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Continued: Trail Blazers are blazing along with best record in the NBA

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Last update: December 18, 2013 - 11:27 AM

Third time’s the charm

The Trail Blazers can’t explain it, but they have owned third quarters this season.

They’ve scored 41 points in one third quarter this season and limited Chicago to only 12 points in another. They have outscored Philadelphia 40-15, Utah 40-13, the Bulls 34-12, Oklahoma City 35-21 and the L.A. Lakers 41-24 coming out of half and have outscored the opponent in 18 of 65 third quarters so far this season.

And they have been outscored in the third quarter of all four losses so far this season.

Filling roles wisely

The Blazers last summer never seriously pursued Wolves center Nikola Pekovic with a huge restricted free-agent offer, as some Wolves fans feared and suspected they might after their team engaged Portland forward Nicolas Batum in a convoluted courtship the summer before.

The Blazers instead made some smaller yet meaningful moves, acquiring role player Robin Lopez in a trade to fill their center need, signing veteran free-agent scorer Mo Williams and taking a chance on former No. 5 overall pick Thomas Robinson for little more than absorbing him into their cap space.

The X Factor

The Blazers have built the NBA’s best record without top draft pick C.J. McCollum, the 10th player taken in last summer’s draft.

Many Wolves fans clamored for their team to select the combo guard and his outside shooting ninth overall, but the Wolves traded that pick away after Detroit selected guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope eighth for two later picks they used to select Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng.

McCollum has not played yet this season because of a fractured left foot, the same injury that ended his senior season at Lehigh last January.

Youth movement

Six Blazers were born in the 1990s and eight on their 15-man roster are in their rookie or second NBA seasons. Included is second-year forward Robinson. The Portland roster’s average age is 24.8, even with 34-year-old Earl Watson on it.

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Pittsburgh - LP: F. Liriano 0 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 4
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Odorizzi 0 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Hammel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 3
St. Louis - LP: J. Kelly 1 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: W. Peralta 5
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 5 FINAL
Arizona - LP: B. McCarthy 2
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 1 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: C. Lee 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 2
Cleveland - WP: Z. McAllister 3 FINAL
Detroit - LP: A. Sanchez 2
Washington - WP: D. Storen 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: M. Dunn 3
Seattle 2 Bottom 9th Inning
Texas 1
Boston 1 Top 8th Inning
Chicago WSox 3
Kansas City 4 Bottom 8th Inning
Houston 4
Toronto 0 Postponed
Minnesota 0
Oakland 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
LA Angels 0
Colorado 1 Bottom 3rd Inning
San Diego 1
Los Angeles 0 Bottom 2nd Inning
San Francisco 0
Chicago 86 FINAL
Charlotte 91
Indiana 101 FINAL
Orlando 86
Atlanta 111 FINAL
Milwaukee 103
Dallas 105 1st OT 0:01
Memphis 106
Detroit 111 FINAL
Oklahoma City 112
Houston 100 FINAL
New Orleans 105
LA Lakers 113 FINAL
San Antonio 100
Brooklyn 85 FINAL
Cleveland 114
Philadelphia 100 FINAL
Miami 87
Utah 134 2nd OT 0:10
Minnesota 130
Washington 118 FINAL
Boston 102
Toronto 92 FINAL
New York 95
Golden State 18 1st Qtr 5:24
Denver 10
LA Clippers 6 1st Qtr 8:05
Portland 13
Phoenix 13 1st Qtr 5:09
Sacramento 13
Montreal 5 FINAL(OT)
Tampa Bay 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 4
Dallas 0 1st Prd :35
Anaheim 2
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2
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