April 8, 2008 -- Blazers 112 Lakers 103
Forgive me for ripping off a beer commercial gimmick, but...
This one was for you. If you were about to give up hope for the year, or if you already had, this one was for you.
If you're not quite ready to jump into the free agency pool yet, this one was for you.
If you're reading this and it's still Tuesday Night (you can't sleep because the game was so awesome), this one was for you.
If you were at the Garden and some jerk in a Kobe jersey down the aisle wouldn't stop shouting all game (then left early with 3 minutes to go and his team down), this one was for you.
If you don't want to see Channing Frye go, this one was for you. (By the same token: if you're a coach on the couch and think Nate has issues with his rotation, this one was for you too).
If you like the thought of all five starters in double figures, 22 points and 16 boards from LaMarcus and 23 points and 12 assists from Brandon (against a championship contender in April), this one was for you.
If you're not quite willing to admit that we are to the Lakers what Michigan State is to Michigan (but you don't care because we won both home games against the Lakers for the 3rd year in a row), this one was for you.
If you were about to put out an APB for James Jones' jumpshot, hang up the phone: this one was for you.
If you're thankful your team put a game like this together for its fans, this one was for you.
Coach Nate McMillan on the result: "We made some shots. The last 5 or 6 games we've been shooting a low percentage, around 40% from the floor... we got better ball movement, you know that carried over to the defensive end. I thought we did a good job defensively of just making Kobe work and not losing their 3 point shooters on the perimeter."
Nate on breaking the losing streak: "With us dropping 5, I told the guys this was our 3rd time this season losing 5 in a row, and we haven't lost more than that, this was a challenge to get our rhythm back, we had to play a good game right from the start and I thought we did. Hopefully we can take this momentum into the next game. The goal is still to have a winning season."
Nate on playing the Lakers: "I think everybody gets fired up to play the Lakers. The players as well as the coaches and the fans. It's the Lakers. You get fired up for that game. The success, I've had success against those guys. Tonight I thought we just played good basketball. You've got to play good basketball to beat them. They had rest, they needed this game to have the best record in the west, and we played our best."
Nate on the hot shooting tonight: "Whenever you make shots, you feel good about yourself. Especially with our guys, we tend to when we don't make shots, we take it to the defensive end of the floor. Tonight, we were making shots, we had two 30 point quarters, which are big quarters against anybody. We were pretty consistent with our scoring all night. Certainly Frye helped being able to spread the floor and knock down some shots."
Nate on Channing Frye's excellent effort: "I thought he played well. He had the assignment of guarding Gasol. We didn't double team. We played our normal rules. We played straight up until a guy gets hot. Gasol really never established that he was dominating in the post. We could spread the floor and try and put Gasol in the pick and rolls regardless of who they were trying to hide him on. We just stayed in our pick and roll sets against them."
More Nate on Channing: "We wanted to be physical. Gasol being in the paint, you gotta get him off the block. Don't bring your fouls home with you. Use them but be smart about it. I thought he did a good job of trying to get him off the block and score over the top."
Nate addressing Frye's playing time this year: "He's played out of position all season. We've tried to get him minutes, with Joel playing the 5 and Travis playing the 4, he has had to play the center position. He's playing out of position and a lot of times he was getting banged around with the unit he played with we were small with he and Travis, so I ended up cutting his minutes to get Joel back on the floor to get length. But when he has gotten the opportunity he has done some good things."
Nate on Channing's unexpected 3 pointers: "I remember the first one, I don't remember the second one, he can shoot that, he works on it, it's not something we practice with him, but I've seen him shoot it before. He can shoot the ball when he has his confidence and his feet set, he's knocked that shot down."
Nate on Lamar Odom's flagrant foul on Brandon Roy: As I told our guys, that was a hard foul, it's part of the NBA. One of things I told our guys before the game, I think at times we have too much respect for opponents. We kind of look at these guys and want them to like us. Players don't care about that... The bottom line is you're trying to win games. I thought that play showed that Brandon Roy is just Brandon Roy to the Lakers. They gave up the foul so they completed that with a hard foul and that's how we have to learn to play. You don't want to hurt anybody, but you come in there and you don't allow them to get the shot off. I like what I saw as far as guys coming to Brandon's [defense]. I like that, I thought that was good. One of the things we wanted to do was start something tonight and I thought they tried."
