Steve sends in the following report from the game:
1. Blazer Offense. Anemic at times. It was truly painful to watch some of those possesions when you could see exactly what would happen. Zero ball movement + zero player movement = long jump-shot with 35% chance of success (and zero chance of shooting free throws). I sat next to some knowledgable guys in the 112 section and they were seeing the same thing I was. When Sergio and Jack were on the floor together in the fourth, things happened. Aldridge and Zach ran the floor and established low post position
early. Sergio and Jack streched the perimeter, penetrating and kicking. Outlaw was cutting and setting screens. Beautiful. A high percentage shot or a trip to the line was the typical result.
- Blazer defense. Hit-and-miss. I remember one play where the Magic players and ball just kept moving. In, out, and around. You could see the Blazers trying to stay on task, but at one point an assignment got missed, and the ball went straight to the open player for the drive and score. If it wasn't for the fact that the Magic made the play, I would have cheered.
- Rim mic. How about the Blazers turn OFF the rim microphone on the opponents rim. In the first quarter alone I heard at least two rim rattling dunks by Howard amplified to reach the cheap seats. Talk about demoralizing to the home fans. If there's one player in the league who doesn't need that kind of "performance enhancing" assistance, it's Howard.
- Home crowd. Stuck in traffic? On their phones? I know it was only the first quarter and one-third of the seats were empty, but how about a bit of enthusiasm? The only good thing about it was that I KNOW the Blazers and Magic players could hear me because there wasn't any other sound in the building. One of the biggest cheers of the night came when they announced Roy was out of the boot. How messed up is that? Things finally started getting rowdy in the fourth quarter...heck the old couple sitting next to me even got up out of their seats a couple times, and you know that doesn't happen often.
our seats to inspire our team instead of waiting for their play to inspire us? Isn't that the definition of the home-court advantage?
- Trade bait? Jamal actually didn't suck (0-2 at the line though). Still, I was plesantly suprised. He needs to be more agressive when he's got the ball two-feet away from the basket and jam it, rather than settling for a quasi-layup that missed half the time. Will he be here long enough for it to matter? Question: Who has the higher vertical leap, Zach or Jamal? Tie at 4-inches? Thought so.
- Dog-house players. Webster, Dixon, and maybe Jack. Webster was a non-factor. I don't even remember him doing anything except missing a foul shot. Dixon did what he normally does; hold the ball too long and then try a long jumper. To be fair, some of that was because nobody was moving for him and he doesn't have the step to create a shot on his own. He's a decent player, but needs to have a more consistent shot to be a good back-up at this point. Jack...what can I say? He's learning, but it's irritating to see him play so well one game, and not follow it up in the next. He had a solid game, but that's not what he's there for. He's should be the initiator in our offense, and if things aren't being done right, he should be calling people out. Get him some video of Gary Payton! He also seemed too ready to play 2-guard when Sergio came in in the fourth. I may be reading too much into that, but he seemed releaved that he wasn't responsible for getting things moving, while Sergio just played.
- Does anyone else have a problem with Zach taking 16 more shots than ANY other Blazer? 10-25. 40%. Strangely enough, that's what the Blazers shot for the night. We seem to have a team full of complementary players, but eventually one of those guys (besides Zach) need to step up and become the complimented player. I saw Zach take on, and beat, a triple-team. Was that Zach being Zach, or was it a lack of trust in his team? I'll wait for everyone to be back and healthy before I draw any conclusions to that, but I'm concerned that Zach is going to lose any trust in his team, if they can't hit the open shot when he DOES kick it out. If that happens, he won't pass at all.
- Blazer dancers. DAMN...Don't tell my wife.