Ahhhh...what a nice win. Good opponent, better effort by us, chalupas all around...other than being principle photographer on that Blazer Dancer calendar they reviews at halftime, who could ask for more?
Clippers 99, Blazers 109
--Such sharing of the ball...AGAIN! It was a lot like that first quarter in Memphis, except it lasted most of the game. There were very few shots you were uncomfortable with compared to a normal Blazer game. Wonderful, wonderful offense all around.
--A huge difference in the game was the defense between the two clubs. Nobody was stopping ANYBODY individually. We let them in the lane left and right and players from both sides were just the nets. But when the Clippers drove we began helping a lot. When we drove they just stood. Cha-CHING! You didn't notice too many blindingly bad defensive blunders tonight.
--We built our lead by consistently beating them to rebounds. I swear this is a key in almost every game and a pretty good barometer of how we're faring. They ended up shooting a far higher percentage overall than we did (a couple tenths short of 60% in fact) but we took ten more shots than they, mostly by denying them their customary offensive boards. Things like this let you win going away even in those games when the other team is on all night.
--Four Blazer turnovers. All game...four turnovers. Hard to beat that. We got a nine point edge in points off turnovers alone.
--You know how I said the other night that I wanted to see a game when both the starting unit and the bench were firing at the same time? This was pretty close. A lot of bench guys made key contributions and we didn't lose all that much when we went to the second unit.
--We shot 9-15 (60%) on three-pointers tonight. That is directly attributable to the ball movement. Almost every shot was open and relaxed because it came off a pass and in the flow of the offense. And you know, we have got some guys who can hit open outside shots. We just don't have the guys that can sink them under duress. But if you move the ball well you don't need as much of that.
--Key stats: We had a 32 point first quarter and a 28 point final quarter. We also held them to 39% shooting in the third quarter. Those are some nice periods there.
--Z-Bo got 26 points and 7 boards. As predicted Elton Brand basically matched him with 23 points and 10 boards. The difference was Zach got 5 assists to Elton's 1. For the third time this review we'll mention the excellent ball movement and yes, a lot of it was due to Zach. It's not like Zach hasn't gotten multiple assist games in the past though. Everybody asks, "Has he finally learned?" They're usually followed by a few weeks of no assists from him. Zach doesn't need to learn to be less selfish, however. He needs to see that moving the ball actually gets him more shots and more points more quickly and easily. And more important it gets him enough help to allow a win. He was pretty darn good with his decisions tonight. For the most part when he was single covered he took it, when double covered he passed. Again, what more can you ask (from Zach anyway)?
--Travis Outlaw was one of five OTHER players in double figures. He had the radar going on his deep jumper once again. It wasn't quite as strong of a defensive effort for him tonight but overall he had more "Yes!" plays than "gettin' yelled at" plays. (Though you COULD clearly hear Nate on a couple occasions. Fortunately you couldn't pick out words too much...)
--Jarrett Jack had another really smart game. He shot well, he passed well, he did everything just fine. I can't even begin to tell you how much happier I am having him than a score-first point guard, even if that score-first guard would occasionally hit 20 points. JJ plays winning basketball as well as anybody on this team.
--Udoka had another marvelous role-playing game. He hit all three of the 3-pointers he took and shot 5-6 overall en route to 13 points. He's become a very steady option on that swing-around pass. Throw in the usual good defense and you have a nice player. Mike Rice commented explicitly that Ime didn't have to worry about January 10th (the day contracts become guaranteed).
--Juan Dixon added 12 points, 3 assists, and some energy. His percentage is still low but he seems to have this way of hitting key buckets.
--Martell Webster completed the double-figure parade, netting 11. The neat thing is he only got 3 of those 11 from beyond the arc. He was driving and drawing fouls, which will become a necessary component to his game. He was obviously emphasizing it tonight. He made a really nifty cut early in the game and Zach hit him for an easy layup. That kind of set the tone for the whole affair. Not coincidentally Webster earned 29 minutes tonight. Nate is VERY good at sending clear feedback that way.
--Jamaal Magloire was a rebounding machine out there. He really helped that second unit stay in the fray. He ended up with 9 boards in 22 minutes.
--Joel Przybilla has obviously been told to look more for his shot too. He actually took a couple more tonight to add to the two he took last game. He ended up 3-5 with 6 points and 5 boards. He had some trouble stopping folks (notably Kaman) one-on-one though, which cut into his contributions a little. He did get playing time at the end of the game again though, so Nate must be re-learning to trust him.
--Mr. Espresso played 12 minutes and got 7 assists and hit the only shot he took. He was also responsible for a fair share of those open 3-pointers tonight as he is able to get the ball directly across the court with ease. He also had a Sportscenter-worthy behind the back pass to Big Smoothie on the fast break. He faked everyone out with it. It looked sweet, but I also thought if he puts that kind of mustard on the hot dog he better make damn sure he connects with every one of those trick passes. If he coughs up even one Nate's going to rip his head off, stuff him with confetti, and use him as a doorstop.
--Speaking of the Smooth one, Lamarcus scored four points in four minutes and proved once again that he can indeed run like a gazelle. However he also picked up two fouls in that same four minutes and until that stops happening he's not going to see much more than that.
--The refs have REALLY eased up on the palming and traveling calls. No joke, both sides were violating those left and right. I guess the "emphasis" is over? Maybe the point has been made. They're also allowing more complaining than they did early on, which was both predictable and necessary.