I'm thinking this game goes in the "wasn't great, wasn't bad, glad we won" file. We seemed to play with just enough effort to get by for the first three quarters, never dominating and never falling too far behind. About 3 minutes into the fourth I found myself thinking, "Why in the world are we playing this close to the Timberwolves?" Apparently the Blazers thought that way too, as they started to clamp down on defense and choked out Minnesota in the last half of the fourth.
The Timberwolves actually shot far better than we did from the field and the three-point line. They also outscored us 52-34 in points in the paint. How did we win? Simple: free throws. We shot 26 of them, they shot 9. This is living proof that the more aggressive interior team doesn't always get the calls. The last couple of years we complained mightily when Zach never drew foul shots in the post. Tonight it was Al Jefferson's turn. I feel safe saying that just about any game Minnesota is -14 in free throw points they're going to lose. And somewhere out there on a Timberwolves blog somebody is complaining about it.
The other stat that stood out was that we obliterated them in points off of turnovers, 20-7, even though we committed 7 and they only committed 12. We stayed ahead in offensive rebounds and our rebounding overall was good tonight. That sure helped. I was not pleased at all with the defensive effort up until the fourth quarter, but I guess you could argue we only expended the energy we needed to. A win is a win, and that's what matters most.
--Brandon Roy drew 9 of those foul shots as the `Wolves had no answer for him. He scored 27 with 9 assists and 5 rebounds. Making the inevitable comparison Randy Foye scored 9 with 8 assists and 7 rebounds. I suspect we came out a little ahead there.
--We did not force-feed Lamarcus in the post tonight but he still managed a few moves and a few jumpers. He ended up with 20 points on 9-16 shooting which was plenty impressive. This is his third straight 20-point game in a row. He and Joel and their little helpers also did a reasonable job on Al Jefferson. Al ended up getting his points late but it was difficult.
--Joel Przybilla gave us his usual 10 rebounds even though he didn't start the second half. The Minnesota broadcast never said what the issue was. It couldn't have been personal fouls, as for the first time I can remember he had none. He got 29 minutes anyway, which was fine. I suspect many would prefer Joel playing the bulk of his minutes in the 4th instead of the 3rd anyway.
I will mention this. I love what Joel is giving us but every time I see him somewhat open and not passed to--and even more when I see him passed to and him not able to handle or finish strong--I can't help but envision Greg Oden in there with those big mitts and awesome hops of his. Defenses are able to slack off a little deep on us, leaving cracks in the paint. I sincerely hope they try that strategy next year. Your jaw is going to be on the floor. I also hope Joel is still on the team and still able to grab 7-10 rebounds in 15-20 minutes.
--Steve Blake was steady and scored 11. Nothing wrong there.
--I'm going to lump Martell Webster and James Jones together because they both scored 13, they both gave a little something-something in the other areas (Martell 3 rebs and 3 assists, James 5 rebs) and they both missed some WIDE open threes again. Mind you, I completely understand that everybody misses. It's not as easy as they make it look from that distance. But between them they had 3-4 WIDE open bombs and still couldn't connect. Any NBA shooter with 2-3 seconds pressure-free should be able to hit at least 2-4. This seems to be a continuing theme with Martell especially. I very much want them both to be complete players--in fact they have to be in order to see minutes. But even with those other good things seeing them missing wide open threes is like watching a stripper who really can dance. OK, that's nice, but you know what we paid for...
--Channing Frye was a rebounding machine and actually had a couple of good defensive plays inside! He got 7 rebounds in 19 minutes. I like that Channing just fine.
--Travis Outlaw was not a rebounding machine (1 reb in 15 minutes) but he at least shot 4-9 tonight for 8 points. That's about three more shots than he has been hitting this week.
--But that's OK, because Jarrett Jack made up for Travis' lack of misses by hoisting 7 of his own in 8 shots taken. And I mean these weren't even close. You know that scene in Robocop where he has Lewis hold the baby food so he can adjust his targeting visor and shoot it accurately? Jarrett needs to get himself a screwdriver. However he did have 6 rebounds and 4 assists in 20 minutes.
--Sergio saw the floor tonight! He made a buzzer-beater at the end of the first and scored 2 points with 1 assist in 7 minutes.
One-Sentence Game Summary:
We couldn't afford the name-brand win but the generic substitute was pretty much as good.