Something happened. Not sure what it was but, like magic -- for two games, at least -- the Trail Blazers have looked the way we thought they would look all season.
Portland stormed into Memphis Wednesday night, on the second of back-to-back games, no less, and hammered the Grizzlies 130-109.
It was a 15-point game after one quarter and a 28-point lead at halftime. A nice big bucket of revenge.
The team that had lost five straight home games – including two to Memphis – and nine of its last 11, was suddenly alive and well.
Was there an event – a speech, a meeting, a fight, ANYTHING – that caused this turnaround?
“No, other than the fact that it was frustrating losing five in a row,” Coach Terry Stotts said. “We knew how important these games were, and we've got a tough schedule ahead of us. And I think I've always trusted the character of our guys. You know, they compete. And I don't think it was one thing, it was nothing that anybody said or did, but I do trust the character of our team. And, and we came out and played.”
Carmelo Anthony said the team has been talking about the situation and had come to the obvious conclusion – time is running out.
“We had conversations amongst each other -- with the team and the players and, you know, we really had to understand and grasp how important these wins, or how important these games are,” Anthony said. “Because it's coming down to crunch time now and we’ve got to go. We’ve got to pick ourselves up and we can't lie, we can't complain, we can't point fingers, we've got to go play ball.”
And for the last two games, they have.
The common threads in the win at Indiana and this one in Memphis are obvious – more effort and focus on defense and better shooting on offense.
Stotts has felt his team has been playing well, but just ending up on the wrong end of close games recently.
“Obviously, last night was a very good win for us” he said. “And we took care of business last night, we took care of business tonight.
“As I said before, the last couple of weeks we've lost a lot of close games. And I think that kind of clouds the narrative, a little bit.
“Because we were on the losing streak, even though we lost a lot of close games, it felt like we weren't playing well but we weren't playing as bad as the losing streak indicated. So, that being said, I think tonight and last night showed that we're playing the way we need to play.”
The Blazers held the Grizzlies to 42 percent shooting from the field, including just 28.1 percent from three-point distance. Meanwhile, Portland purred along at 48.9 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from three.
But it doesn’t get any easier for this team. Ahead is a Friday night matchup against the Brooklyn Nets. And then three more games on this trip.