We finally got our new TV, the dish, and everything working together for the first time yesterday, which means tonight's game was my first ever watching in high definition. It's amazing! It's like somebody took Windex to my TV screen. And, of course, made it much, much bigger. I can finally see everything clearly. It's apparent to me now that all refs are incompetent conspirators, Nate McMillan is an awful coach who loses us tons of games, the Blazers need to trade everybody not named Brandon, and the red-haired Blazer Dancer is by far the cutest.
Thank God for big screens.
You really want to know why Portland lost? Two reasons:
1. They gave up an obnoxious number of offensive rebounds and second-chance points to the Mavericks. The Blazers actually played decent defense during significant stretches of this game, including most of the second half. It didn't matter because they couldn't get the ball back. You may look at Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla with 5 boards each and say, "Aha!" but that wasn't the problem. The Blazer guards and forwards gave our centers no chance to succeed tonight. First of all they lost containment on their men so often the paint defenders should have been wearing Hazmat suits. The Three Mile Island perimeter defense caused the centers to play goalie, rotating over to protect the cup. When this happens the center gets totally out of position for the rebound. In such cases the guy who lost his man in the first place is supposed to lay a body on the center's original man in order to prevent the easy rebound. Also guys are supposed to come from the weak side to help get the board. Neither happened. Our smaller guys didn't bother boxing out on their own men on ordinary plays either. Erick Dampier only had 5 defensive rebounds tonight. The Dallas point guards had 13 between them. That's just wrong. The Blazers have neither the offense nor the sustained defense to overcome that.
2. We missed free throws like they were our Canadian girlfriend. On a night when the Blazers drew a 32-18 advantage in attempts (that would be +14) they ended up only +6 in points from the charity stripe. That's like giving away the game.
We had some other issues: transition defense early, defending Dirk Nowitzki, lack of aggressiveness early from Lamarcus Aldridge, inappropriate defensive switches. All of them could have been overcome but for those twin daggers in our back.
I guess a third major factor would be our failure to make a field goal in the last 7 minutes of the game but those 7 minutes would have looked different had we taken care of the fundamentals earlier.
The Blazers shot well enough from the field and the three-point line to win this game. They had Dallas on their heels a couple of times. Lack of basic execution allowed the Mavs to get up. When you start giving veteran teams like Dallas multiple chances to beat you they're going to take one of them and walk away with it.
I did like how the Blazers were matching physicality with the Mavericks, to the point of frustrating them even. I also liked Portland's pick setting in this game.
Brandon Roy had 22 points which could have been 30 but for a handful of missed layups. He couldn't hit down the stretch either, which sealed the deal for Dallas. Still he was our best player out there.
Lamarcus Aldridge had a nice second half after getting torched by Dirk Nowitzki on one end and disappearing entirely on the other during the first half. It was frustrating not to see the Blazer forwards driving more after Nowitzki picked up his 4th foul early in the 3rd period.
Greg Oden hit 2 shots, grabbed 5 boards, committed 4 fouls and 3 turnovers in a rough night. He was running harder than we usually see him but he's thinking too hard on offense. At least he played 25 minutes tonight.
Steve Blake shot 5-11 for 14 points and 7 assists but he hit only 1-4 threes and made some mental mistakes which translated into turnovers for the Mavericks.
I don't think I'll comment on Nicolas Batum anymore unless he plays outside of the 12-18 minute range and/or notches anything more than a 3 in a statistical column.
Travis Outlaw had an interesting game. He played 34 minutes and took 13 shots but only hit 5 of them for 13 points. He had 4 steals and did a good job guarding Nowitzki in the second half. On the other hand he was a main culprit in the lack of rebounding.
Rudy Fernandez played 28 minutes, shot 5-8 plus 2-3 from distance, and scored the same 13 as Travis did. He wasn't much help on defense but it was a good game for him overall. I'm sure his reverse layup off of a Sergio pass will make the highlights.
Sergio Rodriguez was aggressive looking for his shot tonight and hit all 4 of his tries for 9 points with 2 rebounds and an assist in 10 minutes. He did well tonight.
Joel Przybilla got hung out to dry by his teammates as described above. He managed 4 points and 5 rebounds in 19 minutes.
Channing Frye got a rebound and missed a shot in 5 minutes of playing time.
This wasn't a matter of the Blazers folding or capitulating under a more experience team's onslaught. That, at least, is a good thing. The Blazers fought toe-to-toe with the Mavericks tonight. They just lost form on too many of their punches.
Check out the Mavs side of things at MavsMoneyball.
Review the Jersey Contest scores for tonight and enter Saturday's game here.
P.S. Added note: I just realized something funny. We got an amount of comments in the Gameday Thread for this game that in previous years would have neared or broken the record for most comments in a thread at this site. And that was for a game on Christmas Day. Welcome to Blazersedge 2008-09. (I fully realize that we'd be obliterating comment records left and right if the Gameday Threads weren't self-limiting by bogging down every time the comment count reaches 500 or so. Tech support is still working on that...)