Enjoy that boxscore, everybody. This is one of those games that made everybody look good, mostly because the two teams seem to have struck a gentlemen's agreement to not play any more defense that strictly necessary. That made it fun to watch, though. Players on both sides got to show off their potential. When push came to shove, though, we stuffed them in a sack and wouldn't let them out. That's fine by me. A "W" is a "W" and this one was prettier than most.
Both teams shot well in this game--the `Wolves at 52% and us at 53%. The big difference was three-point shooting. We shot 8-14 from beyond the arc (57%) while they shot 2-11 (18%). We earned a couple more free throws on top of that and it was enough to salt away the game. We were +10 in points off of turnovers too, which didn't hurt. They tanned our hides on the boards but we moves the ball more consistently and--for the first time in forever--we actually scored more points on the break than they did (12-7). And speaking of, the one part of our defense that didn't suffer was transition. We did a better job running back to defend en masse tonight than I've seen in a while. This is one thing you have to train yourself to notice while watching TV because the camera seldom shows you directly. The picture follows the ball and not the 3.5 guys lollygagging down the court. You have to count numbers. For much of the season I've been marking one or at most two Blazers getting back. Tonight it was 3 or 4 routinely. That makes a huge difference. We don't necessarily have to run to bring that obnoxious fast break deficit down. Another way to do it is simply get back.
The other thing worth mentioning is that I loved the bench energy tonight. We'll talk more about individuals in a minute but EVERY guy in the second unit played like they meant it tonight and contributed something. This is the kind of effort we need from that group. Our starters aren't consistent enough to win games on their own. They need to be supported and pushed. We did a fine job of that tonight.
I don't say this much, but the refs were not exactly in the zone tonight. I mention this mostly to say I love how the Blazers just played through it. It ain't no thang if you resolve you're going to win anyway.
--Brandon Roy set the world on fire in the first half. He was just shaming people with his long shot and using that to set up the drive or pass. He's an assassin when he's hitting like that. His final line was 10-19, 4-5 from three-point land, 25 points and 9 assists. As the Mikes mentioned we were putting the ball in his hands (or he was just taking it) much earlier in this game. Let me say here and now that I have no objection to that. I still have doubts about designating him the all-day point guard, but in general more touches for Roy means more good things for the Blazers.
--Lamarcus continued his torrid run, shooting 11-19 for 26 points. He got out on the break a little tonight and he was pretty much unstoppable. I like it when he's free and easy on the offensive end. Anybody remember last month when he was hesitating and aiming the ball like a cub scout firing a bazooka? He looks pretty natural out there now, eh?
--Joel Przybilla had 13 rebounds and 2 blocks. Thanks for not making me look like a goob for giving you a post of your very own yesterday, big guy. My only complaint is that he couldn't finish one of the prettier plays of the year when Jarrett looped a behind-the-back pass to him off of the drive.
--Steve Blake didn't press things offensively as much tonight, likely because everybody else was hitting. I'm cool with that too. He had 6 points and 7 assists playing within himself. His 3 turnovers were a team high but they didn't hurt us too badly.
--Martell didn't take a lot of shots tonight. That's not a big deal. 0 rebounds in 22 minutes is a little more troublesome. Mike Rice mentioned him not getting back on defense, which is also a downer. It wasn't his best game probably, but then we didn't set him up much either.
--Travis Outlaw got back in the zone tonight, and when Super Trout gets in the zone it's scary. You could just feel the mojo working. He shot 8-13 for 17 points to lead the bench scorers. I still want more drives though.
--James Jones hit himself some threes--three of them, in fact--en route to 13 points. Minnesota left him alone in the corner a time or two which should be right up around Item 1C in the "Don't Do That" book. It was good to see him stroking with ease again.
--Channing Frye only got 12 minutes, 2 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 blocks, but he typified the spirit of the evening by really bringing it when the sneakers met the hardwood. His posture and movement looked alert and he really threw himself into defending. I liked it.
--This was a really nice game for Jarrett Jack. He scored 10 and added 8 assists with only 1 turnover. He got into breaking situations several times and acquitted himself pretty well. Something to note is that the break is a LOT easier when your teammates are running with you than it is when you're trying to manufacture something 2-on-2. When we got numbers Jarrett was just fine. He's just not Baron Davis when on the run against equal or deficit numbers. This could also be pointed out in reference to some of Sergio's games this year. I've noticed him more than once being the first and ONLY Blazer down the court. It's hard to score that way, even on the run.
--And speaking of Sergio, he also gave us 6 good minutes with 4 assists. He played smart and energetic without forcing it...simply finding scorers in places they were comfortable.
One-Sentence Game Summary:
This game was about the stars in the boxscore but it was about the bench in the win column.
P.S. Congratulations to Nate on his 300th win. The T.V. graphic said this put him 50th among all-time coaches? Not bad considering that he probably has another 20 years in the business if he wants them.