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A Third Eyewitness Report

(The second is the first comment in the last post.)

This comes from OutrageousJ:

It was kid night at the Verizon center and they had kids helping out with everything - holding cameras, doing some of the announcing on the PA, etc.  And the first half of the game seemed like both teams had taken the "kids day" thing too literally - they looked like high school teams.  Ugly play, lots of turnovers, and not much of a flow. But as Randolph couldn't get going, other Blazers stepped it up and were more aggressive, and I think that's what made the difference. The Wizards just didn't have anyone who could take over for Arenas. Butler had a few dunks, but little more than that.

I was surprised how the Blazer's offense seemed to be stagnant at times, and then very fluid at others.  At the beginning of the game, players weren't aggressive, and while the game plan was clearly to clear out and get it to Randolph, he had trouble shooting and the other players didn't give him many options.  In the second quarter, the play opened up, was much more attractive, and the Blazers moved the ball better.  I couldn't figure out if it was the players on the court or the plays McMillian was calling.

One of the highlights was Gilbert getting completely shut down. He was non-existent in the first quarter, and then had a stretch in the 2nd where he started to play with more energy.  It had an "uh oh, here comes the 50" feeling but each time he got on a mini-run he'd miss a three pointer, or get an offensive foul, and it seemed to take all the wind out of him - like he was pouting.

The most frustrating aspect of the Blazer's game was their lack of consistency.  If they passed well and got a good possession one time down the court, the next time down they'd almost inevitably commit a stupid TO and end up giving the ball away.  But it's hard to argue with a 21 point win.

Individual Players:

Jarret Jack had a hell of a game... seemed very aggressive in taking the ball to the rim, and although he got caught in the air a few times, was generally rewarded with points or foul shots.  He was also playing D on Arenas for much of the night, and did a great job of shutting him down, drawing two offensive fouls on drives to the basket, I think.

Roy had a solid game, but nothing spectacular that I noticed.  But his confidence on the court is clear.

Juan Dixon played very well, as might be expected coming home to the Maryland fans, and he was warmly received by the crowd.

I was impressed with Aldridge's game.  He's smaller in person than I expected, but he's got a very pretty turn-around, and seemed to be automatic anytime he had the ball on the blocks.  One of the more successful plays the Blazers ran was to clear out for Z-Bo on the
block, but have LaMarcus just on the other side of the lane.  As the defense collapsed on Zack, he'd make the short pass to LaMarcus for the 8-footer in the land.  Money every time.

Jamaal Magloire gets a lot of crap, but he seemed okay when I was watching him - a few strong moves to the hoop, drew a few fouls, and kept their centers pretty much under control

Randolph didn't play very well, couldn't seem to get a rhythm going, and had way too many turnovers.  Too many times to count they'd clear for him, and it went nowhere.  And yet they kept running that same play.

As a last note, I just need to throw out that the Blazers organization, and Mike Barrett in particular, was fantastic to me. I talked to them after the game, and they really went out of their way to accommodate a Portland fan in DC.  First class all the way and I couldn't thank them enough.

All in all, a great win!  Go Blazers!

Thanks so much OJ!  I love these eyewitness reports.  There's nothing like being there to help you see a game.  These kind of reports help teach us what to watch for, confirm certain impressions, and maybe open up different approaches to the game.  I learn something from every one.  Keep it up everybody!

--Dave (