Game 47 Recap
This game was like a six-day old Bavarian Cream doughnut. It was really tough at the beginning, had a sweet, gooey center, and then got tough again on the back side. Was it worth the calories? Probably. How else did you want to spend your evening?
The first quarter tonight was as bad as anything we saw in the pre-Brandon years. We shot 20% from the floor. The starters' scoring was non-existent. We got out-rebounded by E...I...G...H...T. That is just wrong. The Mikes hit it on the head (as we have before too) in saying that fatigue is starting to take its toll...not just physical fatigue but mental as well. Lamarcus Aldridge surpassed his minutes played for all of last season in this game. Brandon Roy is around 7 games away from equaling his mark from last year. Everybody has to be far more involved in the offensive game with Zach gone. The kind of defense we play also depends on effort from everyone. Don't be deceived because we're not running much...it takes a fair amount of physical and a ton of mental energy to do what we're doing. We're depending on guys who, for the most part, have not done it before. The road is long and the speed bumps numerous and we see that in starts like we had tonight.
To our credit we really went after it hard in the middle quarters and erased our deficit, even grabbing a lead late in the third. We did it with hustle, rebounding, and passing. We showed Denver and the world what Blazer basketball looks like...and it was a brilliant, exhilarating rush.
The fourth quarter and overtime were a straight-out dogfight. It got physical and intense. It was thrilling to watch the teams trade blows. Neither one would let the other escape. In the end it came down to just a couple closing plays for each side. Allen Iverson ended up better at converting his than we were at converting ours. No surprise there and not much shame either.
After that rotten start we ended up only 2 down in rebounding, equal in shooting percentage, 7 ahead in free throw attempts, almost dead even in steals, turnovers, and points off turnovers, and way ahead in assists. In short we fought a very good team with established stars tooth and nail and gave them everything they could handle in an atmosphere where both teams went all out.
Were there mistakes? Of course there were. We saw Channing Frye's bad pass to end the third, Travis and Martell missing potential deciding free throws, Jarrett Jack not holding for the last shot. Those were just the obvious ones. We also saw consecutive possessions where only one Blazer got back in transition defense against a team that loves to run. We saw rebound after rebound pass by in the early going. We saw ill-advised jumpers and our lane opening up to their drives. The lesson here is that any one of those mistakes prevented could have won the game. Sometimes games, seasons, and legacies hang on a thread that small. This wasn't one of those nights, but it foreshadows them. Mark down another page in the Blazer Basketball Primer as read and (hopefully) absorbed.
This was a game where "right now" met "not quite yet". The surprise isn't that "right now" found a way to squeak by. It was that "not quite yet" proved such a handful...perhaps indicating that their "right now" is closer than you think.
--Brandon Roy had another great night with 26 points, 8 free throw attempts, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, a block, and only 1 turnover while being dogged hard by Denver athletes. His two-handed steal from AI on the break was amazing to see. How many times have you seen that happen before, let alone to a Hall-of-Famer?
--Martell Webster didn't attempt a shot in the first half. He made up for it by torching the net in the third quarter en route to 17 points and 5 rebounds. After his brief flare-up, however, he faded into the background again.
--A lot of people are giving Jarrett Jack grief for the mistaken 1-on-3 push in the closing seconds of the game. It was the wrong decision, but he's also a young player. I bet he doesn't do that a second time in his whole career. His 7 turnovers stand out but no more so than his 17 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals, and 6-13 shooting. He was a net positive. Without him we don't make it into overtime in the first place.
--Lamarcus Aldridge got 12 rebounds on a night we needed every one. He also got 4 blocks. Applause is warranted there. We can't have him taking only 9 shots though, especially on a night when Camby was out. Even more: we can't have him missing 7 of those 9. Show me a game where Lamarcus scores 4 points and I'll show you a game we lose no matter what else happens.
--Steve Blake caught on fire from distance when the game opened up in the second half. More importantly he had 9 assists and was a key catalyst for the ball movement.
--Joel Przybilla did a credible job in his 17 minutes. The Nuggets went small which kept him out of the game.
--Channing Frye was the only guy keeping our offense afloat in the disastrous early going. As many have said, he should play Denver every night. He only ended up with 1 rebound though and his defense left a little something to be desired.
--Travis Outlaw had 16 points and 10 rebounds and helped to turn the game around for us. He also drew 6 foul shots which is a part of his game he needs to take advantage of. Yes he missed the critical one but the team put him in that position to begin with by not building more of a cushion.
One-Sentence Game Summary:
The same game showed us both how far we have come and how far we have yet to go.