Trail Mix: Blazers 101, Knicks 79
The Portland Trail Blazers demolished a short-handed New York Knicks squad Sunday night at the Moda Center 101-79. Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum combined for 11 3-pointers in their league-leading 25th victory.
The Knicks defense of Portland’s 3-point shooters was akin to the Orcs in Lord of the Rings. Not the smart and agile leader orcs. The ones in the front lines that are slow, stupid and always fall first.
It really was amazing to see how badly the Knicks played and how easily the Blazers were able to find 3-point shots. They also apparently set an NBA record.
— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) December 29, 2014
It was a tragic comedy of defense and although the Blazers spoke of the Knicks injuries and their tough loss, the Blazers were in a joking mood by the night’s end. Terry Stotts offered this zinger about Wesley Matthews’ 3-point shooting in the second half after hitting five in the first half.
But the 3-pointers weren’t the only thing that stood out for the Blazers tonight. Like Joel Freeland’s block on Cole Aldrich.
- It was center Chris Kaman’s first game back since the birth of his son Barrett Christopher Kaman. According to Kaman, the labor for his wife Emilie was 32 hours in total. “It was a lot of work for her and she’s exhausted. And it’s hard cause he wants to eat still and you know you get up and down. It’s a long process for a woman. I have a lot more respect for women now than I used to. Especially ones that bear children.”
- “I feel like it’s a different kind of connection,” he said on what it’s like being a father. “I’ve seen my nephew grow up. It’s still completely different to have your own. It’s unbelievable.”
- Kaman also addressed why he named his boy Barrett. “We called him Barrett because I want to call him Bear for short. And I wanted to get away with calling him Bear and have his full name be something else and that’s the only thing I could think of.” He continued, “Some people think I named him after the broadcaster Mike Barrett but that’s not true either. That’s definitely not true.”
- Kaman had some more gold when asked about the play of Joel Freeland as the starting center over the past few games. “He’s getting minutes and he’s taking advantage of them. That’s good for us,” he said. “Coach can trust him a little more in situations where he knows he can do his job and perform to the best of his abilities. He did tonight and last game.” Then reporters asked him if he watched the last game since he wasn’t with the team. He was apparently in the delivery room watching the game while his wife was giving birth. “She just was starting to push as the game came on.”
- CJ McCollum and Meyers Leonard where nearby when Kaman said this and CJ had a question for Kaman. “Did you hold her hand or watch the game?” Kaman replied “I was watching the game.”
- I wrote about the team and fan reaction to Joel Freeland’s game. Freeland spoke of the team’s chemistry and enjoyment in the success of one another. “People get excited for each other. When Meyers does something on the court I get excited for him. That’s the great chemistry that we have and I think that makes our team stronger.”
- Stotts on Freeland’s performance: “Joel has just been solid. He does what he does well. He plays very hard. He plays his minutes hard. He goes after balls. He just gives great effort defensively. He had what 17 rebounds the other night? He just is very conscientious about how hard he plays his minutes.”
- The Blazers moved the ball with ease tonight. “It makes everybody more unselfish,” said Damian Lillard. “One guys makes the extra pass and the next time another guy is doing it. And it’s contagious. And it looks good and it’s great for our team. Tonight was another one of those times.”
- Matthews talked about the Blazers success plugging in players from the bench when asked about Freeland’s play in a bigger role. “Obviously we’re a way better team with LA. We’ve been able to win games but there’s no question that we need to do go where we want to go. It gives people opportunities that weren’t there before. And you never know. The NBA is funny. Anything can happen. Foul trouble. We need people to step in in certain situations and now they are getting that game experience.”
- Matthews said he saw that the Knicks were heartbroken after losing in overtime to the Kings Saturday night. “I watched their game last night. They had a heartbreak game last night against sacramento. We had to go at it early. They were down players, they were down bodies. They had to be exhausted and these are games we have to win. That’s what takes good teams to great and great teams to elite.”
- Victor Claver stepped in and played another solid game off the bench which included hitting a 3-pointer. Claver’s 3-point shot had been his biggest issue in his first two seasons. But when the Blazers are healthy, there just aren’t many minutes for him, a reality Stotts was asked about. “It’s a tough situation for him and Thomas. Look, when LA is healthy, LA is going to play 36 minutes. That’s 12 minutes of back-up 4. Joel has been playing a lot of his minutes at center because RoLo has been out. When we get healthy, it’s a tough situation for guys on the bench to get in the game. That being said, I think he has shown that he can play, just as Thomas has, just as Joel Has. Dorell has played very well. Dorell was playing 4 in San Antonio, in Oklahoma City, and again tonight. So he’s played well at 4. So it’s everybody’s job to just do their best when they get an opportunity and we’ll go from there.”
- Following Sunday’s win Wesley Matthews (96) and Damian Lillard (87) lead the NBA in 3-pointers.
- The Blazers have a light week with only two games on the schedule. It just so happens that they will be two tough games against the teams with the two best records in the Eastern Conference in the Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks.
- If you somehow missed this from The Oregonian’s Jason Quick on Damian Lillard, you should catch-up.
- And we’re back with a new edition of the Moda Center Food Review! Sunday we reviewed Seven Rivers BBQ.