Everything wrong with the Portland Trail Blazers since their incredible start to the season came to light in a humiliating and humbling 124-94 defeat in Charlotte to the Bobcats, with a defense exposed and the lack of intelligence on their offensive plays shown very early on.
The Bobcats are a good defensive team, so it’s not that surprising to see the Blazers struggle. LaMarcus Aldridge isn’t playing, with Dorell Wright filling in. He’s putting up some nice numbers, but he’s not Aldridge, and when Damian Lillard tries too hard to make up for lost points by scoring himself, the Blazers’ offense looks like a mess, and gives us a feeling that despite their advancement this season, we’re not going to see them making it past the first round of the playoffs.
It was a great night for Al Jefferson with 28 points, working on a masterpiece down low, adding six assists. Robin Lopez in now way whatsoever was able to interfere with Jefferson’s moves in the post, and it’s funny to read all those criticizing the Bobcats for signing Jefferson, which has turned out to be quite the game changer for them, leading back into the postseason after four years of being left out.
Kemba Walker turning into a scary offensive player helped as well. Efficiency is beyond him at this point, but his 26 points on 10-of-18 from the field did a world of good, especially when compared with Lillard going 7-of-19 from the field to finish with 20 points. Gerald Henderson no longer being the number one offensive option has finally put him in the spot and role he needs to be in. He scored 23 points while shooting 8-of-11 from the field, including 2-of-2 from beyond the arc.
There was a little bit of showtime, courtesy of Josh McRoberts, taking his shaggy looks up to the rim a couple of times, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, scoring 9 points in 19 minutes of basketball, while also bringing the dunk of the night during that short time on the floor.
The Blazers are going to be better once Aldridge is back. Everything seems simpler with him on the floor, not to mention it forces defenses to stretch a bit too much for their own good. However, we’ve seen too many moments of the bad Blazers, which includes their bench issues and defense faults to know that a 30-point loss in Charlotte isn’t just about Aldridge missing, but simply about a young group not being deep or good enough at this stage of the team’s evolution to make a serious threat at the NBA championship, unlike the first two months of the seasons which had a very different vibe to them.