A lot of emotion in sport fan-bases gets channeled towards hatred, and the Portland Trail Blazers had their fans give them a big boost in the win over the New York Knicks by pouring on the hate against Raymond Felton, while their own rookie point guard, Damian Lillard, showed how much better of a player he is when compared to the position last season.
It’s hard to believe Felton, an OK player, would draw so much emotion out of the fans, but it just goes to show Blazers fans will cling to anything so they can push their team forward. Felton, not really playing well since returning from injury, finished with 11 points on another bad shooting night (4-12) as the Knicks lost 90-105; he is only 41.1% from the field this season, struggling to steer the Knicks without the injured Carmelo Anthony. Felton averaged 11.4 points and 6.5 assists (shooting 40.7% from the field) last season for the Blazers.
If there was any argument about who should be the rookie of the year, Damian Lillard has been simply in impressive form of late, shutting down any discussion that brings him and Anthony Davis in the same light. While Davis was the more hyped of the two heading into the season, Lillard is a much more complete player entering the league (after four years and not just one), and is having the better season. He led the Blazers, a team of three players and not much else, with 26 points and 10 assists, averaging 25 points per game in March, trying to keep the Blazers somewhat in the playoff race, although the chances look slim.
The formula of the starters doing all the work continued, as all five players finished in double figures for the Blazers, adding only 15 points from the bench, as only three players took the court, none of them playing more than 19 minutes. LaMarcus Aldridge was second best on the night, scoring 22 points and adding 10 rebounds and 5 blocks, enjoying facing Kenyon Martin and Kurt Thomas instead of Tyson Chandler, Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony in the front court.
A lot of the attention was about Felton, regardless of the names on the court – being overweight, out of shape and below expectations last season wasn’t the only reason Blazers fans were eagerly waiting for the player to return; he mentioned last week that There are certain people there I don’t want to see and better not come near me. After the game he said that it didn’t really affect him.
Will the Blazers make the postseason? Probably not. They’re tied with the Mavericks for 10th in the Western Conference, seeing the Utah Jazz ahead of them before the promised land, with the Lakers at 8th and the Rockets and Warriors slightly further ahead, probably out of reach. If the Blazers are to make it, it’s not going to be about Lillard and Aldridge, the rocks of consistency this season. It’ll be about Nicolas Batum, the man of many talents but of many moods as well, to pick up his game.
He scored 16 points against the Knicks, but they’ll need much more from him than 12.5 points (his average over his last 10 games) if they’re to have a fighting chance of returning to the postseason after missing it last year.