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Random Game Notes and Nate's Post-Game

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Alright, here we are, the day after.  You know you make me feel so good.  You know you make me feel so good.

If you missed Brandon talking about being clutch or video of the crowd reaction, check those out first.

Before turning this over to the random game notes and Coach's postgame comments, I want to make a quick observation about Coach McMillan.  Last night, he was as happy as I can remember seeing him in awhile.  With good reason.  That was an important win at an important time.  Like many of us, he was really surprised and grateful that Brandon's last shot went in.  His body language showed it.  His shoulders were loose. He was smiling and shaking his head.

Then the Portland Tribune asked him about whether the team might let up tomorrow against Minnesota after this tough early schedule.  

A switch flipped.

Back was the Mt. Rushmore seriousness. Back was the pinched neck muscles Nate.  Back was the reality of coaching a young team.  It happened instantaneously and it was crazy to watch.  The mood in the press room shifted palpably for the duration of his answer.  He snapped me back from cloud nine.  I was floating no more.

The press conference adjourned soon after and it was, immediately, back tocare-free happiness and discussions about where this shot ranked in the all-time Blazers moments.

This episode taught me something: Nate can really, really, really flip a switch. And he is crazy focused right now.

Random Games Notes

  • Brandon chose the warm up music: Western Union by Dubb Union.  This was a new song to me.
  • Cop it while it's hooottt, cop it while it's hottttt: Steve Francis's clothing label: We R One Clothing.  Yes. They have an outlet store. How did you guess?
  • Cricket Wireless had a green screen set up so you could take pictures next to "Greg Oden" and they also handed out Greg jersey t shirts.   I hope their network coverage is more reliable than Greg (kidding).
  • Local boy Aaron Brooks was getting so many daps pregame that it was hard for him to get in any jumpers.
  • Houston's marketing slogan this year is "Get Red." Is this the first another sign of a Chinese takeover? 
  • Jerryd was working on a cool power dribble drill with Caleb Canales pregame.  Basically, Jerryd would dribble with one hand while Caleb put his entire body weight on Jerryd's off arm/side.  Entire body weight.  As in, almost off the ground piledriver style.  Then Jerryd would switch hands. I suppose this helps dealing with bumps and such during drives to the hoop.
  • My pregame prediction for the over/under on number of times that Tracy McGrady patronizingly touched Violet Palmer to make her feel special was set at an all-time high of 13.5.  I think the under won but VP showed her man some love tonight, didn't she?
  • Nic just looks like a pro. He even has the little mannerisms down like high-fiving and pointing at the refs before the game. He's been watching tape.
  • Jerome Kersey was in charge of honoring Kevin Duckworth.  He is not exactly the world's best public speaker.  But he did a passable job.  He said... "It's a great honor to be here tonight. As you all have seen, the team is wearing the double 0 patches on the jerseys and that's a great thing... we want to dedicate this season, the entire season, to Kevin Duckworth. Have a great night. Go Blazers!"
  • This was followed by a standing ovation for Maxine Duckworth, Kevin's mom. She waved to the big screen.
  • There were a few video tributes to Duck as well.  One of them with the theme song "It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday" and shot in soft focus black and white.  It was really well-produced but maybe, just maybe, a tad too much. 
  • Brooks was killing us.  Surprised that Jerryd didn't get a crack at him at some point.
  • Speaking of Bay Bay, he was on the big screen wearing a Burger King crown for some promotion.  Never ever ever thought I'd see that from the man that rocks Italian suits like he's trying to stave off the recession single-handedly.
  • There was an announcement about "Blazer Alumni Ambassadors": Harry Glickman, Dale Schleuter, Jerome Kersey, Chris Dudley, and Brian Grant. Grant received a standing ovation as the group gathered on the court during a timeout.
  • The Alumni Ambassadors then took t shirt cannons and shot them into the crowd.  Chris Dudley, a Yale man, couldn't figure out how to operate the gun.
  • There was a Kiss Cam on the scoreboard: Blaze was tonguing down Violet Palmer pretty good.
  • If Blake was left any further open, his man would have been in the 5th row of the stands.
  • Remember when I said that Sergio has a knack for making passes that lead to layups and dunks for both teams?  I'd like to update that to say that Sergio is a walking, talking "plus/minus" stat.  When he's on the court, it seems like EVERY basket is the result of one of his passes.  It also seems like every opponent's basket is the result of an improper defensive read by S. Rod.  He was struggling with Yao's picks last night something fierce.  But a solid performance from him overall. They should rename "plus/minus" to "Surg."
  • That solid performance from Sergio sure was followed by lukewarm timing by his agent, eh?
  • Best sign of the night: "Charles Barkley is right; Portland has the best fans."
  • Rudy hit Barry with a crossover that I thought was going to send him straight to retirement.
  • Some drunk idiot behind me broke out this line on Violet Palmer, which he thought was extremely clever: "it's a great game, ref. Maybe you should see it?"
  • Another nice sign: "Do it For The Duck."
  • LaMarcus came out of the showers yelling, "Roy Wonder!!!!!!!!" and "We Believe in Roy!" as Brandon was mobbed by the media. Love it.
Nate's Post-Game

