With nine games won in a row, the Portland Trail Blazers don’t just have the second best record in the league, they’re also probably the best team in the NBA at the moment, moving forward with their plan to recapture long lost glory days with a 105-97 win against the Charlotte Hornets, maybe the most disappointing team this season.
Lance Stephenson keeps starting, scoring just 8 points and being part of the general drag down this franchise is in again for a surprising reason. The Blazers on the other hand are keeping up their upward trajectory, which has been helped by playing a lot of their games so far this season at home, which was part of their success early on last season. A sign of growth this season will be not just their perceived improvement in depth, but also carrying on staying in the top of the West after the halfway mark of the season.
For now, things are going very well. Wesley Matthews had a big game with 28 points, including six 3-pointers. Lillard had 22 points with 7 assists and Robin Lopez got himself a double double, scoring 15 points with 10 rebounds. Chris Kaman had a good game off the bench, something the Blazers couldn’t even dream of in the previous seasons when it comes to a big man, scoring 12 points and grabbing 7 rebounds.
The biggest surprise? The Blazers looked this good despite an awful game from LaMarcus Aldridge. It’s rare to see him finish in single-digits scoring, having a very off night with 3-of-18 from the field and scoring 9 points. He did have a good game defensively which included 3 blocks and helping as much as possible on Al Jefferson (21 points). The fact that the Blazers could win convincingly with Aldridge doing so badly speaks about how this team is growing.
It was all about the run in the second half, outscoring the Hornets by 19 points. It was mostly about Lillard hitting 3-pointers. The Blazers tend to be streaky team when it comes to shooting, something that hurt them at some point last season when the shots stopping going in. But they’ve improved defensively and have a bit more options on the bench to rely on. Of course, having a backcourt duo that can hit 10 3-pointers in one game without it feeling too forced never hurt anyone.