Some dude once said that those who live by the sword will perish by the sword. The Blazers have been making quite a living this year banking on emotional runs and last-second heroics. Somebody else had the hilt tonight. You have to figure that’s going to happen sometimes.
Much like the last contest against the Magic this was a game of runs. As they did in
The defense improved greatly in the second period. Brandon Roy started cranking it up, Lamarcus Aldridge continued his stellar all-around play, and Steve Blake got hot at the end of the period. We also committed 6 defenders out of 5 to stopping
Then the fun really began.
First of all, Brandon Roy started going OFF once the second half began. He fell on the Magic like a cement mixer on a
This pretty much continued throughout the second half with Brandon and Lamarcus and Sergio and Rudy taking turns playing sick carnival games with the Magic. When Joel Przybilla got into the act it was almost too much. If you want to see something hilarious rewind your Tivo to 9:49 left in the fourth quarter and watch the expression of Joel’s face after he hit a left-handed, fully-guarded, driving, looping flip shot off of a pass from Rudy Fernandez and got the and-one besides. Normally you wonder if this guy cracked a smile when his children were born. Or conceived. But here was Joel walking back down the lane with this incredible grin on his face as if to say, “That’s RIGHT! I lit you up! How do you spell it? P-R-Y-Z…no, no…wait…P-R-Z-Y-B-I-LLA-LLA-LLA- LOSERS!!!”
This whole time we were dominating the boards, getting back in transition, and keeping
So…fast forward to 2:15 left in the game. The Blazers have held off the Magic distance shooting parade and now lead 108-100 off of a Lamarcus Aldridge jumper.
1:57 left… Jameer Nelson makes a three-pointer. It’s now 108-103. That’s alright. Anybody can hit a lucky shot. Or, well, seven lucky shots by this point.
The Blazers come back down and after they eat up some time, Travis Outlaw fires a three-point jumper and misses. That might not have been the best shot.
1:31 left… Jameer Nelson misses a layup. Fool! That’s not a three-pointer!
1:02 left… Brandon Roy has a great block of a Hedo Turkoglu runner. Blazers call timeout. After the timeout Steve Blake loses the ball. (Egad!)
0:33 left… Keith Bogans misses a three-point jumper. See? They don’t all fall. This game is o…o…offensive rebound Bogans. The ball swings over to Rashard Lewis for three and it’s good. Now it’s 108-106 and the Blazers will have to shoot. They can’t just run out the clock.
So here comes Brandon Roy. Obviously
So here we go. Turkoglu is the inbounder. He gets it to Howard up above the three-point line on top. Howard holds while Turkoglu runs in, then Howard flips it back to him as Turkoglu cuts across the court. Travis Outlaw is following. He’s shading him pretty well but he’s giving him maybe six inches too much space. You don’t want to foul him, though. That would be a disaster. Turkoglu is shooting 84% from the foul line but only 30% from three-point range. Against everybody but the Blazers, that is. Turkoglu rises. Outlaw jumps but his arm is out there a split-second too late. The ball flies towards the hoop and…misses everything! That was WAY long. A horrible shot! The game is o…wait a minute. What’s this? When did they start putting that clear material behind the rim? That almost makes it unfair, as if you could miss a shot WAY long and still have it…D’OH!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Three-tenths of a second left, no timeouts for the Blazers. Brandon Roy’s three-quarter court heave misses.
I’m going to make these very brief unless I’m telling you something you don’t already know.
--Brandon Roy was amazing in this game. 30 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 10-20 shooting, 14 free throws drawn. And this wasn’t even one of his prettier games. He missed some layups and foul shots.
--Lamarcus Aldridge was AMAZING in this game. 25 points, 13 rebounds, 12-17 shooting, 2 steals, 2 blocks. He was a force out there. That’s great to see, as we’ll need that again on Thursday.
--Joel Przybilla was amazing in this game. 11 points on 5-6 shooting, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks, and that smile thing was one of the best moments of the season.
--Sergio Rodriguez was amazing in this game. He only shot 3-9 but he dished 7 assists and hit 6-6 free throws off of beautiful penetration to end the game with 14 points. Even better he seemed to get in a jawing and playing duel with Jameer Nelson and he didn’t back down a bit. In fact it spurred him on. I love to see Sergio, in particular, rise to that kind of challenge because that’s what his career needs to be about.
--Rudy Fernandez was pretty amazing in the second half with 4 assists and 4 rebounds to go with his 10 points. I like how he contributed even when his deep shot wasn’t falling. And we got two alley-oops tonight!
--Travis Outlaw was pretty amazing in the first half when he put in 8 points in the space of 3 minutes. He only had 10 points total for the game though and the rest of his stat line was anemic.
--This was not one of Steve Blake’s stronger games. He hit a couple of nice pull-ups off of the dribble but no threes. He had 2 assists, 2 rebounds, and 5 fouls in 23 minutes.
--Nicolas Batum had 2 rebounds and 3 assists and a steal but also 3 turnovers in 16 minutes.
--Greg Oden was not amazing. He had a dunk and a rebound and 4 fouls in 11 minutes. He was overmatched by Howard.
--Channing Frye was less amazing than that. He only played 4 minutes though.
Reading the post-game thread was a tortuous experience. Obviously the emotion of losing like that in a game that was otherwise exciting and fun mandates some venting. But if this is to be a record that stands the test of time we have to say that people commenting there are WAY too far down about this loss. Except for the first quarter the game was very well played. You couldn’t ask for better emotion either.
To address some of people’s specific questions/comments:
--This game wasn’t lost on the last possession. It was lost in each of the prior three or four as well. You can’t indict one person for that loss because had the team done a better job of executing during those crucial possessions--and that means people off the ball as well as people with it--the possibility of the miracle shot never would have come up.
--You put your starters back in late because those are the people you trust, who know what they’re doing, who have played in those situations before, and who have practiced together. The vast majority of the time that move is going to work out for you. Until your starters have repeatedly proven that they’re going to blow it in such situations (which
--Travis Outlaw didn’t do a horrible job of defending there. Turkoglu banked a near straight-on shot. I’m guessing he didn’t call it. Trout could have been closer but then, as we said above, he risked the foul on the shot. THAT would have been a major, preventable mistake. This was a bummer.
--Nicolas Batum wasn’t defending Turkoglu on that play because Batum is 6’8” and skinny while Turkoglu is 6’10” and at least medium-sized. Plus Batum hasn’t been out there in critical situations with those other
--Why we didn’t hack Howard on the inbounds is a decent question if you just consider his shooting percentages. On the other hand you look stupid if he makes them as you were only up 2, not 3. It would be an unusual strategy in this situation. Then again “unusual” can be a synonym for “creative” if it works out. But still, it’s not an automatic call. You don’t usually want to give people chances to turn the game without any defense facing them.
--Losing that way was tough, but honestly, it’s not like we just lost in the Conference or NBA Finals and it sounds that way a little by the comments. Let’s hope we don’t have to experience THAT kind of pain again. Fortunately we get to dust ourselves off and try again Thursday. I already had doubts about that game before this one. It’ll be tough enough without carrying this one with us.
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Don’t forget that you have a limited time--like maybe just today--to purchase tickets to send needy kids to a Blazer game on December 27th. Contact Lisa Swan at firstname.lastname@example.org or (503) 963-3966 to help. Tickets are $22 for one, $17 for each thereafter.