CHARLOTTE – It was Rodney’s World Sunday afternoon, and the rest of us were just orbiting.
Rodney Hood scored all of his 27 points in the second half – 21 in the fourth quarter -- and the Trail Blazers fought off the Charlotte Hornets 118-108, Portland’s fifth win on this seven-game road trip, with one more contest Tuesday night in Memphis.
Hood played nine minutes in the first half and took only one shot and missed it. But he took off in the second half, making 9 of his 13 attempts, including 3 of 6 from three-point range.
But the most impressive thing about his night is that his coach and his teammates allowed it to happen. Not every team is going to get out of a bench player’s way and allow him to go off the way Hood did. On a lot of teams, you get your time on the floor and then you go sit down, no matter how well you play.
“Coach didn’t have to call my play,” he said. “My teammates did a great job of setting me screens and getting me open. The best way to shoot your way out of a slump is just to keep shooting,.
“I just needed a couple of them to fall to get going. The biggest thing I did in the second half is not think. I was worried about learning the plays and trying to figure everything out. We just played ball.”
The Blazers have been playing Hero-For-A-Day for a while now, with different players taking a big role in various games.
“Me and Dame were talking and he was just relieved,” Hood said. “Those guys don’t have to take over the game every single time. Late in the fourth quarter they were just letting me run pick-and-roll and letting me make plays. They were telling me how much of a relief that is. I just have to stay consistent.
“Tonight it was me, tomorrow it might be Enes and the next night, maybe CJ is scoring 40 again.
“I give a lot of credit to my teammates. They were giving me the ball and telling me to keep it going and take my shots.”
Hornets Coach James Borrego talked about how much of a problem it is to defend a team when somebody comes in off the bench and runs wild on your team.
“I saw a lot of Rodney Hood,” he said. “You have to give him credit. We held McCollum to six points, Lillard to 23 and our guys battled defensively. Hood had 21 points in a quarter.
“He’s only made one three in the last five games so give him credit. He came in, made shots and hit some heaves at the end of some shot clocks.”
Lillard knows the importance of finding balance on a team.
“It’s huge,” he said of Hood’s performance. “I think you’ve got myself, CJ, Nurk – we know what our roles are. And then now you add Enes, another post presence, and then you’ve got somebody else like Rodney who is a wing scorer and a versatile defender. He can get hot the way he did tonight.
“In the past, maybe where CJ has to be in more actions even on a night when he’s not making shots, not have to be in more actions and we’re more in a scramble trying to find offense.
“Now, he’s rolling, and me and CJ are on the weak side. So it’s a little harder for teams when somebody else is rolling the way he was tonight and we’re just on the other side, setting screens.
“And we’ve got spacing now and it’s even more dangerous. In the fourth quarter, the game was tight and he carried us, big shot after big shot.
“I think mentally and physically it’s less challenging when you can turn to somebody else who is rolling like that.”
Coach Terry Stotts deserves credit, too. He’s always willing to let a bench player stay on the floor late in games if he’s playing well. He loves to ride the hot hand.
“There are going to be different guys on different nights,” Stotts said. “So it’s probably going to be the way it’s going to be. See how the game plays itself out and hopefully it will be some tough decisions to make at times, if everyone is playing well. But it’s good to have multiple options.”
And Sunday, it was Hood’s turn.