Well, it's pretty hard to be too disappointed about a loss. I mean, that six game winning streak would have been nice but it probably wouldn't have lasted another game anyway. Besides this will be a good lesson for the guys...one that maybe wouldn't stick as well if we pulled it out. The game wasn't horrible or anything, but it was hardly our best effort. Maybe it's bettering a way not to win a game like that, so that the effort won't be repeated.
Raptors 101, Blazers 100
--It wasn't as ugly as the game in Toronto a couple weeks ago, but that's mostly because neither side played good defense. The perimeter defense was BRUTAL for both teams. Portland had the better of it while Joel was in because he blocked a few shots and made up for the leaky outside guys. But Joel only played 13 minutes.
--Speaking of perimeter things, we totally fell in love with the jumper during the first half...and it was pretty bad. It's not like they were forcing us to miss, we were just bricking all on our own. Things got better in the second half as we made a concerted effort to drive more. As a result we drew a ton of fouls and that allowed us to stretch a lead out temporarily. There was no excuse for taking an entire half to figure that out though.
--We also got outrun and outhustled a bit. It wasn't a complete imbalance, but it seemed that most of the non-rebound loose balls went to the Raptors.
--We made a few horrendous errors in switching and picking up defensive assignments in the first half. (Martell seemed to be involved in a couple of those.) It was only six points or so, but those were six wholly unnecessary points. And in a game that was ultimately decided by one...well...you add it up.
--Along with the rest came a halfway lackadaisical approach to spacing the floor. You know how they say wide receivers can run crisp or sloppy routes? We were kind of running sloppy routes tonight. It made some shots harder than they needed to be. We did, however, manage 21 assists (largely thanks to Brandon Roy's 8).
--As we should, we dominated the boards.
--Much the same as the last Toronto game, we had trouble taking care of the ball. Both teams scored a ton of points off of turnovers (32-19, Toronto's favor).
--The overtime went completely away from our offensive sets. It was the T.J. Ford and Zach Randolph show. It just so happened that Ford trusted Bargnani enough to give him the open shot to win it, while Zach couldn't find anyone he trusted as much as himself, so when he did pass it was far too late. But the way he was shooting, who could blame him?
--When all is said and done, our epitaph will be that we allowed them to shoot over 48% from the field. That blew what otherwise would have been a winning effort. Again, cast your gaze on the perimeter players. No pick and roll defense, no feet moving in front of people, just matadors aplenty all the night long.
--Zach was in foul trouble much of the game, which makes for a curious observation. He still scored 20, but only had 14 field goal attempts, and the Blazers scored 100. Many's the time when he's had far more shots and points, yet the Blazers were in the mid-80's to mid-90's. Life is much better for us when he scores efficiently and otherwise shares the ball. We didn't shoot a higher percentage overall tonight, the shots were just distributed better. (And some more people besides Zach got to the free throw line.) It was a mixed game for Zach. 4 assists...5 turnovers...7 rebounds...5 fouls. I don't think he was the cause of us losing. In fact I don't think having him out hurt us all that much.
--Brandon Roy nearly recorded a triple-double, with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists in 41 minutes. So much for limiting his minutes, by the way. (Told you that would happen.) He also played the point for part of the second half, which he started. I don't know if I like what that's doing to Jarrett's game though. JJ started strong but then faded as the game went along. Also Roy was partly responsible for the embarrassing showing on the defensive end, although less so than Jack or Dixon.
--Travis Outlaw just went to town with Zach on the bench. He ended up with 50% shooting, 18 points, 10 free throw attempts, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, and a partridge in a pear tree. It was really his game in the second half and I wish we would have won it for him.
--Jamaal Magloire was a MAN on the boards! Holy guacamole! He ended up with 15 rebounds and 2 blocks. We'd take that every night whether he scored or not.
--As mentioned above, Joel Przybilla was really instrumental in patrolling the interior. He had three blocks including a monster, two-handed stuff of a Jorge Garbajosa dunk attempt. As usual, though, he got pulled early because of fouls and never really saw the light of day again. I don't usually question Nate, but I would have been happy seeing Joel come back earlier in the overtime when Magloire (despite his monster rebounding game) was tired and T.J. Ford was ripping us a new one all by himself. It would have let us take more defensive chances.
--Raef LaFrentz saw 11 minutes, took 7 shots, hit 4 of them, and ended up with 8 points. It was a fine offensive showing but he didn't have the same impact of the other centers.
--This was Ime Udoka's toughest game by far. I think we'll gloss over it out of respect to all he's given us so far.
--Martell continues to roll the same as he has been all year. Juan Dixon, however, scored 10 points and got 27 minutes, some of which should belong to Martell if he could put a complete game together.
--The shot that took us into overtime, the one that Garbajosa hit late, was one of the closest calls I've ever seen. In live action it looked good and if not for the replay system we would have lost this game in regulation. Frame-by-frame, however, it was clear that the ball was still barely on his fingertips when the backboard lit. I'm doing another podcast with Toronto's hoopaddict.com tomorrow and I have a hunch I'll have to explain that.