The Utah Jazz defeated the Portland Trail Blazers, 112-91, at the Rose Garden on Wednesday night, dropping Portland's record to 28-35 on the season and concluding the Blazers' home slate.
No one will miss this team.
For everyone involved, "Make It Better" transformed into "Make It Stop" over the last two months. There's nothing in the world I enjoy more than writing about basketball and yet the words just aren't there right now. I can only conclude that, regarding the 2011-2012 Blazers, there is nothing left to say.
A quiet handshake and we go our separate ways.
Random Game Notes
- This game was announced as a sellout. The team's official sellout streak made it through the 2011-2012 season and stands at 186 games. The streak started Dec. 21, 2007.
- Interim coach Kaleb Canales took the microphone before the game to address the fans. "For me personally, I want to thank you for the love and support throughout the years. I feel like one of your own and this feels like home. We're going to need you. We needed you this year and we'll need you next year. We're going to continue to compete, play hard and play together. Go Blazers."
- After the game, Nicolas Batum reflected on the final home game of the season: "Even when I played pro in France, I never missed the playoffs. This is the first time in my life I've missed the playoffs in seven years... It's frustrating because when I came back in December from France and I took my flight ticket to come over and people asked me, 'When are you going to fly back?'. I said 'not before June' because I knew we would make the playoffs... And now it's over... I don't know how to explain what I am thinking because I haven't been there before."
- Jazz point guard Devin Harris hit six three-pointers, all in the first half. "It does wonders when you're shooting wide open shots," he said.
- At halftime, the Blazers announced that guard Wesley Matthews had been awarded the team's Maurice Lucas award which honors the player who "best represents the true spirit of Maurice Lucas through his contributions on the court and in the community, as well as in support of his teammates and the organization." Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge received the honor last year.
- Speaking of Matthews, Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune reports that he expressed interest in playing for Portland's Las Vegas Summer League team. Matthews played in the Las Vegas Lockout League back in September.
- Blazers Broadcaster Mike Rice penned a blog entry in which he defended owner Paul Allen's support of the franchise, in response to a column by John Canzano of The Oregonian. Allen responded in his own, uh, unique way on Wednesday afternoon.
- The Rose Garden ushers joined the BlazerDancers in a choreographed medley routine on the court. Nobody had more fun on this night than the ushers.
- Luke Babbitt managed 17 shot attempts without an assist but he's forgiven because he managed four assists in his previous two games against the Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns. Meanwhile, rookie point guard Nolan Smith took 16 shots in 39 minutes without an assist.
- Kurt Thomas played for the first time in 20 days. He left his first shot short.
- Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll attended the game with Allen. The two chatted throughout the game and Blazers president Larry Miller, seated on the other side of Allen, regularly looked like the third wheel.
- The locker room cleared out quickly with Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews, Nolan Smith and J.J. Hickson sticking around to do the talking. Raymond Felton was leaving down the hallway in street clothes before interim coach Kaleb Canales even addressed the media.
- On Wednesday morning, Felton cited pain in his Achilles and told Matt Calkins of The Columbian that he "don't do treatment. I hate training rooms."
- A season ticket holder named Brenda received an autographed No. 1 Blazers jersey hand-delivered by Shawne Williams to kick off the team's annual post-game Fan Appreciation Night giveaway. Obviously it wasn't game-worn. The ultimate white elephant gift.
- Blazers forward J.J. Hickson did a better job expressing appreciation for the fans: "Even when we're losing they're still cheering and they're yelling at the top of their lungs. That's something you can't buy and that's something you can't take for granted. I've played for other teams where it's not like that."
- Pre-Draft workouts are set to be the most anticipated since 2007.
Kaleb Canales' Post-Game Comments
We did not take anything away from them defensively. We had 17 turnovers that led to 26 points. That really hurt us, especially because we couldn't get our defense back set.
Tough to send fans out on that note
It's a tough time. That being game one of the season or the last game of the season, it's tough. I'll continue to say it, I believe it, we do have the best fans in the world. It's been a challenging season for us. We appreciate what they mean to us.
Why couldn't you take them out of anything with your defense?
Well, I think they hit 10 threes. I think that extended our defense. We started concerning ourselves with the three point line which allowed them to get their post-ups. I thought their post-up positions for the most part, they got easy catches. We tried to scramble our defense there, they're a good team playing good basketball, you have to give them credit.
Is it going to be difficult to motivate the players over the next three games?
I think our team is motivated. I don't think lack of motivation was out there tonight.
Did you think that this could be your last game as head coach at the Rose Garden?
This is not about me, this is about our team, our organization.
Addressing the crowd before the game
I was excited. That was the first time I've ever addressed the whole crowd. I've always gotten goosebumps coming into this arena. Like I've said, I'll keep saying it, we have the best fans in the NBA.
Do you approach the final three games as if you will have just nine guys available to play?
We'll cross that bridge when it comes. Our approach every game has been to see who we have out there. In terms of the match-ups, we let the game dictate that. Tonight, this was a big team so it allowed some guys back in the rotation tonight. I thought we battled. They made a lot of shots, that goes back to our defense. We need to continue to grow and improve in that area.
Nicolas Batum sat during the second half
He went out there, he's a competitor. He tried to push through it. It kept bothering him a bit so I decided to sit him out in the second half.
He's playing good basketball. He got great looks, you have to give him credit, he hit them. They hit 10 as a team. Our main concern tonight was taking away their points in the paint. You have to give them credit, this is a league of adjustments and they did a good job tonight.
Nolan Smith as starter
I thought he had a good overall game. I thought he and Jonny balanced each other out really well. I thought he was aggressive. I thought he had us organized into the offense that we wanted. Our running game is really important and that's something he will continue to grow and get better.
Nolan Smith had no assists
We shot 39 percent so he found guys, I thought he made the right reads. We just didn't knock down enough shots.
Thoughts on your experience as coach
For me personally, I really haven't felt anything. All my energy has been spent preparing our team for the next game, the next practice, the next shootaround. That's what it's going to continue to be.
Letdown with no playoffs, some fans left with that feeling
Well, I don't want to speak for the fans, I know for us it's been a challenging year. We have to continue to get better, to grow in these three road games that we have. They're all tough, we'll approach it a game at a time.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter