Trail Blazers Press Release

15 Most Important Games Of The Season: A Ringing Endorsement

08/26/10
  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. 7: A Ringing Endorsement


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

    Playing a full 82 game NBA season is physically and mentally exhausting enough. Players must travel constantly, arrive in random cities at all hours of the night, only see their families sporadically for the majority of the year, and on top of it all there's the physical beating each athlete takes daily either in practice or in game situations. And that would be considered an ideal season. The 2010 Trail Blazers endured much more challenges than the average hustle and bustle of everyday NBA life. Every time things started to look like they were turning around, Portland was hit hard with another setback. Much like the Oregon weather, adversity was seemingly raining down upon the entire organization.

    Just one day after an exhilarating late-minute victory over the Lakers in Los Angeles, more misfortune struck the franchise as it was announced that Brandon Roy's knee injury was much more severe than originally believed. After banging knees with Lakers forward Ron Artest in the second quarter, Roy left the court shortly afterward and never returned. What was hoped to be only a minor sprain was revealed as a torn meniscus.

    With rival Oklahoma City in town, win no. 50 hanging in the balance and playoff tie-breakers all on the line, the rest of the team now had to try and focus on the task at hand after finding out just one hour before tip-off that their captain may be out for the rest of the season. Portland had taken punch after punch only to get back up ready to fight even harder, but would this blow ultimately be the knockout punch?

    “Just terrible," Coach McMillan said in reaction to Roy's injury news. "It’s been a bad year for us for injuries with our group. It’s just something we’ve had to deal with all year long. It seemed like every few hours it got worse. So we know what the situation is. We’ll rest him this week and see if he can go, see if he can do something. That’ll be depending on how Brandon feels… …We’ll see when that time comes if he can go. If not, making those adjustments – we’ve had to do it all year long. Again, guys have stepped up. So this group has really tightened up as far as being together during adversity that they’ve faced all season long.”

    Early on through the first half of action, the news of Roy's prolonged absence did appear to be getting the best of the Trail Blazers. At the half, the deficit was eight, 51-43, the crowd was restless, and even worse, Kevin Durant was feeling it to say the least, tallying 21 first-half points in an array of ways: at the foul line (9-9 FT), beyond the arc (2-2 FG), from the floor (5-7 FG). In the past, a youth-laden Trail Blazers team may have been overwhelmed with the scenario presented in front of them, not capable of being able to focus on the comeback. But these situations are the exact reasons why veterans such as Marcus Camby, Juwan Howard, and Andre Miller

    "I watched my mistakes," Batum said in regards to his defense on Durant. "We didn't put pressure on him. The first five minutes (of the second half). I tried to send a message, just go to him, be more aggressive."

    Aggressive was an understatement. As if new life were breathed into the entire team during the 15 minute intermission, Portland bombarded Oklahoma City with a 10-0 run over the course of the first three minutes of the third to take a 53-51 advantage. Like a heavyweight fight, the Thunder bounced back and recovered nicely, clinging to a 84-79 lead with just eight minutes to play. But instead getting knocked around by all of the culminating adversity, Portland delivered a knock-out punch of their own, rolling over the Thunder with a 21-4 run over the next six minutes to take a commanding 100-88 lead, eventually winning 103-95.

    “It’s special in the sense that we knew it was an important game," McMillan said after the game. "We get the tie breaker, it’s 50 wins for us, we can’t drop to 8th spot. So a lot was riding on this game. The fact that we had just beaten the Lakers and Brandon is out. We needed guys to step up and they did tonight. Yes, it was a special game. I thought the second half, we started to play our game. The defense tightened up. Offensively, we scored 60 points and we got 60 in the paint so we were aggressive throughout this game.”

    In the process of fueling the second-half comeback was the outstanding defense played by Martell Webster and Nicholas Batum on Durant, keeping him locked down to the tune of 3-for-13 shooting from the field, one trip to the charity stripe, and a measly nine points in the final 24 minutes. While Portland reached the 50 win plateau for the second consecutive season for the first time in nine seasons, shut down the NBA's scoring champ over the final two periods, avoided the treacherous eight seed, and continued to defy all odds, no storyline was bigger on this night than the play of one Marcus Camby.

    Whether listening on the radio, watching on television, or sitting live in the Rose Garden stands, one player was always in the middle of the action, Marcus Camby.. A pair of free-throws here, a mid-range jump shot there, and a bevy of tip-ins were all in Camby's arsenal that night. Some players are just always in the right place at the right time and even more valuable than the buckets were the moments during the game in which they occurred.

    Immediately after the Thunder grabbed their largest lead of the night late in the second quarter, 12, Camby was right there to thwart any chance of allowing Oklahoma City to take over, as evidenced on back-to-back possessions where offensive rebounds resulted in four points, keeping Portland afloat. When the dust had settled, Camby's stat line read 30 points (12-16 FG) and 13 rebounds, the biggest double-double of his young Trail Blazers career.

    “Great. He’s been great since he’s joined the team," McMillan replied. "Last night he had a big tip in to be a deciding factor in that game. Tonight, just a great job of again controlling the paint on both sides of the court, rebounding the ball, defending the basket. He’s communicating, doing everything you would want a veteran to do. Both he and Howard since joining this club are bringing what we need at this time. Those guys understand the moment; they know how to play in the moment. Tonight, he knew it was a big game and he stepped up to the plate, shooting the ball, knocking down his free throws, defending the basket – great job.”

    While winning 50 games, avoiding the eighth seed, and Camby’s impromptu play were all substantial feats for the time being, what the fans did at the Rose Garden on April 12th truly cemented this game into Trail Blazers history. Showing their appreciation for the performance they just witnessed, the fans serenaded Marcus with chants of his name (Mar-cus Cam-bee) so loud he even had to even ask Juwan Howard on the bench if he was hearing things correctly. Just eight days later, Marcus passed up an opportunity to sign for more money as a free agent, instead opting to re-sign an extension with the Trail Blazers and was quoted as saying, “Portland felt right to me since I got here and the support from the team, fans and organization has been incredible.” Now Coach McMillan has his 6-11, 235-pound ace in the hole, ready to use whenever the chips get stacked against him for the next two seasons. Thanks fans!

    "Haven't heard anything like that since I was in the (Madison Square) Garden," said Camby, who played his home games there for New York from 1998-2002. "Felt good to be appreciated."

    Previous Important Games
    #8 || #9 || #10 || #11 || #12 || #13 || #14 || #15

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