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Blazer mantra for the road: We are going to fix it
HOUSTON Ñ There's no way the Trail Blazers are going to go 0-41 on the road this season.
In fact, Portland's winless streak away from the Rose Garden, which stands at six games, might very well end tonight when the Blazers invade Toyota Center to square off with the Houston Rockets.
Even so, something is very wrong when a team that's won 10 of its 12 games at home can't get the job done on the road even once.
'I don't know what it is,' Dale Davis says, 'but we need to turn that thing around. It's embarrassing.'
Portland's 0-6 start isn't unprecedented, but it's rare. The last Blazer team to begin a season with an 0-6 road record was the 1980-81 club that started 0-13 away from Memorial Coliseum. The only other team in franchise history to start 0-6 was the 1976-77 squad that went on to win the championship.
So maybe big things are ahead for this Blazer team.
'It doesn't seem like we're playing with the same É determination to win on the road,' Damon Stoudamire says. 'And that's frustrating, because we need to do that if we're going to accomplish anything with this team.'
The Blazers didn't play particularly hard, and they definitely -didn't play well in Sunday's 93-79 loss at Memphis.
Portland squandered a 15-point second-quarter lead in large part because it got hammered on the boards 53-39 by the No. 28 rebounding team in the league.
The Grizzlies tied a franchise record with 28 offensive rebounds, including six each by Pau Gasol and Stromile Swift and four apiece by Bonzi Wells and point guard Earl Watson.
'A lot of that is just effort,' coach Maurice Cheeks says. 'I don't know why we didn't have it, but we're going to fix it.'
Zach Randolph continued his remarkable run of double-doubles with a game-high 29 points and 13 rebounds, despite being limited to 35 minutes because of foul trouble. But the Blazers got pounded on the boards, committed 19 turnovers and scored only 29 points in the second half, including just 11 in the fourth quarter.
Memphis shot only .384 from the field but got off 99 shots, an amazing 28 more than Portland.
Rasheed Wallace blocked five Memphis shots but had another lackluster offensive performance, making five of 12 shots while collecting 13 points and nine rebounds in 41 minutes.
Wallace is shooting .416 from the field, light-years below his career field-goal percentage of .503. Half his attempts were from 3-point range Sunday. At least one teammate would like to see him on the block more.
'We need him to post up down there,' Stoudamire says. 'I'm a friend of 'Sheed's, and I can tell him that, and I'm going to tell him that. On this team, he can't settle for so many outside shots. It's not the only thing we're doing wrong, but it's a big thing, because he's important to us down there. We can't leave it all on Zach.'
Cheeks was ejected from the first game of his 25-year career as an NBA player, assistant coach and coach after drawing a pair of technicals in Sunday's game. Referees Steve Javie, Derrick Stafford and Jason Phillips made poor calls against both teams throughout the game, but Cheeks was incensed at what he said was a flippant attitude by Phillips, who gave the Portland mentor the first T. 'I didn't even cuss at him until after I was ejected,' says Cheeks, who faces a fine and/or suspension because he walked onto the court to confront Phillips, had to be restrained and did not leave the court in a timely fashion. 'I guess I got my money's worth. It was one of those games I hope my mother wasn't watching.' É Wallace also earned his fourth T of the season. É Memphis native Qyntel Woods played only the final 1:12 for Portland. The second-year forward is shooting only .325 from the field and is out of Cheeks' rotation for now. É New Blazer Wes Person wasn't a factor against his old team, making 1 of 3 shots for two points in 13 minutes. But Derek Anderson says Person will make a difference once he grows acclimated to the Portland system. 'Wes is a great player and a great person, plus he understands basketball,' says Anderson, who was a teammate of Person's in Cleveland. 'He understands what he can and can't do. He's not one of those guys who is going to try to score 50 points. But every time he's open, he's going to shoot, and most of the time he will make it. His job is to shoot, just like Reggie Miller.' É Anderson, in rehabilitation from the back injury that has idled him almost the entire season, still hopes to return by the end of December.