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15 Most Important Games Of The Season: Jerryd Bayless Comes To The Rescue

08/13/10
  1. Written by: DHawes22  / avg. rating: 5.0


    It's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of an NBA season. There's little time for reflection when the focus is always on the next game.

    With the 2009-2010 season behind us, now is a good time to count down the 15 games that shaped the season and, possibly, the future of the franchise. Game No. 10: Jerryd Bayless To The Rescue


    Links: Game Recap || Game Notes || Photo Gallery

    Being used sparingly can take its toll on the average NBA player, let alone a promising sophomore, who's accustomed to being his team's focal point from elementary school through college. With the free agent acquisition of fellow point guard Andre Miller and veteran Steve Blake already entrenched in Coach McMillan's rotation, the cards in the deck didn't look like they would be any different from his rookie campaign which saw 29 DNP-COACH'S DECISIONS. But opportunities find ways to present themselves when you stay prepared.

    One night after breaking an 11-game losing streak in Dallas and conjointly losing center Joel Przybilla for the season with a ruptured right patella, news broke shortly before tip-off that Brandon Roy would be absent with a sore left shoulder. The Trail Blazers would now only have nine players suited up, including two rookies and a NBADL call-up, to battle the veteran Spurs in San Antonio, a venue Portland had only won once in over the course of their past 12 attempts. Opportunity knocks. Jerryd Bayless answers.

    The saying goes, "If you allow an underdog to hang around the game long enough, they build confidence with each passing minute, making them much more difficult to dispose of." Surely the experienced Spurs wouldn't make this mistake, right? Wrong. Even the most battle-tested squads are prone to overlooking their opponents and in the NBA, any team can win on any given night. Just as any underdog should do, the Trail Blazers weathered the storm early on, taking everything San Antonio threw at him, and ended the first quarter up four, 28-24.

    "This is the NBA," said Spurs guard Roger Mason, Jr. "One guy goes down and another guy gets an opportunity. Tonight, it was Bayless. He had been playing very well and he got an opportunity. Other guys made shots and they are all NBA players. You know you are going to get their best shot."

    Riding a wave comprised of momentum, adrenaline, and confidence, Portland broke open a close game in the 4th quarter with a 12-2 run, speared by none other than Jerryd Bayless who made all the plays down the stretch. After a Howard offensive rebound, Jerryd had Tony Parker on his heels and ended up taking two from the line, took a charge on the other end, drove down the middle of the lane again, only this time handing it off to Juwan for an easy bucket, and iced the game with a buzzer-beating three over Parker to give Portland a 96-87 lead with two minutes to go. The Blazers would eventually hold on to win 98-94, behind a career-high 31 points (10-24 FG, 9-10 FT) and 7 assists from the sporadically used reserve who just made the most out of what was given to him.

    "If you give me the opportunity I'm going to try and help this team win in any way possible," Bayless added after his performance. "It's not about me, it's about the team. I had a pretty good game, but LaMarcus had a good game and Steve stepped up. This whole team stepped up all around. With all these injuries it's just showing the heart and character of this team. Hopefully we continue to win."

    While Jerryd received the publicity from the media after his eye-opening achievement, it was a team accomplishment on that December night which garnered Portland win No.19. Juwan Howard, playing out of position due to the loss of centers Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla, put together a double-double, scoring 12 points (6-9 FG) and grabbing 12 rebounds. The feat even more impressive considering it was his second consecutive double-double, on back-to-back nights no less and doing all of this at the youthful age of 36. Allowing Portland to get off to a quick start was LaMarcus Aldridge who scored eight of his 22 points in the first 12 minutes of action on an efficient 4-for-5 shooting from the field. Whether or not it was scripted beforehand to have Jerryd have such an impact, just as they did the entire year, the Trail Blazers always had someone they could turn to.

    "That wasn't our game plan," Howard said in regards to Bayless taking over. "We're going to go through L.A. first, and that's how we started the game, milking LaMarcus Aldridge and knowing that we all have to feed off him. LaMarcus got off to a great start but then got into some foul trouble, but Jerryd Bayless is a very strong player, a very confident player and he just stepped up to the occasion. It was a team effort...everyone in this locker room contributed."

    In the grand scheme of the 2010 season, this game wasn't about the win or the loss, rather it reinforced a reoccurring trend the team has shown under Head Coach Nate McMillan, resiliency. No matter what player went down, there was always someone waiting in the wings, ready to step in and perform at any moment. No matter what the adversity was, these Portland Trail Blazers took pride in playing for their city, their fans, and themselves by leaving it all on the hardwood. No, the unlikely victory in San Antonio wasn't out of the ordinary; it was just another day at the office for Nate's crew.

    "I would say we're playing the game the right way,” said McMillan. “I firmly believe if you do that, you play the game hard, you play this game together, and you will give yourself a chance to win in this league. you can have all the talent in the world, but if you're not playing the game the right way, you won't win games. This team, tonight, they showed again that they do have character. You talk about resiliency with a group. There's no words. I'm so happy for this group. Even though we go 3-1 on this road trip, it's the best road trip I've been on. With everything that has happened with this group and having to play this tough schedule, we knew we would be challenged on this road trip. Our guys responded and a lot of adversity as far as losing some guys and asking some guys to play tough basketball, but they hung in there and gave themselves a chance."

    Previous Important Games
    #11 || #12 || #13 || #14 || #15

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