That was a nice win. It was great to see the team play free and easy out there during the last three quarters. Invigorates the soul.
This was pretty much a textbook example of how to beat the Warriors. Well...except for that first quarter. The Blazers interpreted "take it inside" as "force it down on the block and slowly work it in". That's not Portland's best game. The Blazers need to realize that penetration brings far more easy hoops at this stage in their development than post play. Even the big guys' dunks mostly come off of somebody dribbling and the opposing big man helping out. Either the penetrator feeds our center for a dunk or our center gets an offensive rebound and, with the other big man still out of position, rams it home. Inside play does not equal grinding.
After the offense loosened up in that 39-point second quarter we got all of the easy buckets we wanted. We scored on the break, off the drive, on the drive and dish, on alley-oops, and most importantly of all off of second-chance opportunities. We got almost as many offensive rebounds tonight (17) as defensive rebounds (22). As predicted, Golden State just couldn't stop us on the boards. That made the game so much easier. Mistakes were always redeemable. We also limited turnovers, committing 12 total, and kept the Warriors off the line. In fact the Blazers
attempted made more free throws (26) than the Warriors shot (22). We never let the Warriors get loose in the open court either.
Between the rebounding, penetration, not turning the ball over, and not giving the Warriors extra points on the line that's 4 of the 5 pregame keys. What was the 5th? Oh yeah...limit Andris Biedrins. Make him work on defense, keep him off the boards, and run him around all night. Biedrins had 10 points, 3 assists, and 2 blocks but only 6 rebounds when he usually gets, what? Twice that? Check mark on that one too. And...scene! That's a wrap everyone! Great show. Everybody loves ya, baby!
Yeah...Lamarcus Aldridge just destroyed Golden State tonight. They even tried putting Maggette on him again. You might remember that Aldridge picked up 6 fouls in approximately 5 seconds down in Golden State when they tried that the last time. It looks like he remembered. The best thing about Aldridge's game tonight was that he didn't start outside. Instead he spun and drove off of the dribble, making a conscious effort to get his feet on paint instead of varnish before he shot. The results were magnificent. 11-18 shooting, 26 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal plus no turnovers in 38 minutes. I daresay we'd never lose a game if Lamarcus could play like that every night. Clearly one of the best games of the year for him.
Hey, Brandon Roy! We know this is your first game back from the hammy so we're going to limit you to 20 minu...uhhh...hey B-Roy we're struggling a bit. Do you mind maybe playing 22? No? Good. Because I'm sure that...uhhhh...how about 24? You cool with that! Sweet. I promise not a minute more. Oh wait. You know that chalupa thing where the crowd gets free snacks at The Bell if we go over 100 on the scoreboard? Well this here says that Martell gets a free foot massage if you go over 30 minutes tonight. You know his foot's been injured and all... Hey, thanks. You're a champ. You ever need anything, you just call me. Don't feel burdened to play your full game or anything. Just take it easy out th...what? 8-15 you say? Driving past people left and right for the and-one at the rim? Finishing a spectacular alley-oop dunk off of a baseline inbounds? We don't deserve you, baby. 19 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals. Typical Brandon game. So much for the graduated comeback.
Greg Oden got all monster-y out there for most of the 26 minutes he played. I don't know if you've noticed yet, but you can predict with near infallible accuracy the impact Greg is going to have by the speed he's moving around. Stationary and slow...here come the 5 fouls. Moving alertly, hustling down the court, and getting in some lateral jogs? Voila. 4-8 shooting, 10 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal plus only 3 fouls. Greg was a little slow rotating on defense in the second half but otherwise had a very good game. He was willing to back down his defenders into the lane when we got him the ball in the post, which is a great habit. He also grabbed plenty of offensive boards and had a couple of nice flushes. Golden State really had no answer for him but there were plenty of other problems for them to solve first tonight.
Steve Blake reaped the benefits of everyone else drawing attention and opening up passing and driving lanes. He only shot 5-13 but he made a couple of threes and 3 free throws and ended up with 15 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds. He also took advantage of the Warriors' scrambling style to help himself to 3 steals. I love Blake when he can sneak around and backstab everybody. BAM! You didn't see that coming, huh?
In a shocker of shockers Nicolas Batum played (GASP!) 19 minutes. The kid's like clockwork. One of these days I'm going to throw a question in the Jersey Contest: How many minutes will Nic play? 18, 19, 20, or something else? Odds are at least 1/3 of the people would get that right. As usual he played some nice defense to start out with and then came in later as an emergency stopper against whichever opponent was the hottest. In this case he watched Maggette a fair bit. Corey had been super hot but Nic helped bring him back to earth. 5 points, 4 rebounds, and a sky-high block. As we mentioned in this week's podcast, everything Nic does with about one step and then a liftoff looks magical. He's so effortless in the air.
I loved, loved, loved Rudy Fernandez' game tonight. It's really to Rudy's advantage when the opponent can't guard or rotate well. He's like a kid in the candy store on offense. I loved his penetration and I loved his court recognition. There was a play in the second half where Brandon was driving from the left baseline and got triple-teamed under the hoop. There was nobody on the weak side to pass to. Rudy saw this and slid down and made himself a wide-open target, resulting in an easy three. Rudy also called for and keyed the aforementioned Roy alley-oop off of the inbounds play on the baseline. Not that it's very hard to figure out what the Warriors are going to do (shoot!) but he also did a pretty good job on defense tonight and really has since he refocused on the basics. 4-7 shooting, 12 points, 6 assists. He had 3 turnovers but they were honest attempts, not foolish chances. By the way, for those who are fond of pointing out individual game +/- stats against my earnest and oft-repeated advice... Rudy's number tonight was -11. That's hogwash. This was one of his better games.
Travis Outlaw started the game by missing a ton of open shots. With anybody else (Rudy, Lamarcus) that's a signal for a baaaad night coming. Travis has a short, short memory. He can have a rotten quarter or half and then come back and burn the floor so much his sneakers melt. He didn't exactly catch fire offensively tonight but he hit his later shots, played a little bit of credible defense, and brought the energy. He also got to the line 5 times, showing you he was penetrating, and his dunks were off the hook. He ended up 6-14, 5-5 from the charity stripe, 2 blocks, 1 steal, and 19 points. Not being able to guard Travis is a bad thing as well.
Joel Przybilla only had 19 minutes as Greg Oden was going well and we needed offensive threats in there to keep the scoring constant. He ended up with 7 rebounds and a block.
There were 15 backup point guard minutes available tonight and Sergio Rodriguez got 10 of them. His highlight line was 3 steals, an enormous amount in that time. Golden State's high risk game was made for him. He only hit 1-4 shots though, but he did penetrate a little. 4 points, 1 assist.
Jerryd Bayless got the other 5 minutes. He committed a turnover, hit 2 free throws, and netted 2 personal fouls in that time.
It's time for the Road Warriors to re-emerge. I'm glad Roy is back to go on this trip.
Check out the Warriors' reaction at GoldenStateofMind.
Review your Jersey Contest score and enter for Monday's game here.