The Blazers nearly blew a 20-point advantage in the second half to a very mediocre Detroit Pistons team last night. The lead dwindled down to one before some clutch free throw shooting by Andre Miller and Steve Blake put the game away.
During the hideously played fourth quarter, a glaring Portland weakness was exposed by Piston's coach John Kuester. The comeback began as Kuester, recognizing that the man in charge of bringing the ball up the court was Steve Blake, implemented a full court press. With Blake leading the charge most of the way, the Blazers had a difficult time of handling the pressure, turning the ball over and missing hurried shots. It wasn't until Andre Miller-who earned a huge amount of respect from anyone watching the replays of him turning both of his ankles and continuing to play-hobbled back into the game to restore order.
I have always liked Steve Blake. He's a great guy and he works hard. But I'm also a realist and I understand that he just can't hack it against quality opponents or in pressure situations. He's a liability. Yes he had 17 points last night and he hit a huge three that gave Portland enough of a cushion to pull this win out, but he was the main reason the Blazers allowed a 20 point lead to get to one.
Even if it's an ugly win, you obviously take it. But frankly, the Blazers have looked ugly all year long. These grind-it-out, poor shooting games with Brandon taking a back seat have been hard to watch. Even after wins I find myself feeling rather bland. They are beating the teams they are supposed to beat but they are not looking all that great in the process. They have shown flashes of good play, but they have yet to put together a complete game. Add a few key injuries into the mix and it raises a bit of concern. Maybe they'll pull it together, but if this early chunk of games is any indication of what lies ahead, we can expect to wait another year to make it to the conference finals.