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Media Row Report

Here's Ben's entry from the game:

12/28 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

Barkley, Foul Trouble can't Distract Roy, Blazers from 12th Straight

As if on a mission to prove Charles Barkley wrong, the Blazers thoroughly worked the Minnesota Timberwolves over tonight, pulling away easily late in the game by throwing down dunks, converting flying layups in transition and knocking down the open jumpers.  With Brandon Roy sitting down for the entire second quarter due to foul trouble, the "easy buckets" that Sir Charles said had been missing from previous Portland performances came in droves tonight thanks to Channing Frye, LaMarcus Aldridge, and James Jones.

After the game, I asked Brandon Roy if he had any words for the Round Mound after the team's performance tonight, but he just laughed it off: "Nah, I like Charles, man. Charles gives us some credit, but he's the type of guy where he can't give nobody too much credit, he's gotta be a little hard on you... [but] We are just trying to go out there and show teams we can get some easy baskets."

While Roy deftly evaded that question like he dodged poor Rashad McCants in the second half, he was much more open when asked about sitting on the bench through the second quarter: "It's tough for me.  Man! I'm sitting the whole second quarter!  I lost my whole rhythm... You gotta go out at halftime and get a good workout and in the third quarter you have to force the issue a little bit to get your rhythm back." Roy did just that, making shots and drawing fouls throughout the 3rd and 4th quarter, extending the Blazers lead to double digits for good.  

The pre-game buzz was that the Timberwolves, despite their anemic record, represented a trap game for the streaking Blazers, who might overlook them, with Sebastian Telfair's return to the Rose Garden and the Roy/Foye draft day trade lurking in the shadows as distracting subplots.  It was clear, however, especially down the stretch, that the team remained focused on winning their 12th straight.  Roy said it best:  "It's no longer about me being drafted by Minnesota or Telfair coming back home, it's all about this team winning games so we can make a push for a playoff spot."  The Blazers took another step in that direction tonight, letting their dominant, controlled and organized play provide a resounding response to Charles Barkley's provocation.

Post-Game Quotes:

Nate on being the clear-cut favorite tonight: "I was really anxious to see us in this position. It becomes a dangerous game when you have a letdown... or you don't focus on the big prize, which is the future."

Nate on the team's approach to the streak: "I know [Jason] Quick doesn't want to hear it, but it's one game at a time."

Nate on winning at home: "We go out on the road in about a week or so, we got a long 7 game trip and we're trying to get a cushion now."

Nate on 6 guys in double figures: "That's just team basketball, that's what we are talking about, the movement of the ball... 12 turnovers is still a little high, but it's not bad... but 28 assists.... We're spreading the ball around and we have guys who can make some shots... As long as we are playing unselfish ball like that it's going to be tough to defend."

Nate on Channing Frye: "He was definitely the difference tonight. He was active. He had 5 offensive boards, knocking down his shots."

Random Game Notes:

Kevin Pritchard's halftime drink of choice?  Green Tea... After the game I passed Sebastian in the hallway and offered a meek, "Welcome Back to Portland;" he responded with neither happiness nor angst, "Thanks, man... Portland."  Not sure what that meant... Did some of Roy's ambidextrousness rub off on Lamarcus?  Anyone else notice the two left-handed block shots?...  It was very interesting to see Blake and Jack play together.  Don't see that all that often, at least for that long of a stretch.  Playboy's Playmate of the Year was in attendance tonight.  Sorry, she won't be the subject of an upcoming 5 Questions interview... Paging through Sports Illustrated before tipoff I saw a picture of a smiling Brandon Roy celebrating a 3 pointer.  So this is what national respect looks like... The announcing of Telfair's name drew nothing but cheers during pregame introductions... The Courtside Club was packed before the game and at halftime with Beaver Nation cheering their team to victory in the Emerald Bowl... I think at least part of the credit for Bassy's quick first step should go to the fact that he almost always takes 3 steps before putting the ball on the deck... During the nightly "kiss cam" feature, an elderly gentleman got extremely frisky with his wife. I'll leave it at that... The crowd tonight was a little flat, most likely due to a post-Christmas hangover... Gerald Green's first-half Human Highlight Film windmill jam was so nice they even replayed it on the big screen, something they rarely do for visiting team's highlights... A gentleman near me was wearing a Dunder Mifflin sweatshirt.  Sweet!... There were repeated and LOUD chants of M-V-P for Roy throughout the 2nd half. I credit the back rows of section 302... My favorite play of the night was Brandon pulling the string on McCants, double-juking on a crossover that was way too quick for the former North Carolina star to keep up with.  The whole Blazers bench was laughing after Roy drained the jumper... Two things on Craig Smith: 1) He is not someone I would want to have to navigate around when he steps out on the high pick and roll. 2) He could be a player in this league. I liked what I saw... LaMarcus and Jarrett were in jovial spirits in the locker room tonight, tossing jokes back and forth and trying to mess up each other's interviews.  From his body language and all-around play tonight, I think any concerns about LaMarcus's play on Christmas day have been silenced... Despite Dave and Ryan White's best efforts, the signs tonight were lame.  The best one had "Who's next?" written on them with the logos of the various teams we've beaten crossed off.  Step it up, Blazers fans... Last but not least: they showed Mike Riley getting the Gatorade Bath after OSU beat Maryland tonight.  It made me wish basketball had Gatorade baths.  Nate has certainly earned his.

--Ben Golliver

If you haven't noticed the Rose Garden is quickly becoming the place to be.  If you haven't been to a game yet--or haven't been to once recently--get tickets to that Philly game on Sunday!  You really, really need to be a part of this while it's happening.

--Dave (