This was a pretty ugly game and not my favorite one to watch, but I will say this: winning is ALWAYS a lot better than losing.
Bobcats 100, Blazers 108
--Because of a nation-wide snafu with DirecTV and League Pass I did not get to join the game until the beginning of the second quarter. It appeared we played decent slow-ball in the first, but the second was same old, same old as far as the Blazer problems. There was a distinct lack of energy, the offense was flat, and the REBOUNDING! Pew! We were getting outrebounded by six at the half and the Bobcats aren't good enough on the boards to justify that.
--The second half the energy came in waves...advancing, receding, advancing, receding. The third quarter was pretty good offensively. The fourth quarter was pretty good defensively. At no time did we really put together sustained effort on both ends. Fortunately for us the Bobcats weren't that good either. We let a LOT of easy buckets slip by, which didn't help. Kevin Pritchard said it in the Quick Chat...everyone needs to do at least one or two more things right during the course of the game. Again this game went into overtime and again you could count 5-6 completely unnecessary breakdowns--the kind that have no logical explanation other than "What the...? You didn't even try NOT to blow that!" Fixing ONE of those sends us home with a victory in regulation and gets us into good habits for tougher games where such things matter even more.
--The overtime, though, was pretty nice. We looked like we learned from some of the teams that beat us in overtime recently. Come out strong, don't let anybody but your best guys take shots, and try to dominate. That's exactly what we did. It was certainly our most polished overtime of the season.
--A few things stand out statistically. By the end of the game we had pulled even in rebounds, which was good. We still allowed them way too many in the second half, but even is acceptable. The eye-popping stat for Charlotte was their steals. They got 13, we got 3. We didn't take great care of the ball this game although we did manage to avoid a lot of unforced turnovers, so that's a bright spot. The two eye-popping stats for us were that we got 12 blocks (that's twelve) to their 4. Joel and Jamaal had 3 each, Lamarcus and Jarrett had 2 each. I guess maybe somebody got into their ear about a little interior help defense. We also ended the game with 45 free throws to their 33. Now part of that was the end-game foul line parade as the Bobcats tried to make up ground but all-in-all we got our share. Oh, and yes...Swami Dave picked Total Blazer Blocks and Total Blazer Free Throws as the two team stats in the jersey contest. I haven't looked at the predictions yet but apologies in advance for screwing you up with that. If anyone picked 12 blocks and 45 free throws I ought to give them a jersey just for that!
--We only had 17 points off the bench tonight. We really do miss Sergio like KP said. You can tell the energy level isn't the same.
--The only other thing I noticed was how poorly the ball's been moving in most sets lately. And as I'm going to mention in a minute tonight it wasn't Zach. He was passing out much, much quicker than he usually does. But our offense right now mostly consists of "give it to one guy, stand around while he works". 40% overall shooting isn't a great testament to its effectiveness. The only really open shots we seem to get off passes are three pointers. While we hit our share of those tonight (6-13) I don't think we can live off that. Which comes first, the movement or enough faith in your teammates to pass, is a chicken-and-egg problem. But we need a big dose of both and soon.
--(sigh) What to say about Zach? He scored 40 points, which was great! The guy he was guarding scored 30, which was not so great. 9 rebounds? Good. His counterpart's 15, not so good. He was a key figure in dominating the overtime, which was excellent. He missed the free throw which would have put us ahead at the end of regulation and even worse the play before he completely wasted a Brandon Roy miracle three point shot by not getting back on Emeka Okafor afterwards. Charlotte calmly took the ball out of the net, fired it down to Okafor, dunk city. We've been through this before. Is the cup half empty or half full? I guess the best thing to do is just say half full. 40 points, yay, great job. At the same time we need to know unless the cup gets fuller we're going to lose more games than we win and we're not going to win hardly any games of consequence.
Two things about Zach's game were unequivocally, undeniably GOOD tonight...no doubt at all. The first was that he set up in the post with one foot in the paint. It's absolutely no accident that his 40 points came tonight off of 27 shots and not 42. That was why. It changed his whole game. There was no holding the ball. He got it deep and went right up with it and most of the time he HIT. He also had way more room and angle to pass, which was the second good thing...the ball moved after it came to him. If he wasn't posting deep he was facing up on the perimeter so he could either drive or shoot the jumper. This was night and day different than any game he's played in the last two months and I hope he keeps it up.
One thing about Zach's game was straight out BAD tonight, and that was when he got stripped on the drive and thought he got fouled, he stayed and argued with the refs instead of getting back. We hadn't seen that for a while and it directly led to Bobcat buckets tonight. The last time I saw him do that (and he had done it pretty consistently up until then) I said I never, ever wanted to see that again...and I meant it! There's nothing more useless and stupid than that. Even a bad defensive play is still a defensive play. That's just...nothing. Even if you're right, you're wrong. You really think the refs are going to stop the play when the other team is breaking, call it back, and say, "My bad! Put this guy at the line!"? If you want to complain save it for a dead ball or at least until you're on offense again.
By the by, lest we are tempted to pick on Zach for every little thing it would behoove us to remember that even the best defensive players have lapses from time to time. Proof? Look here. I try to mention things that are fairly systemic rather than piddly goofs, which plenty of our players commit.
--Brandon Roy had 8 rebounds and another clutch shot late to put us ahead...a beautiful three-point rainbow. Despite that he had a hard time shooting and also took the ball one-on-one (or one-on-more) a lot, leading to five turnovers and only three assists. At least he was driving though. He and Jarrett better borrow a clue about getting long rebounds off opponent jump shots though. This is the second game in a row where balls have been hitting the ground or opponents' hands when they should be in the mitts of our guards.
--Jarrett Jack had 20 points but some of that is deceiving, as he was 13-16 from the foul line and many of those came from Charlotte's catch-up attempts in overtime. He only shot 3-10 and he was one of the culprits not being consistently aggressive. You like the fact that he had 9 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks even in a semi-off game. He also had four turnovers.
--Ime had a VERY solid game, going 6-10 for 14 points with 8 rebounds. When he plays well we have a harder time losing.
--Joel started but Jamaal got most of the playing time, logging 7 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks in 27 minutes. This was one of the higher energy games I've seen him play. I think those road red alternate uniforms make him look a little slimmer too.
--Other than Lamarcus' two blocks nobody else had a game you'd want to know much about.
--Oy veh! Adam Morrison was El Stinko Grande out there tonight. By the end of the game he had lost all confidence and was passing up good shots and throwing up inappropriate ones. He ended up 3-12 in 31 minutes. And it was bad...and I mean bad. It's not fair to judge on one game, but let's just say we should be plenty happy having Brandon and Lamarcus tonight.