First and foremost, congratulations to Brandon Roy on the impending-or-maybe-done-by-now birth of his child! I was relieved to hear that him missing the game for "personal reasons" meant going into labor and not something more traumatic. A piece of friendly advice though: don't stop by any strip clubs on the way to or from the hospital, OK?
As for the game, we gave it a good try, but in the end we were just overmatched.
Bulls 100, Blazers 89
--`Twas a tale of two halves tonight, or at least a tale of one quarter versus three quarters. In the opening stanza we came out aggressively. We drove to the hoop and picked up a bucket full of fouls. We seemed to catch the Bulls defenders on their heels and made them pay for it. Of course the Chicago announcers began questioning things but most of it looked legit, or at least in line with what usually happens in the NBA when teams drive. They were shooting more jumpers and thus didn't get as many calls. After that though the vaunted Bulls defense clamped down. It was a stalemate in the second quarter but the third and fourth periods belonged squarely and solely to the Bulls. They clawed back from the free throw perspective also, and I could hear the folks in here complaining from where I sat (even though it was two hours after the game had ended). The calls looked legit to me then too. This time we were the ones shooting long. Yes there were probably a couple of botched calls either way but it's really getting tiring hearing every announcing crew and lots of fans blame losses or struggles on the refs. I'm thinking about calling a moratorium on ref comments for a week here, just to wash out the place.
--If you're going to point to one issue tonight, it's got to be the turnovers. We committed 23 to their 11. They got 27 points off of our turnovers. At one point in the third quarter they turned us over five straight possessions. That's nasty. And mean. And a sure way to grab a game.
--We also got obliterated on the offensive boards tonight. Our defensive rebounds barely topped their offensive ones by a two-to-one margin. This is also a recipe for disaster.
--It's a shame because between those two things we completely wasted a 52.5% shooting night. When we got shots up we were pretty good.
--Lamarcus acquitted himself very well, shooting 10-15 for 20 points plus 8 rebounds besides. Even though he didn't get any blocks tonight (which is unusual for him) he was pretty active on the help defense as well. His energy level the last few weeks has just been excellent. You can tell the difference between him and most of the other guys out there with one glance. Did I mention his offense was amazing tonight? I did? Well it was.
--Zach had 17 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists but also 7 turnovers. He only shot 4-10 from the field but he was 9-11 from the line. Most of those field goals came early though. He got a bad call against him for an offensive foul early in the game. He complained and got a technical besides. He completely let it get into his head. He reverted to "Bad Zach": not getting back, driving and shooting into triple-teams, not being active on defense. He just wilted before our eyes. It looked like Nate pulled him in frustration at least once, maybe twice. The Bulls' announcers also barbecued him COMPLETELY. I mean, they spent two full minutes on him. Just a sampling of the comments they had after watching him play (paraphrased a little, but not much):
"He's a scorer, not a winner."
"You can't win with this guy."
"He's not committed to the team."
"He plays awful defense."
They also threw him a bone about being a great scorer and getting some rebounds, but that didn't change their assessment. They were probably a little harsh because he was playing pretty poorly out there at times and they obviously hadn't seen very many Blazer games to balance out their observations. (Frequently they didn't know who was who, or even who normally started for us.) But at the same time for those who think this stuff stems from a local media bias...it doesn't.
--Martell had a strong game! He shot often enough and hit most of the ones he took. Maybe starting agrees with him more. He had three turnovers but he didn't look all that bad defensively. Compared to his baseline this year I was encouraged.
--Jarrett Jack only took 6 shots. He hit 3 of them and technically that's 50% shooting but we need more offense from him on a night without Roy. He had 9 assists, which was brilliant, but also 5 turnovers, which was not.
--Sergio didn't have any better of a game than JJ. He did look like he was putting more effort into defense even though the results weren't much better on a couple bad plays. But my guess is he's hearing the criticism and trying to do something about it, which is a good sign. He hit both the shots he took and 5-6 free throws for 9 points in 11 minutes. He also had a couple rebounds, a steal, and an assist. But he committed 3 turnovers in those 11 minutes and I guarantee you no coach is going to take that from his backup point guard. Sergio's still a work in progress.
--Ime was a non-factor and reportedly got a concussion which kept him out of play. Except for a few rebounds Travis Outlaw and Fred Jones had unremarkable nights. We sure could have used Travis displaying a little athleticism guarding Luol Deng but no such luck.
--Danger Dan Dickau came off the bench to score 7 straight points in 9 minutes in the fourth. It was a nice little spurt while it lasted. The only problem I have with these "shooting concentrate" moments from Dan is that he doesn't seem to know when to quit. He always shoots a few too many and then gets pulled. But who am I kidding...he probably would get pulled anyway.
--I've heard my share of commentators and I'll tell you that Bulls' number two color man (assisting Johnny "Red" Kerr) Stacey King has me impressed. He's understated in his style, he makes smart points, he has good timing, he has great vocal modulation, and a sense of humor to boot. They've got something in that guy.
--I'm giving up on describing Nate's sartorial splendor. Does he ever show up in a bad outfit? It's probably just easier to say that Nate makes every suit look good.
Fashion commentary...that's what puts Blazersedge a step above.