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Game 8 Recap: Blazers 93, Nuggets 110

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That was a looooong game.  When you're losing 48 minutes seems like 6 hours.

It became pretty apparent we were going to lose this game from the outset, even when the score was still relatively close in the first quarter.  There wasn't anything especially wrong, it's just from the get-go shots that had fallen against Dallas and Detroit weren't going in.  When you saw them clang off of the rim for Lamarcus, Brandon, and Martell you knew we were in for a rough ride.  When you saw the look on their faces--consternation and deflation mostly--you knew we weren't coming back.  This will happen sometimes.  Lamarcus was open from 18 feet early.  That shot had been falling with regularity.  It just didn't tonight.

One thing you can say is that when Plan A didn't work out right the Blazers didn't do a very good job of adjusting.  We'll get to that more below. Hand in hand with that was when the offense started misfiring the defense eventually followed suit, which is as sure of a way as any to lose in this league.

Let's look at the "What I'd Like to See" portion of the preview:

Since we're not likely to shut Denver's scoring machine down we need sustained energy and scoring ourselves.  These are probably going to have to come from the secondary scorers on the team...guys who haven't played every minute of every game so far.  This may be a huge opportunity for someone like Travis Outlaw to just go out there and score to his heart's content.   (Channing Frye?  Dare we hope?)   Whoever gets on a hot streak should be ridden.

Although Frye did have one of his better offensive games and Jarrett was about the only guy providing a winning-level spark out there combined they and Travis only scored 33 points.  We needed more like 45.  Nobody really got on a hot streak so there was nobody to ride.

Denver will likely give up the ball no matter what.  It would help if we didn't.  Not turning it over would limit their offensive chances and especially their break chances.  That could give us an edge.

Denver had 17 turnovers. We had 17 also.  That is precisely their M.O.  No good.

Another easy way to limit their scoring is to be more patient with the ball than they are.  This doesn't mean we should pass up layups off the break but if that's not there we shouldn't feel compelled to shoot early in the clock, especially from distance.  Work the ball around a little, see what's there, and take a good, open shot.

We got this half right.  We were patient.  In fact we slowed the game way down, which could have been a good strategy.  The problem was passing the ball around (as in around the perimeter) was all we did.  We seldom penetrated with pass or dribble which made it devilishly difficult to get those good shots.  We ended up taking jumpers and we fired against the clock more tonight than I've seen all season.  On the plus side we ended up with 22 assists on 32 made buckets but that wasn't nearly enough to make up for shooting 39% overall.

Speaking of good shots, we need to drive it again tonight.  Denver scores a lot of extra points off of threes and free throws.  We have to try and keep up, or at least not get overwhelmed.  You'll never foul out either of their stars and they have a deep enough cadre of big men that you'll always see a capable replacement, but scoring 25 points from the charity stripe would go a long way towards that 100+ that we need.  Driving will also free up outside shots.  Martell sticking threes off the pass is more extra points.

Again, we didn't drive nearly enough.  The last I heard we were getting outscored 52-26 in points in the paint.  That's about the time I stopped listening to the stats.  We did a good job of drawing free throws (mostly from them pounding on Lamarcus all night) but did a poor job of converting them, finishing the game shooting 25-36, or 69.4%.

If Denver comes hard with elbows and bumps we better come right back at them with some toughness of our own.  This is especially true if they try to rough up Lamarcus.

They did, and we didn't.  Well, except for that one time Joel was fittin' to throw down with Marcus Camby.  That was a good response to the foul that caused the fracas.

Whoever's guarding Brandon Roy...exploit him.

Yah...didn't really happen.  The Nuggets threw multiple people at him and Brandon never got off the ground.  He hit a few jumpers and notched his usual good assist and rebound numbers (5 each) but he was never really in control of this game.

The other key stat was that we allowed the Nuggets to shoot 52.5%, many of those off the break.  This wasted a night where they shot less than 8% from the three-point arc.

In short we needed more energy, more cohesion, more penetration, and more fortunes with our shot falling.  We got none of those.  The result was a blowout.

There will be no individual notes tonight.  The stats and the eyes both say the same thing:  the guys didn't play horribly but they didn't play well either.  Besides other than the occasional nifty pass nobody out there was really making anybody else look good tonight (at least not anybody in the friendly uniforms) and in an environment like that individual accolades are pretty much wasted.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)