No...that doesn't quite do it. This was more like Holy Freakin' Humpback Whale!
Bobcats 90, Blazers 127
Wow...you can't even begin with team observations in this one. Every aspect of the game was really, really strong with the possible exception of allowing a few too many offensive rebounds at some points. We beat them 45-31 on the boards. We had 34 assists(!!!) to their 13. We shot 58.3% (again...!!!) and only allowed 42%. We shot 55% from three point land because we mostly took smart ones. More free throws, more steals, more blocks, fewer turnovers, fewer fouls...we ran the table. There was nothing to nitpick at. The ball moved freely on offense. We helped and rotated GREAT on defense. The energy was high throughout. We had more dunks and alley-oops in this game than in entire other months combined. Basically WE were the team that had everything going strong while the opponent was hoisting long jumpers, going one-on-one for everything, and not defending well. We know exactly how that feels but this time we were on the right side of it for a change.
Amazing...amazing game. And completely fun to watch as a fan. There's no other way to describe it.
--DO NOT UNDERRATE WHAT ZACH RANDOLPH DID IN THIS GAME. That is absolutely Point #1 tonight. Other people got more points and rebounds, but Zach keyed everything for us. He went outside, ceding the post position to Lamarcus Aldridge, drawing defenders out with him, and making great entry passes to him for easy scores. LMA doesn't get near 30 if it wasn't for Zach. He also moved very well on defense, gave nice help, and led the way in energy. We don't hold the Bobcats to 42% without Zach. He WAS that leader tonight. And as always when that happens, the whole team fed off of him. His 6 assists bolster my point but you can basically just ignore the stats. Just give Zach (that's right...ZACH) the "unsung hero of the game" game ball tonight. Lord, it feels good to say that. Keep it up!
--Lamarcus Aldridge...12-19, 6-6 free throws, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, 30 points. Remember how I said I'd love to see him get some shots in dedicated positions? Somebody must have read my mind. That's almost exactly what happened tonight. And he was good. Everything that went in was either from the deep post, an open face-up look from mid-range, or a dunk. Marvelous display. Welcome to the league, Lamarcus! (He started tonight, by the way.)
--Brandon Roy was the utility helper tonight instead of the main show. He broke down plenty of people and probably could have scored more, but he ended up setting other guys up. His stat line was 14 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds, and 6-8 shooting.
--Ditto Jarrett Jack. His stat line is unimpressive but he spent a lot of time making sure the ball kept moving. His team dominated and that's the best barometer of how your point guard did. He didn't need to take over the game or force shots and he didn't.
--Ime didn't miss a single shot and ended up with 11 points, 6 boards, 6 assists, and a steal. He also bothered the opposing small forwards.
--Martell had the second quarter of his LIFE! He was draining everything from dunks to bombs. He ended up 7-10, 4-6 from range, and had 20 points. Remember how I also said I wanted to see three 15+ games from him in a row? This was number one. (Oh, remember the thing about gang rebounding? That happened too. So did the backcourt defense for the most part. I got all my wishes at once tonight except the Przybilla thing. He's out for the season, unfortunately.)
--Travis Outlaw played a solid game offensively and had one spectacular dunk in there. 14 points on 5-9 shooting ain't bad.
--The same can be said of Fred Jones, including the dunk. He only shot 2-6 but he had 4 assists and was really good at moving the ball.
--Magloire and Dickau (a.k.a. "And the rest" as per the first season of the Gilligan's Island them song) played solid in limited minutes as well.
--Nate did something that will probably go unnoticed, but was pretty indicative of how he thinks, and I like it. This was clearly the most free and easy game of the year and a lot of our young guys were having season or career nights. At a certain point the proceedings threatened to devolve into an individual stats show. After Lamarcus got 30, for instance, it looked like the guys were force-feeding him trying to get him even more. Nate let it go on long enough for the guys to get their full run, but when it looked like it might become a circus he pulled them. That held true for Lamarcus, for Webster, for Sergio, and for Brandon Roy (unfortunately because I really wanted to see him get his triple-double). But it makes sense with young guys. He reminded them that this was still a basketball game, no matter what the score says. (Presumably that would also hold true on the nights when we're on the short end of the scoreboard.) He wasn't coasting through this game even with a huge lead. I really respect that message. It's not like he killed the buzz...he just let them get a taste of it and then said, "Let's save it for another game."
--Do remember that the Bobcats were without Emeka Okafor tonight which ruins their defensive scheme entirely and severely curtails their rebounds. Also Gerald Wallace was hobbled. We certainly would have won tonight anyway...there was no stopping our energy and focus. But if you're asking how a team that played so lousy against Seattle all of a sudden become world-beaters against Charlotte, that's part of the answer. It was the best (at least in terms of "most fun") game of the year, but it's relatively little indication of how we played the last game or how we'll play the next one. See...part of being young is going through those painful downs, but the flip side of it is you get these wonderful, stunning, unexpected ups every once in a while. It was nice to see.