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News » 'It's our turn' for another easy win


'It's our turn' for another easy win


'It's our turn' for another easy win
SUMMARY: After cruising past Charlotte, Portland's upcoming schedule looks promising

'It's our

turn' for

another

easy win

Late 13-0 run

in first quarter

sets up victory

JASON QUICK

Joel Przybilla is in his ninth NBA season, and the Trail Blazers center can spot from a mile away a team playing its second game in as many nights.

"I've been in the league awhile, and you can just tell," Przybilla said. "Sometimes it's by the way guys don't go after loose balls, sometimes it's guys being a step slow. And heck, I've been through them, and I know how I feel. You are tired."

On Wednesday, it was all of the above for Charlotte, which fell behind early and could never recover as the Blazers won in businesslike fashion, 88-74 in front of another Rose Garden sellout of 20,380. The victory came one night after the Bobcats lost leading scorer Gerald Wallace in a double-overtime win against the Lakers in Los Angeles, and moved the Blazers to 10-1 this season against teams playing in the second game of a back-to-back.

"Charlotte seemed tired from the jump," Brandon Roy said. "It took them a minute to get their motor going. But that's part of the NBA. We play plenty of games on back-to-backs. It's our turn to get some teams who are tired."

All of the anguish and toil the Blazers endured during their early-season road swings, which were filled with back-to-backs, is balancing out as the team prepares for the season's stretch run. Of the Blazers' 37 remaining games, 14 are against teams playing the second game of a back-to-back, including Saturday's key division game against Utah. The Jazz, which trails Portland by 31/2 games, play at home Friday against Oklahoma City.

Eight of those 14 games are in March, and there is a stretch where the Blazers play five consecutive home games against teams coming off back-to-backs, which includes key matchups against Phoenix, Utah and the Lakers.

Right now, the Blazers' focus is on building momentum heading into the All-Star break, which starts Feb. 13. Portland (28-17) has won three in a row --all against NBA cellar dwellers --although Charlotte entered having won six of eight, and with January road wins at Detroit and the Lakers as well as home wins over Boston, Phoenix and Portland.

"This is what I was talking about," coach Nate McMillan said. "Taking advantage of our home games and trying to get hot."

On Wednesday, the Blazers stayed hot behind the versatile play of LaMarcus Aldridge (25 points, nine rebounds), the stream-rolling play of Greg Oden (14 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks), and the steadiness of Roy (17 points). Along the way, there were some nifty passes from Sergio Rodriguez (seven assists), some energy from Jerryd Bayless (11 points) and enough flair and glitz from Rudy Fernandez that stores were scrambling to place more orders for those I (heart) Rudy T-shirts.

Still, nobody in the Blazers locker room was getting sore from patting each other on the back. The winning streak is compliments of victories over Washington (9-36), the Clippers (10-35) and Charlotte (19-27). But, all have been convincing.

"Taking care of business," Roy said. "It's so hard to judge how we are playing because these are winnable games, games we should win. The Clippers were undermanned, Charlotte came in here without their top guy and they were a little tired. So I'm not going to sit here and be, 'We are playing great,' because there is much more to do."

The Blazers' next three contests will go a long way in revealing whether their No. 5 standing in the Western Conference standings is valid. After Saturday's home game against Utah (25-21), the Blazers play at New Orleans (28-14) and at Dallas (26-19).

"We'll see how tough we really are," Roy said.

On Wednesday, the Blazers looked like a playoff contender. They finished the first quarter on a 13-0 run, then scored the first four of the second quarter to go up 36-18. What was most pleasing for McMillan is the way the Blazers built their lead --by pounding the ball inside. Inside scoring has long been a weak spot for McMillan's teams, who have relied on the jump shot. But on Wednesday, 14 of the Blazers' first 19 points were scored in the paint. In all, the Blazers amassed 48 points in the paint, tied for third highest this season.

It helped, too, that the Blazers got out on the break more than usual, scoring 13 fast break points. Aldridge, in particular, was a factor, beating players like DeSagana Diop and Juwan Howard down the floor for easy layins and dunks. Aldridge also mixed in some driving hook shots and spinning post moves. He started the game 9 of 11 and finished 11 of 15 from the field.

The Blazers even tried something they have been reluctant to do all season --execute lobs to Oden --but twice they were unsuccessful. But the message was clear: attack, attack, attack.

"That's the way we've got to play every night," Przybilla said. "We've got to go inside-out. That's what Nate has been preaching."

Of course, it's easier to attack when a team is already dragging from the previous night's game, coupled with a plane trip.

"They came out and did what a team is supposed to do on their home court against a team that won in double overtime last night --jump on them early," Bobcats guard Raja Bell said. "As hard as we tried in that first quarter, it just wasn't clicking. Bodies weren't ready to go. It took us awhile to warm up, and they exploited that."

Notes:

The Blazers are 6-3 when they are playing the second game of a back-to-back. . . . The Blazers are 17-5 at home, the second best home record in the Western Conference next to the Lakers (23-4). . . . Portland trails Denver by 11/2 games for the Northwest Division lead. . . . The Blazers are 8-5 in January, clinching their third winning month in a row for the first time since 2002-2003. . . . Oden has a team-leading 14 double doubles, which is more than any rookie in the NBA. The Blazers are 11-3 when he has a double double. He has scored in double figures in five consecutive games, the first time he has accomplished that feat. . . . The Blazers are 16-5 against the East. . . . The win ended a three-game losing streak to the Bobcats.

Jason Quick: 503-221-4372;

jasonquick@news.oregonian.com

To read his "Behind the Beat" blog, go to

http://blog.oregonlive.com/

behindblazersbeat/


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 30, 2009

 

 
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