March 29 Blazer page — Miller, Roy, weekly recap
Excerpts from this week’s Blazer page, published March 29 in The Columbian.
Last week’s record: 3-0
Recap: Not even a little front-office drama can slow down the
Portland picked up impressive victories over Dallas, New Orleans and Oklahoma City. And following the Blazers’ 92-87 victory over the Thunder on Sunday, Portland’s magic number to make the playoffs for the second consecutive season had been trimmed to two.
While reports of turmoil between general manager Kevin Pritchard, president Larry Miller and owner Paul Allen dominated news about the Blazers, Portland coach Nate McMillan strove to keep his team’s focus on the court.
The effort was a success. The Blazers knocked off the Mavericks during a nationally televised primetime game. Portland then followed with smooth wins over the Hornets and Thunder.
Just eight regular-season games remain for the Blazers. If Portland continues to play the right way, the team could present major matchup problems for whomever it will likely face in the first round of the playoffs.
Bright spot: Brandon Roy. Portland’s All-Star guard found his touch after enduring one of his worst shooting slumps of the season. During a three-game span prior to the win over Dallas, Roy shot just 30.5 percent (18 of 59) from the floor. But The Natural discovered his stroke, hitting 12 of 14 attempts while scoring a game-high 28 points during Saturday’s victory over New Orleans.
Andre Miller: Portland’s starting point guard is playing big when it matters. In the process, Miller is proving his early-season critics wrong, while displaying all of the skills that have long made him one of the top point guards — and best-kept secrets — in the game. Miller is averaging 17.8 points and 6.8 assists in his last five games, and Portland is 4-1 during the stretch.
By the Numbers
Games this season during which Miller has not committed a turnover.
Roy’s shooting percentage from the field during wins over Dallas and New Orleans. After hitting just 8 of 25 shots in a loss to Phoenix, Roy bounced back to shoot 17 of 21 from the floor during consecutive Western Conference victories.
LaMarcus Aldridge’s average points per game during his last five contests. The Portland power forward has recorded double figures in scoring in 35 out of his last 36 games.
Game of the Week
Thursday: Blazers at Nuggets, 7:30 p.m. at Pepsi Center (TNT, 54)
Key matchup: Denver forward Carmelo Anthony versus Portland.
Blazers forward Nicolas Batum will likely be asked to spend the most time guarding Anthony, but Portland will use a team effort in attempting to hold down the Nuggets’ perennial All-Star.
Denver is 2-1 against the Blazers this season, while Anthony has averaged 34.3 points.