It’s been nearly a full year since the Portland Trail Blazers have done this.
The Blazers topped the Chicago Bulls 102-94 on Sunday at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore., to earn their first three-game win streak since the opening three games of last season.
Yes, it really has been that long.
Best of all, perhaps, is that the Blazers beat the Bulls with some meaningful production from the bench, another thing that has been rare of late.
Reserve guard Ronnie Price scored 10 points, making him the first Portland bench player to reach double-digits this season, but the timing of his buckets was the key, as he hit a jumper and made a layup in the fourth quarter to help the Blazers pull away from a 73-all tie.
Portland had led by as many as 15 points in the third quarter, but rather than find it discouraging that the Blazers let Chicago bounce back, I saw it as a positive that Portland weathered the Bulls’ run and then put together one of their own to close out the game. That’s the type of thing young teams often struggle with, but on this night, at least, the Blazers held it together and finished strong.
How many times last season did we see Portland finish anything but strong, giving away game after winnable game?
Price’s 10 points were the bulk of the 16 total that Portland’s bench produced; still not an overwhelming statistic, by any means, but it was encouraging, nonetheless. Price also had five assists, meaning he helped account for at least 20 points in a game decided by eight.
With some regular bench production, this Portland team can be dangerous this season, as the starters have been pretty consistent thus far. They were again on Sunday, with Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews scoring 21 points apiece, LaMarcus Aldridge putting up 18, Damian Lillard scoring 16 and J.J. Hickson 10. Batum drained five three pointers in 10 attempts, and Aldridge snagged 13 rebounds.
Portland’s win over Chicago followed victories over the Houston Rockets (119-117 in overtime) on Friday and the Sacramento Kings (103-86) on Tuesday. The Blazers will look to make it four in a row when they play at Phoenix on Wednesday, kicking off a stretch that sees the Blazers play eight of their next nine games on the road.
Trail Blazers vs. Bulls boxscore
Trail Blazers schedule
Adam Sparks has followed the Portland Trail Blazers since the early 1980s, and has written about the team as a freelancer since 2009.