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My friend Eric sends in an eyewitness report from the game:

One thing that I had noticed before, during the introductions, Outlaw  
was the only non-starter that stood out on the court while the  
starters were introduced to do the jump 'n bump thing. After the  
intros, everyone came out and huddled, but I thought it interesting  
that Trout was out there all by his lonesome to start things out.

The overall vibe I felt throughout the game was that the Blazers were  
always just a play away from really making it a contest. Whenever  
they got within 4, the Warriors would inevitably hit a 3 or get a  
three point play on some botched rebound or blown rotation. Obviously  
Stephen Jackson was the big thorn, and was the one that seemed to  
deliver the timely 3 for the W's, but the guy that quietly hurt the  
Blazers was their rookie, Brandon Wright. Without Wright, the Blazers  
would have been up at the half, and would have carried some momentum.  
But, as hard as they played, the body language (which my wife picked  
up more on than me) was that borderline state of frustration and  
inevitable dejectedness -- again due to the fact that the Blazers  
never made the big play to swing momentum completely to their side.  
One interesting strategy that I couldn't quite figure out was that  
McMillan had Pryz guarding the 200 lb Wright, while Aldridge guarded  
either Croshure/Webber/Harrington. I assumed it was so Joel could  
provide weakside help, figuring that Wright would be the least likely  
to burn the Blazers on the weakside rebounding, but lo and behold,  
Wright just killed them cleaning up the garbage.  It was truly  
frustrating to watch the Blazers give up so many offensive rebounds  
to one of the worst rebounding teams in the league, but the W's were  
simply quicker to the ball.

Despite the appearance that the W's were dominating the game, the  
Blazers did in fact hang close the entire game. Whereas they never  
quite seemed to be in the game (except at the beginning of the 4th  
when they actually took a one point lead), they were never out of it  
either. But, as I mentioned, whenever the W's needed a basket, they  
got it, and whenever the Blazers were close, they would miss free  
throws, turn it over or miss a wide open 3, then compound it on the  
other end by giving up an offensive rebound. The big disappointment  
in this game was Aldridge. After his fast start, he just disappeared  
the rest of the game. I cannot recall for sure, but I think he took  
only 1 or 2 shots after halftime. One, the others weren't looking for  
him, but two, he seemed lethargic and unwilling to take it to  
Croshure...I mean freakin' Austin Croshure -- LMA should score on  
this guy at will but he was a shrinking violet the last 24 minutes.  
Not only that, he wasn't getting any defensive boards, and when  
Azibuke (sp?) got that offensive rebound put back on LMA, I told my  
wife, that's the game, it was so bad an omen.

The other subtle thing that the W's did was stay on James Jones. JJ  
was doing his normal hang at the 3 line thing, waiting for his  
kickouts, but his man stayed on him like white on rice. In contrast,  
on the other end, nobody seemed to know where Stephen Jackson was.  
For the most part, I thought the guards did a decent job on Baron  
Davis and didn't let him go wild either on dribble penetration or  
fastbreaks / tempo. I don't know the stats, as I'm intentionally  
writing this without looking at the boxscore, but I'm guessing he had  
less than a 20/10. I told my wife that the guy they had to control  
was Ellis, because of his speed and height; I was fine with Roy on  
Davis, as Davis is so strong in the low block that having the bigger  
body on Baron would be better, but then you have Blake/Jack on Ellis,  
and he's too much for either of them. Martell had some great looks,  
but just was not hitting after his initial 3. Jones was his steady  
offensive self, but you can tell his knee is limiting his effective  
in perimeter D. Trout was great again, and, along with Pryz, seemed  
to be the only Blazers willing to fight for rebounds. Jack was  
aggressive and had some nice inside dishes. I know Jack is the  
biggest subject in forums, at least regarding which Blazer(s) should  
go, but I'm okay with him being the backup...combo guard. He does  
have his brain-lock moments, but I like how he's willing to drive,  
absorb blows, rebound, dish and hit the occasional 3. I think he has  
more upside than Blake, whom I really like, but see as more of a 4th/
5th guard.

As to Pryz, I love the guy -- his work ethic, willingness to take  
charges/punishment down low, setting picks, tough guy mentality, and  
pretty decent rotation help. However, this game highlights why Oden  
will be such a huge factor for the Blazers. In an up tempo game, GO's  
superior quickness around the basket will negate 2-3 more drives per  
game than Pryz, and his quickness to the ball and leaping (with his  
ungodly 35" springs for a 7 footer) will eliminate 2-3 garbage put  
backs. That translates into at least 4-8 points per game. On the  
offensive end, he has better hands than Pryz to catch the inside  
dishes of Roy and Jack, and the way he savagely attacks the rim with  
2 hand throw downs will translate into 4-6 points that Pryz could not  
provide. Not sure what will happen next year, but in general, as the  
most heralded big man since Duncan, would the consensus be that he  
ultimately has more upside than Bynum or Howard, who currently are  
considered the two big men that one would build a team around? If so,  
Bynum is at 13 ppg, 10 rpg and 2 bpg. Is that realistic to think that  
GO could do that in his first year?

Depending on the style that the Blazer brain trust ultimately want to  
employ, a guy like Rudy Fernandez will be critical for this team.  
Again, reading all the internet chatter on the guy, if he's the real  
deal, then offensively he's already 2x of what Jack brings, but more  
importantly he can handle the ball and pass, making me think he and  
Roy could form an Ainge/DJ type backcourt, not so much in style but  
that neither Ainge nor DJ were PG's, but both could handle the ball  
well enough that it didn't matter (well it didn't hurt of course that  
they would give it to Bird in the half court and let him do the play  
making).

The other thing I wouldn't mind having for the Blazers is the scrappy  
garbage man type player like David Lee of NYK, Najera, Varejao (sp?)  
of the Cavs, Bowen (though he starts), Turiaf of LAL. Maybe Pryz  
becomes that guy next year as the backup center, but he's just not  
laterally quick enough to fill that role.

Anyhow, in summary, the Warriors were just a little better than the  
Blazers, always a step ahead, and highlighted the need for LMA to be  
a better defensive rebounder if the Blazers are to get anywhere.  I  
almost forgot to mention Roy. Though his shot was off early, the guy  
just really knows how to control a game. He single-handedly kept them  
in the game, and I loved how he kept his cool, as the crowd booed his  
every move (the assumption being that Davis was snubbed for the all-
star game in favor of Roy) and were yelling "overrated" almost every  
time he touched the ball. Scary to think he's still improving. Even  
though the Warriors scored 110, the Blazers actually kept them from  
really getting into their normal running game. Jackson was just so  
hot, and the Blazers just gave up to many second chance points.

Thanks Eric.  Good stuff!

Also check out Kickbrass' report in the diaries.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)