Hmmmmm...this game was uglier than a wart on a manatee's behind. But oh well, it's still the Blazers so it's fun.
Hornets 103, Blazers 91
--OK...OK...I know I said we needed to hit from the outside some tonight to open up the middle. But I said hit from the outside. Granted we were 10 of 24 from the arc, which was not a bad percentage, but most of the shots we took were just...bad. We started out the game in love with the jumper and never stopped. We never got around to that "inside" part much. The jumpers we took that were within the offense were fine. But most of our jumpers were solo efforts, contested, and often against the clock. We are never, ever going to win like that. Milwaukee might. A healthy Seattle might. Minnesota even might. We won't.
--There was no movement in the offense tonight period. It was one-on-one all night.
--The thing that kept us in the first half was a reasonable amount of hustle combined with some nice effort on the boards. We held the Hornets to one shot per possession in the opening two frames and went into halftime only down two after a fairly placid and disorganized first 24 minutes.
--What should have happened in the second half: We come out with a ton of energy, committed to getting the ball inside to Zach (who establishes deep position) and to driving and either finishing or dishing to open shooters. We hold strong on the boards and get back when we miss, allowing no easy opportunities for the Hornets to score. Our energy helps us win the ugly contest and we fly home happy after a fine road trip.
--What did happen in the second half: We came out with less energy than we did in the first half. We let them get offensive rebounds. We got back late or not at all on the break. We did go to Zach, but his scoring early on couldn't keep us close because of the first two errors. After a while we stopped going to him and resumed our jump-shooting ways. Our guards were completely ineffective shooting, penetrating, and hanging on to the ball...and all of those were light years better than their defense. Whether we scored or missed the Hornets simply rammed it back down our throats, burning our perimeter guys, drawing fouls on our big guys, and rebounding their own misses when things went wrong.
--We ended up the game shooting 42% from the floor, an atrocious 62% from the line, getting out-rebounded, and getting out-assisted by a team that gets almost no assists normally. If you have this game saved on tape make sure you erase it before it burns a caustic, smelly hole in something.
--Ime Udoka had another solid night: 5-8, 14 points, and some nice energy work.
--Zach had an on-again-off-again outing. He shot pretty well, at times was the only guy doing any good on offense, and he was the only guy with an even semi-reasonable number of rebounds, finishing with 13. On the other hand half of those rebounds were offensive when we needed more energy on the defensive glass and he had a hard time remembering that he was playing against a scorer in David West and might want to...oh, you know...GUARD him. On the other hand he was at least semi-alert and on time for defensive help rotations for much of the game, which was more than you could say for most folks out there.
--Roy had 19 points and was the only Blazer with significant free throws to actually hit them, but I didn't like his game as much tonight. He was as jumper-happy as everybody else when we could have used a driver. Also he looked a little lost on defense from what I could see.
--Juan Dixon was next in scoring with 15, but that was deceptive. This was a really tough night for him in almost every aspect of the game. He did convert a four-point play and hit another very deep desperation three against the shot clock, but those were rare highlights against a backdrop of missed assignments, poor shots, and general offensive tomfoolery. McMillan yanked him once, but nobody else was doing any better.
--Jarrett Jack had a very, very, very unremarkable game with 5 points, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds. He had real trouble getting us into any kind of offense. Typically, as Jarrett went so went the Blazers. Again I'll say it...we just don't win much when this guy doesn't produce.
--Joel Przybilla had a couple of nice individual plays but also lacked the energy we saw in Memphis. He picked up four fouls in 18 minutes to go along with 2 blocks and 4 rebounds.
--Jamaal Magloire picked up 3 blocks and 6 rebounds, making him one of the few productive players off the bench. He also got 5 fouls though. And Sergio would have had at least two more assists if Jamaal weren't so darn slow. The Barista hit Magloire with two beautiful dishes that should have led to dunks, but they only led to free throws because of his glacially-paced moves. If he got the ball at the top of the key in the Stone Age it wouldn't pass the rim until the mid-Renaissance. In a way, that probably makes him a player for the ages.
--Sergio hit a couple of shots and dished a couple dimes but when nobody else on the whole team is moving, what good is he going to do? He has to have something to work with.
--Martell reverted to his old form. Blech.
--Nate's suit was of a fine-cut grey fabric that complemented him very well. That's the nicest thing I have to say about the whole game.