Is it just me, or is something wrong with Portland's defensive strategy? Photo: Steve Dykes-US PRESSWIRE
In a Nutshell
In a move sure to infuriate the southwest from Phoenix to Houston Raymond Felton, Jamal Crawford, and Joel Przybilla sit out this game. The Jazz clobber what remains of the Portland lineup.
Nicolas Batum played in this game. Let's start there. The Blazers tried to get him the ball on each of their first two possessions, perhaps hoping to use him as a default star to lead their team. Both resulted in turnovers. That's when you knew this was going to be a long night. It wasn't a long night for Batum, though. He played 15 minutes total. Raymond Felton, Jamal Crawford, and Joel Przybilla sat out entirely. LaMarcus Aldridge is out for the season. How many people outside of Portland could correctly name two players from the lineup that remained tonight? Maybe 1 in 50? Coincidentally, 1in 50 is about what Portland shot for the night. Through the first period it was three-pointers or bust for the Blazers. They hit enough (thank you Wesley Matthews) to keep close, 26-23 as the period came to a close. But the Jazz guards were going crazy, feasting on the non-defense that Portland played against them.
That problem only got worse in the second quarter. Portland played about 4 minutes of valiant ball, rebounding, running out, getting inside on offense. The Jazz helped by drifting to the outside with their own shots. Portland tied the game 28-28. Then Utah went back inside, their guards poured in a million points, the Blazers went back to the perimeter (missing this time) and Utah beat them by 15 in the quarter, taking an 18-point lead into the half.
Both teams went inside in the third period but Utah was better at it by nature and Portland repeatedly turned over the ball. The Jazz added 3 to their lead, making it 21 as the fourth quarter started. That period was a nonsensical offensive free-for-all in which both teams scored 31 and the Jazz walked off with that same 21-point advantage, 112-91.
The Blazers started Nolan Smith and Hasheem Thabeet tonight. I don't even know how to describe that. Although I will say that keeping Felton and Crawford off the court for the final home game of the season effectively kept them from getting booed.
- Jonny Flynn had a great point-guard-y game tonight, using his quickness to set up passes more than his own shot. He actually had the Blazers in a recognizable offense for a while, a rarity for any Portland point guard not named Felton this year. He had 7 assists in 25 minutes.
- Luke Babbitt was aggressive enough but just not connecting tonight. He shot 6-17, only 2-7 from distance for 16 points. He played a little heady defense but was also overmatched by the Utah frontcourt.
- Kurt Thomas played because of the short lineup. 19 minutes, 5 rebounds.
- Nicolas Batum went 1-6 for 2 points in 15 minutes.
- Hasheem Thabeet had 6 rebounds and 2 blocks in 17 minutes but also 3 turnovers. And he looks bad out there.
- Wesley Matthews led the team with 21 points, hitting 3-7 threes. See the stats below.
- Nolan Smith went 7-16 for 16 points as Portland's starting point guard. Nolan Smith also had 0 assists in 39 minutes as Portland's starting point guard. See the stats below.
Fun With Numbers
- Portland's starting guards scored 21 and 16. Yay! Utah's starting guards scored 27 and 23. BOOOOO! And that's all you need to know about this backcourt and how seriously you should take their numbers.
- Blazers shoot 39%, Jazz 47.5%.
- Blazers 30% from the arc, Jazz 59%. You want to know how slow and bad Portland's rotations were? If you checked out the preview you've already heard that the Jazz are 29th out of 30 teams in the league shooting three-pointers. But nobody shoots bad against the Blazers.
- Blazers 17 turnovers, 18 assists. If that seems like chaos to you, it was.
- Blazers allow 22 fast break points. Hello again, guards.
(sigh) This was probably the last hope for a decent game from Portland this year. The sitting out thing more or less signals the season has ended four games before the calendar indicates.
SLC Dunk will be pretty happy about this. Stay the heck away from Bright Side of the Sun and The Dream Shake tonight though. I bet they're about ready to chew nails at this point...and not the finger kind. They'll be even more upset when they realize the Jazz
have to get to play the Blazers again in their final game of the year.