The basic story of this game is that if you continue to do the right things good things will happen to you. For most of the game the Blazers outrebounded the Raptors. They drew more foul shots. They hit more threes. The only glaring mistake early on was turning the ball over a ton, giving the Raptors more shots, which as we said in the preview was a big no-no. Other than that the Blazers were at the mercy of something pretty much beyond their control: the Raptors shot the lights out. Then they shot the neighbors' lights out. Then they took a bazooka to the power station. The Blazers did a decent job of shutting down the middle and still getting out to cover but Toronto just downed a hail of shots. As has been the habit lately we didn't give up and we didn't stop hustling. If anything we increased our energy, especially in the fourth quarter. Toronto, having played last night, couldn't match. All of a sudden all of those jumpers were falling short and Chris Bosh's spin move was slow enough to guard. At that point we accelerated away and didn't look back. Nine in a row. High fives all around.
The most impressive stat of the night was ending up with only 12 turnovers after we started the game with 5 quick ones. That's been the single biggest improvement since the start of the season. A big part of it comes from simply slowing down the offense a little and letting a couple of key guys handle the ball. We weren't ready for the motion/passing game yet. A close runner up was getting 7 more free throw attempts than the Raptors. That may seem like an easy task given their jump-shooting proclivities but we haven't always taken advantage of such situations this season. Our 10-21 three-point shooting clip was great and came off of smart passing and guys confidently taking advantage of their opportunities. As we mentioned the rebounding was also good. All-in-all, given the potential problems caused by Toronto's shooting ability versus our need to zone, I'd say we came out of this about as well as could be expected.
--The night again belonged to Brandon Roy who carried the team on his shoulders in the fourth and willed us to win. One of the keys to the game was our ability to drive and he made the Raptor defense look every bit as soft as advertised. Brandon is a guy whose layups get you to jump off the couch with a vigor usually reserved for dunks. He ended up 10-16 with 25 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists. And this was with Toronto watching him like a hawk. Brilliant game.
--Lamarcus made a nice comeback for having not played in a week. The 15 points was at the lower end of his scale but he did shot 7-15 and grab 7 boards. He wasn't missing his jumpers as much as not getting in great position for them which will certainly change as he gets accustomed to being out there again.
--Martell Webster made a great second-half comeback after having a drizzly first half. Basically we found him open for some threes in the third quarter and the scoring torrent ignited his energy. It wasn't his best overall game of the year but he showed more signs of life than he has recently.
--Steve Blake took good advantage of his scoring opportunities, shooting 6-9 for 14 points. You may look at his 1 assist and wonder what's up but Brandon handled the ball a ton in this game. Blake did pretty much just what he should have.
--This wasn't a night for Joel Przybilla. You knew it wasn't going to be even before the game started. For one thing Toronto's outside shots negated much of his defensive presence. Long shots carom long too which doesn't help the rebounding. They tried putting Joel on Chris Bosh which is just a ridiculous quickness deficit. He pretty much couldn't guard him. So to the pines he went. No reflection on Joel...this just wasn't a good team for him.
--Predictably as Martell Webster emerged James Jones's scoring slid a little. There's no logical reason for it, it's just one of those things. Seeing Jones airball a three like he did in the first quarter is like seeing Superman emerge from the phone booth and trip. However Jones did play some credible defense and helped the team effort without shooting.
--Travis Outlaw had a fairly miserable shooting night until the fourth quarter. Come to think of it he had a pretty bad defensive first half as well. Fortunately he rebounded in both the metaphorical and literal sense and was a key part of the game-winning surge. But here's a question: doesn anybody in the league have more almost-spectacular dunks than Outlaw? Here's another: when may we expect to see some of those thrown down?
--Channing Frye had 6 points and 5 rebounds in 13 minutes which is impressive. There are so many fundamentals he seems to be missing right now though. I guess if his production stays that high it's worth it, but that's exactly it...he has to produce big to justify his minutes. I'd prefer a little more solid defense, some consistent boxing out, and other reasons to keep him out there besides the jumper.
--Sergio had an energetic night again, or as much as you can have in 8 minutes. He had 3 assists and made a nice drive.
--Jack had a fairly non-descript outing except for hitting a key three-pointer in the comeback that elicited a huge roar from the crowd.
One Sentence Game Summary:
If there's a more perfect basketball player than Brandon Roy right now I don't know his name.