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Game 54 Recap: Blazers 92, Sonics 88

Hmmmm...not exactly the outing we had envisioned, but at this point we'll take it.


Team Observations

This was really kind of a Stink-a-thon from both sides tonight.  Neither side shot over 39% yet somehow neither team played what you'd call sterling defense.  There was a fair amount of one-on-one ball unless the ball-handlers found gaping lanes to pass through (which happened a fair amount).  The two stars--Durant and Roy--had good games but both shot poorly and neither one really dominated.  

For most of the game Portland got outhustled.  We didn't take near enough advantage of their lack of interior defense, settling for jumpers time and again (and missing time and again).  Joel Przybilla, at 2-2, was the only guy who shot a non-horrible percentage.

Despite all that, we won this game for three reasons:

  1.  We stayed fairly even with them on the boards which somewhat countered their advantage in points in the paint and fast breaks.
  2.  Our power forwards and centers did a good job reacting when the perimeter defense broke down, chopping down many Seattle shots from five feet and in.  Had they been slower or less active we could easily have lost this game by a dozen or more.
  3.  We got 39 free throw attempts to their 31 and hit 27 while they hit only 20.  This ended up being the game-clincher.  (Which is scary because we may not be able to rely on it tomorrow night.)  This despite once again shooting a dismal percentage from the stripe (69.2%).
In short, had we ended up losing this game we'd be near-swearing to high heaven around here.  Because we won it, it will all look better in the morning.

Also of significance were some particular individual heroics...

Individual Notes

--We need to take note of Jarrett Jack tonight.  His stat line was good at 15 points, 6 assists, 4 steals, 1 turnover, and 1 foul.  But his fourth-quarter play clinched the game for us.  Not only did he hit the free throws that iced it, Nate actually put the ball in his hands on the critical play one possession before those free throws.  We came out of the huddle and he was the one with the ball up top with time running down and us needing a score.  He did a good job with it too, hitting an open Lamarcus who was fouled right at the rim.  Jack also hit a couple of key shots and generally looked confident.  It's the best night we've seen from him in a while.

--Joel Przybilla also deserves recognition for his fourth-quarter defense.  He really kept Seattle at bay in the paint and on the boards.  He bothered them enough that they couldn't hit what should have been easy shots in the lane.  He ended the night will 11 rebounds and 4 blocks.

--Brandon Roy looked a little less able than usual shooting the ball but still managed 19 points, 14 (!) rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, and an impossibly-nice block on his own man, straight up.  Again folks, this is what he does on an off night.

--We really made an effort to get Lamarcus involved in the offensive game tonight, with mixed results.  He hit some nice shots early but then appeared to drift out to the perimeter and started missing.  He ended up 6-16 with 18 points.  The nice thing is when his outside shot stopped falling and his confidence departed a little he started getting inside again and getting fouled.  He was 6-8 from the free throw line which should be a nightly occurrence for him.  He really, really helped Joel on the inside tonight as well, getting 5 swats himself.  Oh...and 12 rebounds.

(Keep in mind these rebound numbers are high partially because Seattle missed so many shots.  But hey, if they're going to miss them somebody has got to go get them!)

--Blake took the open shot tonight when he had it, which is good.  His best contribution was shooting 2-5 from three-point distance.  He ended up not having the ball in his hands as much as usual, which makes his play blend in even more.

--Travis had 19 tonight, the extra oomph coming from his 6-6 performance at the charity stripe.  Otherwise he didn't shoot all that well, mostly because he never seemed to shake the Seattle defenders.  Still, without his 19 we were sunk.

--Martell...I don't know.  He drew free throws too--5, hitting 4.  But he missed open shots, seemed to have trouble finishing when he drove, and just...I don' t know.  I want to see more from him and we're just not getting it right now.  This is an opportunity for him with James Jones out and he doesn't seem to be grabbing it with both hands.

--Channing Frye got 2 minutes, continuing a trend of Nate playing him less.  Raef got 2 minutes as well and Sergio got 8.  It wasn't really a notable game for any of them.

One-Sentence Game Summary:

I was hoping for a more convincing win to carry us into Seattle with confidence, but thanks to Jarrett and Joel nobody has to spoon me tonight.

--Dave (