A nice win, even if it seemed touch-and-go there for a while because our offensive sets were ragged and we don't have much of a killer instinct. But overall we played a decent game. For those wondering, Chris Bosh didn't play because of knee pain.
Blazers 93, Raptors 83
--Neither team came out of the chute with a great deal of energy, but Portland woke up first. The offense was fractured very early on. They were trying Lamarcus (who started the game) in Zach's sets and it wasn't working. Also Webster tried a couple of early shots and missed. But Jarrett Freakin' Jack (yes, he played well enough to earn a slightly profane middle name, even on this profanity-free site) saved our bacon. Or our Canadian Bacon. Whichever. He was brilliant on offense in the early going. He hit everything he shot but he was playing well within himself, not taking anything he doesn't normally take. He also distributed the ball well and just plain calmed everybody down. After the early mishaps we recovered enough to shoot 50% as a team for the first half. Look at all the players we're missing and tell me that isn't amazing. Blame the point guard.
--The only time Toronto made a real run was off of offensive rebounds. For a while there we saw a replay of last season...our perimeter defense was breaking down, when a driver got by their man three Blazers would go for the block, the Raptors would miss under that pressure but one of the guys left open by the shot blockers would grab an easy offensive rebound and score unopposed. However that stopped pretty quick. Przybilla and Magloire did their jobs, grabbing 9 and 10 boards respectively. But what really turned the game was the work of the small guys. Webster had 8 rebounds, Outlaw 7, and Jack 9. None of those guys are particularly known for excessive boarding, so you know we were playing a team game out there. And when offensive players add that kind of rebounding to their arsenal we become pretty dangerous. You have to say a lot for the energy they displayed. And get this: we ended up outrebounding the Raptors 56 to 34.
--We committed a ton of turnovers (17) but those were less individual foul-ups than people simply not being comfortable with where they were supposed to be on the floor (or where others were going to be). There was actually a little bit of decent free form offense out there today though. Guys were calling for picks to be set in certain places and they'd always get the pick they wanted. They were talking to each other and really helping each other out.
--Another thing that helped preserve the game was good transition defense. Most of the night we got back with two or three guys.
--We shouldn't fool ourselves too much though. Toronto played a horrible game. They came out without energy. Their guard defense was just putrid. They played a lot of one-on-one and shot incessantly from the perimeter. Yes, part of that was our good defense, but there were also many times when we had Przybilla switched on T.J. Ford and Jack inside guarding a 7-footer and they never took advantage. In fact I didn't like Ford's game at all today, even though he was blowing by people left and right. He didn't involve or lead his team at all...he was the anti-Jarrett Jack. Mo Pete was just about the only guy who came to play for them. This was not their best outing. But we'll take it!
--The lack of players forced some strange lineups. We ended the 3rd quarter with Jack, Dixon, Webster, Udoka, and Przybilla on the court at the same time. It didn't work that well. We ended the game with the same lineup except substitute Outlaw for Przybilla. Yikes!
--You can't say enough about Jack. He nearly recorded a triple-double (22 points, 9 boards, 8 assists, 9-15 shooting). T.J. Ford was wheeling past him a lot but it didn't end up mattering because there was help. Scratch the
Detroit Milwaukee game, THIS is now official Jarrett's best game as a pro, at least in my book. He won this one for us.
--After a slow start Martell also had a fine outing (22 points, 6-12 from the field, 3-4 from the arc, 7-7 on free throws, 8 rebounds). What impressed me most was that he picked up his defensive and rebounding effort before his shot started falling. Way to be a pro.
--Lamarcus started, but as we've observed before he's just not quite ready for prime time. And there's no shame in that. He rushes things on offense when the play is designed for him. Also he may be the local darling here but he's just another rookie to the refs. I didn't mind his game though. Despite the 1-6 shooting effort he was one of those guys who was helping out on defense (at least for the 19 minutes he got to play).
--Outlaw had a rough offensive game but he was also bringing energy, especially in the second half, and I applaud his effort today. If we got that every day from him there'd be no doubt of his value to the team whether he shot well or not. Travis came off the bench at the power forward spot when Aldridge got two early fouls, which was fascinating because we got to see a Blazer offense with no low post sets.
--Both Przybilla and Magloire got some extended (for them anyway) minutes. In addition to the rebounding mentioned earlier, Joel played some nice interior defense. (Travis was right in there with him by the way. A couple of times they both blocked the same shot.) Still the more I see of Joel the more I think something is still off. Maybe it's his conditioning or maybe it's mental but he seems a little slow and disconnected. Magloire played so-so in front of his hometown crowd. We couldn't have done without his rebounds but we could have used a few less missed free throws and turnovers. It's typical Jamaal. They showed some film of him back when he was in the all-star game and he's so much heavier and slower now it's not even funny. I suspect a lot of his problem is simply conditioning. And would somebody please tell me how you can have hands that HUGE and still not be able to catch the ball?!?
--Ime was his usual solid self and helped trim the opponent perimeter game but his contributions got lost a little in the hustle of the other young guys. Udoka actually played the point (in effect) in a lot of sets down the stretch. Pretty versatile.
--Juan hit a couple of threes but otherwise had a Juan-type game. Take it or leave it.
--I was impressed with Toronto TV color analyst Leo Rautins. He's the first guy all year who actually sounded like he had watched the Blazers at some point. Maybe he just listened when our media guys fed him. Whichever, most other analysts don't bother to care. Bonus points for him.
--You think Rose Garden crowds are sparse and quiet? You should have seen and heard that Toronto bunch today. Granted it's partially our fault for being a miserable draw at the gate, but sheesh! The loudest sounds they made all day were the cascade of boos they rained down on the team as it became apparent they were going to lose.
In summation, for those who couldn't see the game, we won with a little hustle, a lot of gang rebounding, listening to each other on offense, helping on defense, and then having just enough poise that the Raptors couldn't come back. Game ball to Jarrett Jack, a well-deserved salute to everyone else.