Portland Trail Blazers – Nicolas Batum Has His Day in the Sun

Nicolas Batum

Most of the heroics this season for the Portland Trail Blazers have been performed by their two All-Star players, LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard. However, there’s more talent on the team than just them, and it was Nicolas Batum who held the pieces together while the rest of the team was misfiring, holding on to beat the New York Knicks 94-90.

Despite a very rough shooting night, LaMarcus Aldridge knocked down the biggest shot of the game. With the Blazers up 89-87 and 35 seconds left of the clock, he hit a long turnaround 2 over Tyson Chandler to knock the wind out of the sails for the Knicks and the home fans, finishing with 15 points and 12 rebounds on only 5-of-17 from the field. Damian Lillard made only 4-of-12 from the field, scoring 12 points.

So who did have a good game? Nicolas Batum had a rare night of leading the scoreboard for his team, adding 20 points and 10 rebounds while playing some very good defense down the stretch on Carmelo Anthony when he got his chance to guard him. Anthony finished with 26 points, but didn’t score a single one in the fourth quarter, as it seemed the exceeded burden on his shoulder is making him reach the final minutes of games with an empty tank. The shots he missed weren’t bad ones, but decent shots that with a bit more strength left in his arms should have gone in, at least some of them.

It was just one of them nights. Just as far as shots go, couldn’t find it coming down the stretch. I don’t want to speak on the calls. Nothing I can do about that right now, nothing we can do about it.

Aldridge missed 10 of his first 11 shots in the game before coming up big in the closing stages of the game. Wesley Matthews added 18 points, and Robin Lopez scored only 9 points but had a strong day in the paint with 7 rebounds and 3 blocks, keeping the Knicks at only 30 points in the paint. The Blazers shot only 38% from the field, scoring only 20 points in the paint.

Their bench was as usual – a non factor, with Mo Williams scoring 10 points but on only 2-of-7 from the field, getting it done from the line. The Blazers were a -7 during his time on the floor, and this lack of ability to change things up and give some key players a rest will catch up with them if it hasn’t already have.

I had the whole game to miss shots so I felt like I was due some makes. Law of averages have to catch up sooner or later. I had made one easy one, one tough one. So I felt like I was going to make it. I thought our defense all game was pretty good. I thought for us to win a game shooting 38 percent, it’s not an easy thing to do.

Mike Woodson is feeling the sword getting closer to his neck, with more and more predicting that he’ll be fired by the trade deadline as the Knicks fall to 19-30, 2.5 games behind the 8th spot in the East. Remember: The Knicks aren’t a team that tanks, they’re a team that had 50-55 wins this season in mind, but a lot of things went wrong along the way. Patience is important, but not making the playoffs this season with the East looking so bad is a colossal failure, and a good reason for Carmelo Anthony to think about finding a new place to play.

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