A win! A win! It was an ugly win and if we're going to be honest we have to admit it was as much about how poorly the Kings played as it was about how well we played, but will we take it? YOU BET YOUR BIPPY WE'LL TAKE IT! Feels good. I'm not at the point where I was during our heyday when every loss felt like a hundred bowling balls dropped on your head and every win was bliss, but winning still feels a lot better than losing.
I don't have quite as many observations tonight because I watched with a couple friends and it's hard (not to mention really dorky looking) to write notes fiendishly while entertaining company.
97 87, Blazers 95
--There was a lot of ball movement on offense tonight. It was kind of like the perfect storm...we shot almost 50% but most of the game you didn't really notice anybody standing out like a sore thumb. Good, confident offense and not too many bad shots or shots against the clock tonight. Our guards played really smart on offense tonight especially. It may be the best overall backcourt game we've had this year.
--Our defense was bad but theirs was worse. Hallelujah!
--The one thing you did see happen better tonight was the help defense, especially when someone drove the lane. Joel and Ime were very helpful in this regard (Magloire not so much). By the end of the game we had them taking long jumpers which is exactly where you want the Kings.
--Does anyone not like Juan Dixon tonight? I know he sometimes takes us out of the offense but even then it's never too far. And tonight he carried us, maybe even willed us, to a win. The lead was stretched basically because of him. And guys got him the ball in good positions too. This is something we haven't seen happen to Juan much since Steve Blake left town. Game ball to Dixon, and thanks.
--As Ken already stated below, this was one of Zach's better games. He took 21 shots and they were quiet shots...meaning the kind you don't notice...meaning they were good. He also was a MAN rebounding, which has been missing from his game lately. His defense wasn't all that much better but he did hustle a little more. That little extra hustle and the rebounding take him from a -10 guy to a near even proposition. That is how he needs to play. Oh...3 steals, 3 assists, and 8 free throw attempts too. Nice game!
--Ime Udoka had what is sure to be a very underrated game. Most folks will probably remember the visual image of him getting mowed over by Ron Artest but Artest will do that to a lot of guys. Ime played good defense, got 9 rebounds, and scored 10 points on 5-9 shooting. This was the Ime we were seeing earlier in the year and I'm glad he made a return appearance because we need him.
--Joel Przybilla responded to all the talk with a very good game! He was very active on help defense, got a couple rebounds, blocked a couple shots, and gave a lot of energy. He still only got 16 minutes but it was the kind of 16 minutes that will get him more soon.
--Dan Dickau started in place of Jarrett Jack. I don't know about you, but I was semi-surprised, expecting either Sergio or Roy in that spot. It was a great call by Nate. Dan himself put it best in the TV post-game interview with Mike Barrett, saying that he's been around the league and knows what needs to be done out there. That made him a good choice as the emergency replacement. He was aggressive on offense, gave effort on defense, and hit two three-pointers straight in the third quarter that helped lift us to a lead we never relinquished.
--Sergio wasn't half bad either. He got (for him) an extended run and he produced. He shot confidently, hitting 3-of-5, and he dished out 6 assists in his 17 minutes. The team didn't go backwards when he was in either.
--Lamarcus Aldridge played fairly well, but I would bet that part of Nate's caution with him is that when he starts getting extended minutes he forgets what got him there--active defense, tough rebounding, running and moving--in favor of wanting to score more. His shot is really, really nice. In fact the guys I was with were commenting about his high release point and I was marveling at how efficient his shooting motion is--but his shot needs to be accompanied by consistency in those other things in order for him to play.
--Jamaal got fewer minutes than Joel and did OK with them but you could sure tell the difference in the defense tonight when he was out there.
--Martell had another rough game. He was trying hard, but...
--I know there have been complaints about the refs recently. The non-travel call against Dwyane Wade was pretty bad and there were some ticky-tack things in San Antonio, but mostly it's been a non-issue for me. We aren't good enough to complain about the refs yet. But that crew tonight had a bad, bad first half. Those calls were completely unenforceable. If every game were called like that there would be no game. It was an anomaly, and that's one things refs try hard to avoid. Also this was a typical game in the sense that I turned to my friends mid-way through the second quarter and said, "You watch...they're going to swallow their whistles completely in the second half." Guess what happened? This is one of the things that doesn't do the NBA credit. But I guess both teams had bad nights too in different aspects, so maybe the officials are entitled.
--On a related note, check Scotty's diary in the right sidebar about offical Rodney Mott if you haven't already.
--I'm going to do the scoring recap tomorrow since my wife wants to watch a movie now and I owe her...