Dallas, Detroit, Memphis, New Orleans
Four decent teams are a combined 0-4 in Portland, after Detroit lost there last night.
Blazer fans are acting in ways they have not acted for a long time.
Nothing to have a party about, way early, but that's pretty cool, for the youngest team in the league whose most valuable asset is out for the season.
Chris McCosky of the Detroit News writes about the matchup between LaMarcus Aldridge and the player he most resembles, Rasheed Wallace:
It was the first time [Rasheed] Wallace had lost in Portland since coming to the Pistons.
"I ain't sweating that," he said. "I couldn't care less about coming back here and winning. I got a bigger picture. My picture isn't just to come back here and beat them. My picture is getting more hardware. They are worried about making the playoffs and beating me. They can do that. I am worried about the hardware."
Wallace must have thought for a minute that he was in some kind of weird Nike commercial where he was playing one-on-one against his younger self. Aldridge is the spitting image of Wallace circa 1996 -- same 6-11 frame, same high release and dead-eye shooting touch. Same fearlessness.
Aldridge made nine of 16 shots, had 10 rebounds and outscored Wallace 15-2 in the second half.
"He killed us," Saunders said.
Early in the fourth quarter, Wallace posted Aldridge, spun and scored. On the ensuing possession, Aldridge made the same exact move and scored over Wallace.
I'm a big believer that you need mentally tough players. Players who will rip the victory straight from the hands of the opponent. It has been a worry, frankly, whether or not this Portland team has those kinds of scrappers. (That's part of the reason Taurean Green excites me a little -- he's nasty on the court, in a good way.)
Last, night, however, Jarrett Jack was that guy, for sure. Dave from BlazersEdge reports:
Jack got an early call because of Blake's foul trouble and boy did he respond! All of that tentative play we talked about happened before he came in. When he hit the floor it's like he was taking guff from NOBODY. He was bumping and grinding, driving and using his strength to draw fouls and finish. He was a scoring machine in there and his energy and grit broke the old "Wow...these are the Pistons" spell. His 20 points on 7-10 shooting don't measure his contributions. If he hadn't given us that shot in the arm we maybe never would have woken up. Also don't miss what a weapon his great foul shooting makes him. The defense has to be careful with him because he could score any number of ways and you can't stop him by hacking.
As reported by Krista Jahnke in the Detroit Free Press, Flip Saunders is bullish on the Blazers.
The Blazers are 4-0 at home after Tuesday's 102-94 victory over the Pistons in which Roy scored 20. Sunday, they ended a 13-game losing streak to the Dallas Mavericks, and Roy has much to do with that. "For a young guy, he likes to get the ball in late-game, late-clock situations and make plays," Saunders said. "He's impressive."
Saunders said he was disappointed to hear about Oden's injury as he had anticipated seeing him play at the NBA level. "But the way they're playing right now, they're playing unbelievable at home," Saunders said. "He'd be another guy who'd be a mix into their group. There's no question that the future here is a pretty bright future."