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Game 16 Recap: Blazers 106, Heat 68


General Observations

It’s nice when the Blazers make things easy, isn’t it?  They jumped all over the Heat in the first quarter and cruised to the win from there.  The victory was highlighted by a complete lack of selfishness on offense and a defense that refused to let Dwyane Wade go free and dared someone--anyone--else to beat us.  That didn’t even come close to happening.  It was a masterful game by the Blazers all around and it looked like everyone in crimson and black had fun tonight.

The keys to jumping ahead were several.  First we came with incredible hustle, spearheaded by Nicolas Batum who had an amazing run in the first quarter.  Second we fed our big men who also got good looking shots.  There’s a take-away point here that’s generally held true this season.  When we score primarily through our guards we tend to win close games.  When we score primarily through our big men we tend to dominate.  Of course you need both, but the participation of our power forwards and centers is so crucial to prevent this from becoming last years jump-shooting team.  We also did an incredible job recognizing what the Miami defense gave us.  One of the things we haven’t talked about much yet is that the Blazers are making real progress in dealing with the zone this year, which used to be a real bugaboo for them.  Zone or man-to-man, they beat the Miami defense tonight by refusing to keep the ball in any one player’s hands for more than a couple heartbeats.  ‘Twas poetry to watch.

After the first period the job became making sure Wade didn’t foment a comeback.  To be fair, Miami employed almost the same strategy against Brandon Roy.  But here’s a lesson for the league.  If you and Portland trade shutting down your key guys, the rest of Portland’s players will probably beat the rest of your players.  In this case, with Miami already shorthanded, it was about 34 points worth of beating.  Our bench had a 26 point advantage over theirs.  That’s nasty.  Miami did make a nice defensive push in the third and early fourth, forcing the Blazers farther outside.  Sergio Rodriguez pretty much put a stop to that by alley-ooping their brains out.  A few dunks and it was over.

As one might expect in a blowout the Blazers dominated nearly every measurable category:  49.4% to 34.5% overall shooting, 42.3% to 10.5% three-point shooting (!), 20 foul shots to 10, 55 rebounds to 28 (!!!), 31 assists on 39 made shots compared to 14 assists on 29 made shots…it was total annihilation.  The only area where Miami played their usual game was forcing turnovers, but even then they only created a 6 point advantage.  They could have quadrupled that and still not come close.

Individual Observations

Lamarcus Aldridge got back on track tonight by moving around, not hold the ball too long, and letting the game come to him instead of forcing the offense.  He shot 7-10 for 16 points with 7 rebounds and 3 blocks.  Lesson learned?

Maybe we should do features about Nicolas Batum more often because he was the spark plug that fired our quick start.  He was all over the place rebounding, stealing, passing, running, and shooting.  It was his best game so far.  6-9 shooting, 3-4 three-pointers, 15 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals in 22 minutes.

Greg Oden played 26 minutes and hit a jump hook and a face up jumper!  Zoinks!  More importantly he grabbed 10 rebounds, blocked a shot, and only turned the ball over once.  He did commit 4 personal fouls but these were of the obvious rookie center kind and not particular to anything Oden does.  He notched a double-double by adding 10 points.  He shaved his beard too, which takes about 20 years off of his face.

Brandon Roy shot 2-11 but seemed to realize that he didn’t need to take over this game to make a difference.  He only had 8 points but he got 7 rebounds and 6 assists.  He deserved a night off after Monday.  I am thinking Brandon still doesn’t look that comfortable running the point though.

Steve Blake shot 2-8 for 8 points plus 3 assists.  He struggled with 4 turnovers.  It’s OK because Sergio had his back (and a few of his minutes).

Rudy Fernandez also got back on track tonight, largely because the chemistry with Sergio clicked again.  You knew when his first couple threes connected it was going to be a better night for him.  Watch that in the future and see if it holds.  He moved well without the ball again, got open for threes and alley-oops, and ended up 5-10 for 13 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists in 19 minutes.

Sergio Rodriguez played 20 minutes and got 11 assists.  The game was broken open before he got in there and he looked relaxed but confident and alert.  This was the best of Sergio again…his second straight good game.  He had 3 rebounds in addition to his assists but it doesn’t matter what else he did, he kept the team rolling.  Great point guard play from him tonight.

Joel Przybilla had 4 points, 4 blocks, and 9 rebounds.  Mostly he set good picks and made you feel confident that the Blazers had a capable defensive anchor when Oden went down.  That’s a great role for Joel and the standing ovation he got upon exiting the game was well-deserved.  Smart crowd there.

Channing Frye continued the resurgence of Blazer forwards, hitting 7 of 11 shots, mostly jumpers, on his way to 17 points, which led the Blazers.  When Channing is on he not only spreads the defense, he makes Sergio’s assist box ring like a pinball machine.

Travis Outlaw shot 5-8 and hit the only shot that looked truly horrible in the bunch.  15 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 4-4 free throws, decent defense…good game.

Jerryd Bayless played 6 minutes without attempting a shot but netted 4 rebounds and an assist.  Ike Diogu got a cup of coffee and missed two shots.

Final Thoughts

Miami was just overmatched tonight.  You can’t really beat Portland with one player.  You can’t guard Greg Oden with small people.  You can’t let the Blazers move the ball or get confidence.  You can’t stop the Blazers unless you account for at least 3-4 players instead of just 1.  And you can’t beat home cookin’.

There will be a stricter test on Friday.  I believe we’re going to win that one too.

You can read about the Miami woes at PeninsulaIsMightier

You can see the Jersey Contest results here.  Something’s up with the entry form for the New Orleans game but it should be fixed soon.  Don’t enter until it’s fixed.  [Edit:]  The glitch is fixed but we still have black text on a black background.  Until that's taken care of you just have to highlight the questions by dragging your mouse around them in order to see them.

--Dave (