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Game Recap: Blazers at Kings

To be honest I'm not sure there's a ton to take from this game team-wise.  Frankly given the personnel and the situation this game wasn't indicative of much.  However out of respect to Sacramento fans we should also say that the same applied on Friday night in the Blazers' victory.  The reason we went into such detail on the team play then was because we saw some things from Portland that we haven't seen in a long time, things which were a revelation despite the non-importance of the game itself.  This was not an implication that the Blazers would do the same things in a regular game against the Kings, just as tonight's performance was not an indication that they would lose by 24 in such a contest.

With that out of the way, a couple of brief team things to note:

--It was encouraging to see that the Blazers came out sharing the ball at the start of the game.  When things broke down they reverted more to one-on-one offense but that's understandable.  You have to try something when the game is going south.  We still got 14 assists on 28 made buckets and that's a good thing.

--We also shot excellent percentages from the three-point arc (44%) and the free throw line (83%).  Those things have been constant throughout the pre-season so there's reason to hope they will remain so during the regular year.

--12 steals is an enormous number.  Taurean Green had 4, Travis Outlaw 3.  Causing Sacramento to turn over the ball 21 times isn't bad either.

Enough of what we can salvage.  These things bit the big banana tonight:

--First and foremost we got a grand total of 16--count them, 16--defensive rebounds tonight.  That's a pretty good day for Chris Wilcox.  As a team 16 rebounds on 38 Sacramento misses is horrible.  They got 16 offensive rebounds themselves.  They rebounded their misses just as well as we did!  That's unheard of.  Sacramento is a weak rebounding team as well.   Nobody who is going to be on this team come Halloween got more than 3 rebounds tonight.

--We may have forced 21 turnovers but we committed 26 ourselves, many on illegal screens.  The execution was sloppy tonight.  Channing Frye had 4 turnovers, Raef LaFrentz 5, and Travis Outlaw a prodigious 7.  None of those guys played more than 26 minutes.

--We only shot 39% overall from the field.  From the get-go we were firing jumpers and not being aggressive getting to the hoop.  I suspect Nate talked to the guys at halftime because they came out trying to drive but it didn't last long.  On a huge number of possessions the ball never went anywhere near the key, just pass-pass-pass around the edge and shoot a jumper.  We'll never win that way.  When we shoot long it needs to be off of penetration.

--We'll talk more about Joel Przybilla in a minute but suffice it to say that he made a huge difference in the interior defense tonight, as evidence by the fact that once he left the game there was none.  And I mean none.  When he was manning the middle all of our help had a backbone.  Without him Sacramento was either open at the rim or open from three all night long.  It was kind of sad to watch.  Our transition defense completely fell apart in the second half as well.  That was perhaps more disappointing than anything because it's mostly a matter of effort.  Even on an off night you should be getting back and covering the rim against early attacks.

--Basically we lost focus somewhere in the second quarter and never got it back.  This shows you the flip side of what can happen with a young team.  When things are going right it snowballs and can look magnificent.  When things fall apart, though, it can disintegrate in a hurry.  It also shows you how valuable our main guys are:  Aldridge, Roy, Przybilla (defensively).  Everybody else keys off of them.  Without them our individual talents don't mesh properly.

Individual Notes:

--Joel had a nice 9 minutes out there before he went to the locker room for stitches and never came back.  He was active, though the near-constant influx of Kings into the lane wasn't doing him any favors foul-wise.  Nobody on this team does what he does (as long as Oden is out).  Don't under-appreciate him.

--Jarrett Jack was one of three guys who kept their heads above water offensively.  Mainly he was a recipient of passes either beyond the arc or on the way to the hoop.  Whenever he had a chance he seemed to can the shot or draw a foul.  10-10 from the free throw line is NICE.  It was a great offensive game for him.  He is definitely at his best when he's scoring confidently and often.

--Martell Webster also shot VERY confidently and hit a ton of shots (for him anyway) off the dribble.  His 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and a couple nice trips back in transition defense also spoke well of him.  It was another encouraging outing.

--Channing Frye got the chance to play more minutes tonight.  His face-up jumper is solid.  His post moves are good if he doesn't have to put the ball on the floor much.  However he's got nothing in the post when he has to dribble.  He wasn't able to shake his post defenders at all going one-on-one.  At this point it looks like Lamarcus is way better in that department.  Also Channing's defense wasn't that strong.  He's not an interior presence.  He had 18 points but also 4 turnovers and 6 fouls in 28 minutes.  More refining is needed.

--Travis did not put on a good show.  Friday night he was shooting quickly and in the flow of the offense.  Tonight he had a lot of opportunities where he tried to dribble his way to shots all alone.  That's old Travis, and not his best side.  On one memorable play he started on the left side of the court out by the three-point line at a depth around the middle of the key.  When he made his move he was actually angling away from the basket as he he ended up near the free throw line.  Take a ball out to your local court, start on the side, and angle away from the basket as you dribble towards the center of the court.  Tell me what kind of good shot you're going to get doing that.  There's just no way.  As I recall this was one of his 7 turnovers.  In any case there's a big difference between in the flow Travis and forcing it Travis.

--Raef LaFrentz didn't make that much of an impact on the game.  There was one interesting play where he was guarding a guy driving with the ball, the guy elbowed him in the chest, knocking him backwards, and Raef STILL blocked the shot.  That was cool.  Other than that you didn't notice him much, except for his 6 fouls.

--The other point guards were basically blah.  Taurean Green hustled a lot but his 2-10 shooting wasn't good.  I believe Nate when he says Taurean has shooting chops but at the same time when I've seen him in games (Summer League or these two) I haven't seen it so much.  I wonder if it will turn out to be one of those practice phenomena.  Steve Blake wasn't bad but wasn't great.  Sergio also hustled and didn't turn the ball over.  His 3 assists and 2 boards in 18 minutes were good.  Collectively the guards had trouble defending though, and a lot of the transition woes can be laid at their feet.  Not a shining game as a group.

--Let's give Brent Petway and Chris Ellis some props.  They came to play and maybe gave the best effort of anyone.  It's hard to feel like their insertion wasn't a big, old white flag waving but given the fact that they scored more per minute than all but the most prolific Blazers and rebounded more than anybody maybe we should re-assess that.

It's guaranteed this won't be the last game we see like this all year, even with our talent available.  Sometimes the wheels will just fall off.  So be it.  You accept it as part of the growing pains and move on.

--Dave (