Eyewitness Report from New Jersey

Faithful reader Caren was lucky enough to attend last night's game and kind enough to send the following report:

The Nets' arena was half-full at best, and it seemed like some of the fans didn't immediately recognize that the Nets were actually in the red uniforms, with Portland wearing their home whites.  In past games, Portland has learned the hard way that a game can be lost in the first quarter.  This time, Portland won the game in the first quarter, jumping out to a big 25-8 lead.  Their offense in the first quarter was efficient, and the Nets weren't making any shots.  Nate must have liked the starting lineup's effort because he didn't make a substitution until the quarter was nearly over.  Lamarcus looked especially smooth this quarter.

The second quarter started out a little rocky, with two consecutive shot clock violations at one point.  Then Juan almost lost the ball, but turned around and hit a jumper just in time to avoid a third shot clock violation.  Magloire was actually doing some scoring and Jack was also looking good.  Juan passed to Dickau for a wide open three at the end of the half but he missed.  Somewhat surprisingly, both Kidd and Carter were held in check the first half and the Blazers led by 17.

The lead was whittled down to 11 early in the 3rd quarter, as Carter began pushing his way into the lane and making some shots and getting to the free throw line.  (For a while it seemed like every time he touched the ball he was getting fouled, although it was hard to tell if he was getting the star treatment or Portland was actually fouling him.)  The Nets were also beginning to create some fast break opportunities, although they were unable to convert on a couple of seemingly easy layups.

With the Blazers still holding a comfortable lead in the 4th quarter, they put up some questionable shots (i.e. Dickau hoisting a three really early in the shot clock and Udoka trying a couple of threes) but the Nets were never able to bring it under 10.  The Blazers cruised to a comfortable (and much-needed) win.

A couple of general thoughts:

For the Nets:  Kidd looked particularly out of sorts.  The Blazers were playing some tough defense on him, but he had a few costly turnovers and took some bad shots.  Does anyone know why he blows kisses at the rim whenever he's shooting free throws?  It's just so weird looking.  Carter stated making things happen in the second half, but never really got on track with his shot.  The Nets as a whole had some opportunities on the break and had a bunch of wide open shots, but they missed a lot of those shots.  So it's hard to tell whether to credit the Blazers' defense or to say the Nets just had a tough shooting night--I think it was probably a little of both.  The crowd was particularly subdued...they were hardly even booing or anything.  (If this had been a Knicks game, the crowd would have let the team know just how badly they were playing.)  Here they were just quiet.  Maybe they were all stunned.

For the Blazers:  Lamarcus looked really good.  He's got a great smooth shot, and his teaming up with Zach is a good thing.  Zach had his usual solid game, although I thought he was taking a few shots from further outside than he has been (hitting some and missing some).  Ime and Jack were also solid.  Martell actually drove to the basket at least one, which was good to see, although his shot was a bit off tonight.  I'm not sure why Dickau was playing, but I wasn't too impressed.  He seem to dribble the ball too much and took some ill-advised shots.  Magloire got involved in the offense and made a few nice shots.  Travis played a bit but I didn't really notice him too much.  Graham and Sergio hardly played.  As a fan of Juan Dixon, I was impressed with his effort tonight.  He actually didn't take a few wide open opportunities that he had, and instead tried to get his teammates involved.  He works very hard at running around screens and trying to get free.  He was wide open several times in the second half but never got the ball.

All in all, a fun game to go to.  You kind of kept thinking that the Nets were going to make a run, but it never came.  Great effort by the Blazers tonight.

Caren also sends along the following pictures:

Thanks again Caren!

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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