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Game 15 Recap: Blazers 91, Kings 90



General Observations


We didn’t really win this game but in the end we didn’t lose it either.  We were treated to some of the sloppier execution we’ve seen this season, especially on defense and in the Blazers’ fourth-quarter offense.  The Kings came with more sustained energy than the Blazers did.  But Portland had enough scoring spurts and enough rebounding to hold Sacramento off.  And as we’ve said a couple times already, a win’s a win.  There’s no need to be embarrassed about collecting the notch in the win column and going home.  Those kind of wins might well be the difference between getting in the playoffs and rooting for lottery balls again.  The last few years we haven’t gotten many wins like this and they haven’t mattered when we have.  This year is different.


The bad points in this game were pretty easy to see.  We suffered through putrid shooting from every forward who stepped on the court.  We didn’t seem to be able to cover the inside and outside against the Kings at the same time.  It was either one or the other, occasionally neither.  Our transition defense wasn’t sharp either.  (The Kings shot 46.5% as a whole and 53% from distance.  All four of their main scorers tallied 15 or above.)  Our big guys got tagged with fouls instead of drawing them against the opposition.  We missed free throws.  We put the ball in the wrong people’s hands at critical moments.  We allowed our guards to get trapped and had to race against the clock to get shots up.  We set crappy picks and didn’t use the decent ones we did get.  We second-guessed when we should have shot and shot when we should have second-guessed.  This was NOT a pretty game.


What saved us from this quagmire?  Brandon Roy, first of all.  He pretty much said, “I don’t know what’s going on here, but give me that ball.”  He loaded this team on his back in the second half and refused to let us lose.  We also rebounded well (thanks, Joel), forced some turnovers and scored off of them (thanks, Sergio), and dove on the ground a couple times, outhustling the Kings on enough possessions to stem the tide of suckiness.  We pushed the tempo for selected stretches and generally had success doing so.  In the end it was enough.  Sacramento played well.  We played poorly.  1-point win.


Individual Observations


Brandon Roy’s list of accomplishments tonight include being one of two players to get any meaningful penetration, being the only player to hit critical free throws, notching a team high 28 points on 10-19 shooting, hitting all 3 of his threes (half of Portland’s total for the game), plus adding his usual 4 rebounds and 3 assists.  We won this game because of his fearsome drives and clutch shooting that killed Sacramento’s runs.  Eventually they just started throwing the kitchen sink at him defensively which allowed our supporting cast to get open enough to hit despite their collective off night.


Sergio Rodriguez played the best game I’ve seen him play yet.  It didn’t show up in the box score like some of his more heralded games but he nabbed 3 steals and became the only guy besides Brandon to be able to get past anybody defensively.  He broke down the Kings and dished for 4 assists, bringing a critical spark to the offense.  Best of all you didn’t notice him standing out other than appropriately on his incisive trips into the lane.  He didn’t break the offense to get his moves in, he made the offense with his moves.


Nobody benefitted more from the penetration of the guards than Joel Przybilla, who shot 5-6 at the cup.  More importantly he grabbed 12 rebounds and notched 2 blocks and 2 steals.  He even tried to “D” up on the perimeter a couple times, forced out there by the Kings centers and their infernal shooting.  Joel is like the infantry in the army or the running game in football.  It’s not the sexiest part of the battle but you can’t win without it.


Steve Blake had another good night, shooting 5-11 for 12 points.  He missed all four of his threes but he made up for that with 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and 4 steals.  Neither Portland point guard handed Beno Udrih very well but to be fair their help was occupied with the sweet shooting Sacramento big men and couldn’t be spared.


Lamarcus Aldridge had 10 rebounds, 6 defensive.  That’s good.  He shot 3-14.  That’s bad.  Half of those shots were difficult.  Half of them were just bricks.  He’s in a slump right now.  It seems like the Blazers are trying to get him going…he’s certainly getting the looks.  He just can’t get past or away from defenders at the moment.


Greg Oden started this game but only played 19 minutes.  He had 3 fouls and 4 turnovers in that time, either shuffling feet or losing the ball.  He did grab 6 rebounds.  That’s quickly becoming his most bankable area.  He shot 1-3 for 3 points and had 2 assists.  He was frustrated on offense by the refs blowing offensive fouls or traveling every time he turned around.  The calls were legit though.  Footwork is important.


Nicolas Batum brought energy early but he didn’t get much run, probably because he was overmatched defensively.  He had 3 rebounds and a three-pointer in 12 minutes.


Travis Outlaw had a mixed game.  His 6 rebounds were well-earned and his 2 steals and assists were nice frosting on the cake.  His shot selection was just short of atrocious though and he didn’t look good on offense.  He also missed 4 of his 6 free throws, including critical ones down the stretch that could have extended the lead.  Rooting for Travis is like vacationing with your husband, the kids, and the hot, 19-year old au pair.  Lots of love, not much trust.


Channing Frye started out hitting a couple of nice jumpers and then fizzled like a dime store firecracker.  He shot 3-9 for 9 points with 2 boards and 2 assists but also committed 3 turnovers and 4 personal fouls.


Rudy Fernandez continues to struggle as opponents routinely close out on him.  He shot 1-4 for 3 points, 2 rebounds, and a steal in 20 minutes.  He also had 2 turnovers.


Final Thoughts


This will hopefully be a wakeup call for Wednesday’s game against Miami.  Just because we won a few on the road doesn’t mean the home victories will come automatically.  The Heat will also be out for revenge and they’re better equipped to get it.  I hope Lamarcus Aldridge wakes up before Michael Beasley makes an appearance.


Check out the Sacramento wrap-up at SacTownRoyalty


You can see the Jersey Contest results and enter for the next game  here.


--Dave (