Apologies about the long delay before the recap. Sundays are a bad day for me to find Blazer-watching time and a 10:00 a.m. game couldn’t be worse. Just one of the quirks of this particular blog.
In any case, this was another game where one shot going in changed everybody’s perception, eh?
The Blazers started out the game ragged and tired, almost as if they were anticipating the end of the road trip one game early. (Better not do that…yet AGAIN thanks to the obscene kindness of the schedule makers Portland lands home for one game and then heads RIGHT BACK OUT on the road. That barely counts as a home game. Anyway…) Portland’s transition defense was lousy again, we got no offensive rebounds to speak of, we bricked our outside shots (whether open or forced), our interior defense was softer than Nicolas Batum’s downy cheek, and we committed enough turnovers to fill a medium-sized barge. As predicted,
Then the Blazers woke up.
It started with an offensive spark from Rudy Fernandez. He converted an and-one layup and started forcing the Raptors to concentrate on somebody else besides Brandon Roy. This opened up the lane for
The third quarter belonged to the Blazers as well behind a barrage of three-pointers and a heroic effort from Lamarcus Aldridge. The transition defense was back up to snuff by now so
The Raptors refused to surrender, though. Everybody except, surprisingly, Chris Bosh got into the scoring act for them. The Blazers also started missing some of those jumpers as tired legs began to rule. It was nip and tuck until
You can see where the Blazers struggled in this game pretty clearly. They allowed the Raptors to shoot 49% from the floor and 47% from the three-point line. They also allowed 26 assists on 38 made baskets. They turned the ball over 14 times to the Raptors’ 8. You can also see how
Lamarcus Aldridge really dominated that third period. He also did a credible job on Chris Bosh. Bosh ended up scoring 19 but it was on 7-16 shooting and he never dominated the game. (Only 5 boards for Bosh too!) Lamarcus scored 20 himself on 50% shooting with 8 rebounds, 6 offensive. He had 2 blocks as well.
Greg Oden continues to get stripped or fouled every time he gets the ball right at the cup. He shot 6 free throws tonight, hitting 4. He was only 3-10 from the field and finished with 10 points. That said, there’s a big difference between the Greg Oden who’s drawing fouls on other players and the Greg Oden who is fouling them incessantly. I like the former Greg much better. Oden had 2 blocks, 2 turnovers, and 10 rebounds. 5 of those were offensive, including the one that kept the ball alive for that game-winning possession. Also you just cannot discount how much attention Greg draws by his mere presence. Watch sometime how many players have their eyes on him or have to drop down a step or two to shadow his movement in case they need to help. Those extra steps free up our distance shooters.
Speaking of…Steve Blake, game hero. 7-14 shooting, 5-8 from distance, 19 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists. Somebody didn’t want to lose this game. It’s truly scary how much this team has come to depend on Blake. When he is not hitting that three point shot we are not the same offensive unit. That last three was the signature shot of his season, though. The circumstances and set-up were a little different, but it’s not far off to say he played the last-second John Paxson role to the hilt.
Nic Batum had 3 rebounds and 2 assists but missed both of his shots in 14 minutes. He did help keep Andrea Bagnani quiet though. The
Rudy Fernandez turned this game around when it threatened to spill over into Boston Redux territory. One of the problems with
Joel Przybilla only played 18 minutes tonight. He hit a couple shots and grabbed 5 boards but he was having real trouble containing Jermaine O’Neal and the attention he had to pay to JO kept him too preoccupied to help his teammates.
Travis Outlaw played 22 minutes and hit 3-7, including 2-4 from distance, for 8 points with 2 rebounds and 2 assists. He wasn’t as far out there with his offense as he has been the past couple games but he’s still random on far too many of his self-made shots for my taste.
Sergio Rodriguez played 15 minutes with 4 assists and hit a three. He’s looking more confident on his shot. He traded off 2 steals for 2 turnovers.
Martell Webster saw his first action of the season. It was good to see him out there. He missed his only shot, a quick-trigger three.
We don’t normally mention DNP-CDs but Channing got one tonight. It’s been a rough week for him.
The Blazers finished an amazing 4-1 on this road trip. Now the question for Blazer fans: Will we remember the 80% of the games that they won or the 20% that they lost? My take is that if you expect them to be World Champions or even Western Conference Finalists this year you might need to hold on to that Boston game. Otherwise feel free to let it go and party like crazy because your team just kicked butt through yet another long Eastern swing.