The NBA: Where unpossible happens.
Beers for all. And remember, there's no crying in basketball!
If you told me before the game that we would let the Jazz have 22 offensive rebounds, get outrebounded by 13 total, and commit 19 turnovers I'd have said Jazz win by double digits. So what the heck happened?
First of all that was the worst job handling a zone defense since the Battle of Verdun. Watching the Blazers defend the rim man-to-man early in the game was like going to the high school dance and watching your sister disappear behind the gym with the entire football team, one by one. But then we threw on the zone and the Jazz just disintegrated. Where they had been driving with impunity they started shooting jumpers. They also started missing jumpers. Sure they rebounded the ball well but then they usually missed again. They ended up shooting 38% for the game. Understandably we never really abandoned the zone. To the Blazers' credit we were quite active in it as opposed to the "the ball's out of my area, let me relax" zone we often see. Meanwhile the Blazers were hitting their jumpers, which opened up the lane for driving. A couple of guys took advantage, and it was enough to stave off the late Jazz run.
A few things besides the defense went exactly right in this game. First we killed them in free throw attempts and makes. Second we bugged the heck out of Deron Williams. Third we got really tough in this game, throwing nasty elbows, taking hard fouls, and resorting to cheap, underhanded tricks. Ask me if I liked that. Go ahead. Ask me. HECK YEAH I LIKED THAT. Be gentlemen and fantastic citizens off the court. Do any darn thing you can to get the win on the court. The Jazz weren't up to being pushed around and it showed. Maybe, just maybe, this will be a growing up point for the team.
We were really fortunate all of those shots fell early, otherwise this would have been a 75-68 affair. I don't think we can live forever shooting all those jumpers to start out. But tonight we executed and shot very well. Oh, and we beat the Jazz!
--What's my name? Martell Webster. No, I said, "WHAT'S MY NAME?!?" MARTELL FREAKIN' WEBSTER. That's right. And don't forget it. From minute one it became clear that we were riding Webster tonight and he came through like nobody's business. He shot like he was all alone on the court. He scored 25 and the great thing is he did it on only 13 shots. It's not like he was firing every possession. His play opened up the court for everybody else. It was perhaps the most professional game I've seen him play. And the strategy was brilliant. Nobody else would have had the same effect by making their shots. Triple huzzahs for him.
--Jarrett Jack also had a brilliant run in the first half. When he came in we were still shooting jumpers almost exclusively. We were hitting them, but you were wondering when the clock was going to strike midnight and the coach become a pumpkin again. Jack said, "Fairy Godmother THIS!" and drove it down the teeth of the defense. He ended up 5-8 from the floor and 6-6 from the charity stripe. He still had a couple of shaky turnovers but who cares. He led the charge in the paint.
--After hitting a couple of early jumpers Brandon went into a lull for a while, only to emerge driving in the fourth quarter. Martell and Jarrett set up the win but Brandon clinched it by holding off the Jazz rally.
--I thought Outlaw also played solidly and I was impressed that he didn't come in and shoot 22 shots just because Lamarcus was out and he (Travis) had been the hot hand lately. The Jazz defense was already weakening and Travis put that last bit of pressure on that made it snap. A lot of guys got open shots when he was on the court.
--Don't discount Blake's role in helping on Williams and managing the offense. He was really active out there and helped the Blazers set up their offense early.
--"Timmy, you eat your vegetables or I'm going to make you watch Channing Frye play interior defense!" (GULP! CHEW-CHEW-CHEW!) He did hit a couple of nice shots though and he did get down the court quickly on offense. Maybe he has some potential as a part-time mate to Oden when Lamarcus is resting. He could fill that "sprint down the floor and dunk" role.
--Read my lips: that's Joel Przybilla. Jo...el...Pryz...bil...la. STOP PASSING TO HIM IN TRAFFIC! Every time the ball clangs off of his hands underneath the basket it's a sure layup for the opponent because he can't get back down the court quickly enough. However Joel stayed out of foul trouble, in the game, and was the only guy watching the cup and rebounding. This was the best game he's had all year in my estimation. Without him I don't think we win.
--LaFrentz, Rodriguez, and Jones all served their purpose, which was to keep the court warm while the guys above them in the rotation rested.
From the Unintentionally Funny File:
The Jazz broadcast opened with clips of a visit to an area children's hospital, complete with mascot. Because, you know, that's exactly what every sick, near-helpless four-year-old wants to see at his bedside: a huge, unidentified, hairy beast. Seriously, the kid looked freaked. Nice job.
P.S. Did I mention we beat the Jazz?!?!?