In a Nutshell
The Blazers follow up their passion-filled charge of Miami with a lackluster slap-fight against New York. 35% shooting from the field and 50 points allowed in the paint spell Portland's doom.
The Blazers showed their hand early in this game, shooting out of the gate with lethargic defense and sloppy turnovers. Their offense looked slow and predictable with none of the motion or verve we've seen the last few weeks. Turnovers plagued both teams but Portland seemed to suffer more. Only Nicolas Batum looked active but his aggressiveness was leading to missed shots. LaMarcus Aldridge followed suit. Wesley Matthews' shot looked like a 45-year old guy at a Justin Bieber concert: lost and out of place. Unless the Knicks completely broke down on defense Portland's points were scored in convoluted fashion, many at the foul line. The Blazers managed to manufacture 23 in the first but the Knicks got off 29.
The second period started off nicely with Rudy Fernandez and Patty Mills attacking off the dribble. Even that happened in isolation, though. Every offense player was on his own island tonight. Nobody looked connected. Meanwhile the Knicks either fed the post or worked for open jumpers. LaMarcus Aldridge got on a mini-roll midway through the period but had to sit with his third foul. At that point the Blazers were trapped in Jumper-Land. Rudy Fernandez looked good over the top but nobody else did. Offensive rebound saved Portland's bacon and allowed them to match New York's 27 in the period. Even though the halftime deficit was only 6, it was clear which team was playing their game and which team was getting played.
To their credit the Blazers came out in the third with aggression. They went less to the iso post plays and more with the cut and pass. 2 of their first 3 shots were assisted, a veritable oasis of ball-sharing in this game. Marcus Camby helped on the other end by tying Amare Stoudemire into a pretzel underneath the hoop. By the 8:30 mark the Blazers had captured their first lead of the game, 57-56. They lost it 80 seconds later and never got it back. Late in the third Portland's offense went jumper-exclusive again. This time the Knicks rebounded better and didn't allow multiple looks. Portland scored 16 in the period and New York led by 9 going into the fourth.
Aggression just turned into rag-tag running as the final period commenced. The Blazers ran and employed a lot of movement to little or no purpose, looking almost spastic in the process. Pushing the ball caused turnovers. Confused cuts left guards unable to pass, forced to settle for the long J. The Knicks, meanwhile, turned Portland's comedy of errors into dramatic dunks. Their offense in the quarter consisted of 8 point blank shots and 2 threes, plus 1 mid-range jumper and a couple free throws. The Blazers, meanwhile, were all over the place, seemingly unable to connect with the hoop or each other. The Knicks walked away with a far-too-easy 14-point win, 100-86.
The best word for this game was "unfocused". Maybe it was the Miami hangover or maybe it was a burp in the space-time continuum. Either way, all the energy poured into the game went right down the drain.
Nicolas Batum gets points for early effort, not so much for shot selection. He bucked the lack-of-energy trend but couldn't lift the team...almost as if he was trying to have a second great outing but didn't understand what made the last one great. 5-13 shooting, 13 points, 4 rebounds.
Rudy Fernandez at least connected with his shots. He went 3-7 from the arc, 7-7 from the foul line, and often looked like the only guy on the floor who understood that the Knicks don't defend well. In particular his dribble drive looked good in this game, though not his finishes. 18 points in 31 minutes.
LaMarcus Aldridge had an average game, shooting 8-18 for 18 points and 10 rebounds. He had 6 turnovers, mostly from fighting the defense instead of taking what they offered. It looked like he wanted to drive over the hill instead of just take the road around it.
Marcus Camby had 16 rebounds and 6 (count them!) blocks while offering stretches of nifty defense. He missed all of his 6 shot attempts and made some ferociously bad passes trying to connect with Aldridge on plays the Knicks were ready for.
Andre Miller went 7-11. That's the good news. The bad news is that he scored 14 points on those 11 shots. Mathematicians will tell you that doesn't leave much room for free throws, indicating the type of shots he was taking. His 3 assists for the game will tell you that he wasn't in tune with his teammates and they weren't hitting their shots.
Wesley Matthews hit 6-7 free throws, which was the good part of his night. At least he didn't settle for the jumper exclusively. But he went 2-13 besides that, again looking awful on open three-point attempts. He scored 10.
Patrick Mills had a couple of nice drives ands scored 9 points in 15 minutes. He missed all 4 of his three-point attempts, had 0 assists, and got burned so badly on defense that the Knicks probably dubbed him the Human Wick.
Dante Cunningham was pressed into Stoudemire-guarding duty in the first half due to LMA's fouls. That isn't a good position for him. But then no position is looking good for him lately. He flat-lined in 18 minutes.
Joel Przybilla doesn't look like he has much to give out there. He's slow, laggy, and ground-bound.
Stats of the Night
- Blazers 8 assists. That's Patty Mills' total on a good night.
- Blazers 4-18, or 22.2%, on threes.
- Blazers 29-83, or 34.9%, from the field overall.
- Knicks 50 points in the paint.
- Portland +13 on free throw attempts and makes...and waste it. That shows you how badly the rest of the game went.
Odd Notes and Links
Just virtually burn this boxscore and forget it.
Hear New York's defense praised at Posting and Toasting.