Stop me if you've heard this before...
There, I feel better now.
I'm simply going to go over the keys to the game, as stated in the pre-game post below.
--Get some nasty rebounds. We got rebounds. We beat them 36-28 in that category.
--Bump them in the paint. We threw our bodies around.
--Get them in foul trouble, get to the line, foul out Bynum if you can. We paraded to the line early, shot 33 free throws to their 23, and Bynum went bye-bye after 21 foul-plagued minutes.
--Cut and penetrate. We did this all night from every position. Here's a big sign that the team is starting to grow: instead of defaulting to jumpers when we get in trouble and the clock is running low, we default to picks and penetration.
--Get points off turnovers. We got 21. They got 14.
--Rotate quickly. We only sort of did this one. We got better as the game got more intense. But it was enough.
--Zach leads us. Big-time gut check for him.
--Jack and Webster in strong supporting roles. It turned out to be Jack, Graham, and Dixon, but that's good too.
--Play 48 minutes. Done and done.
Any questions why we won?
--Zach was active early and often in all aspects of the game. This was clearly his best game in years, approaching his best game ever. This is all the more true for the lack of help. His stat line reads like a coach's fantasy:
32 36 (thanks, Damir, my bad) points on 52% shooting, 11 of 12 at the free throw line, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals. He out-Odomed Lamar Odom tonight. Bow to his greatness. He did have that massive brain cramp at the end of the first quarter where he gave up 5 points by turning the ball over then making a 2/3-court heave with more than six seconds left on the clock (which Radmanovic converted into a 3 at the horn) but since we won big, all is forgiven.
--Juan Dixon played a smart, peppy offensive game. 5-7, 10 points, 3 assists, 2 boards, and a steal. He didn't kill us on defense either. (Or better, we helped out enough to protect him.)
--Jack-Jack also played very well despite a huge number of carrying calls. He was consistently penetrating all night. He's also becoming a terror with his steals. Six assists ain't bad either. For all of those only semi-comfortable with him at the point, start getting more comfortable. Whether he starts there long term or becomes an off-the-bench combo guard eventually, he's going to be a good one. This is his first real extended playing time and you can't help noticing the good things he does (and makes happen).
--Rounds of applause for Stephen Graham and Ime Udoka. They got some key rebounds, made some good defensive plays, and got 20 points between them. Did you all catch the marvelous pump-fake three from Graham to put the icing on the cake at the end of the game? That was pure poise. I'm starting to grow fond of these scrappy guys. We didn't have a lot of that last year. Rebounding from their position has become very important to the Blazers' team success too.
--Magloire was half decent, half frustrating. As usual you love his 11 rebounds and some of his nice, solid picks. But he is so s...l...o...w in the defensive rotations. He's our only center right now and we should be grateful for him, but it's hard to be fully enthused. He needs more energy or something.
--Martell had a rough night shooting. He made a couple contributions but I'm sure not as much as he or the coaches would like. Unfair as it is to say it considering he was often watching Kobe, he also got burned left and right by people driving past him. He seems to do better guarding bigger guys even giving up the height.
--Outlaw had 6 points and 2 boards but only played 12 minutes. He only played 12 minutes because once again he looked lost out there on both ends of the court. You love the occasional magnificent individual play but if he's not being fed he's just not worth it most nights. We need to see more than one brilliant game in six from him.
--Nice to see that the refs are so diligent in calling travels...on everybody but Kobe.
--The Lakers are indeed running the triangle again. It's so funny to see Bynum do Shaq's old double post entry pass.
--That said, they were awfully, awfully passive out there on offense. It's like Kobe and Odom were intentionally showing that they weren't trying to take over in place of the other. The result was a over-passed mess. When Kobe did try to take over the game (with much success, by the way) it was too late. Anyone want to bet Kobe comes out taking 40 shots their next game?
--I don't know if it was just TV not picking it up or what, but the crowd seemed rather subdued for much of the game. Someone who was there will have to write and tell me what it was like live. Given what the Blazers are doing so far, it should be deafening in there.
Fantastic win. It's a good day to be a Blazer fan. (OK, every day is a good day to be a Blazer fan, but this one is better than most.)