Well helllllooooooooo nurse!
And welcome everybody to extra-special Blazerific super-fun happy time! Blazers win! Blazers win! BLAZERS WIN!!!
To paraphrase Blazer sponsor Taco Del Mar...GOODBYE boring basketball!
Jazz 89 Blazers 94
--Very early on this game looked like a blowout. If you asked me after the first couple minutes I'd have said the goldfish were floating at the top of the tank. We were shooting long and poorly. The Jazz were scoring on us like they were German Shepherds in a baby chick hatchery. Then Nate called one of his famous early timeouts and something happened. It was slow at first...just a couple forays into the key to get shots at the rim. But once that happened we gained some confidence. The Jazz seemed willing to play along with us instead of squashing us. We made up the lead and it was nip and tuck through the end of the half. We scored fairly well but they were obliterating us on the boards. Travis Outlaw's scoring prowess kept us in it.
--The second half belong in a minor way to Jarrett Jack and in a MAJOR way to Brandon Roy. Both came out in the third juking, driving, and ready to go. Watching them was amazing...first scoring at the rim and then driving and dishing. Brandon employed the Crossover of Doom to good effect against whoever had him...Kirilenko, Fisher, Giricek...didn't matter. A pleasant by-product of all of this driving was that we started getting some foul calls.
--But forget all that. The real story is that we faced a team that's better than we are, healthier than we are, and with a lot more reason to win than we had and we stared them down, played with poise and confidence, hustled our butts off, trusted each other, and GOT A WIN. A ton of heart went into this game, combined with a little bit of sweat and skill. The important thing is not necessarily the "W". It's nice to have it but it's a sign of all the things we did right. Even had we lost tonight there would have been ample reason to appreciate this team and believe in it. It's great to have nights like that, especially after the dismal Clippers showing.
--We still got killed on the boards but that was about the only thing that went seriously wrong. We outshot them, outhustled them, beat them in steals, blocks, turnovers, total foul shots, and foul shooting. Our defense forced them into contested shots and eventually to the perimeter, and once they started relying on the long ball they were done. And you know even the rebounding deficit was entirely offensive rebounds (17-4). I'm telling you, offensive boards are nice enough, but overrated. Yes we should have kept them away from more balls, but we played well enough in every other area that it didn't matter.
--What can you say about Brandon Roy, other than "Thank God he's here!" This guy is so scary...not in a dominating, in-your-face way but like a surgeon who knows what the heck he's doing. 29 points on 8-15 shooting, 11-13 from the line, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, a block, and 3 turnovers. And they were FOCUSING on him tonight. He was getting doubled, tripled, shadowed, poked, prodded, pushed, plastered, and punked and he STILL did that to them. And he did it without disrupting the game or other people's scoring. In the first half he was quiet on the offensive end, contributed away from the ball, and let others carry the torch. In the second half it was go time. How many star vets do exactly that thing? And this guy is (for eight more games anyway) a rookie! You ought to buy a ticket to see him play, period.
--I like what Jack did, even though I wished (again) that he could be a little more aggressive with the ball. He hit almost every shot he took though, scored 14, got 3 assists, 4 rebounds, and 4 steals with only 2 turnovers. He and his compadres also hounded Deron Williams into a 4 of 13 shooting night.
--Travis had one of his inspired offensive nights. The "love him or hate him" switch was flipped to "love him" tonight! He was taking a lot of the shots he usually takes and in fact had he been missing we would have said he was an unconscionable ball hog, as I think he passed the ball twice all evening. But he wasn't missing. And when the other guys saw he was hot and just kept feeding him. He finished 9-18, 2-3 from three-point land, with a career high 22 points. He also put in a fair amount of defensive hustle and got a couple steals and a block.
--Jamaal showed pretty big tonight. His 12 rebounds stand out in a game where we only got 32. He also got 4 blocks! Most importantly, he provided a post presence to keep their defense honest. A credible effort...we would not have won without him.
--Ime Udoka still looked a little woozy. He shot 1-9 and couldn't seem to get his feet under him.
--Raef LaFrentz had an amazingly quick drive down the baseline for a layup in the first half. I had to shake my head and clear my eyes. I didn't think he had that in him! It wasn't a great game for him but it was good to see some minutes.
--Several guys had really good, controlled efforts off the bench. Fred Jones was one of the main ones. He ran in a three-guard offense a little in the second half. He was a scoring threat (3-6, 4-4 from the line, 11 points) and also menacing on the break. He got a couple assists and kept the offense flowing. He hit his first three pointer as a Blazer and it actually had some arc to it.
--Sergio also did alright. He hit half of his shots and got 4 rebounds and 3 assists in 18 minutes. His turnovers were very high again (5) but at least they were errors of commission and not omission. He couldn't have played in crunch time much but he did give nice energy.
--Luke Schenscher didn't show up in the stats much but he actually gave us some quality minutes out there when the regular big men got in foul trouble! He had a steal, a block, and some really nice help defense that shut down the Utah drivers. If anybody had watched his back on the boards when he helped out we might have been talking about a great night from him but even so we got a lot more out of him than we had any right to expect.
--Martell basically went 0-fer the stat board again EXCEPT he had a couple of really nice assists off of dishes to Travis Outlaw. He was trying to produce even though his shot wasn't falling. On the other hand, that's all well and good but his shot really needs to start falling.
This may be one of the last wins we can squeeze out of the season. Enjoy it...I know I did.