Long Story Short: Behind masterful games from their starting guards plus some extra punch from LaMarcus Aldridge the Blazers obliterate a defenseless Hornets squad in a laugher.
Quick...what does "N.O." stand for?
A. New Orleans
B. The amount of defense the Hornets played tonight
Wait, wait! What if I told you that the Blazers shot 57.3% tonight as a team and Andre Miller, who fired at a 66% clip, was the worst of the Portland starters in that department? Aw, heck...let's make it easy on you. I'll just give you the shooting rates for the starting lineup:
- Aldridge 11-16
- Batum 4-5
- Camby 5-6
- Miller 4-6
- Roy 12-14
Yeah...the starters combined took 47 shots and missed 11 of them tonight. We've seen Roy and Aldridge each miss 11 in a game before. The starting lineup, Aldridge and Roy in particular, looked so comfortable shooting they might as well have been getting massages and being fanned while fed grapes by hand while doing it. Marcus Camby hit jumpers and drove the ball down the lane for easy scores, for Pete's sake.
We shouldn't give all the credit to New Orleans, I suppose. The story of the game was Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge dominating with their mid-range jumpers and Andre Miller beating up every guard the Hornets threw against him when the stars stopped shooting. Portland's backcourt simply overpowered their New Orleans counterparts. The flood of great possessions made it impossible for the Hornets to compensate no matter how well they shot. And on that score the Blazers could be called to account, as "POR" stood for both Portland and Portland's general defensive outlook, especially in the second half. The Blazers did force turnovers early that kept the Hornets out of the game. New Orleans' interior attack was so predictable that Portland promptly swatted back most serious threats at the hoop. Once again the Blazers were misers on the break, allowing New Orleans but 3 fast break points for a combined opponent total of 3 in Portland's last two games.
Behind the dominant starters the game was over by the half. Portland led by 16 at the break and scored 33 in the third to push the lead to 22 at the third quarter horn. After that it didn't matter what the Hornets did against Portland's reserves.
This was exactly the kind of win the Blazers needed on the first night of a back-to-back: easy, relaxed, plenty of rest for the starters. Tomorrow's challenge will be tougher.
Roy scored 28, dominating the first period along with Aldridge, who ended up with 24.
Andre Miller salivates over slight guards. If they're young as well and don't defend...so much the better. Roy and Aldridge threw the flashy jabs to the head but Miller provided the body blows that kept the Hornets down.
Late-season ad hoc acquisition Marcus Camby tallied 11 points and 14 rebounds. Season-long intentional acquisition Emeka Okafor had 14 points and 5 rebounds. I like Camby.
Nicolas Batum had 13 points in 21 minutes and helped collapse down low to keep the interior pure.
This is where the party ends, as the bench was a little out of it tonight. Juwan Howard had a particularly rough game. Every time I see one of those from him I just think "Travis Outlaw could be filling those minutes but then we wouldn't have Camby." Martell Webster hit 6-6 from the foul line but his offense was an abomination (as one might expect, to be fair). Rudy Fernandez helped force turnovers but he went 2-8 from the arc. Jerryd Bayless had 5 assists but 3 turnovers and his offense has gone downright passive. Cunningham and Pendergraph didn't have much of an effect. Travis Diener played 4 minutes and hit a nice shot off the dribble from foul-line range. Please do not ask me if he's shown enough to prove he's the answer at point guard in the future.
See what Hornets folks have to say at AtTheHive