There has been a lot of talk about the officiating in last nights game. I was their last night and left as disgruntled as the next guy. Most awkward escalator ride down from the 300's all season, except for maybe December 5th.
That being said, after getting upset about some of the officiating last season for a day or two after a game, I decided this season no matter what, I would not get sucked into that space again. By and large it has paid dividends, much less stressful!
After last night's game, I can't stop thinking about the officiating. It really put us at a disadvantage in the seeding battle given OKC's win and our comparative remaining schedules. It would be a shame if the officiating took away our shot at a better seed and possibly a better matchup in the playoffs.
There seem to be 3 basic camps on this issue about the refs last night:
- The refs sucked and cost us the game.
- The refs were bad but we were worse.
- Dallas was more aggressive and got the calls, that is life in the NBA the Blazers need to be the aggressor.
On point 1, I agree. The reasons why the refs sucked and cost us the game can be found in a look at the numbers and what they tell us about points 2 and 3.
On Point 2. The refs were bad, but we were worse. While this may or may not be true (it is a pretty subjective measure), a look at the numbers tell us that the Mavs were far worse than us. The Blazers attempted more shots 77 to 71, made a better percentage 36.4% to 33.8% and a just look at the shot chart (http://scores.espn.go.com/nba/shotchart?gameId=300409022) that shows our shots were closer to the rim on average than Dallas' meaning a higher percentage shot in general. We had more assists (16-11), more rebounds (36-34), more blocks (7-4) and shot a better 3 point % (each team had 5 made 3s, 26.3% for the Blazers versus 25% for the Mavs). The Mavs out did us on steals (6-8) which resulted in 2 more turnovers for the Blazers (14-12), but analyzing the impact of those 'wins' by Dallas shows a different story, but lets look at Point 3 to figure this out.
On Point 3. Dallas was more aggressive and got the calls, the Blazers need to be the aggressor. This is usually a pretty subjective view, but there are data points in the box score that serve as indicators of aggressiveness and frankly the Blazers have the edge in each of those categories. Dallas did force us into more turnovers, but we scored more points off of turnovers (15-13). Another measure of aggressiveness that is usually cited is points in the paint, we won that IMPRESSIVELY 36-18. that is right we doubled them up in the paint last night. We also scored more on the break (13-10). The Blazers WERE the more aggressive team.
To Summarize: The only category the Blazers clearly got beat in was foul shots attempted, made and percentage. Dallas attempted (23-35) 12 more foul shots (despite attempting more jump shots than Portland did), made more foul shots (16-30), all for a better % (69.7% to 85.7%). Even if Portland made their usual percentage that still only gets us2 additional points with 18 makes out of 23.
Conclusion: Without a doubt the difference in this game was the officiating. Portland took the ball to the rim more aggressively, shot under the free throw line more often, shot a better percentage on more shots, shot a better percentage on 3s, blocked more shots, got more points in the paint, more points off turnovers, more blocked shots, were even on bench points (21-21). Portland owned basically every stat except those related to Foul Shouts. Again, without a doubt the difference in this game was the officiating.
Calls were bad both ways, but the rules were enforced more strictly on the Blazers, thus giving an advantage to Dallas. For me the clearest evidence of this came on 2 plays which were simply clear interpretations of the rules. One that went against Portland and one that went for Dallas.
Rudy flips the ball lightly toward a Dallas player after a play is blown dead. The rule is clear, you can not do that. Rudy was called for a technical. The ref made that choice. that call had a huge impact on the game.
Later, Dirk makes a shot and then taunts the crowd, telling them to sit down. The rule is clear, you can not do that. Dirk was NOT called for a technical. The ref made that choice, that no call likely influenced the outcome of the game.
In the end, sure Portland could have made a few plays and still won this game, but the Blazers out fought AND out played Dallas. the officiating was the determining factor in this game. All that being said, we got to march on, we have always known we have to beat our opponents with an effort that would yield a double digit win in a fairly called game, we do have to man up and do that to get through a round in the playoffs.