Blazers find some pride in their D

first_imgMinnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Love (42) looks to shoot against Portland Trail Blazers’ J.J. Hickson, back, and LaMarcus Aldridge, left, during the first half Friday. PORTLAND — It started at shootaround.In the morning hours before the Trail Blazers would walk onto the Rose Garden court, players gathered at the practice facility and stood ashamed.The team defense wasn’t very good. In fact — judging by some defensive statistics — the Blazer defense was worst in the league.Coach Terry Stotts called them out. He showed the numbers, and though players confessed to feeling humiliated in the morning, by Friday evening, they had grown inspired.The Blazers shut down the Minnesota Timberwolves, 103-95, before turning the lights off in the locker room for a while.After a rather sobering loss in Phoenix on Wednesday, when the team allowed the Suns to shoot with near 60-percent accuracy — continuing a trend that has plummeted the Blazers’ defensive field-goal percentage to last in the NBA — the pride had returned.“We got embarrassed, really,” said Wesley Matthews who scored a season-high 30 points on 12-of-17 shooting (5-6 on 3-pointers). “We’ve been embarrassed.”“Teams shooting 50 percent on us. The thumping that we took in Phoenix … and coach brought it to our attention at shootaround today where we stand in the NBA as far as defensive field-goal percentage and shots at the rim — and it was ugly.”If the coach’s call out wasn’t enough, the Blazers needed one more punch in the gut by nightfall. In the first quarter, the Wolves scored 33 points with center Nikola Pekovic dictating the paint for 10 points. Another “ugly” defensive performance seemed likely but the Blazers turned the effort around and held the Wolves to just 41 percent the rest of the way.last_img read more