Chris Paul’s game-winner (note: he’s going right and off the glass) over Wade Baldwin IV was the biggest story from the Rockets and Blazers game on Thursday. But the best story was ironically the great defense of Baldwin on CP3 and James Harden, especially Harden.
With 4:37 remaining in the first half, Baldwin stripped Harden and threw down a dunk as The Beard stood on the other end of the court wondering what just happened. Harden then gave Baldwin a chest bump and a light push instead of paying attention to the inbounder, who threw the ball right into the hands of Baldwin. After a bucket by Nurkic, Harden delivered a cheap shot at Baldwin that none of the refs noticed. Wade responded by delivering a shot to Harden’s nuts (or guts) that none of the refs noticed…or maybe they did and let it go because they are believers in karma. While Harden stood under the basket tending to the pain of the blow and a bruised ego, Baldwin knocked down a wide-open three.
“I think he showed that he can come in and impact the game,’’ Lillard said about Baldwin via NBC Sports Northwest. “Playing against two elite offensive players, two stars in this league and he comes in no fear, picking up full court – making them turn the ball over, frustrating them, impacting the game.
“And it wasn’t like he did it for a short period of time. He did it every minute he was on the floor. That’s something we can add to our team, something that can make us a better team. Now we have a guy on the perimeter who can really defend and lock up. He could really make us a better team.’’
In a season-high 32 minutes, Baldwin — playing in just his fifth game with the Blazers this season — finished with 14 points, 3 assists and 2 steals to go with the two turnovers he forced CP3 into.
“I’ve always been a defensive player, and given my circumstances – having an organization kind of, you know, throw me away, I just strive to be the hungriest person in the NBA and build my brand back up,’’ Baldwin said. “Defense is my ticket. Every time I go down the court, that’s my calling card. I’m just going to go hard with that.’
“I come in with a chip on my shoulder, and try to be a devil on defense, knowing in the back of my mind that an organization quit on me. A first round pick and I’m a converted two way player. I play with a chip on my shoulder every time out there and if my name is called I’m going to bring that intensity every time I play.’’
Coach Terry Stotts also raved about the former 1st round pick, who was waived by the Tanking Grizzlies after just one season.
“What he did tonight was exceptional,’’ Stotts said. “To be able to pick up like that is something we haven’t done and it’s something we can use going forward.’’
And going forward, I will only acknowledge Baldwin as “The Devil On Defense” or “The Harden Stopper (just to upset some people).”
Source: NBC Sports Northwest