The Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Orlando Magic 97-83 in the Rose Garden Thursday night, proving that multiple dimensions will almost always beat a single dimension in basketball.
I hate to continue to harp on the importance of Portland's perimeter versatility, and lean so heavily on this September post, but beating the Orlando Magic on a season-high night from Dwight Howard was the Blazers' signature win of the season, and it showed how dangerous and frustrating Portland can be for opponents when the ball moves and the assertiveness level from Portland's wings is where it needs to be.
The Blazers got excellent energy from both Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum, and a "chip on his shoulder" performance that won't be soon forgotten from Andre Miller, who was still bitter about his suspension for roughing up Blake Griffin. It was more than enough to not only overcome cold shooting from both LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy, but also to leave a quality Orlando Magic as thoroughly defeated and down as any Blazers opponent in recent memory.
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy didn't appear from the team's locker room until after Nate McMillan had already addressed the media and many of the Blazers had already dressed and gone home. Speaking in a calm tone when he finally emerged, he tore apart his team's effort. "Defensively I thought we were bad," Van Gundy said. "And offensively we were probably a little worse... We had one thing we could do offensively tonight, throw Dwight the ball and that was it."
Think that is too harsh of an assessment? The Magic were even harsher on themselves.
"I got frustrated," Nelson admitted. "It's everybody. I'm not putting the blame on anybody. We just get frustrated and it's kind of like, basically, [bleep] it... We can't say, '[bleep] it, I'm not going to play defense. I'm not going to play defense because I'm not making shots.' Or, '[bleep] it I'm not going to get back or I'm not going to play hard.' It has to be hard. Whatever we do has to be hard."
- Congratulations to Dwight Jaynes, who is leaving 95.5 The Game to take on new responsibilities with Comcast Sports Northwest.
Nate McMillan's Post-Game Comments
Defending Dwight Howard and his teammates
We wanted to mix up our defense but he was scoring. He didn't miss a shot in that first quarter. But we were shooting 27%. In the second quarter we started to score. The second quarter we started to score, and he was still scoring, it was a one point ball game. We felt like if we could continue to make him score and we continued to score, we had a chance of winning this game. So we wanted to take care of the three point ball.
We played him a lot of minutes. He had the day off, so we felt like he would be able to go. We wanted that match-up. What you try to do is take the match-up between Brandon and LaMarcus and Dre. Tonight we felt like he had the match-up. A couple of times they had Jameer on Nic and Wesley and we went at that match-up and it worked out for us. He was the guy who really had to control this game, control this tempo.
50 points in the paint
Attacking the basket. That is the gameplan every night, we don't do it every night. Go to the basket, get into the penalty, that will set up the perimeter game. At times we start to settle for the perimeter game and try and out shoot teams. You have to get a better shot when you penetrate the ball, whether it's through penetration or post ups. I like the fact that we won the free throw line tonight.
Wesley Matthews energy
Wesley and Nic, we put Nic at that power forward spot and we've gone small in a couple of games. That lineup has worked for us. We are able to spread the floor. We used that up in Boston, Brandon is guarding some fours, like Big Baby and tonight it was Bass, but we're able to spread the floor with that lineup and it's something we're going to continue to look at. Spread the floor, move Lamarcus to the center position so that we can create some offense.
What has turned this around since the losing streak
I don't know. We've played good basketball. We've made plays, we've made shots. I think on that road trip, we were scoring 10, 12 points in quarters. In the last two fourth quarters we've had 37 and 30. Somebody asked me is it as simple as that. Yeah. If you make shots, you get stops, you give yourselves a chance to win.
Heading back on the road
Well, it's good to go out with wins. Build off of tonight's game. Now we need to go back on the road and play better basketball and win some road games.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter