Blazers fans getting boost in polls

Damian Lillard leads an optimistic view of the coming season(s)
Nov. 5, 2012 / By Chase Kunkle,
Damian Lillard gets to the basket Monday night.
(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Outscored again in the fourth quarter - for the fourth time in ... four games, the Portland Trail Blazers dropped to 2-2 on the season Monday night with a 114-91 loss at Dallas. The Blazers got outscored 31-12 in the final quarter to turn a competitive game into a rout, at least on the scoreboard.

But, even after a sub-par performance, there's plenty of optimism for Portland's diehard fans.

Damian Lillard. He's just the second rookie in league history to start his career with three straight games of 20 points and 7 assists per game, living up to Rookie of the Year hype. His ability to slash and create his own shot at will has fans salivating at the mouth. And, his teammates, too - especially Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews, who desperately needed space for open shots last season but didn't get that. Matthews is shooting 50 percent from 3-point territory through four games. Lillard is getting great press this week for being the top ROY candidate.

There's Lillard and there's hustle. If there was a stat for hustle, the young Blazers team would be leading the NBA. It's the heart we haven't seen in recent Blazers teams. Heart shows up online, too. After Monday's loss, Lillard posted on Facebook: “Tough one, but my head gone always be up. I'm just trying to learn and continue to grow.”

The Blazers were ranked 13th out of 15 Western Conference teams at the beginning of the season, mostly because there are so few players with more than two years of experience in the league, and that's an issue for the bench, and an issue for defense, and an issue in the fourth quarter. But, the team is 2-2 with an overtime win on the road and season-opening pounding of the Los Angeles Lakers. They're not playing like the No. 13 team out of 15.

There's plenty of light at the end of the tunnel.

Next up: the Clippers at home on Thursday night.