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After fourth straight loss Trail Blazers hold team meeting

Mar 13, 2014, 1:31 PM EDT

Terry Stotts, Damian Lillard AP

Portland has lost four in a row and is 7-9 in their last 16 games. In a tight Western Conference, that is trouble — gone is home court advantage in the first round as the hot Clippers and Rockets shot past them. Portland is now the five seed with Golden State just 1.5 games back.

Add to that LaMarcus Aldridge is banged up, although how much time he misses remains to be seen, and it’s more reason for concern.

After the efficient Spurs shredded the Trail Blazers 103-90 Wednesday night Damian Lillard started a team meeting to discuss turning the slide around, reports Chris Haynes at CSNNW.com.

Earl Watson, Mo Williams and Dorell Wright were amongst some of the players to vocally address what was going on and what needed to change from here on out, we’re told.

“I just felt like it was something that needed to be said,” Lillard responded when ask why he initiated the dialogue. “At some point, it’s up to the players.”

“It’s time for a players-meeting when we see a little slippage,” Wright said. “Every team has two or three a year. I love the fact that this was the only one this season where guys really had to step up and be vocal leaders. And the best thing about it, we got vets in here that have been through things and young guys that have been through things as well and understand when it’s time to speak up. That’s what guys did tonight.”

Portland’s problem is its once league-leading offense has slipped — Portland struggled defensively early but has improved on that end of the court and is now solid and in the top half of the league over its last 15 games. However, an offense that averaged 110.1 points per 100 possessions from the start of the season through Jan. 1 has averaged 102.7 in its last five games, 106.8 in the last 15, ranked 13th in the NBA for that stretch. Their once powerful offense has become pedestrian, their defense isn’t good enough to turn that into a lot of wins.

In their last five games the Blazers have shot 33.9 percent from three, down from a season average of 37.4 percent — in the first 20 games they shot better than 42 percent, back when they were catching teams off guard. In the last five the Blazers also are down three percent on their shooting from the midrange. The jumpers are not going down as defenses have adjusted.

Portland also leans heavily on its starters, they wore down last season as well.

They have just more than a month to figure it out, get rested and healthy, and be ready for the playoffs. There are no easy rounds for any team in the West and now Portland likely has to start on the road. They are going to need their November form on offense (or something much closer to it) if they want to get out of the first round.

  1. ufools - Mar 13, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    Really…..I believe Portland has overachieved this season. They don’t have much depth….fellas are getting tired.

  2. savvybynature - Mar 13, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    When your team only has one legit bench player (Mo Williams), guys are going to wear down and injuries can be devastating (see: LaMarcus Aldridge).
    They have a great core though and seem like they’ve found the right coach, so their window is just starting to open. If they keep building this team should be good for awhile.

  3. spursareold - Mar 13, 2014 at 3:35 PM

    They’re a jump shooting team who’s coach really plays like 7.5 guys per game. When the legs are gone, the jumpers go ‘clank’ instead of ‘swish’. I like Stotts overall as a coach, but he REALLY needs to develop a bench, even at the expense of some early season losses. Guys don’t get better sitting down. The Spurs just outmanned them by playing a 9 man rotation. Every time Portland got close, the bench came in and dropped bombs on them, extending the lead by 8-10 points. The Spurs bench guys were ready to play, because they get regular burn, either for rest or injury coverage. They know they’re going to play.

  4. pbtunpaidwriter - Mar 13, 2014 at 4:09 PM

    I love Rip City but…

    1. Defense (lack of) is catching up to them and their offense can’t keep up
    2. The relentless grind of the west competition is catching up to them
    3. LaMarcus Aldridge can’t carry his team while falling in love with shooting multiple 17 foot fadeaway jumpers every game

    I hope they figure it out soon.

  5. kb2408 - Mar 13, 2014 at 5:04 PM

    LaMarcus might “figure it out” by taking his talents to the LAKERS.

  6. abchome - Mar 14, 2014 at 1:58 AM

    Their hot 3 point shooting to start the season was, until proven otherwise, simply unsustainable. Knicks learnt that last year.

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