Blazers top Hornets 86-74 to end three-game slide
It wasn’t the most exciting 48 minutes of gameplay you’ll ever see but the Portland Trail Blazers (19-19) needed this win badly before shipping out to their longest road trip of the season. After dropping three straight home games and in embarrassing fashion, the Blazers faced the New Orleans Hornets (9-29) for the third time this season. Still without Eric Gordon and Carl Laundry due to injuries, NOLA had Chris Kaman in the paint to go toe-to-toe with Marcus Camby and Joel Przybilla and it was close up until the third quarter when Portland’s defense held the Hornets to ten points and grew a 20-point lead, eventually winning 86-74 in a grinding, almost boring match.
You had to know that the Blazers had the eyes of the Rose Garden crowd on them early who have been highly disappointed coming out of the break 0-3 and recently getting destroyed by the Timberwolves. Former Blazer point guard Jarrett Jack gave the crowd something to groan about with a wide open three and five quick points to go 5-0 on Portland. The Blazers made a change in the lineup again before the game and went back to putting Raymond Felton back at point and Jamal Crawford at the bench. Felton has been the target of much talk around Portland, mainly trade talk as his performance has been dull and might be his way out soon. He come out of this game with something to prove, hitting a three and finding Nic Batum and Gerald Wallace for plenty of nice passes and assists. After one-quarter, Portland was up 27-17 but just like the other matches against the Hornets, they wouldn’t go away and the Blazers gave them plenty of confidence to make a game out of nothing.
Throughout the second and much of the third, Portland and New Orleans had trouble finding their shot, the Blazers not only dropped their shooting percentage from high 60s to 38% but wouldn’t go for the offensive rebounds, although Camby had already grabbed 12 rebounds. The Hornets would cut the lead down to three thanks to their bench play of Xavier Henry, Greivis Vasquez and Gustavo Ayon who battled with Przybilla and traded blows, while Crawford, Kurt Thomas and Elliot Williams struggled. At halftime the Blazers were up 46-38 and it would’ve felt like a bigger lead.
Oh remember LaMarcus Aldridge? He had just five attempts for two points in the first half and was welcomed with a double team every time he caught the ball. He got his feet set and hit a few jumpers and dunked over Lance Thomas. Portland finally got some distance between them and the Hornets with some nice buckets by Batum, Wallace, Wesley Matthews and Felton and the lead now went as high as 20, the rest of the way was set in stone. Garbage time came and allowed New Orleans to make the score more respectable, and Portland won their third straight over the Hornets this season.
He probably won’t be in a Blazers uniform for long, but Raymond Felton had a pretty respectable game, a few nice dimes and floaters through the lane, Felton scored 11 Pts, 10 Ast and 2 Stl. The other well deserved Blazer tonight was Marcus Camby who grabbed 16 rebounds, 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 Blk and 6 Pts. Nic Batum with a team high 19 Pts on 7-16 makes from the floor. Gerald Wallace with 13 Pts, 4 Reb and LaMarcus Aldridge went for 10 Pts and 11 Reb.
- Portland 40 points in the paint to 34 by NOLA.
- Portland and NOLA hang around low 40% shooting percentage which as been typical for the series this season.
- Portland win rebounding battle 43-37.
- Portland out assist 19-14.
- NOLA leading scorer is Marco Belinelli with 18 Pts, 5 Reb. That’s all.
Wish the Blazers well and pray for a decent winning percentage when they come back from this seven-game road tip which starts in Minnesota. I hope this will force Portland to act quickly if they want to save this season and get some decent wins against some tough opponents which consist of Boston, Indiana, Chicago and Oklahoma City. The Blazers will not be back at the Rose Garden till March 20, may this game be some momentum when they head out.
photos courtesy of oregonlive.com/blazers