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News » Portland Trail Blazers Getting Inside 2008-04-29

Portland Trail Blazers Getting Inside 2008-04-29

Portland Trail Blazers Getting Inside 2008-04-29
It was a jubilant Trail Blazers squad that ended the 2007-08 season at 41-41 with a 100-91 loss at Phoenix Wednesday.

Though the second half of the season looked decidedly different from the first, coach Nate McMillan had seen enough to declare the season an unqualified success.

"This is the reason I came, to be a part of this," the Blazers coach said. "It was another step forward not to have a losing season. We started building this team, we have all the pieces and the next step is the playoffs."

Portland took a blow before the season even began, when No. 1 pick Greg Oden was lost to microfracture knee surgery. The Blazers, the youngest team in the league with an average age of 24 years and 22 days on opening day, started off slow, losing their first nine road games and generally looking inexperienced and confused.

But as Brandon Roy blossomed, so did the young Blazers, reeling off a 13-game winning streak that began Dec. 3 in Memphis and lasted until New Year's Eve.

The season hit its high-water mark Jan. 21 when the Blazers beat Atlanta in double-overtime to take its record to 25-16, nine games over .500. A tough road schedule, a decline in shooting percentage and key injuries to Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge eventually sunk the Blazers' playoff hopes.

But Portland still sold out its final 25 home games and crowds got increasingly more raucous as the season progressed.

"It's no comparison -- I've never had more supportive fans," forward Channing Frye said.

SEASON HIGHLIGHT: Portland was 5-12 and coming off an embarrassing 100-79 loss to San Antonio Dec. 2 when McMillan decided to let up a little on his young team. With the reins off, the Blazers kicked into a more free-spirited, up-tempo style and promptly ran off the longest winning streak in the NBA at that point.

The 13-game streak saw the Blazers take defined roles. Blue-collar center Joel Przybilla battled for rebounds and blocks down low and forward Travis Outlaw emerged as a sixth man and off-the-bench scoring threat. LaMarcus Aldridge took his place as a secondary scorer next to Brandon Roy, Steve Blake became a reliable distributor of the ball, and Martell Webster and James Jones became the outside shooting threats Portland had been lacking.

TURNING POINT: Portland's luck was probably doomed to change when a favorable December schedule turned tough in January and February. After playing 10 games out of a 13-game stretch in December at the Rose Garden, the Blazers had a seven-game road stretch in January.

The wheels didn't start to come off until they lost eight of nine in the middle of February, and a stretch of six loses in seven games from March 27-April 11 was indicative of a young team that was running out of gas.

Late season injuries to Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Joel Przybilla left the team without a rudder.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 29, 2008


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