Game 2 Media Row Report

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So, then, I was like, it'd be really dirty if I put up 42. So I did!

Lma_medium

Respect the bling before you call me soft kthx haters

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You live in Brandon Roy's city.

Roughly 20 feet from where he did it until we were satisfied against Houston back in November, B. Roy hit a falling down seat-of-his-pants impossible 3 pointer with less than 3 minutes to go to put the Blazers up 6, enough to ensure they didn't choke the game away held on for a 107 to 103 home victory over the Houston Rockets.

The 3 was the crown jewel of Brandon's 42 point, 7 rebound performance, a night that from the beginning had "Brandon will will this team to victory" written all over it. In just his second career playoff game, Brandon entered the pantheon by tying for second most points scored in a playoff game in franchise history.  And he did it with Ron Artest and Shane Battier all over him.

After the game, the team was happier than we've seen in a week. Were they relieved?  Absolutely.

And was there a sense that this was what was supposed to happen on Saturday?  I would say yes.  

This team expects Brandon to play like an elite player, regardless of the defensive schemes he's facing. This team expects Aldridge to show his Swiss Army knife versatility on offense.   This team expects Rudy to hit a big 3 at the perfect moment (tonight it was at the beginning of the fourth quarter).  This team expects Joel and Blake to play chippy; it expects Oden to flash a little something something. 

So when those things didn't happen on Saturday, there was a lot of confusion. Amongst the team and amongst its observers.  

But when things started clicking tonight it felt like order had been restored.  All the bull--- about who is cheering or jeering too loudly evaporated in the wake of one man's developing greatness.

I'm glad I was there to see it.  I'd call myself a witness but I'm pretty sure that phrase is copyrighted.

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Random Game Notes

  • Important: Are any of you guys planning to travel to Houston to watch Games 3 and/or 4?  Do any of you live in Houston and plan on attending the games?  If so, please email me.  A TV station wants to feature you!
  • Was Oden's putback dunk with four minutes remaining his best play of the season? I say yes.
  • Loved Brandon on Aaron Brooks.  Loved that. Hope we see it again.  Brooks killed again tonight but he didn't dominate the game flow as he did in game 1.
  • So this guy was sitting courtside. I'm guessing you have feelings about his shirt. Why don't you share them in the comments?

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  • Remember our Clyde Drexler interview? I had the chance to thank him personally for the first time tonight. It was an honor.  Clyde says hi bedgers!!! Here's subpar photographic evidence.
  • I realize I write about Kevin Pelton almost as much as Henry Abbott does (which is bordering on unhealthy).  But here's a classic KP2 moment for you.  Sergio, Rudy, Travis, Joel and Greg are on the court simultaneously. I turn to Pelton and say, "Wow, how many minutes do you suppose this group has played together this season?"  Without blinking or saying a word, KP2 straightens his psychedelic tie and cracks open Microsoft Excel.  He plugs in a ridiculously complicated formula that included roughly sixty seven brackets.  Roughly 2.5 minutes and 1.5 furrowed brows later KP2 replies, via live chat (even though I'm sitting right next to him), that this is, in fact, the first time this group has played together in the 2008-2009 season. Kevin Freaking Pelton, ladies and gentlemen. The man, the myth, the legend.
  • Travis's steal and dunk was a top 10 most satisfying moment of the season.
  • In the locker room postgame, Jerryd Bayless and Michael Ruffin are standing in front of the bathroom mirror.  Bayless is roughly 1/3 of Ruffin's age.  Bayless turns to Ruffin and goes, "Ruff, you need some help with that tie? A double windsor?"  Ruffin just smiles (Ruffin is always smiling, by the way, so basically he had no reaction). Bayless is too much.  Almost 8 months and 2,384 DNP-CDs later, he remains my favorite Blazer.
  • The first thought that popped into my head when Dikembe Mutombo went down was "Alonzo Mourning."  Brother Wendell reports seeing Deke in tears after the game.  TrueHoop writes that Dikembe is done, done. Career done.  That is the type of news that will not sink in until tomorrow morning.  Thoughts and wishes go out to Mr. WWTSM.
  • Before the game was over, talk had already turned to what Mutombo's absence means for the rest of the series. Obviously, it opens things up for Greg and puts more pressure on Yao to avoid foul trouble.  I feel dirty for even writing this bullet point. Too soon.  I will stop now.  My apologies. It's a shame that had to happen.

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Nate's Postgame Comments

On whether this was Brandon's best game ever: "I would say [in the] playoffs. I thought tonight he played a really good game. In the sense that I dont think anything was forced. Artest is an unbelievable defender. He did a good job of just taking the looks that were there. He knocked down some big shots. No turnovers. He had the ball a lot. We tried to move him around a little bit more. Just a solid game by him. Artest is unbelievable, on the offensive end of the floor I thought Brandon stayed calm against the defense of Artest and Battier."

On the games from Brandon and LMA: "Well we needed those guys to score. Brandon had a tough shooting night last game. So did LaMarcus. If those two guys are not scoring for us it's going to be tough for us to win games. Not only do we need them to score we need some of our other guys to score. We need that third guy. I thought Rudy and Blake and those guys did a nice job of knocking down some shots.  But Brandon and LaMarcus had a good rhythm tonight and we needed those guys to score to get that confidence.  Our guys certainly gained confidence when LaMarcus and Brandon were scoring."

On the defense: "I thought defensively. Defensively just establishing that we could guard them. Artest started out really hot. A lot of those shots were tough shots, hands in his face and for the most part we contained the other guys. In the second half, Von started to get off a little bit.  But we pretty much kept that first group under control, they didn't run away from us as they did in that first game."

On evening the series: "I think it's good. We've got to believe we can win. If we go in there doubting ourselves we lose before we even take the floor. After that first game, basically the last two days were about getting this team to believe that we can do it.  As I said it was encouraging to look at that tape, even though they blew us out, we looked at that tape and said that was not the gameplan. We didn't do anything that we talked about doing in that game. I feel we have a shot. I think the teams are really evenly matched and I felt like we had a shot and we showed them things of what we looked like yesterday in practice and I thought today we did a better job defending. We got in foul trouble early in two of the quarters and they were in the penalty but we were aggressive on both ends of the floor."

On the inside game: "I just thought we got more movement. They are a very good defensive team. They do a good job on the ball. They do a good job off the ball. We needed more movement in our offense. I thought we got more movement tonight. We weren't standing and ball-watching Brandon and LaMarcus when they had the ball tonight. A lot more screens to free up our guys."
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Download Postgame Audio

Shift-click the links to load in your browser. Right click + save as to download the mp3.

Thanks to Mike Acker for manning the digital recorder to grab these for you.

-- Ben (benjamin.golliver@gmail.com)
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