OK, I told myself before this game that if we won I was going to be completely satisfied with this season no matter what else happened. So there you go. I am announcing it officially. Even if we play like crap the last four games, don't win a single one, and don't reach .500 I'm good. Big round of applause. Well done, guys. Anything from here on is gravy.
As with most contests with the L*kers, this victory was right-brained as much as anything. Philosophy was as important as technicalities. Specifically we played with...
And when we do that we're a formidable team.
The passion was evident from the start. Channing Frye set the tone. Steve Blake and Jarrett Jack also came out aggressively. And Roy was the kind of controlled whirlwind that is the hallmark of his best games. The L*kers seem to bring out an extra gear in us that we need to tap for 82 games instead of a half dozen per season. The trust aspect was also evident from the tip. Our game was neither selfish nor self-conscious. Riding one or two players with hot hands is a smart bet but hard to sustain for 48 minutes against good teams. Getting behind or having the pressure poured on increases this tendency. From the jump we eschewed that style, taking what the defense gave us and depending on all five guys to do their jobs. There was little of that hesitation that has crippled us the last few games. We had open shots and we took them. Frye, Blake, and James Jones were huge beneficiaries. All of them have been in a slump lately. We fed them the ball anyway and told them, "It's you." They responded. That trust ended up promoting a balanced game, not just on offense but on defense. Sure we let plays slip past us and watched some unopposed shots, but for the most part the rotations tonight were more energetic, timely, and effective than I've seen in weeks. We really played a complete defensive game. But if you just want to count offense, six of the seven guys who played 20+ minutes ended up in double figures.
If you want a team stat that explains the win, try this one: the L*kers had 5 fast break points. We also outshot them from every conceivable position, outrebounded them, and had more assists as well. It's hard to argue with that.
The one part of the game I did have a little trouble with was when Lamar Odom knocked Brandon Roy out of the sky and picked up a flagrant. We got in his face a little bit at the time, but not much. He basically told us to [flerm] off and we did. The proper response to that kind of thing comes from baseball. If a pitcher beans your home run hitter you don't bean the pitcher in return. Your pitcher takes off the head of their heavy hitter. There are four games left in the season. We are not going to make the playoffs. The only point to these games is preparing for next year. Part of that preparation is establishing ourselves. The next time Kobe drove, we should have knocked him flat on his "at" symbol dollar sign dollar sign. If there's an ejection, there's an ejection. If there's a fight, there's a fight. You're going to come at our guy? We're going to kill yours. We don't care what effect that has on the playoffs. We don't care what the league thinks or says, or its sponsors, or the networks. We're stupid crazy like that. You want to mess with us? We will tear the world down to get ours. Unfortunately we don't appear to have the guy on the roster who will do that (at least if the puffy-kitty-paw fouls we laid on Bryant after that are any indication). I think we need one.
On the bright side, I heard Jorga scream from the upper deck when Lamarcus Aldridge had to change his jersey right there in front of everyone because of blood on the back of it.
Tonight you saw the reason we are playing our regular guys and not our scrubs. There is NO experience better than the one we got tonight. Our 10th-12th guys getting killed by Kobe Bryant wouldn't teach us or them a thing comparatively.
--Brandon Roy...what can you say? 23 points, 8 free throws drawn, 12 assists, and he made the whole L*ker defense look stupid, individually and corporately. Plus he got up from that walloping and kept on ticking. I think I like this kid.
--Lamarcus Aldridge started slowly but really poured it on as the game progressed...the opposite of his usual M.O. 22 points and 16 rebounds isn't a bad line. He played some good defense too. He and the other bigs limited Pau Gasol's open looks which was one of the keys to keeping the L*kers from overrunning us.
--Channing Frye, where have you been all my life? Why did you wait until now to show us this, you big hunk of basketball player, you. Seriously, Frye hit everything he put up tonight, most of it from range. The L*kers couldn't cover all five scorers and keep our big two in check and Channing was the one who made them pay. 9-12 shooting, 22 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals.
--Hey...James Jones got his groove back tonight! He was 5-9 overall, 3-6 from distance. We gave him the ball in positions where he had to shoot or get yanked and he came through. 14 points in 27 minutes isn't bad for a 4th-6th option.
--Steve Blake usually plays well against L.A. and tonight he hit 3-6 from three-point range to really open the floor for us. He scored 13 and added 6 assists. I liked his foot movement on defense too.
--Jarrett Jack put pressure on the L*ker defense with his usual assortment of drives. 15 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 turnover, perfect from the line including the salting-away foul shots.
--Travis Outlaw was the only Blazer who had a sub-par night, shooting 1-6 for 3 points.
--Raef LaFrentz got 10 minutes and 2 rebounds. I was hoping he'd be the Kobe-squasher but it didn't turn out that way.
One-Sentence (more or less) Game Summary:
Hey L*kers! Ou est votre pere, mes cheries? Mwah! Mwah!