Sat Apr 23 09:15pm EDT
In Tuesday's Game 2 loss against the Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy(notes) played only eight minutes and admitted to being near tears on the bench. Formerly one of the brightest young stars in the league, Roy sat on the verge of irrelevance.
After Saturday afternoon's Game 4, it's safe to say that he doesn't have to worry about being consigned to the bench for large portions of this series. In what will surely become a legendary performance in Rip City, Roy scored 18 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter to bring the Blazers back from a 23-point deficit in the second half to an 84-82 win. He also had the eventual game-winner, a driving bank shot with 39 seconds on the clock. It's tempting to call it vintage Roy, except for the fact that it's probably the best quarter he's ever had, given the context.
In addition to providing a memorable finish, this win evens up the series at 2-2 and adds a ton of intrigue to Monday's Game 5 in Dallas. After jumping out to a 2-0 lead and seeming to have total command, the Mavs have dropped two close games late in Portland. Can they regain control and put the pressure back on the Blazers?
Whatever the case, it's safe to say that the Blazers will rely on Roy to give them a boost. A few days ago, there was talk that his griping would be a distraction to the rest of the team. Instead, he's bounced back with a solid performance in Game 3 and a stellar one in Game 4 to help tie up the series.
Roy may never become a star again. However, by putting the Blazers on his back in this fourth quarter, he proved that he can still be a difference-maker. For at least one game in this series, he was the best player on the floor.