This was another one of those games where there was nothing to be ashamed about. We fought pretty hard, we played pretty smart, we made a very good run at it, we just didn't have enough experience to close it on the road in overtime. No big deal. Two years from now we win games like this one.
Blazers 94, Bucks 102
--The biggest, most overwhelming thing to my eyes was the EXCELLENT ball movement of the first unit. Granted, the Bucks poor defense makes it easier to move the ball and see open men, but we sure took advantage. Almost all of the first quarter and the last few minutes of the fourth made me really excited. Nobody was holding the ball waiting to see if they had a shot or not. They just moved it to the next available open man without thinking (or pausing). In fact at times I was almost ready to accuse them of over-passing. But it got us a lot of open shots. And at the heart of it was Zach Randolph. When double-teamed he did not hold the ball tonight. Neither did he hesitate or attempt a lot of those horrendous dying quail skip passes across the court. He simply got it to the open man nearest him and didn't appear to complain or press things when a good shot went to somebody besides him. Give him at least some of the credit for Jack and Webster scoring their points. Long story short: he doesn't have to be an impresario genius when it comes to delivering the ball, he just has to see and make the correct, basic play. In the end it didn't hurt his shot attempts too much. He still got 19 tries. He scored 20, which is about 6 below his average. Meanwhile the guards ended up a combined 29 above theirs.
--You also saw a fair amount of first unit hustle tonight. There were some big name (for Portland anyway) players getting floor burns.
--Though the final tally ended up virtually even during the parts of the game we were winning it was one and done for the Bucks. Our rebounding effort was pretty decent. They got back in the game with a few offensive rebounds though, so it wasn't a whole 48 minutes' worth.
--While the starting unit was good, the bench outside of Lamarcus Aldridge was horrible in nearly every aspect of the game. This is a flip-flop from how things have been going recently. I wonder what happened?
--I forgot to mention that in the first quarter when the ball was moving so well our defense was also superb. We held them to 14 points on 25% shooting.
--We were pretty decent attacking the zone tonight. We didn't settle for the first shot that occurred to us. There was penetration along with the ball movement. Hopefully the days when you could throw a zone at the Blazers and befuddle them instantly are gone.
--The only quibble with the starting big guys tonight is that they committed a lot of turnovers. Even one of those could have decided the game.
--I already mentioned Zach's unselfishness, but add 14 rebounds to the list of accomplishments. Also he was taking pretty darn good shots tonight. He forced very little unless he was running against the clock and you expected almost everything he put up to go in. Unfortunately by some weird twist of fate a lot of those shots just didn't. The stat line says 7-of-19 but there were a lot of layups that rolled off the rim or shots that rattled out in there. Had he just made the shots he normally makes blindfolded he easily would have had his best all-around game of the year and equaled his season average on fewer total shot attempts.
--As good as Zach (almost) was, Juan Dixon was just as awful. His shot was putrid! He did manage 3 rebounds and 3 assists in 16 minutes and he had a couple nice passes to Zach off of the pick and roll, but watching him struggle made my spleen hurt. He shot 0-for-8. Another way to look at that is had he not taken a shot tonight our shooting percentage would have gone from 42.7% to 47.3%. He shaved five points off that mark all by his lonesome. I'm not quite sure what he was doing in there in overtime, as his defense was not any better than his offense. Maybe it was just knowing how to run the plays or Nate really wanted some experience. But the unit of Jack, Webster, Udoka, Randolph, and Aldridge that finished regulation had been playing pretty strong.
--Przybilla got playing time! He even got a second stint in the first half! Unfortunately he used it to collect fouls, but he also nabbed 9 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 3 assists (told you it was a good night for ball movement) in the process.
--Aldridge shot 4-for-8 and had some nifty help defense but only got four rebounds. Maybe part of that was Zach was hogging them all. Another part is that they have him playing farther out on the perimeter defensively because he has the speed to do so. He's actually the top guy in the zone defense sometimes. Incredible for a 6'11" guy. For the last couple of games, however, it's become obvious that Lamarcus isn't quite ready to be the focus on offense. (Not that you'd expect him to be at this stage, but there's a lot of hype surrounding him so it seemed fair to mention.) He does great as a secondary option on plays when he can get a shot up against one guy and fairly quickly at that. He'll kill you inside or out that way. But when they put him in Zach's spot and let him post he gets flustered, even more so when they double him.
--Martell Webster: 7-of-12, 5-for-8 from the arc, 19 points.
--Jarrett Jack: 12-for-22, 5-for-5 from the free throw line, 30 points, 10 assists, 2 turnovers. For most of the game he had a phenomenal sense of when to drive, when to pass, and when to shoot. There were a couple of possessions where he WAY over-dribbled, but he's young. His on-the-move jumper has become a deadly weapon and tonight he displayed it lethally. This was clearly his best game as a pro by far. He still gets tied up a bit when guarded religiously but if you put a weak defender on him and let him get comfortable you're in trouble.
--You don't often get to needle Nate, but on the final play of regulation when the Blazers had the ball with a chance to win it, he drew up the play for the wrong side of the court. When the refs told the Blazers they had to inbound from the other side there was mass confusion. Fortunately we had one remaining timeout and used that to correct the error. It's more of a glitch than anything, but I'd not seen that happen before, at least not to that effect.
--I like quite a few of our big guys, but I was noticing tonight that ALL of them really need to hit the weight room. That's one motley collection of biceps out there.
--Don't worry about Ruben Patterson's 26. Sure he took the game personally and maybe even won it for the Bucks. But at about 6:40 left in the first quarter Joel got the ball in the post and Ruben left Martell Webster by the 3-point line to double Joel. You know those 26 points won't happen every night, but bonehead plays like that sure will.