Nate's first thought: "I gotta loosen up my tie."

Can Nate remember a game like this?: "No. Guys just responded to the challenge of this morning. We went in there, watched film of last night's game, talked about what we needed to do, as far as giving up our bodies, and playing a 48 minute game, or an overtime game, to win the game. And tonight everybody played, everybody played well. We earned this win tonight. I think you make your breaks. Last night we had the lead and people were alittle passive and we didn't get any breaks last night. Tonight we were aggressive throughout this game, I think my man Duck, Big Duck, Duck was looking down on us tonight. We just couldn't lose this game on his night."

Nate's feelings from the high of Brandon's shot to the low of Yao's to the high of Brandon's second shot: "That's basketball. It can swing so quickly. Your emotions go from high to "what just happened?" We made some breaks. We talk about situations like that. We knew that play was coming. What we wanted to do was get Joel out of the huddle as quick as possible and line up on that block, that's a play they've been running since Yao's been there. Basically overloading a side, or clearing out a side and trying to drop it to him. Brandon tried to be a little sneaky. We really got a break. We could have lost that one."

Nate on the final play design: "A catch and shoot. We wanted to run Rudy out. Run Brandon out. Blake had 3 options, he had Rudy, Brandon, and Travis, the last option. The first guy who was open was Brandon and Blake gave it to him. The look that Brandon had on his face: Blake had to give it to him. He wanted the ball. He was determined to get that ball and shoot it. He wanted it and Blake gave it to him and he made an unbelievable shot."

Nate on preparing for the game after the loss at Utah: "I basically challenged both him and LaMarcus last night about stepping up. I thought tonight they played like they are able to play. It was a great shot. We earned that win, you need breaks like that to win games like this, but there's really nothing to say. It was just a glance at the rim and he turned and fired.  Duck was looking down on us tonight."

Nate on Rudy's back injury: "He tried to go and both he and Travis had back spasms down the stretch. They fought through it. He tried to go as long as he could. He was really grabbing his back coming out of the huddle. I asked him if he could go, he said get a sub. So I went with Blake. I thought both he and Sergio did a nice job. Total team effort tonight."

Nate on Brandons final shot: "He was so far out. Again, we had 3 options on that. Blake had to make the decision. It looked like he caught that ball behind the hashmark. He willed that ball in."

Nate on the importance of the win: "It's good for us. We needed this. Last night we felt like we had the game. But we didn't finish the game. This morning we came in and watched film and talked about things we needed to do. We needed to outscrap this team.  The first quarter we saw guys on the floor. We hadn't seen that in all of our games. LaMarcus and Frye had 2 rebounds between them in 55 minutes last night. LaMarcus snatched a big offensive rebound late in the game that gave us a cushion. These guys responded. We talked about giving up our bodies, setting screens, defensively, we did that. We had some breakdowns but we were able to fight through them and got a big break at the end."

Nate on Travis's shot selection: "I was going to everybody. Brandon was fatigued. Artest was doing a good job. We went to Rudy. Rudy curled and fell on his behind. We went to LaMarcus and Hayes was doing a nice job on him. So then I decided to go Rudy and Travis in the two man game. We ended up getting a bucket off of that. We tried to go to matchups and then went back to LaMarcus. He was able to get to the free throw line. Having those options, we used all of them tonight."

Nate on the Timberwolves coming up: "We can't look past anybody. As I told them, it doesn't make a difference who we play. We've got to play physical, play hard, scrap, outwork a team, execute. We've had an unbelievable schedule and we've got a game in our building before we go on a long road trip. We've got to come out and play."

-- Ben (benjamin.golliver@gmail.com)