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Media Row Report -- Blazers 112 Clippers 120


More in about an hour once I get a chance to type this up, but I wanted to pass along this information first.  I wasn't going to say anything but Jay Allen went with it on the radio so I will too.

You probably saw the play in the second half where Brandon fell hard and was favoring his right hand. At the time he shook it off and hit a free throw.  In the locker room postgame, his right pinky finger didn't look very good.  It appeared at least slightly discolored and seemed to protude at a not-quite-normal angle.  It is being evaluated by medical staff tonight.  There was some discussion between a few media members and Brandon about whether it might be dislocated.  I should say that Brandon did not appear to be in serious pain after the game and was in a surprisingly good mood, lightly joking with Brian Hendrickson and others.  

More information should be available at practice tomorrow morning.  And, yes, the team is practicing after this long stretch.  My guess is had they closed this one out they would have probably had tomorrow off.

Thought you should know.  As I said, the rest of the report will be coming shortly. Thanks for your patience.




There are no excuses for that loss so I will save your time and not make any.  Tonight's matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers was a clearly winnable game against an inferior opponent, at home. "You've got to make your free throws," you've got to execute down the stretch, and you've got to get stops.  I think we can all agree that the Blazers failed to do all of those things.  Blake went 1 for 5 from the charity stripe, the team struggled to score from the middle of the fourth quarter through both overtimes, and the Clippers, particularly Baron Davis (27 points) and Zach Randolph (38 points), seemed to meet little resistance, enjoying many open looks and hitting some tough shots when they needed to.  

All of those are bad things.  You can choose to dwell on any and all of those for the next 3 days if you like.  Tonight was a bad loss, one that we very well might point back to as the playoffs get closer.  But it was illuminating for a few reasons.

1. Travis was injured and Martell is still out, so we were left with a gaping hole at the 3.  Particularly because Nic Batum continues his descent back to Earth, going 2 for 6 with some ugly misses.  Jerryd Bayless plugged in for a few minutes in the second quarter taking some of Travis's time but, after being hit with 2 quick fouls, that's all we saw from Rexy Poo.  

Given that the game went into double overtime, where did all of Travis's time go?  Well, not to Channing Frye (just 3 minutes).  Surprisingly enough, even at the tail end of the long back and forth road trip, Nate ran Brandon out there for 53 minutes and LaMarcus for 54.  I guess he figured they have 3 days to rest up.  That strategy seemed to work fine until about halfway through the fourth quarter, when the fatigue started to show on both B Roy and LaMarcus.  No adjustments were made.

What does this tell us?  Frye is in the deep, dark doghouse again like he was last year, Nate still doesn't really trust Rex and perhaps tonight we got a hint at what to worry about come playoff time.  Brandon simply cannot log 40++ minutes a night in such short succession and continue to deliver time after time in the clutch.  He made plenty of big shots tonight on his way to a career high 38 points but the effort expended to get those points (the team only scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, Brandon had 8 of them) will not be able to be maintained over a 7 game series.  Brandon is the best player Portland has had in more than a decade but he is human.

2. Greg played heavy, heavy minutes and his performance was better than mixed.  In the Jason Quick spirit of being honest when talking about Greg, I will cop to feeling absolutely terrified with him out there for nearly all of crunch time.  The reasons for said terror are well-known and have been discussed ad naseum: trouble catching and finishing, some spacing issues on defense, and concerns about his shape.  Despite some late-game fumbles of loose balls, I thought Greg rose to the challenge tonight.  [Disclaimer: it was the Clippers.] His numbers were solid, 15 and 15, but what jumps out of the box at me was the 2 turnovers in 42 minutes.  For Greg that's not just a step forward, that's a quantum leap.  

My favorite thing about Greg's night was near the very end of the 4th quarter, when the team had come through with a big defensive stop that ended with Blake getting a steal and getting fouled, which presumably was going to ice the game.  Greg snapped back to Old Greg (the one that's been hiding for months) for about 15 seconds after the foul was whistled.  He went over to Brandon and looked for a high five.  He went over to Aldridge, who didn't see him at first, and gave him a high five.  Aldridge looked surprised.  Who is this?  Greg?  A large part of the frustration that many people feel about Greg traces back to rhythm: he seems out of sync, behind plays, etc.  At that moment, he was in rhythm with a pulsing game and there was no mistaking it.  It's the kind of moment that gets forgotten after a loss, probably even by Greg, but it was a breath of fresh air.  Keep an eye out for similar moments.

3. It's time to speak frankly about Rudy.  I love the man as much as anyone but I think it's time that we admit he is not infallible.  If not tonight, then I don't know when.  If you only saw his 2 for 11 on the boxscore and are wondering whether it was representative of his effect upon the team's offense, I would say absolutely yes.  Hand in hand with being the ballsiest Spaniard to walk the earth is the fact that Rudy listens to those balls way more than he listens to his conscience (if he even has one when it comes to pulling the trigger. Like I said in the game thread, he looked like EuroTravis tonight).  Check out these stats from Brian Hendrickson, who was nice enough to walk me through them pregame:

There is one very big dead spot on the floor in Rudy's game, though: The mid-range jumper. Rudy has made 21 of 27 layup and dunk attempts (78 percent) and 50 of 118 3-point attempts (42.4 percent). But get this: He is a combined 11 of 45 (24.4 percent) from 1 to 23 feet.

