Losing to the Celtics is hardly surprising. However I left with a much better feeling after this loss than in either of the previous two. This was a hard-fought game where we had energy and drive. We can't help it that we can't pull Paul Pierce out of a hat when our two other superstars are shut down. Well...for NOW anyway. Just you wait about four years...
The first thing I want to say is that I loved me some first quarter. We said in the preview that the Blazers had to come out with abandon, playing free and loose, taking advantage of the GOOD things about being young. Darned if they didn't. It looked like a LOT of fun! They were stealing, breaking, shooting, and passing like it was a pick-up game. They had their hands on every rebound and loose ball too. We really needed that after some of the stuff we've seen the last three weeks. Doubling up the Celtics 32-16 didn't hurt any either. You knew it wouldn't last that way but it was nice to see them come out just like they should have.
Throughout the game, even early on, it looked like we made a conscious decision to take away Boston's inside points and make covering the perimeter a secondary priority. It worked in the sense that Kevin Garnett never went off. However Paul Pierce and Ray Allen played Bobby Brady to our Peter and made us slaves for the day. Allen scored 19 points on 7-8 shooting. Pierce scored 30 on 12-14 shooting. Each hit 4-5 three pointers, the outside shots opening up the inside drives in Pierce's case. Once again we see that we just don't have the defensive horses to shut down everything. We have to choose one or the other. Problem is you lose either way with the Celtics.
We also got taken out of the game in the second half, first physically, then mentally. This was the only part of the game I'd categorize as a real disappointment. We have to stand up stronger when opponents start smacking and woofing at us. It looked like we let the refs take us out of our game as well. To my view it really wasn't that bad. (I see Myemic has a diary that seems to lean the other way and you're welcome to check there too.) Either way, it doesn't matter.
I write a ton of material. I think I'm pretty on most of the time, but I don't tend to talk about that much, nor hold myself up as someone who should be listened to more than others. But on this matter, this once, I am saying that the players, the announcers, the fans, everybody who comments in the Gameday Threads (which I haven't read yet either), EVERYBODY NEEDS TO LISTEN TO THIS...
There is one, and ONLY ONE, response when you just got knocked to the floor and the ref blew the whistle on you:
Shut up, Get up, "D"-up.
That's it. Nothing else. The first time, the twelfth time, every time.
Outside of perhaps the Shaq-`n-Kobe L*kers there hasn't been a team who got anywhere in this league who has not had to fight against perceived or real injustices from the refs. It happens on your way up against more established teams. It happens again in the playoffs from time to time. Good teams are the ones that OVERCOME that and WIN ANYWAY. I promise you calls will go against us at some critical juncture in the second round or the Western Conference Finals or somewhere really, really important. When that happens I want a long track record of having fought our way through and having won our share despite all that. I don't want a long track record of fans and announcers and coaches whining and the players getting completely distracted and giving up points and plays. I don't care. It doesn't matter. Shut up, Get up, "D"-up. That is all.
As far as the rest of the game, it was a mixed bag tending towards bad. We ended up losing the rebounding battle by 6, although we owned a nice 15-10 lead in offensive boards. We gave up 44 points in the paint and only scored 26 there ourselves. We did end up with a significant free throw advantage, attempting 26 to their 15 and making 22 to their 10. But we kind of wasted the 12 points they spotted us there by letting them shoot 58%. We did get 17 turnovers with 13 steals, which was surprisingly aggressive for us. In the end we just couldn't cover enough shots...that was pretty much the story.
--Brandon Roy was noticeably limping through the middle sections of the game. He was finally removed and taken to the locker room with ankle difficulties and an MRI is pending. As 2011Champs has noted in a diary this recap mentions something about Brandon saying he may be out up to two weeks. I would not put a ton of stock in that until I'd heard more from local sources and until the MRI results are in.
--Lamarcus started out with a ton of energy tonight but couldn't seem to sustain it in the face of mounting defensive pressure as the game wore on. He ended up 4-11 for 14 points. He had 3 steals and a really sweet block but only 2 defensive rebounds and 5 total.
--Joel Przybilla played one of his better games, I thought, really helping to bother the inside players for the Celtics. He had 7 points and 9 rebounds, plus 2 blocks. He also stood up to KG, which is something the other Blazers can't quite manage in the same way.
--Jarrett Jack scored 17 and was one of the guys who really turned it up a notch tonight. He committed a couple of turnovers on the break down the stretch en route to 5 and he had trouble watching the Celtics' guards. (But then again, who didn't?) He ended with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. He also drew 6 free throws, one short of the team high set by Lamarcus and Travis. We need that from him.
--Steve Blake lit it up from the three-point arc. It was a flashback to earlier months. He only shot 4-12 but all four makes were bombs. We'd take 12 points, 8 assists, and no turnovers from him every night.
--Travis Outlaw was the star off the bench tonight. He shot 9-19 and confounded the Celtics for 24 points. Just as strikingly he had 4 assists, which for Travis is like a million. This is going to become increasingly important as he handles the ball more. Already when he gets it the rest of the team has a tendency to stand, knowing he's going to shoot. Eventually that will kill us and him. Every time he passes well I get all tingly. As mentioned above he drew plenty of free throws tonight too, which also makes my toes curl. No defensive rebounds in 31 minutes is not good though, and even 5 offensive boards don't make up for it. Travis was also a case in point for why I say that single-game + / - stats don't mean dookie. He was clearly a huge star in this game, giving Boston all kinds of fits. His + / - line? -14.
--Martell didn't start all that aggressively and early on it looked like the guys might even have been going away from him a little. But he did warm up for 8 shots, hitting 4--all of them threes--for 12 points total. It's a good start. More please.
--Raef LaFrentz got 11 minutes of burn at the expense of Channing Frye. Guess Nate figured we needed a bigger body out there. He grabbed a couple of steals and a rebound.
--Apparently there's a mini-Sergio controversy going on surrounding this game, which often happens when Sergio does well. He did well tonight. He shot 3-6 and had 7 points, 2 rebounds, and an assist in 8 minutes. I'm not sure why there has to be a ruckus. For one thing this was kind of like him poking his head out for Groundhog's Day. We've seen it before. If he played like this every game he'd be playing more minutes. He doesn't, and that's the bottom line. Folks tend to forget the 2-3 mundane-or-worse outings he's had and just fixate on the exciting flashes. Second, in a game where Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and even Rajon Rondo are going off you don't want to send Sergio out there in critical minutes. He's not going to help defensively. On offense you want the ball in Travis' and Lamarcus' hands anyway. Maybe he does do better on those two breaks but what about the other 20 plays? I'm not dogging him. He deserves the same leeway for being young that anybody else does. You celebrate his ups a little more than you castigate him for his downs. But him playing or not is a non-issue when it comes to winning or losing this game. With all due respect to the questioners if Nate did walk out after the 902nd time being asked that question this year I don't entirely blame him. It's like a NASCAR driver fine-tuning his car all week, memorizing every line of the track, fighting through an entire race, then people want to keep blaming him losing every sixth outing on a funny-colored decal by the rear fender.
One-Sentence Game Summary:
OK basketball gods...we can handle losing the game, but losing Brandon again?