Nate on Brandon's game: "I thought he played a good game. He was distributing the ball. He was good until he got hurt and then it was hard for him to move. I thought he played a real good game. We tried to mix the coverage up as far as guarding Kobe with Brandon and Travis but he did a good job of just taking what was there and getting other guys involved."
Nate on Aldridge's game: "One of the things Odom tries to do with him is try to get him out of his game. He tries to get physical with him early and to get him thinking. One of the things we talked about is that you look at that physical play and you smile at it. It can't get inside your head. Be calm. Make good decisions down in the post and I thought he did."
Nate on battling through the injuries: "It's just some unfortunate stuff that's happening to our guys. We are trying to talk about the future and talk about next year if we get into this position again: Frye you've got to be ready, we plan to have a spot in that playoffs next year. If we are trying to hold on to a position and Joel breaks his hand or Brandon goes down: Frye you've got to be ready, Jones you've got to be ready. It's a learning experience, it can happen. I think it happens more often than not that someone is injured after six months of basketball and you need someone to step in and play."
Random Game Notes
-- Sergio picked the warm-up music tonight: "Lollipop" by Lil Wayne.
-- Frye got the start and made the absolute most of it: 22 points and 11 rebounds on 9 of 12 from the field while doing a solid job on Gasol. If you predicted this performance, you need to book a trip to Vegas.
-- After the game, Nate noted that he asked for 10 points and 10 boards out of Frye tonight. Needless to say, Coach was impressed by what Frye ended up producing.
-- Kobe received lusty boos all evening. It was great to hear the proud Garden crowd overshadowing the large Laker contingent. However, there were also some "Kobe Sucks" chants as well. Are we as a city still hung up on the Colorado scandal or is it something else?
-- At one point, the big screen showed LaMarcus Aldridge changing his jersey. Immediately, catcalls rang out throughout our section. The PA system noted the exchange by cuing up that "I'm too sexy" song. Well played, arena sound man, well played.
-- After Henry Abbott called out my comment about Jarrett's jump passing the other day, I felt a twinge of guilt for writing what I did. Jarrett shoved that knife deeper tonight by playing one of his better games of the season (15 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover) and then twisted it even deeper by making some clutch free throws down the stretch (paging Mr. Douglas-Roberts. Mr. Douglas-Roberts, please find the white courtesy phone).
-- During halftime the sound guy played the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop." You don't hear that one everyday at the Rose Garden.
-- The scoreboard's "Ask the Blazers" question was, "Who spends the most time in front of the mirror?" Most of the team answered Jarrett Jack, with people making fun of him for his lotion and cologne. Jack said Przybilla, noting "He thinks he's the best looking seven footer in the game."
-- Sign watch: lots of "Beat LA" signs and the guy with the "Let's Rock the [insert sponsor here] Rose Garden" sign was back. I was thinking about this and I think the best case scenario for the naming rights for the Rose Garden is the "Brand Jordan Garden" with a giant Jumpman logo on the outside of the building (not sure this can even happen given Adidas' contract with the NBA). Worst case scenario - off the top of my head - Umpqua Bank Garden. Any thoughts either way?
-- Wendell Maxey of HoopsWorld checked in to say that he just purchased referee Bob Delaney's new book. Drop me a line if you've read it and have a review to share.
-- I thought we did an exceptional job team rebounding tonight.
-- Did you notice? 25 assists on 41 field goals tonight.
-- My favorite assist was a third quarter 3 pointer by Blake that was the result of 3 swing passes. As the ball went through the net, Channing Frye was headed back on defense already, pumping his fist quite excitedly. Great to see him so involved in the game.
-- I loved how Phil Jackson earned himself the technical foul protesting a foul call on behalf of one of his players. A player's coach in so many ways.
-- Kobe Bryant took for freaking ever to address the media tonight and, when he did, he pretty much mumbled monosyllabically. He tried to play the loss off like it wasn't a big deal but you've got to wonder how he really feels. He wasn't going to let anyone know tonight. The man has a competitive drive (and patient teammates waiting for him on the bus).
-- LaMarcus had the blocked shot of the year tonight. I'm sure it will be all over the internet tomorrow. Farmar's shot made a great souvenir for a lucky fan.
-- Nate pointed this out in his postgame session, but it was awesome to see Outlaw stand up for Roy after he was leveled by a Lamar Odom flagrant foul at the end of the 3rd quarter. Too bad Pryzbilla was injured, eh?
-- Greg Oden took the court tonight! Sort of. He was helping Blaze shoot souvenir balls into the crowd with a new keg-shaped apparatus they push around on wheels during timeouts.