It’s great we got the win tonight because there would have been no excuses for this game. OK, there would have been excuses, legitimate ones too--fatigue, playing a slightly less prominent opponent than has been the norm lately--but they wouldn’t have washed. Fool’s Gold teams say, “When we’re on we have a great team that can beat anyone!” The real question is how you play when you’re tired, unenthused, when things aren’t clicking.
The cardinal sin tonight was only managing 88 points against a team that has allowed 105 per game so far this season. Part of the credit goes to
For all that, the ‘Wolves were never able to pull away either. Joel Przybilla and Greg Oden did a good job on Al Jefferson in the middle quarters and
In the critical moments of the fourth quarter it boiled down to Jefferson versus
Also critical: Blazers 9 made threes, ‘Wolves only 2. Blazers 41 rebounds, ‘Wolves 33. Basics go a long way.
Summation: One quarter of decent offense and poor defense. Two-and-a-half-quarters of anti-inspiration. Six minutes of energy and the ballgame. It won’t work every night, but it did on this one.
Brandon Roy was a genius on a night when most of his teammates were not. He pretty much decided we weren’t losing this game in the fourth and then went out and made it happen. 9-18 shooting, 6-7 free throws, 24 points, 6 assists, 0 turnovers. He scored when he needed to, passed when he needed to…good game.
Greg Oden made it easier on
Lamarcus Aldridge seldom got deep into the lane and never really got his offense going tonight. It was his worst game of the season by far. He only took 7 shots, hitting 3. He had 6 rebounds and 3 assists as well. 6 points total.
Joel Przybilla isn’t giving up his minutes without a fight, as he had one of his best games of the season. Once again he converted his dunks when he got them (and the ‘Wolves let him have plenty). He had 10 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and a block. You felt comfortable with him coming in even during the fourth because of his energy level and execution. You can’t always say that about Joel. Plus with two centers available Nate had the luxury of not worrying so much about fouls.
Steve Blake hit a couple nice three-pointers and ended up with 10 points and 4 assists. It was a fairly typical game from him with the addition that none of the
Sergio Rodriguez yanked on the stick and brought us out of the offensive stall we had been free-falling through all game by hitting one three-pointer at the end of the third and another to start the fourth. High fives all around for that. He also got 3 rebounds and was fighting out there. The Blazers weren’t converting any shots tonight. It’s amazing how that cuts down on your assist numbers. That was also why we couldn’t afford to doink around leaving Sergio out there for extra minutes tonight. He was tossing people bullets but nobody had a gun. 6 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist in 16 minutes.
Rudy Fernandez had a marginally difficult night. It was his second straight struggling offensive outing. He’s going to have to go through an evolution now. Opponents are starting to read the scouting report, closing down on him early. Shots that were wide open last week are now run at. Shots that were run at last week are now closed down by one, or sometimes two, people. This is normal. It’s also normal for Rudy to take a while adjusting. Some teams are going to forget and he’ll have spectacular nights again to boost his confidence. Those should help him ride through and emerge on the other side able to score against the increased pressure. 25 minutes tonight, 1-5 shots made, 3 points. He did have 6 rebounds, which are always appreciated. Also while closing down Rudy defenders are having to leave
Travis Outlaw had two moments in this game that saved his bacon. When he first checked in he brought defensive energy. He also hit the final jumper of the game which pushed the lead from a tie-able 3 to a winning margin of 5. Other than that this was a rough 31 minute outing for him. He shot 3-10, looking like he forgot everything he ever knew about how to get a decent shot off. When Mike Barrett can look straight at your belly button as you’re releasing a shot you did it wrong. 8 points, 4 rebounds, 1 each of everything else.
Channing Frye killed not only his own mojo but Sergio’s as well by bricking all four jumpers he attempted tonight. Short minutes plus long shots do not equal success for a power forward. Then again he’s struggling with his inside game as well. This is not a happy time for Channing. 11 minutes, 0 points, 2 rebounds, and a block.
Nic Batum got 8 points in 10 minutes and looked good in that way but he also had trouble watching
Winning road trip! Excellent.
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