A good portion of those shots are coming off the dribble, at full tilt, at awkward angkles, and with the clock running down (or all of the above).  This is a problem. Thankfully there are a ton of games left to correct it.

Not to be overlooked: Rudy chipped in 11 boards and 4 assists and had 0 turnovers in 38 minutes.  Those are all great numbers.

One Quick Word On Execution

I don't like the idea of running iso plays for LaMarcus one on one against Camby like we did during important stetches of the game.  The degree of difficulty is simply too high.  Even when he made that sweet jump hook from 6 or 8 feet, it's just not easy points.  LaMarcus isn't that guy yet.  He may be someday soon.  But not yet, at least not against Camby.

Final Thoughts

Both injuries and fatigue are starting to chip away at our depth.  To continue our early-season success, we need Travis back (playing more minutes than he has to this point), we need Brandon's finger to be ok (and for him to play less minutes), and we need to see continued improvement from Greg like we saw tonight.  

Given those 3 open questions, the next month could play out in a lot of different ways.  Thankfully 8 of the next 12 are at home.  Max effort and a big win Tuesday against Sacramento would go a long way to restoring order after tonight's disappointment.

Since it's late and it was a flat Friday night crowd at the Rose Garden, there will not be Random Game Notes tonight. Sorry.

Nate's Postgame Comments

Nate, like Brandon, is unbelievably composed after a loss like that.  The faces of all the reporters were much longer than Nate's face tonight.  He briskly went through questions and hustled out.  

Nate on whether he talked to Steve about the missed free throws: "I talked to the team.  I thought these guys fought their behinds off to come back and play this game after all they've been face with. This earlier part of the season to losing a tough game to Orlando a couple of games ago, going to Utah, have to battle there, come here on a back to back and go into 2 overtimes and fight, they showed a lot of heart tonight."  

Nate on the execution at the end: "We had an opportunity, of course if we knock down the free throws it could have been different, then we need to make a stop and Davis hits a fadeaway 3 to tie the ball game."

Nate on whether he's frustrated: "You're up 3. You get a stop and you win that ball game.  We've seen two unbelievable shots go against us the last 2 games here."

Nate on whether it concerns him that teams can get to the basket: "Yeah that's something we've talked about and continued to work on. First controlling that ball outside and then our weakside giving help, being connected.  Davis made an unbelievable shot."

Nate on whether they are making progress on defense: "We've got to get better."

Nate on Zach Randolph: "You know he was going to try to have a big night.  I thought we worked hard to try to give him different looks. He made some shots, both he and Davis.  They were spreading the floor and trying to keep the ball in those two guys' hands.  He was able to knock down some shots. We know he can score.  We tried to mix up our defense on him."

Nate on the Clippers: "We know they have talent. We talked about that team not looking at their record.  Of course you have Davis and Zach and Camby. You've got some players on that team.  I think they expect to be better.  There was no way we could look at their record and play against the record."

Nate on Brandon Roy: "Down the stretch we've put the ball in his hands and he's done some unbelievable things this season for us.  A lot of it is creating his own and making reads when teams are double-teaming him.  He found Blake fora three. If they're giving him single coverage he's been able to keep us in the game.  As well as win some games. I think these last three games both he and LaMarcus have been big."

Nate on Blake's foul shooting"He's a 92, 93 percent free throw shooter.  We had our free throw shooters in.  It's just about stepping up and knocking them down."

Nate on whether to foul when up 3 or play straight up d: "No, we talked about that.  So many things can happen. For us we don't normally foul in that situation. If he shoots that ball and we grab him at the wrong time... the only way to lose is foul. If you foul them in motion and they score then it's a four point play.  We talke about it. We said we're going to play d.  Davis hit an unbelievable shot."

Nate on how the team works on free throws at practice: "You just work on it by yourself ."

Greg's Postgame Comments

Greg threw on a pair of jeans, grabbed his shirt and tried to hightail it out of the locker room but intrepid reporter Kerry Eggers was able to wrangle him in to answering questions.  Greg hesitated and sighed loudly when first asked for his thoughts but then he decided to stop and take questions for about 90 seconds.  Other than the Old Greg moment described earlier during the game, this was my favorite thing that happened tonight.  Greg needs to talk with the media. 

Here's what he had to say.

Greg on the loss: "We could have made some plays and we could have got that game. We just gonna come in tomorrow and work on it."

More Greg on the loss: "A couple of guys are tired. Travis is banged up. It was tough. We came out and worked. Things didn't fall our way."

Greg on whether the heart that was shown makes up for the loss: "We still lost.  All those losses are over there. Don't nobody know about the heart, they just know it's a loss. That's all they look for to get in the playoffs."

Greg on what's next in the coming days: "A couple of guys can get some time to heal up.  Take that time and take it easy."


-- Ben (

Images (courtesy of the Portland Observer's Michael Tillery)


How nice is it to see Coach Lucas smiling?  There's some perspective for you after a tough loss.


Mensa Club, Portland Chapter Meeting: John Hollinger and Tom Penn solve the United States financial crisis and cure cancer.


There were happier moments than this for Greg tonight.  He continues to put in quality time and effort pregame.


This last picture is courtesy to BE Reader Joel.  Sums up tonight well, doesn't it?

-- Ben (