Wow, when you throw the league’s two youngest teams against each other, teams packed with scorers, athletes, and plenty of current and future talent this is what you get. It was like watching a couple of teenagers get in the ring for the first time. You can just hear a couple of experienced, professional fighters off to the side:
Whoa, he threw that haymaker way wide.
It connected though. Look he’s stunned.
It should be ove…WHOA! Did he just kick him in the crotch?
Yeah, he did. That’ll even it out. Ooooh! Did you see that eye gouge? Now they’re even!
Man, should somebody stop this?
Naw, let them go. They’ll figure it out.
Or they’ll knock each other out.
Yeah, or that.
Because this game went about six different directions over the course of 48 minutes people are going to have all kind of theories about why the Blazers lost. To me it was pretty simple.
1. The Warriors never should have been that close on the boards playing a smaller lineup like that. Andris Biedrins only got 9 boards too, which is about 72 below his season average. He wasn’t the trouble. We just didn’t have enough team energy rebounding. We depended on our big men to help stop the Warriors’ penetration but we didn’t back them up by grabbing the rebounds they were now out of position for. The Blazers and Warriors ended up dead even on the boards off of nearly identical field goal attempt and field goal made numbers. That’s giving away one of our key advantages right there.
2. We didn’t take very good care of the ball tonight. 21 total turnovers is too many. I think Oden gets a pass on his 5 because of his situation and because he committed every one of them trying to do what he is supposed to do, either score down deep or get the ball to a streaking cutter. The rest of the team just looked sloppy. We had 10 total turnovers from our backcourt players, only 1 short of our normal average. The Warriors defense and faster pace had something to do with it, but so did a general lack of focus.
3. We treated being guarded by the Warriors like it was differential calculus. Oden and Roy were the only guys that knew what to do with the ball. Oden overpowered everybody they threw against him.
4. The Warriors just had more sustained energy overall.
Many people are going to point to the refs, especially in the fourth quarter. On
Basically the Blazers fell just short in this game. It was one of those one more rebound, one more dunk, one more three…one more anything and we probably could have won it. That just didn’t happen. In many was we were fortunate to be as close as we were in the closing seconds. In another year or two the Blazers won’t be letting this kind of game stay that close. For now, chalk it up to gaining experience.
On the upside I thought our defense was reasonably good, especially in transition. We also shot the lights out from the three-point line, of course, which kept us closer than we otherwise would have been. It’s just a shame to have that defensive effort and that shooting prowess go to waste because of an extra board or turnover or two.
Brandon Roy was like a strafing fighter plane tonight. He’d be absent from the scoreboard for a while and then VROOOOM…here he comes. Then it would be quiet for a while and VROOOOM…here he comes again! He okey-doked the Warriors so many times it looked like he was actually playing a different game than they. He hit all three of his threes, shot 7-14, and had 22 points, 9 assists (Hello, Greg Oden!), and 4 rebounds. I wasn’t any fonder of
Lamarcus Aldridge was the surprise of the night, taking 7 shots and registering 4 points, 4 rebounds, 3 turnovers, and 6 fouls in 20 minutes of play. He just couldn’t get past those smaller, quicker defenders and he got frustrated all to heck. We missed him out there. There’s no point dwelling on the performance. I bet you he comes out and tears apart the Bulls tomorrow night.
Greg Oden made up for Lamarcus’ no-show with his career best so far. He shot 8-12 (dunkety-dunk-dunk-dunk) and hit 6-8 free throws for 22 points. He also had 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal, and the aforementioned 5 turnovers. Figure this: he left 6-8 more points on the table tonight plus a couple assists. By midway through next season you can take 3-4 turnovers off of that total and add those. Smashy-Smashy.
Let’s give some credit to Joel Przybilla too. He only got 2 boards but he made 4-5 shots (dunkety-dunk-dunk-dunk) and really did a great job of making himself available for the pass. The Warriors couldn’t stop him either. 9 points in 17 minutes with some decent defensive help.
Steve Blake hit a couple of threes for 6 points and 2 assists in 20 minutes. He’s not built to guard shooting guards, which is all the Warriors throw out there.
Nicolas Batum had a decent stat line of 5 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists in 12 minutes but he also collected 3 fouls and was having obvious problems at the defensive end from the opening tip. The kid has good instincts and remains perpetually active but he’s just overmatched against more experienced and bigger opponents right now. This is part of the process. Much like Oden’s gaffes, Batum’s will largely disappear with a year or two in the league and a little more bulk.
Travis Outlaw packed 12 minutes of super-inspired play into 33 minutes of playing time tonight. You have to love what happens when he’s energetic and fired up. At the same time you have to wince at the splatter-fest offense and semi-transparent defense when he’s cruising. He did move the ball around more than usual and made some very nice defensive stands though. Just…consistency please? 13 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks.
Rudy Fernandez was doing his best helping out on the boards and defensively when he could. He wasn’t great in his individual defense either but he did help hound people and contributed to the generally nice defensive rotations
Sergio Rodriguez played 23 minutes and hit 2-3 three-pointers and 4-4 from the line. His first half stint was so-so but he seemed to come out with more defensive passion in the second half. Frankly I think that kind of think will get him more playing time than a couple extra assists would. 12 points, 2 steals, 2 rebounds, 2 assists. Pretty much what we needed.
Channing Frye played 7 minutes. Remember early last season when Channing wasn’t getting much playing time and we actually had to vow to say almost nothing about him to avoid panning his game? It looks as if we might have to reinstate that vow. He is not having a good time out there. 0-2, 0 points, 1 assist, 1 foul.
Jerryd Bayless got to play for 4 minutes as a part of the three-guard lineup! He had a steal, a turnover, and a foul. He didn’t look really comfortable out there in the offense but at least he was moving his feet on defense.
A few random thoughts occurred to me during the game.
--I was wrong about Morrow’s game tonight. Like the
--We let the Warriors get above 109. That’s an automatic loss, right?
--I couldn’t help but think that we would have won this game if we had even one point guard who could set up the offense and hit a shot when open but still had a move to score off the dribble in the lane.
--In a most-probably unrelated note (as the Warriors don’t have point guards available), don’t discount the Warriors as a possible trading partner for the Blazers this year. Let’s just say the Blazers have a player or two the Warriors might be interested in and vice versa. No mammoth names on either side, of course…just some tidying up is possible.
Check out all of the warm and fuzzy Warrior feelings at GoldenStateofMind.
P.S. I got distracted and forgot to mention a couple of quirky observations. First, I did not like the alley-oop inbounds to Travis with 14.1 seconds left. That's a risky play of the kind you call with 1 second left needing a bucket. Being down 3 with that much time the risk-reward was not right there for my tastes. Second, whatever you think of the Rudy call at the end of the game the technical was a bad, bad idea...inexcusable really. My wife doesn't watch basketball much but she came in to kiss me goodnight and standing there in her bathrobe she called the situation perfectly: "Didn't the Blazers WANT to foul there?" That was precisely right. The promise of the looping pass into the backcourt changed the immediate situation but the fact remains that the overall goal there was to foul as quickly as possible. Short of a turnover, the play went perfectly for us. We got a foul after the ball was inbounded (so no shots and possession for Golden State) but before hardly any time had run off of the clock. Any chance we had of benefitting from that was ruined by the tech. Argue after the game if you want to. You cannot do that there.