Long Story Short: The Blazers ride Indiana's turnovers and general lack of defense to an easy blowout, taking care of business exactly as they were supposed to and giving fans a fun-filled treat besides.
This is another one of those games where there isn't much to say. The opening minutes of the game were sloppy on both sides with the Blazers not executing on offense and letting Danny Granger and the Pacers go crazy on the other end. Multiple Pacers got in the lane and scored and it looked like this might be another headache-inducing affair. But LaMarcus Aldridge had one of those games where he was pretty much dunking with his jumper. He hammered home shot after shot and kept the Blazers right with the Pacers. Soon enough Portland shut down the middle and the Pacers' jumpers stopped falling. Indiana also obliged by turning the ball over and letting Portland run, a favor the Blazers steadfastly refused to return. The combination of speed and made jumpers sent Indiana's defense scrambling. That's never a good thing. Portland needed little excuse to drive by reaching and lunging defenders, either getting the chip shot or (more often) getting fouled. At the end of the first the score was 32-26 Portland and it only got better from there. The Blazers kept running, kept driving, kept shooting free and easy. Portland's bench obliterated their counterparts. Brandon Roy came alive in the second half, getting to the rim with impunity and drawing contact every time. LaMarcus continued his hot shooting. Rudy Fernandez and Jerryd Bayless let the offense loose. Dante Cunningham defended like a madman. Nobody let the Pacers rebound. Need I go on? Though the Blazers never reached 32 in a quarter again after the first they won every subsequent period by 5 or 6 points.
The Blazers and Pacers ended up close in field goal percentage but that's where the comparison ends. Portland shot 30 free throws to Indiana's 11. Portland had 45 rebounds, Indiana 32. The Blazers committed 9 turnovers, Indiana 18. The Blazers more than doubled up the Pacers in fast break points, 13-6. Portland just didn't let the Pacers do anything that mattered. Danny Granger scored 30 but he was the only Pacer in double figures. The Blazers, meanwhile, put five guys into double digits. Squish, squash, squoosh...there's your blowout.
LaMarcus Aldridge had another fine offensive outing. He hit turn-arounds with hands in his face and then followed up with some face-up jumpers. He also ran the floor a few times. The result was 8-11 shooting for 19 points with 7 boards. LMA was a legit weapon tonight.
Brandon Roy, as has been his wont lately, stayed in the weeds for the first half. He didn't key the offense when he was in early and then picked up a couple fouls and sat out the rest of the half. Just when the Pacers thought it was safe to go back in the water though...CHOMP. He drove past anybody they put in front of him and never stopped. He was only 6-16 on the evening but he drew 11 foul shots and hit 10 for 22 points total. He added 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocks. After seeing that last number Marcus Camby promptly sued him for trademark infringement.
Speaking of Camby, the guy pulled a Caldwell Jones and didn't take a single shot for the game. He did play defense though, not that he needed to much with the Pacers content to shoot from the perimeter. He had 7 rebounds, 1 block, and 2 steals. After seeing that last number Rudy Fernandez promptly sued him for trademark infringement.
Speaking of Fernandez, the dude led the 44-point bench scoring-fest with 16, hitting 5-10 threes and 5-12 overall. Normally you'd look at Rudy shooting 10 threes (and 10 of 12 shots from that range) and get itchy but trust me, tonight it was OK. The Pacers watched his shots like you'd watch a Fourth of July fireworks display. "Don't get too close, it might go off! Oooop! There goes one now! Whooooooooooo...BAM! Pretty..." Rudy was also getting frisky with the pass, netting 5 assists.
Andre Miller played 25 minutes in a game where the young guys got to have fun. He shot 3-6 and 5-5 from the line for 12 points plus 4 rebounds and 4 assists. He got a steal of a Brandon Rush pass in the backcourt and with a clear path to the hoop looked like he was actually going to dunk it with those 64-year-old legs. I believe that in true Darryl Dawkins fashion he was going to dub it the Miller-Time Pop-Top Rammin' Jammin' That's-For-TiH-and-his-Spammin' Thunderdawg Special. Unfortunately it got blocked. He did get to go to the line off the play at least. So he settled for calling the free throws "TiH Cheap Shots".
Nicolas Batum looked like he'd been reading headlines about his potential offensive prowess. Instead of taking shots in the flow of the offense he started to generate some shots on his own that, judging by the quality of them, were probably not in the playbook. Love the aggressive attitude, but the result, unfortunately, was a 2-8 night for 5 points. But oh well. It's not like we needed another career night from him.
Jerryd Bayless earned a share of the game ball by finishing on the break and driving like a downhill freight train in the halfcourt. The Pacers wanted to stop him but couldn't find the emergency manual with the directions to do so. 5-6, 10 points, 6 rebounds in 17 minutes. Nice game!
Dante Cunningham got 24 minutes tonight and his jumper was lasered in. Unfortunately it was lasered in on the back bracket. I haven't heard that much clanging since Robocop got voted off Dancing With the Stars. He ended up 1-7 on the evening. But who cares? The guy was all over the place. He ran, he defended, he rebounded...8 boards, 4 of each kind, plus 4 steals in 24 minutes. Also a nice outing.
Juwan Howard played 16 minutes and got in on the scoring a little with 8 points on 3-6 shooting.
Martell Webster did OK in 14 minutes, scoring 6, trying to play a little defense, not really his best or worst game.
Jeff Pendergraph had 4 minutes and didn't register a stat but got into a stare-down with Indiana's 7-footer, Roy Hibbert. Have I mentioned that I like this guy?
Patty Mills got 6 minutes at the end of the game and missed 3 shots. Every time the guy gets a sniff of playing time I get asked what I think. So far my impressions are that if he wants to make headway as a point guard he has to stop shooting so much, make or miss. It feels like he's still in the stage where he's excited to get in the game and just goes crazy with the shot. It'll take him a while to calm down and adjust even if he does get some playing time, which is not likely to happen.
So...this win solidifies the Memphis victory and sends us into these few days off on a completely positive note. Things aren't going to be as easy in Denver but that's another story for another day. For now this was a fine game and a great way to build enthusiasm and confidence.
See the assessment at IndyCornrows.