The old-and-improved Blazers

Look who’s all grown up. It’s still an adjustment to think of the Portland Trail Blazers as the been-there, done-that team, the wise old heads who know exactly what to do when it matters most.

But LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy are in their fifth seasons now, and with Marcus Camby (36 years old) and Andre Miller (34) in the starting lineup the average age of Portland’s top six players is 27.7. If you look at the “Age of Champions” box that accompanied this story you’ll see the Blazers are in that target zone of youth and experience. They’re old enough to know what to do, young enough to still be able to do it.

Aldridge and Roy still remember the bitter defeats, the times they had a game in hand – had it -- and then Tim Duncan’s Spurs or Kevin Garnett’s Timberwolves snatched it from them.

Now it’s their turn.

The Trail Blazers have owned crunch time in their first two games, outscoring the Suns and Clippers by a combined 59-28. You could practically hear the admiration in Baron Davis’ voice after what the Trail Blazers did to his Clippers, notably a 15-0 run in the heart of the final period.

“The last six minutes it’s all confidence and execution,” Davis said. “A team like that, they’ve been in 100 games like that. They know what it takes. They know how to dig down, find that extra shot, play that extra second.”

That’s how it is with these Blazers

“Most of these guys, we don’t really get rattled,” Roy said. “They got like a four-point lead and we all kind of sat down and said, ‘Let’s turn it up. We don’t want to blow this game.' We went out there and played great on D. In the past we might try to get it back on offense. We were really good on D in the fourth quarter.

The most impressive part: the fourth-quarter rally came on the second night of a set of back-to-back games. Good to see the old guys still have some energy left.