This was a nice win, just the way it was supposed to be. The Blazers did a nice job recovering from a horrendous start to the game. The Blazers shot poorly out of the gate, got no offensive rebounds, never saw the paint on offense, and defended so horribly that they might as well have just put up cardboard cutouts of themselves. To give you an idea, the ONE guy you have to guard for Sacramento right now is John Salmons. With Kevin Martin out he's the go-to guy. Everybody knows this. It's in the scouting report. It's on the chalkboard. I'm sure the coaching staff did everything but paint a laser target on the guy. So what happens? Salmon gets a host of open jumpers plus a couple of weakly-defended drives and ends up scoring 12 of Sacramento's first 14 points. Naughty, naughty. This is lump of coal territory.
After that, though, the Blazers tightened up on the Kings and started working the boards. Plus Brandon Roy did some John-Salmonsing of his own. The Kings were powerless to stop him and only ended up fouling when they tried. Roy made a living at the foul line and at the cup off of drives. Sacramento had to contort so much trying to stop him that they ended up breaking. Other Blazers got into the act. By the time the second half rolled around the Kings were ripe for the picking. They started turning the ball over like it scalded them. The Blazers starting running out and scoring off the break. Portland dominated the paint on both ends. The end result was a 109-77 cakewalk.
The Blazers won this game in a couple ways you'd expect--dominate the boards, dominate at the foul line--plus one you didn't...dominate in points off of turnovers (24-12). They shot 10% better than the Kings, beat them 12-4 in steals, got 22 assists on 36 buckets. About the only thing they didn't do was hit the long ball. It didn't matter much. This was not a defense which encouraged them to depend on the three-pointer.
Put aside your fears that this team is going to collapse completely. Keep in mind, though, that the schedule remains tough through the first week of January. After that expect more blowouts.
Brandon Roy killed it again out there tonight. He shot 7-12 from the field and an amazing 15-15 from the foul line en route to 29 points. He was part of the shaky defense early but eventually came through with 4 steals, which is not exactly defense but shows the effort is there. Anyone think he shouldn't be an All-Star?
Lamarcus Aldridge shot brutally for the first two-thirds of this game, mainly because he didn't take any shot inside that didn't get blocked. He was out of it offensively. To his credit he got 10 rebounds, 4 offensive. The team made a concerted effort to redeem him later in the game and it worked. A couple of easy shots later and he was 6-20 for 15 points.
Nicolas Batum turned in a fine, fine effort game and even added some scoring punch. He hit a couple of threes, 4 shots overall, and notched 12 points to go with 6 rebounds. He also had a spectacular block. He lost focus on Salmons somewhat but later regained it and pretty much shut him down. This was one of Nic's best games.
Greg Oden shot 3-6 including one sick, sick dunk that showed how high he can leap when he gets momentum. (As I've said a few times, he used to be able to sky nearly that high from a standing start. Pray that he regains some of that.) His armpit was pretty much at the level of the rim and he just threw it down. He ended the game with 8 points and 10 rebounds. Nevertheless I keep wanting to see more out of Greg, not so much in production but in impact on each play. He has to stop making it so easy for opponents to guard him. For one thing he really needs to speed up a bit. I know he's slowed by the knee a little but he can get up and down the court quicker than he is. He also needs to use his strength and size to establish position on offense and pound people. Even if he doesn't get the ball on a particular play he can bruise an opponent by bumping him and carving out territory. The net result is a tired, bruised defender who really thinks twice before he has anything to do with you. I'm not suggesting anything illegal here (though if he can learn some tricks, fine by me), just make the defender use energy to keep you contained.
Steve Blake missed both of his threes but hit 4-7 for 8 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds. Like Roy he had 4 steals. He did a good job making sure Beno Udrih didn't go off on us for once. I have a hunch that was circled in the coach's pre-game plan as well. This was one of the first games we've dominated when Steve wasn't hitting the long ball.
Joel Przybilla was the bench star tonight with 14 rebounds, 7 points, and 3 blocks including a flat-out termination of a John Salmons dunk in the second half. It was video-game quality and resulted in a fast break and a Lamarcus Aldridge alley-oop finish. Joel is magical this year.
Rudy Fernandez started out rough but ended up with a bench-high 12 points on 5-9 shooting. He tried to create more for himself tonight with mixed results. Nobody finishes that Sergio alley-oop better though.
Speaking of Sergio, he was really good passing (natch) and helped break the game open. He had 5 assists and 3 rebounds. He couldn't hit a shot though and had 2 turnovers in 16 minutes.
Travis Outlaw got 4 rebounds but his offensive night was...forgettable.
Channing Frye and Jerryd Bayless each got 8 garbage time minutes while Ike Diogu got 6. The highlights were a soaring Bayless dunk and Channing's 3 personal fouls in that 8 minutes.
This was short and simple tonight but you all know we're waiting for the real goods: Ben's report on Honor Terry Porter night at the Garden!
Check out the Kings' woes at SactownRoyalty.