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Game 60: Blazers 101, Raptors 87

Busta BucketCorrespondent IFebruary 25, 2010

DALLAS - FEBRUARY 04:  Rudy Fernandez #5 of the Portland Trail Blazers during play against the Dallas Mavericks on February 4, 2009 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

So much for Rudy being unhappy. Well, at least for one game.

With the assistance of Andre Miller, Brandon Roy and some good Blazer defense, Portland won a more difficult game on the road against the Toronto Raptors. Actually, this game felt a little easier than the Nets game, and the Raptors are a playoff team.

I guess that confidence they built in New Jersey really is carrying over. They held Toronto to their second lowest scoring output of the year with 87; the Blazers are now 11-3 on the back end of back-to-backs.

This game felt good throughout, less of course the Raptors 13-2 run to end the first half. Besides that, Toronto never really got anything going offensively.

That can perhaps be blamed on the absence of Chris Bosh, or maybe it's just Portland playing focused and determined defense. Either way, Portland won a game that really helps the mood back in Rip City. After losing four of five home games, a win on the road against a playoff team is the remedy we all needed.

My favorite statistical part of this win was the high shooting percentages and the low turnovers. Specifically, the Blazers shot 49 percent, had 25 assists and only six turnovers. On the flip side, Toronto shot a respectable 45 percent but only had 18 assists and struggled with 16 turnovers.

In the past, low turnovers were attributed to the conservative play of Steve Blake when he logged big minutes at point guard. But in two road games, Brandon Roy and Andre Miller have combined for only one turnover in over 145 minutes of floor time. Astonishing work by two guys who now seem to be working together and flourishing. A healthy and established back-court could prove to be dangerous down the stretch.

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The man who was the focus of attention today, thanks to an article posted in the Spanish papers, was Rudy Fernandez. Talks of unhappiness and frustration caused some negative chatter on talk radio and throughout the Internet. Many believe Rudy's departure is a foregone conclusion considering his need for starter minutes and our already established Brandon Roy.

Rudy responded quite well to his public comments (not that he even knew anyone cared) by playing one of his best all-around games as a Blazer. He played 30 plus efficient minutes, going 6-9 from the field (including three three-pointers), with seven rebounds and three assists.

He ran the break, made sweet reverse lay-ins from both sides of the rim, and his defense was much better; it was exactly what Nate and Blazer fans wanted to see. If Rudy can play like that more consistently, he'll be a legitimate sixth man. Unfortunately, he has a tendency to lose track of the gameplan and go into Euro superhero mode. But tonight he was a team player in every aspect of the game.

Andre Miller also has to be commended for his near-triple-double performance. With 18 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and three steals, he was doing it all for Portland when they needed him in the first half.

Also, his zero turnovers for the second straight game shows me how comfortable he is on the floor with his teammates. When we think back to the possibilities Portland may or may not have had in the offseason, I think Andre Miller continues to prove he was a great acquisition at an extremely reasonable price.

These last two wins came without the defensive presence of Marcus Camby. Presumably he'll return to the line-up Friday and make this team even more confident. Another two wins is certainly not out of reach, and with the limited amount of games left, every win counts. Going 4-1 is the goal, but 5-0 would be a sweet victory on this trip.

Can they do it? Yes. Will they do it? I think so. Great win tonight, go Blazers!

Box Score

  • Perimeter defense in the first half.
  • Allowing Hedo Turkoglu to score 24 on 8-9 shooting!
  • Webster's eight minutes, no shot attempts and two rebounds.
  • 24-6 assist to turnover margin is stellar.
  • Rudy getting his groove back with three's and Euro style lay-ins.
  • Andre Miller playing like a kid again on the back end of a back-to-back.
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