Don't look now, but our hometown Blazers are the hottest team in the NBA, proud owners of the longest active winning streak in the league, currently at 10. The Miami Heat are not a bad team, but they arrived in Portland hobbled without star veteran Dwayne Wade and their impressive center Hassan Whiteside. With Whiteside absent, Portland's big man, Jusuf Nurkic, had his way in the middle, scoring 27 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. Miami staged a brief rally in the 4th quarter, but Damian Lillard stomped it out and the Blazers coasted to a sweet 115-99 victory.
This was a nationally televised game, so the NBA spotlight shone even brighter on Portland and it's stellar play as of late. The big story, of course, has been the elite, MVP level performance by Damian Lillard. For the past month Lillard has been the best player in the entire league, single handedly dominating opposing teams with his cold-blooded shooting.
Portland led 59-47 at the half and the crowd was loving it. Here's a view of some of the fans at halftime:
These parents were very excited to bring their son Carson to a game. He's a big fan and about to undergo a month and a half isolation as he seeks to overcome stage 4 cancer. Way to go, Mom and Dad. Let's hope the Blazers are deep in the playoffs when Carson gets out!
These women had their red/black color coordination down:
These two were giddy about the winning streak:
And this family was just looking good:
The second half saw Portland pull away and many of us sensed a blowout in the making. But Miami showed some heart and went on an 18-2 run in the fourth quarter to bring the game within 3 points. Then Lillard entered the game and shut things down. He's an assassin these days, and when he isn't doing the killing, his teammates are. Zach Collins continues to play well and Evan Turner is also putting in some quality minutes, both nice surprises.
After the game Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, a Portland native, by the way, commented on the Lillard hype. ''It's not just about him being a great player, it's the timing of his greatness that's so unique. Every time there needs to be a big time play, or if momentum started to go our way, he made that play.''
Spoelstra is right about Dame - it's the timing of his greatness that is so uncanny. And that's why they're all calling him Big Game Dame these days. Let's just hope he keeps it up.
Portland hosts Eastern Conference champs the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday in what will likely be a very heated and exciting game. Cleveland is still adjusting to their big trade deadline shake up, but they are playing well and fighting for playoff position in the East. Cleveland is also home to a player named Lebron James, and he'd like little better than to make a statement by bringing this Blazer winning streak to an end. Things are getting hot here in Portland, folks. If you aren't doing it already, it's time to pay attention to your hometown Blazers.