Blazers vs. Spurs--Firsthand

Ben writes in with eyewitness observations from the game last night...

Last night was the first time I had been to a blazer game since early last season, and the difference is amazing.  The crowd, while still not sold out, was still large enough to make my wife cover her ears during exciting parts of the game.  The tickets I got were directly behind the hoop in the 118 section, we had a very good view of the Blazers during the first half, and then the Spurs in the second.  The first half of this game was well played by both teams, and was really enjoyable to watch.  Here are a couple of things that stuck out to me.

-The spurs are really boring to watch.  I don't think I will ever pay to watch them again.  They are good, but they just don't bring me to my feet in any way.

-Turnovers, the Blazers made some really simple mistakes that caused them to turn the ball over.  LA through the ball out of bounds after getting himself stuck in the air, Ima stepping out of bounds under the hoop, Jack carrying the ball, etc...

-Zone defense against Zach in the Second half.  The blazers never even seems to attempt to solve this problem, Zach seemed to be working hard for position but for whatever reason his team mates were just not able to get him the ball.  They never even attempted to do a high post entry pass; they just seemed confused by the whole defense.  Which is odd to me since it is the same thing the Spurs did last year to the Blazers.

-Respect from the officials.  Zach was going a little over board last night when he said, "it's tough playing against 8" but the ref's obviously respected the Spurs much more than the upstart Blazers.  Zach has been leading the league in both FT attempted and made, and he gets 1 call all night.  (he was 3-3 on FT, but 1 was a tech) Tim D, was not called for a single personal foul all night, and granted for most of the game he was not guarding Zach, but there were a few times where he fouled Zach clearly and it was not called, so I can see Zach's frustration after the game.  

-The biggest difference in officiating I saw though was in the traveling/carrying calls.  Tim Duncan traveled at will, moving his pivot foot, and it was just not called, but I can live with that, he is a proven superstar in this league.  But when Ginobili packs his suitcase and flies to Vegas it is a little much.  He took over the game in the 4th quarter, because the ref's allowed him to. (The Blazers still had their chances, so don't get me wrong, in the end it is up to them to win the game) He used a crossover to get to the rim at least 2 times where he carried the ball, and he traveled at least once from my memory while driving to the hoop.  Who is this guy to get the superstar treatment? He gets calls throwing up trash at the hoop that L. James doesn't even get.  It was very frustrating to watch this guy beat us when we had to basically play by a different set of rules.  I can handle that when it is a TD, or Kobe , but Ginobili?  Give me a break.

-This was Jamal's best game as a blazer, I was a little disappointed that LA didn't see more action, but Tim Duncan was abusing him on the block, and Jamal did a much better job.  Maybe Nate was right when he said that Jamal was a face that the ref's knew, but he got more respect from Tim Duncan and from the refs.  Still our centers did a great job for the night; I don't think anyone can argue about the production that position put up.

-It was very obvious in the second half that we need both a defensive stopper and an offensive creator.  We may have one of those in Roy, who showed in his first few games this season that he can create on offense, if he can continue to do what he was doing then we should be fine there.  However without Ruben Patterson we lack that perimeter defender to put the clamps on a guy like Ginobili.  Don't get me wrong, I am glad Ruben is no longer a Blazer, but we need to fill that role, as of now we will continue to get burned by the plethora of perimeter players in this league.

When all was said and done, my friends and I had a great time at the blazer game.  I will be back this year, and watch them again. Hopefully next time it will be a win.

Many thanks Ben!

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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