99-95 in Atlanta, after a hard fought battle and a frustrating overtime.
In the previous four games on the road, the Blazers started off shooting poorly, and in most cases, so did their opponent. Tonight it was the exact opposite as the Hawks and Blazers were firing on all cylinders. The Blazers took an early 28-20 first quarter lead with a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Rudy Fernandez.
Throughout the first three quarters, despite the Blazers leading by double-digit points, there was a feeling that Atlanta could make their comeback at any moment. After a stagnant and offensively deficient third quarter, the Hawks made their move.
Starting in the fourth quarter, the perfect storm took place and Atlanta finally started to heat up.
The Blazers got sloppy, turned the ball over and, with opportunities to take advantage, didn't come through. Brandon Roy bailed out Greg Oden and Rudy Fernandez bailed out Steve Blake. Regulation ended with Rudy hitting a ridiculous buzzer-beating three to send the game into overtime.
It's a shame we even needed that.
With a nine-point lead to start the fourth quarter, the Blazers needed to finish the game—even on the road. Rudy's three seemed like it would give Portland momentum going into the overtime period, but no such luck.
Overtime was much worse than the score would indicate.
Atlanta went on a devastating 12-4 run and basically sealed the game. There were three brutal calls in a row that also put the nail in the coffin. I will never truly understand NBA officiating. Part of me will always think there is more to it then just making the call. Tim Donaghy has forever entered my consciousness.
Either way, the Blazers lost a tough one on the road. The reality right now is Atlanta just looks slightly better than Portland. The Hawks are more athletic, more driven to crash the boards, showed resiliency when jumpers weren't going in, and most of all they finish games.
This Atlanta Hawks team is very talented; I think they're talented enough to beat just about any team in the East. We almost stole one, but it wasn't meant to be in Atlanta.