Eyewitness Recap from LA

Noah sends the following report from Staples Center.  I absolutely love all of the thought and effort that go into these things.  A big hand for all who take the time to do this.

--Dave

1st Quarter:

Zach picked up a couple of quick fouls (including a silly one in the backcourt on Sam Cassell).  The Clippers double teamed him very quickly and efficiently tonight.  Jarret Jack saved us in this quarter.  He shoots a very high percentage from 12-19 feet, and appears very confident in doing so.  The ball moved around well, and though we got off to a bit of a slow start, we got back into the game faster that it seems we have in the past few games.  Roy looked good slashing.  He gets to hoop very efficiently and finishes well.  

2nd Quarter:

Very similar to the first, Zach came back and played well.  He missed some that he could have made (rushed a bit), but he settled down and came away with some nice baskets.  Other than that, our scores came off of random buckets from supporting cast (a couple from Dixon a couple from Ime).  Jarrett was quiet in this quarter (Roy ran the point most of the time).  Webster was active, had a nice off the dribble drive (which he drew a foul on).  If he can start hitting consistently off of the jab step, he will be very successful because he is big enough to get that shot off over most defenders.  Outlaw looks asleep out there.  Bobbled a pass that was right to him, and then couldn't catch Chris Kaman on the break away.  We have gotten trapped on the baseline at least 3 times when the pass out of the double was tipped and stolen (need to work on that - probably comes down to spacing and giving the offensive player a good angle to pass to).  We held a lead most of the quarter and then gave it up in the last couple of minutes (Sam Cassell is good).

3rd Quarter:

Came out flat and trailed by 10 a few minutes into it.  Down by eight about halfway through the quarter, Martell was fouled on a three pointer and missed all three free throws (his shot looked off tonight - though still very pretty).  LA had the lead up to 12 shortly after.  Zach Randolph is single handedly keeping us in the game.  A couple more runs as we're down at the end of three by double digits.  The Blazers are hanging around, but can't seem to make that deciding play.

4th Quarter:

More of the same......Zach is still dominating, no one else is doing much.  I don't think Roy has played at all in the second half, which seems to kill the dribble penetration (with the exception of Jarrett Jack - who has a couple of nice drives.  Ime Udoka is a good player, and besides Jack and Randolph is having the best game out there.  The Clippers were up by 18 at one point (the guy next to me turned and said "What happened Blazers?!" - Thankfully, he was a nice guy and said it jokingly - so no violence ensued).  I would have to ask the same though, Zach was dominant from the second quarter on, but no one else really stood out as a second option.  Jack did a nice job with his mid-range game, but there wasn't another person that the Clippers had to guard (Roy seemed like this guy, but didn't play much at all).

General Observations:

Zach Randolph is a monster.  He drew a lot of fouls, and made his free throws.  He worked hard on both the offensive and defensive boards.  He gave it his all tonight, and really looked like a leader out there. He was clapping at critical points and made plays when the Blazers needed a score.  He even played decent defense (for the most part).  He also does a nice job of passing out of the post (with the exception of a few occasions), and the rest of the team does a nice job of re-posting him.  He gets an A from me.

Jarrett - Did a nice job moving the ball around.  Made smart plays, including finding open cutters under the basket on more than one occasion.  His mid-range jumper is money.  He seems to hit that shot at about 70%.  He definitely has a bit of Chauncey in him.  He slowed it down when needed, took it hard when needed.  He played well overall. B (he would get an a with more assists)

Ime Udoka - Is a very good player.  Everything he does comes within the flow of the game.  He jumps well, and is our best rebounding guard from what I saw.  Appears to always be under control, plays good defense and definitely directs people on the court.  Looks like a smart, quality player.  Nice pickup for the Blazers.

Roy - Didn't play much, but looked good when he did.  He is a VERY good slasher, and does a nice job of creating contact and getting to the line.  Not sure why he didn't play more.

Martell Webster -  Didn't do much today.  Missed some key free throws.  Does get run at when he shoots, and gets hit often, so the plus side is that is appears as though the league respects his shooting ability.  Can't say much else because he didn't show much tonight.

Stephen Graham -  This man is built like a tight end, very quick and strong.  Didn't hit any shots, but appears to be a good defender.

Outlaw - Potential, Potential, Potential.  He came in and played like he was asleep half of the time.  But when he is awake, he can get his shot up over basically anyone.  He had some nice baseline cuts for buckets, but nothing much until the fourth quarter.  He rebounds pretty well, but forgot to get his body on his man a couple of times and got beat to the ball.  He is definitely capable of more, but who is going to get it out of him?

Juan Dixon - Played very good, bothersome defense on Cassell and especially Shaun Livingston.  Didn't shoot well at all, and made some mistakes at unfortunate points in the game.  ie:  Went behind his back at half court and completely lost the ball which led to a fast break bucket at the other end.  On a fast break, he bobbled the ball and then pulled up for a 8-10 ft jumper which he missed, somehow, a Clipper came down with the rebound among three Blazers.  That bucket would have cut it to 10 in the fourth quarter.  I'm pretty sure the Clippers scored on the other end and wend up by 14.

Magloire:  Not a force, not a hindrance.  He looks ok.  I'll leave it at that.

Overall:  The Clippers guards killed us on the boards.  Their second chance points (including a put back just before the half), won the game for them.  We turn the ball over mostly when passing out of the post.  A lot of these turnovers lead to a break because the defender is already headed to his basket when he picks the pass off.  We moved the ball well, but didn't hit many outside shots to spread the defense.  The Clippers are definitely a good defensive team.  They double team and recover from the double very well.  We need a third offensive option.  Zach will get his, we need for at least two other people to score well into the upper teens to low twenties to provide enough offense to battle with the better teams.  Though Zach had a great game, our offense was one dimensional, which only makes it easier for the defense.  We did look pretty good with our cuts and motion.  We missed Joel last night setting screens up top, as well as down low.  Our offense moves much better this year than what I have seen in the past.  I think we're getting there.  Let Roy develop, let Jack get a bit more comfortable.  Martell will find his game.  Travis can hopefully breakthrough his own passiveness to be effective, and we'll be alright.

Last comment:  Quick said last week that we don't miss Darius.  I would agree except for one thing....his length.  Quinton Ross and Shaun Livingston killed us on the offensive glass, having Darius out there to guard one of those guys would help.  Darius is typically a good offensive option, but I think the guys we have out there now will prove to have more collective offensive upside for the overall hindrance that Darius can become.

......I love this team!!

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