I feared the Blazers wouldn't have much fight in them after all those road losses. But with the exception of the usual Outlaw brain-freezes at the defensive end, I thought the Blazers played well enough to win tonight. And this against a Nets team that played well themselves.
Re/ those Outlaw brain freezes: I was watching the game on the DVR, and practically every time Nachbar hit one of those wide open threes, I'd back it up to see that Outlaw had inexplicably left Nachbar alone. It wasn't that Travis had cut off someone else's penetration; rather he just drifted away into no man's land.
Later, on those two critical Kidd plays down the stretch, again Outlaw appeared to be the culprit. First, as Kidd started down the right sideline with the ball, Outlaw was alongside him. But Travis, oblivious to the fact that no one else stood between Kidd and the hoop, casually drifted away to find his own man. Kidd said, "Thank you very much," and accelerated to the hoop and scored easily. A couple plays later, when the Nets' shot went up, Travis typically made no attempt to box out, allowing Kidd to go right around him to grab the critical rebound.
But enough about Outlaw. It's disappointing and sad, because he does try, and he beats himself up after every screw-up. But the good news is that the rest of the team continues to show progress. Martell and Jack once again played with intensity and intelligence, and Roy was really a handful, especially early on when his team needed a boost of confidence. Frye was probably the highlight of the evening for me; he really showed signs. I'd pretty much given up on him, but I'm thinking that was premature. He's a smart guy and seems capable of making necessary adjustments. Maybe there'll be a carryover to the road now.
As for Travis, hope springs eternal. But at this rate, I suspect Nate will give up playing him in the fourth quarter altogether.
Well, that's my take after tonight. The road losses left me feeling discouraged--not with the losses themselves, but with the general lack of toughness and smarts. Tonight, however, I felt OK with. Outside of Outlaw, there was plenty of promise on display.
What are you guys thinking after the Blazers' first home loss of the season?