(PHOTO CREDIT – GETTY IMAGE/NBAE)
I’ve been excited for regular season games in December before but they usually involve the usual suspects, (Mavericks-Spurs, Mavs-Spurs, Pistons-Cavs etc). Rarely if ever have they involved the Trail Blazers and the Nuggets and probably the last time I followed one of those games that closely was when I had to write the recap for the Ticker back a few years ago.
But the Blazers have won 10 in a row after their thrilling 99-96 victory and I spent most of the day eagerly anticipating this one and hoping Denver would have enough after playing double overtime against Houston the previous night.
I was certainly not disappointed and neither were the Trail Blazer fans who have watched their young team rebuild the competent way. While it wasn’t down the final buzzer, the Blazers hit six straight foul shos to win it, the game certainly had its moments, the Nuggets came back from 85-78 and following that lead the game was tied at 92 with 2:51 remaining before Travis Outlaw hit the go-ahead jumper.
Here’s a look at their 10 straight wins:
1 – 12/3 at Memphis 106-105 – Outlaw scores 21 and hits a game-winning six-footer at the buzzer
2 – 12/6 vs. Miami 112-106 – They allowed a 16-point lead to dwindle to one but hold on by outscoring the Heat 24-19 down the stretch. Brandon Roy scored 25 and reached the line 13 times.
3 – 12/9 vs. Milwaukee 117-113 (OT) – Roy scored 26 points and also makes the go-ahead layup with in the final minute of OT. The Blazers rally from five points down in overtime after being up by 13 earlier in the game.
4 – 12/11 at Utah – 97-89 – The biggest margin of victory thus far and Martell Webster scored a career-high 25 points and the Blazers overcome getting statistically pounded in rebounding and in the paint.
5 – 12/12 vs. Golden State 105-95 – Roy leads the way with 21, Outlaw leads the team with 22, Joel Pryzbilla collects 15 and 10 . The Blazers are rarely threatened and have a 10-point win.
6 – 12/14 vs. Utah 99-91 – Roys scores 29 this time and the Blazers win despite shooting 44 percent and outrebounded by 11. They make up for it by hitting 37 free throws and getting 11 points from Outlaw in the fourth when they outscored Utah 29-17.
7 – 12/16 at Denver 116-105 – Roy has 26 and 11 assists and Channing Frye has 20. Portland wins in Denver for the first time in over four years by shooting 55 percent.
8 – 12/17 vs. New Orleans – 88-76 – Portland clinches its first winning month since November 2004. Roy scores 24 as the Blazers overcome 34 percent shooting in the first half.
9 – 12/19 vs. Toronto – 101-96 – Roy has the flu but finishes with 25 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Portland trails the entire second half but Outlaw’s free throws with just over six minutes remaining tie it at 87-87 and Roy follows with the go-ahead layup.
So why have the Blazers won 10 in a row? Obviously they’ve played good but Henry Abbott of True Hoop has the answers with an interview of Portland assistant coach Dean Demopoulos.
Some things you can learn are this: The zone defense being played is decsended from Jimmy Valvano, whom Nate McMillian played for at North Carolina State.
So what else are they saying out in Blazer land: