Portland vs Cleveland last night was probably the best game on the first night of December.
Let’s focus on Nicolas Batum here. In the first quarter, the Blazers were on the break. Batum raced down with the ball, gave the ball to Nolan Smith, and then got the ball back from Smith on a simple give-and-go. That should’ve been an easy two.
One problem, though: Batum botched the dunk. That was two points down the drain for Portland.
In the second quarter, Batum was on the fastbreak once again. He raced down the right side of the court this time, passing by the Cavs’ Alonzo Gee. Batum went up for the one-hander and the ball clanked off the back of the rim. That was the second dunk the Frenchman missed, and that was four points down the drain.
In the first overtime, the Blazers and Cavs were deadlocked at 103. Damian Lillard gets the inbounds pass from Batum. Lillard got a pick from Luke Babbitt and put up a terrible shot. Anyway, he went for a step-back three-pointer. The ball got batted around on the rebound and it ended up in the hands of Batum. Batum quickly put up the shot as soon as he got it to beat the buzzer. The shot was good. Unfortunately, it was not before the buzzer. They were going to play another five minutes.
Nic Batum could not catch a break.
Finally, with the Blazers down 117-115, Portland had the ball with 2.5 ticks left. This time, Lillard was going to throw it in. After a few seconds, Batum momentarily flashed open on the corner. As soon as Batum got the ball, he shot it in a seemingly-awkward fashion.
The ball went in. And his feet were behind the arc. The Blazers led, 118-117, with 0.2 seconds left. Moments later, the game was over. Batum had redeemed himself after all those unfortunate events.
In the replay, you can actually see that Batum was actually squared up but faded away to the right as soon as he released it. So it looked awkward but the form was perfect. It was a great shot that spurred the Blazers to victory.
So the lesson to all this? If, at first, you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again. Actually, while the lesson fits, I just wanted an excuse to quote an Aaliyah song.