The NBA: Blazers Breaking the Curse?

Portland looking good after the first couple of weeks.
Can they sustain it?

*All images are by the Associated Press.

The Blazers have been quite surprising in the first few weeks of the season. Without both Brandon Roy and Greg Oden, not a few thought that the Blazers, long held to be a cursed franchise, would continue wallowing in the doldrums of mediocrity. Their 6-2 start, which is consequently the 2nd-best record out West, however, gives a different impression. LaMarcus Aldridge and Gerald Wallace have been performing really well, which was expected, but it’s the improvement of Wesley Matthews, the versatility of Jamal Crawford, and the playmaking of Raymond Felton that have really given Portland a shot in the arm. Add to that Nicolas Batum’s explosiveness and Marcus Camby rediscovering his rebounding prowess, and a legit Western contender might be looking us in the eye here. Of course, teams like the Lakers, Spurs and Mavericks will probably get better as the season moves on, but by all indications, the Blazers have been building enough momentum to put their perceived cursed status behind them.

After the JUMP, key stat-stuffers for today’s games:

MIN over WAS, 93-72 – T-Wolves win their 3rd game while Wizards are still kept groping for their #1.
ORL over SAC, 104-97 – J-Rich drops 22 on the Kings as the Magic tie the Hawks for #2 in the Southeast.
OKC over SAS, 108-96 – KD’s near-triple-double gives the Thunder a 3-game win streak and keeps the Blazers a game behind them in the West.
PHX over MIL, 109-93 – Marcin Gortat was rock-solid down low for the Suns, who have won 2 straight and are half a game ahead of Dallas.
POR  over CLE, 98-78 – Top pick Kyrie Irving had another brilliant showing, but Aldridge’s 28 and 8 sends the Cavs to .500.
LAL over MEM, 90-82 – Grizz continue to miss Zebo as Kobe unloads 26 points and 9 dimes.

Super Scorers (Top scorers of the night!)
LaMarcus Aldridge (POR) & Tyreke Evans (SAC) – 28
Kobe Bryant (LAL) – 26
Wesley Matthews (POR) – 24
Jason Richardson (ORL) – 22

LaMarcus Aldridge to the All-Star Game? This
could be his year.

Ragin’ Rebounders (Top rebounders of the night!)
Kevin Love (MIN) – 16
Pau Gasol (LAL) & Andrew Bynum (LAL) – 15
Ryan Anderson (ORL), JJ Hickson (CLE), Marc Gasol (MEM) & Antawn Jamison (CLE) – 11

Dynamic Dishers (Top playmakers of the night!)
Steve Nash (PHX) – 17
Ricky Rubio (MIN) – 14
Kobe Bryant (LAL) – 9
Tyreke Evans (SAC) & Mike Conley (MEM) – 8

Terrific Thieves (Top thieves of the night!)
LaMarcus Aldridge (POR), Ryan Anderson (ORL), Mike Conley (MEM) & Marc Gasol (MEM) – 4

Boomin’ Blockers (Top blockers of the night!)
A LOT with 3

Sharpshooters (Top 3-point shooters of the night!)
Channing Frye (PHX) & Derrick Williams (MIN) – 4
A LOT with 3

Channing Frye is the new Tim Thomas for the Suns.

Jan. 8, 2012 First Five
C – Marcin Gortat (PHX) – 18pts, 7rebs, 3asts, 3blks, 2stls
F – LaMarcus Aldridge (POR) – 28pts, 8rebs, 4asts, 4stls, 1blk
F – Kevin Durant (OKC) – 21pts, 10rebs, 7asts, 1stl
G – Kobe Bryant (LAL) – 26pts, 9asts, 2rebs, 1blk
G – Tyreke Evans (SAC) – 28pts, 8asts, 3rebs, 2stls, 1blk

With a bit more consistency, Marcin Gorta could unseat the
Gasols as the preeminent foreign slotman in the NBA.

Honorable Mention:
Kevin Love (MIN) – 20pts, 16rebs, 3asts, 3stls
Jason Richardson (ORL) – 22pts, 5asts, 4rebs, 3 triples, 1stl
Pau Gasol (LAL) – 13pts, 15rebs, 4asts, 1stl, 1blk

For a full summary of the day, here’s today’s NBA Daily Zap:

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