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PLAYER GRADES: The Blazers’ Stunning Comeback in Denver

Wednesday, December 03, 2014



An absolute monster from start to finish. In his best game of the season Aldridge was unquestionably the MVP. He carried the Blazers early, at one point accounting for 26 of Portland's 46 points. Aldridge did more than just score, though. He grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. And, with the scored tied, and the final seconds ticking away, he fed Robin Lopez for the game-winning basket--it was Aldridge's first assist of the evening. But who needs assists when you've piled up a season-high 39 points?



Kind of an odd game for Batum, but an effective one. Clearly he is still in the midst of a shooting slump, having missed each of his three attempts from behind the three-point line while passing a myriad of others. Meanwhile, he handed out 13 assists, just one shy of his career-high. Nine of them came in the first half. Batum also added four rebounds and three steals.



With four seconds left the Blazers inbounded to LaMarcus Aldridge at the top of the key. With the hot hand, the Nuggets assumed Aldridge would be the one to take the potential game-winner. Meanwhile, Lopez spun around and sealed off Denver's JJ Hickson. Aldridge whipped the pass down to Lopez who scored the game-winning layup with ease. Said Lopez of the final play: "I think (Denver) assumed anyone would shoot it but me and we used that to our advantage." To be sure, Lopez's grade is boosted by making the game-winner, but otherwise it was ho-hum, as he finished with only three rebounds. Still, he came through when it mattered most.





It was a tough go for Lillard, who spent most of the game in foul trouble. After picking up his fourth foul early in the third quarter, Lillard was clearly fuming on the bench. He re-entered the game and scored eight unanswered points for the Blazers. But Lillard missed a number of shots he usually makes, including what would've been a go-ahead layup that bounced three times on the rim before going out. Fortunately for the Blazers, Denver fumbled the rebound, which set up Lopez's game-winner.



Matthew's game was similar to RoLo's in the sense that a critical play down the stretch--a steal that gave the Blazers the game-winning possession--boosts his grade on night where he struggled mightily. After the three previous games where Matthews made an unreal 19-of-31 of his attempts from downtown, Tuesday in Denver he made just one of a whopping 10 tries.



Portland made just 5-of-22 attempts from distance. If not for Blake, that 23% mart would've been even worked, as Blake was really the only Blazer hitting from deep. He made all three attempts from three-point land to finish with 13 points, three boards and three assists.



With four points, one rebound and two turnovers, Kaman's outing in Denver on Tuesday was his worst in a Blazers uniform.



Simply for the marvelous high-low out-of-bounds play he drew up that got Lopez the game-winner, Terry Stotts deserves the highest of praise. He gets even more for keeping the Blazers believing, as many times they knocked on Denver's door to have it slammed back in their face.



The Nuggets are a whole lot better than the last time they played Portland. After starting 2-7 Denver have gone 8-2. And clearly they were motivated by the near historical drubbing at the hands of the Blazers last month, where Portland piled up a mind-blowing 84 first-half points. 

Through three quarters, Tuesday seemed like Denver's revenge game. The Blazers would make a run and Denver would answer--they just seemed to have the will to win this one, while the Blazers looked sluggish.

But again, Portland kept the faith and turned it around. The wild is becoming almost common place in terms of Blazer comebacks. To wit: this season Portland have won four of the five games in which they have trailed entering the fourth quarter. And while the Blazers have overcome greater deficits than the 14 points they were behind to the Nuggets, Tuesday, they've done it against teams who weren't playing as well. It was one of Portland's gutsiest performances in a season full of them.




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