As often happens with Golden State games we get a look from my old friend Eric who lives in the Bay Area and with whom I've been talking Blazers via e-mail for 10+ years. (Met on an old Blazers AOL board or something back in the '90's.)
I attended the Warriors game, and thought I would give some impressions, albeit brief. Since the professional writers are pretty thorough, and this being one of the more controversial games in a while, there will likely be a lot of discussion on this game. Outside of the basic analysis, I just wanted to let Oregon based Blazer fans know that there are a lot of Blazer fans in the Bay Area. I noticed a lot of Blazer gear tonight (in fact sat next to a couple of Blazer fans), all throughout the arena, as well as a pretty vocal section in the upper deck. However, I'm pretty sure I was the only one with a BE shirt! Other things probably not noticed on TV ... after one of his put back dunks, GO was heading back to the bench after the W's called timeout. As he approached the bench, I finally saw Greg break into a sheepish grin as I think Frye came up to high five him -- it was great to see him having some fun. And, I'm not exaggerating, but after some of GO's dunks, the entire basket, 24 second clock, et al, would be shaking for a least 10-15 seconds. His power is ... awesome. During time outs, I noticed Rudy and Sergio talking a lot to each other. They have a thing going, even if they didn't connect much tonight. Also, McMillan really works overtime on his mini-white board during time outs. The guy works furiously diagramming whatever it is.
I'm definitely a Blazer homer, but trying to be as objective as possible, that was one of the worst officiated games I've seen in a while. Before my venting, let me say that the Warriors for the most part earned the victory, most notably with their FTs. I don't think I've ever seen Biedrins shoot better than 50% in a game, but the Warriors as a team shooting 94%, including 19-19 in the 4th?! Never. The undrafted, never-before-heard-of rookie Morrow could be the real deal. 37 followed by an EASY looking 25. It's been a while since I've seen a player where I think, did he even miss once? Nelson's wacky system again had the Blazers confused, and as far as in game coaching, Nelson definitely had the upper-hand on McMillan. The Warriors always had the Blazers a little off-kilter on defense, and their quick rotations on defensive end never allowed LMA to get into any flow. Credit Maggette for some tough D, but also negative kudos to LMA for never being able to take advantage of his 4-5" height advantage. In those situations, I'm fine with LMA just doing a catch and shoot, but time and time again, he would isolate on the low block, receive the entry pass, and then become totally confused by all the looks the Warriors were giving him. Even if he misses, I think it's a higher percentage play than him trying to back in, back in, then have a Warrior midget blind side and force a scrum. Plus, with Oden out there, teams will be so intent on preventing GO put-back slams, than our other weak side players will have more opportunities for put backs.
As to the refs, I'm somewhat incredulous still, and that was even before the last 30 seconds. As this was my first Oden live game, I decided to keep particular attention on the kid, and holy cow...let's just say I'm absolutely salivating at the prospect of seeing an in-shape GO, perhaps by the BE game. Anyhow, the guy just gets repeatedly hammered down low. It will be like Shaq before long where the refs could literally call a foul every time, but in this game there were several times where he was blatantly fouled, and no call. The worst one was when he was coming off a pick and roll, was ready to put a 2 down thunder dunk down, Jackson whacks him across the wrists, and no call. And the 3 second call was an absolute joke. So, 4 crucial points lost there. Then the Travis over the line on the FT call -- are you kidding me? When's the last time you've seen that call, in junior high? Maybe high school? And the Rudy foul on Morrow -- come on, in the last few seconds you call that? Moreover, if anything, it looked like Morrow had more elbow into Rudy than the other way (I'll have to see the replay though). Granted, Roy probably got a couple of All-Star calls (like the sound of that...), but overall, the Warriors definitely got the home cooked reffing tonight. Of course, the game should never have come down to the last minute, but the Blazers just looked half-asleep for half the game. Even though it's early in the season still, the team looked like it could have used another day off. So, even though they did not get the win, you can still see that this team has so much potential. Despite LMA's awful game, they were still in it till the end, and against a team like the Warriors, you can see where Martell will be an asset. Nice to see Sergio having fun and getting some PT. He had one bad decision on a fast break, but for the most part looked under control, (perhaps too much under control?) and his shot was dropping too. Once GO gets into shape, McMillan really should let this team run more, and he needs to loosen the leash on Sergio a little. Granted, Serg is playing more like the disciplined PG that Mac likes, but I think you need to let him do some of his creative, crazy things too, especially with Rudy alongside.
A frustrating game in many ways, but overall, I liked the perseverance of the team, despite a couple of uncharacteristically bad TOs, Roy was Roy, his usual unspectacularly spectacular self, Travis is working hard on D, Rudy is truly fun and I really thought he was going to nail that crucial 3 in the home stretch, Pryz was his usual efficient self and is getting better at catching in traffic, but the man of the hour is Oden -- Wow is about all I can say.
Great stuff on Oden in person. Portland fans get to see for themselves tonight! Thanks again, Eric!