OHHHHH...be still my beating heart! Mike Barrett's take on this game is going to be completely redundant because all over Blazerland everybody's going to be highlighting the most excellent parts of this game and be glowing with optimistic pride. Oh...that was a NICE game! A keeper on Tivo for sure!!!
Lakers 108, Blazers 112
--This was VERY clearly the best offensive game we've played in YEARS. That was some great offensive basketball out there tonight! And usually at this point I'd point to the opponent messing up a lot, but you know what? Tonight, for once, that wasn't really it. No, the Lakers didn't play great defense but that was because we BROKE their defense tonight. For once it was us! It started in the first quarter when it seemed that we were very intentionally going through the guards. That's not the same as going away from Zach, mind you, because he still got plenty of touches and a reasonable number of shots. But instead of starting the ball with Z-Bo we let Jack and Roy work. They broke down the defense and the Lakers had to compensate by doubling and scrambling. At that point we got the ball to Zach in single coverage or whoever else was open with nobody on them and BINGO! I can't even begin to describe the number of things that were right with all of this. Our starting guards were very aggressive driving the ball and putting pressure on the Lakers. The ball moved very quickly, as did feet, and nobody held or stood too long. The whole team was completely unselfish. And most importantly, everybody took responsibility to take and hit their open shots when they got them. It was like a real basketball team out there...a real GOOD basketball team. How long have we waited to see something like that happen? We never gave up on that offense either and we almost never resorted to the old one-on-one (or one-on-more) crap that we've been employing all year. I think this all caught the Lakers by surprise. We weren't so easy to guard as they had been led to expect!
--The other thing we did very well was compensate for the things that were going wrong. Despite the awesome offensive display our defense was pretty poor in the early going and our rebounding was horrible. The Lakers were breaking our defense just like we were breaking theirs. The game was neck and neck for much of the way despite us shooting over 60%. In other words we HAD to shoot over 60% just to keep up because of the defensive and rebounding problems. But in the second half...boy! It was night and day! It's not like we were Spurs-level defenders but we kept bodies in between shooters and the basket and we also boxed out, rotated, moved our feet, and did the little things right (and with energy). And we got back in transition!!! There were only a couple plays where the Lakers got easy breaks. Mostly it was at least two, if not three or four guys back. In fact for a change the Lakers were the ones standing under their own basket pouting or arguing and WE got to take advantage of a few break opportunities.
--Speaking of running...we pushed the offense a bit tonight. We were the ones shooting good shots earlier in the clock and the Lakers were the ones fighting the buzzer and getting awkward looks.
--The final score wasn't as close as it seems on paper. Legit win! Legit win!!!
There should be NO individual observations tonight. We played totally as a team and won that way too. But everybody should get a little love.
--You cannot say enough about the game Zach played tonight. His final stats were 22 points and 9 boards but this game was better than any game he's played so far this year...even the 40-point efforts. He played DEFENSE (or at least contributed a lot of energy to it). He got a fair number of defensive rebounds too! And the team FED off of that just like it does EVERY time he really comes to play. PLEASE Zach...I don't care if you never score 40 again! Just do this every night! You don't have to be the statistical wonder. Neither do you have to be Duncan or Garnett defensively. Just play with that energy on the defensive end and running the floor and give us a chance.
--Jarrett JACK!!! He set the tone early by coming out absolutely aggressive while simultaneously being absolutely under control and unselfish. This was a textbook game for him in many ways. He ended up with 30 points and 7 assists on 9-12 shooting. We so need him to play with this kind of confidence too.
--Brandon got a lot of respect from the L.A. guys tonight. He played a masterful, yet unselfish, game as well. 16 points, 7 assists, 3 steals, and 6-11 shooting. You could not have asked for more.
--Lamarcus was STROKING it tonight. He got 18 points, 9-12 shooting, and the distinction of being the straw that broke the Lakers' backs. Just when they thought they had contained Zach and patched up the holes our guards ripped in their defense in comes Lamarcus. They have to leave him open because they're scrambling on these other guys. He just BURIES them with soft jumper after soft jumper. BLAM...the dam breaks. The only thing you wanted more of was rebounding, but that's OK.
--Ime played some tough-nosed defense on Kobe. He really stepped up. Kobe got shots but they weren't open. Bryant ended up with 25, 8, and 6 but this was the most ineffective game I've seen him play in a long time. Oh, and Ime hit 4-5 also.
--Dan Dickau played 21 quality minutes in reserve, kept the ball moving, and looked for his shot enough to keep the defense honest (even if he was one of the few who didn't hit well). He had 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and a steal in those 21 minutes, which if Sergio had we'd be gaga over.
--Outlaw brought some energy to the game too even though he only played 6 minutes. In those 6 minutes he got 4 points, 4 rebounds, an assist, and a steal.
--Even Jamaal got into the shooting spree, as he's another guy the Lakers left wide open. 3-5, 6 points, 3 boards, and a steal in 19 minutes.
--The only guys that had bummer nights were Joel and Martell. Joel's wasn't his fault. His knee was wrenched and he had to be carried to the locker room. I've checked around but still haven't found any news but maybe someone who got the Blazers' feed for tonight's game knows if the Mikes shared anything. Martell's bad night was legit. His only stats were two wide-open bricks and a personal foul in 13 minutes. This year is truly tough for the youngster. He just looks like his confidence is shot. He's missing shots he could hit in his sleep.
--Maybe this is wrong, but I love the camera shots that catch the wealthy L.A. fans sitting in the first couple rows behind the benches during timeouts. They all look so "California Business Owner" chic, and the expressions on their faces as we were handing it to their team was like somebody put squid ink in their Chardonnay.
--The Lakers' color analyst offered this gem: "That's the reason their shooting percentage is going to drop. They're going to miss some shots." Ummm...I wasn't aware there was another way. Also...IT DIDN'T! WOOHOO!
--The only miscellaneous observation that really counts is WE WON!!!