Well, that wasn't exactly our finest hour. We looked, for the lack of a better word, very vanilla out there. And not the luscious bean-y kind of gourmet vanilla either. More like the last two spoonfuls of that non-fat, sugar-free, freezer-burned stuff sitting in the very back of your freezer from last year's summer diet attempt.
The thing that surprises me most--OK, "surprise" isn't the right word, but it does make me shake my head still--is how easily we slip into semi-passive jump-shooting against a team like this. I know that's our bread and butter, but you have to vary your game somewhat based on your opponent. Sure Sacramento packed the middle, but we didn't even test them. We just heaved and heaved and heaved after one or two passes around the edge. You can count our serious drive attempts on your fingers. Shooting 38.5% and only scoring 85 against the Kings is like going to a Vegas buffet and only having carrot sticks.
We also committed 19 turnovers and gave up 27 points off them. That's a big no-no for this team, especially since you can't credit it to aggression in any way, shape, or form. Ron Artest once again sent Brandon Roy into his own, personal shame spiral. The dude ended up with 6 steals all on his own. It's easy to forget because of all of the other things that surround him, but Artest is a massive talent. It kind of makes me sick when I think if he had a reasonable amount of dedication and sanity he probably would have been ranked at least as high as Scottie Pippen in the annals of NBA history. The guy has everything you'd want, and yet he's going to schlep around the league wearing out welcomes until he gets too old to play. A head-screwed-on-straight Artest would be exactly what our team needs, but if his head were on right he'd never be available.
We also had a real problem getting back down the court in transition defense. I'm a little tired of seeing only one or two Blazers get back and everyone else giving up on the play. I thought Lamarcus Aldridge looked particularly slow as he trotted back and forth. I wonder if he's having foot troubles again.
We did outrebound the Kings, which was good. I thought our guards played better defense than they usually do as well. We never let their guards get off, which is no simple task. It's too bad we couldn't capitalize. You tell me Kevin Martin and Beno Udrih only hit 8 shots and score 20 points between them and I'd tell you we probably walked away with this game. In reality it was never close.
I hate to keep using poker analogies, but they're simple and they work. This was a game where we only checked, called, or folded. We never raised or pushed or came anywhere near a bluff. Artest kept giving them the flush, which is exactly what I'd like to do with this game.
--Brandon Roy scored 21 with 9 rebounds and 6 assists but he looked uncharacteristically sloppy out there. His 5 turnovers tell part of the story. He wasn't really hustling for passes or trying to drive much. I mean, that's a brilliant stat line by any measure, but this isn't a game he'll save to show his grandkids.
--Lamarcus had 20 again, with 6 rebounds. He also had 6 turnovers. (The Kings pretty much knew the players they wanted to harass I guess.) A couple of them were cheap, but he also earned a few. Not a bad game overall, but not his best either.
--Joel Przybilla had 10 rebounds and 3 blocks and pretty much did his best to light a fire under us. It looked to me like he was getting frustrated at the beginning of the second half though. He started jawing at the Kings and collected a couple of silly fouls. Joel does become a little bit of a loose cannon at times. I guess I didn't mind it in this game. At least he tried something.
--Martell scored 10 points on 3-6 shooting in 23 minutes. I didn't notice him much I guess, outside of that one Sportscenter-ish dunk he couldn't control.
--I noticed Steve Blake missed a few shots tonight, going 2-12. He also had 3 turnovers to go along with his 6 assists. He was part of the defensive crew though.
--Travis Outlaw was the bench star tonight, scoring 13 points and grabbing 5 rebounds in 28 minutes. He wasn't taking the best shots but it's Travis. I wanted him to drive more.
--Channing Frye had 7 rebounds in 18 minutes, which is fantastic. He also had 4 fouls. He's becoming quite the foul machine lately. I wonder if this is aggressive Channing or tired Channing. He did hit that nifty buzzer-beater from a few feet inside the halfcourt line to end the first period. That was cool. I like that the Blazers will dare to take those shots.
--James Jones hit one 3-pointer but was basically a non-factor.
--Jarrett Jack once again shot an 0-fer. On the bright side he only had 1 turnover. On the other hand he had no assists. These last two games have been two of his most ineffective of the season.
--Sergio Rodriguez was basically a placeholder tonight, though I guess that's better than a bench-groover. I was hoping he could spark some penetration or tempo (which we sorely needed) but other than one nifty entry pass to Frye off of the pick-and-roll (which Frye subsequently borked) there was no real action.
--Von Wafer! Von Wafer! Von Wafer! That was one more mention of his name than he had minutes on the court but he got a rebound and an assist. That makes his Per-48 right around 24 rebounds and 24 assists! I told you he was good!
Random Question: Does anyone else find it mildly patronizing when the broadcast picks out girls in the crowd to show after EVERY break? That's pretty much what happened on the Sacramento feed. I mean, I like seeing pretty women as much as the next person I suppose, but they started making me feel a little bit slimy, like that guy in the crowd who stares a little too hard at someone's cleavage.
One-Sentence Game Summary:
I can't believe I missed my Hee-Haw reruns for this.