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Game 19 Recap: Blazers 104, Knicks 97



General Observations


I am glad we won this game.  Losing it would have been a hard pill to swallow.  That’s no knock on the Knicks, rather an admission that we spent most of the game outside of the optimal game plan.  We were like a jet pilot making a sloppy landing on a carrier.  The approach was brutal but at the last second we made corrections and brought it in perfectly.  Our superiors will probably have a word or two for us but in the end the plane landed safely and well.  That’s the important thing.


The Blazers started out the game playing like they had not seen this round thing… What do you call it?  Bask-et-baul?  It is for bouncing?  Oh, and you toss it through that orange thing over there?  I see!  Is my proficiency within normative bounds? 


The first quarter mostly consisted of jump shots peppered between turnovers, fouls, and a whole bunch of offensive rebounds.  (At least that last part was good.)  We weren’t running the offense as much as butchering it.  Given the ratio of jumpers to penetration plays we were lucky to score 24.  The defensive energy wasn’t there either.  We committed way too many fouls and allowed too much penetration with the side effect of leaving perimeter shooters open.  The net result was that we gave the Knicks life which they refused to relinquish until the final minutes of the game.  It was a textbook example of how to make winning against an undermanned, less-talented team difficult as heck.


Seeing our jump-shooting ways got us down by seven after the first quarter we took the next logical step:  shooting DEEPER jumpers.  But they are worth three points, no?  Three is better than two by a factor of point-five.  Let us shoot them all day and our opponents will flee before our might, scurrying away like rats before an onslaught of other rats bigger than they by a factor of point-five!  Cry havoc and loose the dogs of superior marksmanship!  Predictably we missed those deeper jumpers.  We shot 2 for 10 on threes in the period.  We took 24 shots in the quarter.  10 were threes and 13 were from 20-feet or beyond.  Did no-one read the game preview…the one about the Knicks having shot-blocking worse than a Jscot pick-up line?  (“Once you’ve had the ruler of the universe, baby, you never go back.  Well, almost never.  Seldom, I’d say.  Do you like asparagus?”)  Brandon Roy kept the Blazers afloat with an astonishing array of drives and shakes for free shots.  With a little help from the Portland defense and the Blazers’ continued rebounding tenacity the Knicks slid off of the road offensively.  They, too, seemed content to fire jumpers for their relatively few shots in the period.  The Blazers went into the half down only two.


In the third period the Blazers were back to shooting shorter jumpers.  The rats did not run!  Back to Plan A!  Forward Squadron Alliance!  They also got a couple interior buckets.  They did a good job keeping the pace manageable and keeping New York uncomfortable.  Except for Chris Duhon, that is.  He ripped off a fantastic run of assists and buckets, pretty much keeping the Knicks in it.  He was one of the few New York players who seemed to recognize that the Blazers weren’t doing a great job rotating on the interior.  He sliced, diced, and made julienne fries.  The Knicks gained two of their points back and entered the fourth up four.


That’s when the Blazers’ second unit woke up.  Wait!  Why have we been speaking like this?  What?  Somebody left the italics on?  Oh crap!  We’d better get playing.  Joel Przybilla and Rudy Fernandez keyed the run and then all of a sudden Batum, Outlaw, and Sergio were on board.  Sergio started us running.  Joel locked down defensively.  Rudy canned the threes.  By the time Brandon Roy and Lamarcus Aldridge returned we were in the groove.  The whole team started threatening offensively.  The refs started letting physical plays go and Pryzbilla went to town on any Knick who set foot in the paint.  When the shots started falling the rest was history.


Portland won this game primarily by dominating the boards which then created extra possessions and extra shots.  We had 90 attempts to the fast-paced Knicks’ 78.  We doubled them up in offensive rebounds (15-7) and crushed them in total rebounds (54-36).  Despite losing 10 points at the foul line through our lack of aggression the extra attempts told the tale.


Individual Observations


Our two main scorers both had good nights…a good indicator of success for the Blazers.  Brandon Roy was all but unstoppable, getting to the rim at will and shooting 9-19 for 23 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals.  The black mark on his record is his 6 turnovers but he had to carry the load and the ball more than is desirable tonight.  That often results in extra turnovers for him.  Lamarcus Aldridge shot 7-12, taking advantage of smaller defenders with his turn-around jumper, scoring 17.


Our second-unit forwards also had good offensive nights.  Travis Outlaw shot 7-15 for 16 points plus 6 rebounds.  Rudy Fernandez shot 5-11 and 4-8 from distance for 18 points.  I wasn’t entirely infatuated with either player’s shot selection but when they go in it’s hard to argue.


Joel Przybilla provided the spark that turned this game around.  He keyed the rebounding dominance with 4 offensive and 10 defensive rebounds.  His defense insured that the team would not lose tonight.  Nobody can play lethargically after seeing him block a dunk attempt.  Major props to Joel for reminding us who we were.


Steve Blake came through with 4-6 three-point shooting and 15 points.  He was a great outlet.  It’s really impressive how he can go without shooting for most of a quarter and then can the next shot he gets.  He had trouble containing Chris Duhon but then everybody did.  His teammates weren’t much help.  Blake added 6 assists and 4 rebounds.


Nicolas Batum played with energy but couldn’t connect with his shot tonight.  He played some good defense out there though.  He was one of the only frontcourt players who didn’t look like he was stuck in molasses.


Greg Oden had 7 rebounds and 2 blocks but he only played 19 minutes because he couldn’t figure out how to get position on smaller guys.  I was begging, screaming at the TV, “Please just let Oden go down within three feet of the hoop and get a pass!”  It never really happened.  He got one dunk off of an interior pass.  That was it.  He wasn’t a liability tonight but he wasn’t as big of an asset as he could have been.


Sergio Rodriguez had 5 assists and 4 rebounds in 19 minutes.  Once the spark was lit in the early fourth he blew the flicker into a flame by pushing the Blazers faster up the court.  He hit a couple shots but his set-up game was the ribbon-winner tonight.


Channing Frye:  6 minutes, 2 ill-advised shots, see ya.  Maybe some pressure coming back to the old stomping grounds?  (Outlaw having a good night also could have had something to do with it.)


Final Thoughts


There’s not much time to regroup as we play Washington tomorrow.  We will see immediately whether the Blazers have corrected course or whether they’re wobbling on the edge of the ditch here.


Don’t forget to check the Knicks recap at PostingandToasting.


Enter Game 2 of the December Jersey Contest here.


--Dave (