--One thing I don't understand is that we came out with a rather stagnant offense right from the start in the first quarter. Zach needs to get many, many touches but haven't we proved by now that you cannot just enter the ball from a standstill to Zach and wait until he gets double teamed? All night the lesson was the same: cut and penetrate, we score either off the dribble or through the dish. Stand and post and we get swamped, throw up a desperation shot, or turn the ball over. And it's not like this is the first time we've talked about this. So why, for the first three minutes of the game (when theoretically we should be running the coached game plan), are we all standing still?
--It was not a bad first quarter at all defensively. We stayed in front of our men and for the most part didn't let their key guys get off. That, however, was soon to change...
--We didn't control the boards as much as I had hoped.
--We really didn't draw fouls as much as we needed because Boston was penetrating and we were not.
--Boston also predictably torched us from deep because we did not rotate out. In fact the defense tonight was pretty horrible after the first quarter. (It's like we said, "Whew! Didn't get blown out in the first! It's Miller Time!) And what was the #1 rule of defense for this game? "Do not leave Wally Szczerbiak in order to help." He scored 19 on 60% shooting. That was the straw that broke the camel's back.
--After the camel's back snapped, we just lost it entirely. Not only was there no hustle or mental commitment, there was just no team out there. It's not even a matter of talking about what went technically wrong at that point. We just got run out of the gym altogether. This is the first real sign of "give up" we've seen this year.
--Zach's stats say 23 and 12, which looks pretty good. He did do a decent job defensive rebounding and drawing fouls. But Zach was not into this game. He missed a bunch of pretty decent shots, he made some abhorrent passes, and the (admittedly biased) Boston broadcast crew accused him of loafing. I'm not sure I'd use the "L" word exactly but at least part of the night's frustration came from him not being in it and part of the giving up came from him checking out early. I have not pinned much of anything on Zach this year because he's been pretty active in all the games we've played, but he does shoulder some of the responsibility tonight.
--I think Aldridge got a little caught up in the starting thing. He did remember to score. In fact he did an excellent job with the ball in his hands, and what's more making himself available for nifty point guard passes. A+ for that. But for most of the game he forgot to do what got him there, which was rebound with intensity. I like the elegant Aldridge, but we really need more of the gritty Aldridge too.
--Jarrett Jack went up and down in this game. For parts of the game he was penetrating, scoring, and dishing like the second coming of Sergio. Not coincidentally, those were the parts of the game where we made our runs. For other parts he was much less aggressive. During those parts we saw more jumpers from the team, less movement, and more turnovers. Despite 8 assists Jack had 5 turnovers all on his own. I like Jack's game but he should only play for as much of the game as he can provide that attacking energy, because the passive Jack isn't that good for us.
--It's a shame Travis Outlaw got into foul trouble because he was having a really nice game for us and probably could have made a difference out there. The newly found point guard passing ability is helping his game a lot.
--The stats say Juan Dixon had a nice game (5-9, 11 points, 3 assists, 2 boards) so why didn't I notice him?
--Ime Udoka also had a really good stat line (6-13, 2-4 from deep, 14 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 turnover) but I was hoping for a little more on the defensive end against Pierce I guess. That's probably expecting way too much of Ime though. I'm not sure he should get 13 shots a game but if he can deliver comparable stats with every 30 minutes he gets he'll be fine.
Now for the ripping...
--Sergio returned to earth. 2 assists, 3 turnovers. I don't mind the latter too much because a couple of them just weren't his fault. If people had been ready to catch his passes it would have been 4 assists, 1 turnover. My beef is with his 0-6 shooting. The shots weren't that hard either. If you can't hit a layup you can't play no matter how good of a passer you are. On the upside, his defense wasn't that terrible tonight.
--Stephen Graham must have thought we put him in to win the game by himself. There was a fair amount of 1-on-1 going on for him. The results were no made shots, no rebounds, no assists, 1 turnover, 1 free throw, 1 point, and three fouls in 10 minutes. Wah-wah-waaaaaaah.
--Martell picked up 4 fouls in 19 minutes. Can't do that. And nobody's getting the ball to the weak side on offense anymore either. You better start running him off of screens and curls again pretty soon.
--Note to Jamaal Magloire: You are a rebounder. Your job is rebounding. We are one of the worst rebounding clubs in the league so you know nobody else on our team is taking them away from you. Here's your stats from the last few games:
vs. Lakers 11 rebounds...win.
vs. Hornets 6 rebounds (in 17 minutes)...win.
vs. Mavericks 1 rebound...loss.
vs. Timberwolves 2 rebounds...loss.
vs. Cavaliers 3 rebounds...loss.
vs. Celtics 1 rebound...loss.
If you do not rebound, you cannot play, because if you do not rebound you do not help us. End of story.
--The refs had an inconsistent night tonight at both ends. This didn't cause us to lose, it's just annoying.
--Speaking of annoying, please, please, PLEASE tell me when we play Boston again on January 1st NBA League Pass will show the Portland broadcast feed. I say this every year, but time passes and I forget and somehow I am always surprised anew: Tommy Heinson is the pits as an analyst. Short example: Sergio Rodriguez hits a wet spot on the floor and his feet slide out from under him...somehow this is brilliant defense on the part of the Celtics. Had something similar happened to Boston the story would have been the opposite. I understand that team-paid crews root for the teams that pay them. Lord knows ours do more than I'd like. But sheesh, at least Mike Rice comes across like he knows you shouldn't believe everything he says. Heinson is like on another planet or something...