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Baseline-to-Baseline recaps: Portland says they are contenders, too

Jan 4, 2012, 3:02 AM EDT

Thunder, Trail Blazers, Nazr Getty Images

What you missed while Iowa was the center of the political world for a night…

Bulls 76, Hawks 74: This ugly but exciting contest was our Game of the Night.

Portland 103, Oklahoma City 93: Portland wants you to know they are contenders, too. Or they at least are starting to look like it early (we’re not convinced they are that good, but they could be a top three seed in the West). They exposed the team that is supposed to be the best in the West.

Portland pounded the ball inside early and LaMarcus Aldridge shined with 11 early points and 30 on the night. It also meant Portland got to the line 36 times on the night to 21 for a Thunder team happy to settle for jumpers. Portland — you need to do this every game. Inside out. Do not settle. As for the Thunder they need a more consistent second source of scoring because when it is the Kevin Durant show and he is 8-26 and not attacking the paint, it will be very difficult to get the win.

Can’t read much into one early season game, but Portland is making its case to be mentioned along with the other contenders out West.

Cavaliers 115, Bobcats 101: Cleveland looked good and is now over .500 on the season (3-2). Kyrie Irving was impressive, slashing into the Bobcats defense and breaking them down, just controlling the tempo. He looked like the No. 1 overall pick and finished with 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting plus six assists. Tristan Thompson showed flashes of how impressive he could be on his way to 16 points (but there were lowlights, too as he took some bad shots late). D.J. Augustin led Charlotte with 23 points.

Grizzlies 113, Kings 94: Even without Zach Randolph the Grizzlies were far the better side and were in control the entire second half. Rudy Gay had 23 and it was a good night for Sam Young with 20 off the bench. Jimmer Fredette led the Kings with 17.

Yes, DeMarcus Cousins did play, about 22 minutes, and he was 1-of-5 and wasn’t finishing well inside. But Cousins did have eight rebounds. So, pretty much the same as before he and Paul Westphal had a battle of egos. I’d say Tyreke Evans wasn’t sharp but nobody on the Kings was sharp.

Jazz 85, Bucks 73: The Bucks shot 30.5 percent as a team for the night, and that will not get it done. Not close. The Bucks hung around but were never to get over the hump. Brandon Jennings has not looked good the last couple of nights. Al Jefferson had 26 and 10 for the Jazz.

Lakers 108, Rockets 99: As promised, Kobe Bryant kept on shooting — 29 shots this time, one more than the Sunday loss to Denver. But he got to his spots on the floor — he took his shots on his terms — and hit 14 on his way to 37 points. He posted up a lot against the smaller Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin, something the Rockets struggled to stop.. The Lakers got the ball inside the more traditional way as well, Andrew Bynum finished with 21 points and 22 rebounds, while Pau Gasol hit 7-of-11 for 14 points. The Rockets kept it pretty close until the fourth quarter, when an 11-2 Lakers run pretty much put this one away. Lowry still had 22 points.

  1. p1nch3dloaf - Jan 4, 2012 at 4:25 AM

    POR,103 OKC, 93 (‘we’re not convinced they are that good…’)

    obviously!…Blazers win and I get to see highlights of Durant blocking Matthews?!?

    That’s like the Ducks winning the Rose Bowl with highlights of Montee Ball hurdling a Duck defender.

  2. nbascreed - Jan 4, 2012 at 7:27 AM

    I too, think the Blaze is legit. I watched the game last night and when I saw Felton, Crawford, Battumie, Wallace and Aldridge on the floor, I thought to myself that is a pretty formidable five on the floor.

    Incidentally, am I the only one that thinks Felton looks about 25lbs overweight?

  3. bparmalee - Jan 4, 2012 at 8:30 AM

    The Blazers are a solid team… with a bunch of good players but no “killers”. They can all hurt you a little but they just dont have that guy thats going to take over a game…you need that in the playoffs. Roy was that guy for them and now its just missing. So I’ll continue to enjoy watching them but I dont think they are true contenders.

    • qdog112 - Jan 4, 2012 at 10:22 AM

      You mean like Lebron? I see your point. They actually lost their guy to injury, but with them it’s next man up and coach Mac, who is tough as nails, will have them ready. They 3 who can be that guy. The situation will dictate.

      • bparmalee - Jan 4, 2012 at 10:53 AM

        I hope your right…. I enjoy their games. I’m just worried when the guys on your team that have hit the most big or late game shots are Crawford and Felton.

  4. klownboy - Jan 4, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    I had Portland finishing third in the Northwest division, but they could surprise this year…

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