Here's Ben's media report from the game tonight. We are compiling questions and feature ideas for the rest of the season so be sure and post yours or send them in.
For three quarters, tonight's game felt like that rec. league contest from hell--the one where the other team shows up with matching shoes and is stacked with ringers who are pulling and popping from anywhere they please. The Raptors were that hot: through three quarters they were shooting at a 56% clip. In the fourth quarter, however, the made shot was the road less travelled for Toronto, and that made all the difference in the Blazers' 9th straight win.
Post-game discussion converged on two points: the Blazers defense stepped up and Brandon Roy is playing out of his mind. Asked by Jason Quick if Brandon is deserving of an all-star bid, Nate simply replied, "No question," before going on to compliment Brandon's ability to read the Raptors' team defense on the fly and recognize and then handle the inevitable double teams that came his way.
There were a lot of great takeaways from tonight's game that might get overlooked: Martell's 3rd quarter 3 pointers that kept the Raptors from pulling away; LaMarcus' outstanding footwork on both offense and defense all night, contending with quicker opponents on his bum foot (and a surely uncomfortable orthopedic insert); Outlaw's continued success shooting the ball down the stretch; James Jones icing the game with 4 free throws in the last minute.
Why will these be overlooked? Because Brandon, battling the flu, recalled almost precisely the Greatest to Ever Play the Game's Greatest Move, deking with his right hand, floating, hanging, switching hands and then flipping the ball into the tin with his left hand. The play was shown in the arena no less than 3 times, each time drawing a successively louder response from the crowd. Asked about the move after the game, Brandon said, "I've made that shot before playing around in the parking lot but never in front of so many people."
How many games start as rec. league contests, take a detour to the parking lot, and end with fundamentally sound team defense and clutch free throw shooting? Not many. But this one did.
Locker Room Quotes:
-- Nate on the fourth quarter: "We are recognizing [as a team] when it's time to tighten up on d."
-- Nate on Brandon's move: "It was a hell of a move. Like that Jordan move in the Finals against the Lakers. `Did he just do that?'"
-- Brandon on Brandon's move: "I was going for the shot and I saw Bosh so I was going to pass, but I was open so I flipped it in."
-- Brandon on LaMarcus: "He does so many things; it's great to have him back."
-- Anonymous Raptors Assistant coach, overheard in the hallway: "We scored 13 mother (expletive deleted) fourth quarter points."
Random Game Notes:
LaMarcus not only started but took the Blazers' first two shots of the game... Blazers seemed intent on countering Raptors' hot first-half shooting by upping the tempo coming down the court... 10 first quarter points from Blake yet he sat out most of the 4th quarter again... The Raptors scored just 6 points in nearly 10 minutes of 4th quarter action... Oregon Ducks fans, give it a rest: there's no need to boo the members of the OSU Beavers football team, who were in attendance tonight... Saw a "Gimme Ime" t-shirt. Got to say that Ime has been a forgotten man this season. I miss Ime... Kris Humphries still has serious hops... Whereas Monday Night many observers saw Nate trying to hide his smile at the then-8 game winning streak, Nate was ebullient tonight, quick to note that, "This is my first 9 game winning streak" as an NBA coach...There were five television cameras pointed at Brandon Roy as he described his Jordan moment in the locker room postgame... Sergio Bobblehead Night is this Friday... Speaking of Sergio, he did a do-see-do with one of the referees after making a layup that would have made Marc Cuban proud... Canzano asked Paul Allen to flash 9 fingers like he flashed 8 fingers on Monday night. Allen did not oblige, mumbling something incoherent while keeping it moving. Allen may want to reconsider this if the Blazers win Friday because, by Tuesday, even the math whiz himself will be out of fingers... It's a toss up, which moment got bigger cheers tonight: Brandon's unbelievable switch from right-to-left hand layup or Madras' Finest Jacoby Ellsbury being shown on the big screen?... Lineup on the floor during most of the Blazers 4th quarter push: Jack, Roy, Jones, Outlaw, Aldridge. Something for all of us to chew on there... Saw a "bust a bucket" sign tonight, always love those... Blazers courtside staff were dressed in red Santa hats for the holidays, maybe they got Dave's memo about wearing red?... Last but not least: you've already read this everywhere but now it's OFFICIAL. OFFICIAL as in "Press Release distributed by the team tonight" official: "Trail Blazers name Casey Holdahl Website Content Manager".