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Half-Baked Game Recap: Denver 118, Portland 102

Here's my semi-lame recap attempt based on the boxscore of tonight's game.  I did not see the game and did not listen either so all of this should be taken with a grain of salt.  We will have at least one eye-witness report coming in tonight.  There will be media recaps as well, of course.  But until then...

The thing that stood out most to me is that we rebounded better this game than in the last one.  Joel Przybilla had 12 boards in 15 minutes.  Yikes!  Lamarcus had 8, LaFrentz 7, Frye 6.  We only allowed Denver 11 offensive boards as opposed to the multiple-dozens we gave up to the Clippers the other night.  I still want to see Lamarcus with more defensive rebounds but I'm willing to give him time.

Predictably where one hole got plugged another one opened.  This is typical of young teams.  We committed 25 turnovers with a couple of our guys averaging one every three or four minutes.  It was a team-wide malaise.  This obviously isn't good and was likely the main reason we never got in the game.

On the other hand we also got 25 assists, which is far more than we averaged last year.  Win or lose, keep sharing the ball.  25 assists on 36 made buckets is a fantastic ratio.

Both our field goal shooting and field goal defense were sub-par tonight.  We talked about this a little last game.  According to the shot chart we shot about 60% of our attempts from free throw distance or beyond which is a little better ratio than we had the other night.  We also shot from closer even on our long shots.  However one look at tonight's chart will show you why we can't depend on distance shooting night in and night out.  Look at all those X's!  (X = miss)

Our main guys didn't get to the free throw line as much.  Lamarcus only shot three free throws.  Jarrett didn't even attempt a free throw shot.  You can't have that.  We did end up getting 32 charity tosses as a team but Denver got 42.  We need a couple of our guys to be in that 8+ attempts a game category night in and night out.  More minutes will take care of some of it (the minutes were spread around tonight) but this really needs to be a focus.

13 steals and 6 blocks are decent numbers in the opportunistic defense categories, but they don't mean much if your field goal defense isn't up there too.

Some individual notes:

--Did I mention that Joel got 12 rebounds in 15 minutes?  That's, like, 37-38 boards per 48.

--Lamarcus only scored 10 but he only played 20 minutes.  His 8 boards were decent but more than 4 defensive boards would be appreciated.  3 assists is good.  4 turnovers and 5 fouls not so much.  I will be interested to hear if he played frustrated at all.

--Martell!  Another strong game!  He led the team in scoring with 19, shot 50% overall, 40% from three, and tied for team high with 6 free throws drawn, making 5!  Yeah booyyyyeee!  You go!  It sounds like maybe Martell heard the #3 scorer role being ceded to Travis and said, "I'd like a piece of that."  This is a good lesson for him.  If you make your shots and aren't a total lame-wad in the other areas you're going to get some playing time.  Want more freedom?  Make your shots and hustle.  Want the coaches to have confidence in you?  Make your shots and hustle.  Want to be more a part of the offense and get huge rounds of applause?  Make your shots and hustle.  When your shot goes in nobody can argue with you.  It's the ultimate answer.

--When I checked in from time to time it looked like Travis Outlaw was having a big early impact.  He seemed to flatten out as the game went on.  I like his 18 points, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 2 three-pointers, and 4-4 from the line.  He also had no turnovers, making him the only one in our uniform tonight with that distinction.  I'd like a couple more rebounds than 4 in 32 minutes of play.  I'm also not crazy about the 6-18 shooting.  Unless I am mistaken his average was much higher than that early.  We've all seen games when Travis started stroking good shots and then pulled the trigger on everything that came his way.  I don't know for sure if that's what happened here but learning to shoot appropriately is more important to me than those 18 points right now.  I feel safe saying I don't like any game where Travis has more shots per minute than Lamarcus.  It seems like a really good game from him and I'm not trying to downplay that, just affirming that part of being a key option in the offense is knowing when to shoot and when not.

--Raef LaFrentz appears to have had a great 23 minutes with 4-7 shooting, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, and 3 blocks.  That may be the effort of the game.

--Jarrett Jack had 8 points on 4-8 shooting but only had 2 assists in 17 minutes.

--Channing Frye appears to have had a mixed game also.  11 points isn't bad in 22 minutes and 5-6 shooting from the foul line co-led the team.  6 rebounds isn't bad and 3 assists are good. He shot only 3-10. Like Lamarcus he had foul trouble (4).    Denver's forwards are quick and quick forwards may cause us this kind of trouble this year.

--Taurean Green took 14 shots in 27 minutes.  I don't think that's the role you want him in even if he is experimenting a little bit as a shooting guard because of our thin roster.  He only made 4, though he did stroke 2-3 from distance and 3-4 from the line.  He also had 5 fouls in limited play.  Not good.  But then again he was likely watching AI for some of that time so what do you expect?

--Sergio was another kick in the pants for us tonight evidently.  In 19 minutes he shot 3-4 from the field, 4-5 from the line, dished 6 assists, and scored 10.  He's the Pop Rocks in our assorted box of candy.  Of course he also led the team with 5 turnovers in those 19 minutes but let me say this about that:  Those turnovers are a legitimate reason not to play him and if that's the decision Nate makes I'm fine with that.  However if you do choose to play him you're going to have to live with turnovers right now and those should just be considered part of the same package that got you the 6 assists and offense.  You cannot fault him for not being what he's not capable of being right now.  Either you play him or you don't, but if you do you have to concentrate on what he does well and hope the rest will siphon out of his game after a while.

I'm not sorry we lost this game.  Actually I'm kind of relieved because another win would tempt us to try and take pre-season for more than it is.  Iverson, Anthony, and Linas Kleiza were too much for us tonight, which probably tells us that we have a ways to go in the defensive department before we're ready for prime-time.  No surprise there.  We'll keep plugging away and try to learn something more each game.  Oh...and we'll hope this Martell streak lasts all season.

--Dave (