Game 59 Recap: Blazers 102, Spurs 84

Now that was satisfying.

Boxscore

General Observations

You don't even need the chapter and verse on this one.  All you need to know is the Blazers came out and killed them.  The timer went "Ding!" on this one somewhere in the second quarter (30 point lead, dearie.  Would you like a biscuit with that?) and everything after that was a bunch of bumping and posturing from the Spurs and some extended second-unit time for the Blazers.  Portland started out the game getting the ball upcourt quickly, poured in buckets with their stars, then the dam broke and everybody got into the act.  We saw more shots in the first half of the shot clock this game than we usually do in an entire month.  Against the Spurs it worked.  (And again, largely thanks to the talents of Roy and Aldridge who made sure those shots went through instead of turning into easy opportunities for the Spurs.)  The Blazers clamped down defensively as well.  This may have been the best defensive effort of the year, with few San Antonio players getting loose for anything but a three.  Parker had a few "wow" moments but that was about it.  Everybody else had to earn what they got, usually over the top rather than in the paint.

There's no doubt this was the Blazers' best offensive-defensive combo showing of the season.  The game plan was to win.  The skill, heart, and energy the players put into it made it a blowout.

The supporting points to the victory read like a box of assorted chocolates:

  • The Spurs had 58 points going into the fourth quarter.
  • Until the ultra-extended garbage time the Blazers were getting up more shots and had a shooting percentage lead in the teens.
  • Tony Parker scored 15.  And he was high for the team.
  • Tim Duncan scored 14 on 6-15 shooting.
  • The Blazers had 22 assists after registering only 12 in their last game against the Spurs.
  • The Blazers turned the ball over 13 times, several of those in the fourth quarter.  The Spurs netted 8 points off of those.  Meanwhile San Antonio turned it over 16 times for 17 Blazer points.
  • Portland had 10 steals tonight.
  • The Blazers shot 29 free throws to 12 for the Spurs.

I am struggling to think of a single negative trend that affected any part of the game that mattered and I'm coming up empty.  So I'm just going to do what the Spurs should have done about 19 minutes into the game and give up.

Individual Observations

--Stop me if you've heard this before.  Brandon Roy is good.  He was the jab that bloodied the Spurs' noses before the real massacre started.  Once again he was into this game from the tip.  Our starts sure look better that way.  After that he put it in cruise control, occasionally coming out to hit a jumper.  11-17 and 26 points one of those nights where it didn't look like there was much offensive difference between him and Kobe.

--Lamarcus Aldridge is also good.  After Brandon got into the act Lamarcus started punching his own ticket.  He also punched it inside against Matt Bonner and company, once again fulfilling the wishes of many of his devote followers.  When he gets aggressive he gets scary.  Lamarcus' game was actually better all-around than Brandon's, with 26 points on 10-14 shooting, 8 free throws drawn, 7 rebounds (6 defensive), 4 assists, and 3 steals.  If he keeps this up he won't need that spider above his locker to write "Some Forward!" in order to get attention.

--Joel Przybilla is meshing more seamlessly with the defense with every game he starts.  That may be another way of saying that the defense is looking better with every game he starts.  He had his usual 10 rebounds and played great against Duncan.  Yes somehow, mysteriously, he was still able to help on pick and roll plays or shade off to guard against the drive.  How does he do that?  Oh yeah.  He's a competent defender.  Extra special marks to Joel for staying out of foul trouble as well...not an easy thing to do when guarding Tim Duncan.

--Nicolas Batum had 6 rebounds and 3 steals in 22 minutes. Nice hustle, as always.  He also had a MONSTER dunk that brought the house down.  Where has his shot gone, though?   The court position says three-point attempt but the shooting trajectory says vendetta against the popcorn vendor.

--Steve Blake played the role of camel-breaking straw tonight, hitting 3-3 from distance, scoring 15, and dishing 6 assists.  (Again, Parker:  15 points on twice the shots, only 4 assists.)  As soon as he stroked it long in the first quarter you knew this game was over.  Steve is like the side-gunner in a B-52.  "There's one coming your way!"  Got it.  "Look out!  There's another..." Got it.  "But how'd you..." Got it.  He's not the pilot and you're not going to see fancy stuff.  He's just going to hit whatever comes his way and keep the plane from going down.

--Channing Frye was the super-sub on a night when the bench didn't do very well despite extended minutes.  (Part of this was San Antonio's propensity for thugging it up when nothing else is working.  It took our smooth offensive guys out of their game.)  Frye hit some deadly jumpers, pulled their defense outside, and ended up with 12 points on 5-6 shooting.

--Travis Outlaw went 1-6 for 5 points but had 6 rebounds, at least one of which was incredibly hard-fought...something you don't always see out of Travis.  He had 2 blocks as well.  I have a question, though.  Is anyone else tired of seeing those dramatic Travis "leap, grimace, slap-ball" rebounds when there's nobody else around him to threaten the board?  What we want is more intense rebounding on contested possessions, not more noise grabbing a ball that was yours anyway.  It was fun once, but without the consistent production it just comes across as showy.

--I don't know what's Spanish for "oy veh" but Rudy Fernandez had a rough night.  He shot 2-10, 2-7 from distance and made a couple of obvious defensive blunders including one that got him a public scolding from Joel Przybilla on the way to the timeout huddle.  Normally you'd like that stuff to happen behind closed doors but I think the Blazer centers, and Joel in particular, have earned some beefing time this year.  Joel has to cover so much ground and help on so many people that any time he wants to let loose when somebody isn't fulfilling their assignment he should have a green light.  Mark that up against the credit he's earned saving people's bacon time after time.  Anyway, Rudy being on would have turned a 30-point lead into a 40-point lead so no big deal.  2 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals in 30 minutes.

--Sergio played 11 minutes and had 3 assists.  I thought he looked pretty aggressive getting in the lane.

--Jerryd Bayless played 7 minutes and drew 4 foul shots.  He looked jumpy.

--Shavlik Randolph had 2 offensive rebounds in 3 minutes.  His per-48 numbers are probably pretty astonishing.

Final Thoughts

This was a much-needed win in a much-needed manner.  They couldn't have done it any better.  Now a couple days to refocus and then an important pair of games against the Pacers and Nuggets.  Hopefully this little rest will allow the Blazers to come with their A-game Wednesday.  One also hopes they can come up with this type of production and energy without having to lose to a team first in order to get it.

Check out the Spurs' astonishment at PoundingTheRock. 

Homers unite and check out your awesome Jersey Contest scores (and enter the next game) here. 

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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