The Brandon Roy-less Blazers got outrebounded, out-executed, out-defended, out-passed and out-shot by a better team, the New Orleans Hornets, en route to a 92 to 77 loss tonight at the Rose Garden. Other than that, things were great! Thanks for asking! Watching a performance like tonight's, especially after Tuesday's glistening game, can raise a lot of questions.
- Is it time for the Nic Batum experiment to end?
- Would Rudy's rhythm improve if he started alongside Brandon and Blake?
- Did David West (25 and 4) just show LaMarcus Aldridge what an All-Star power forward plays like?
- Did Channing Frye walk his dog past Nate's house and forget to pooper scoop?
- Did you hear the crowd give Joel a standing ovation in the middle of the 3rd quarter after his altercation with Tyson Chandler that led to Chandler's ejection?
- When was the last time you remember a backup center getting a standing ovation in the 3rd quarter?
- Did Joel's legend just add another chapter tonight?
- Did you see how Chandler left the court only after delivering messages to each of his teammates?
- Do you wonder if those messages were the difference in the following few minutes, when the Hornets clawed back against the flat Blazers?
- When the Blazers were leading in the second half, did it feel just a little bit too good to be true?
- Don't you wish we had James Posey?
- Did it feel like Hilton Armstrong had 50 points tonight or what?
- Are you pretty confident that the Hornets will never win a ring with Rasual Butler at the 2?
- Do you think Butler should be nick-named Casual?
- Are the Blazers ready for the Lakers?
- Are the Blazers minus Brandon ready for the Lakers?
Random Game Notes:
- The pregame introduction music was Tupac Shakur's "Changes" selected by Sergio Rodriguez. Tupac's poetry is a universal language.
- I was curious to see what kind of contraption Joel would be wearing on his wrist given the avulsion that he's suffering. It's a funny looking thing and I will try to get an up-close picture for your enjoyment. Essentially, it's a open-sided piece of soft plastic that runs about one foot long and extends over and around his thumb, with the closed side on the underside of his forearm and the open side on the top side of his forearm. It has air holes throughout. It secures with 3 black velcro straps. It looks like it would make dunking one-handed with his left hand difficult if not impossible. Good thing vanilla always uses 2 hands.
- There were only 2 referees tonight. The third got caught up at Portland Meadows betting on the dogs and couldn't make it in time for tip off. Hey, it happens to the best of us.
- The preceding bullet is a joke.
- The greatest sign I will ever see in the Rose Garden read "Oden on a Grecian Urn" and had each Blazers name connected in crossword puzzle style with the letters in those five words. I know you read this poem in high school. Or were supposed to. "Beauty is truth, truth beauty." More like... "Brandon is franchise, franchise Brandon."
- Another good sign: "Rudy, marry my sister?"
- Without cheating: which Blazer scored 16 points, had 4 turnovers, 0 rebounds and 0 assists? You probably didn't even need to watch the game to guess it was Travis Outlaw.
- In the first 6 minutes and 30 seconds of the fourth quarter we scored 4 points. Forget about it.
- Mike Barrett shook off the loss and checked in with some perspective in the locker room. He asked me how we'd be feeling if we lost to Boston and beat New Orleans instead of the other way around. He has a point. But this one stings nonetheless.
- The locker room was as quiet and deserted as an Old West ghost town. Nobody wanted to talk about this one.
- Pregame, I talked to Jason Quick and asked him if he would be opposed to a Blazers Edge feature which highlighted the most ostentatiously ridiculous comments left in response to his "Inside the Blazers" columns on Oregon Live. He chuckled and didn't say no. So what do you think? Sort of like Deadspin's jokey takes on ESPN.com's featured comments... could be funny, right?
Nate's Postgame Comments
Nate on the fourth quarter: "Well, I don't think it was just the fourth quarter. I thought it was the game. We played at their tempo pretty much the whole game. They want to play a ball control, half court type of game and we kind of fell into that rhythm of ball control, half court, playing against their defense. When you're doing that, you've got to make shots. The difference between the two teams is that they made shots. We didn't shoot the ball well. We had 4 fast break points at the half. And we finished the game with that. We gotta get moving quicker, getting more of a rhythm, if we don't have anything easy then we set up. But I thought they controlled the tempo.
Nate on Joel vs. Chandler altercation: "I thought Tyson deserved to be kicked out of the game. He threw a bow, an elbow, right to Joel's face. That's definitely an ejection."
Nate on whether he expected the team to get fired up after the altercation: "Yeah, it should. After that we had about 3 or 4 possessions where we didn't score. I think we had a six point lead at the time and the thing was to re-focus and we had to be sharp. Go down and execute. Continue to defend. In the situation like that, it's going to fire up both teams. New Orleans loses a key guy and they feel as if maybe he got the short end of it. For us it kind of felt like it should give us momentum and take advantage of that."
Nate on the fourth quarter defense: "They are going to give the ball to Chris Paul. We did an ok job in the first half, we made an adjustment as far as trying to defend him, by going under, he made a 3. If he's going to be shooting like that it's tough to defend a pick and roll when a player has it going. That's pretty much what they did. The pick and roll set with Chris Paul and allowed him to take advantage of that. It's hard. You switch, he's making shots, you get confused, he picks you apart. When a guy has a rhythm like that and you put the ball in the hands of a player like Chris Paul it's going to be tough to defend him. He will always take advantage of what the defense gives him. And he did tonight."
Nate on Greg's foul trouble: "It definitely hurt. We wanted to go inside. We really never established inside with our bigs. Going into LA. Going into Greg with Greg being in foul trouble. LaMarcus really never got in that rhythm. Rudy was able to knock down some shots. The difference in this game and our last game we had a couple of guys knock down some shots and play well. Our last game the team played well. We need everybody to play well."
Nate on whether the guards aren't penetrating in Brandon's absence: "We go inside to Greg. We go inside to LaMarcus. I thought Rudy got to the rim and I thought Bayless got there, he didn't finish a couple of times, you want to attack and get to the basket. We do win the free throw line, we only shoot 18 throws, but you go inside with penetration through postups and through attacking and we tried to do that."
Nate on David West: "He made shots. I wouldn't say they were open shots. He made some tough shots. He got to the basket. That's a tough matchup. If he has his offensive game going, then you've got to leave the 3 point shooters. We lost Posey and Stojakovic a couple of times and they buried us from the 3. When you got it going inside and your perimeter game going, it's going to be tough to defend."
Nate on using the Twin Towers (Joel and Greg) again: "We needed to give LaMarcus a breather. It worked last game. We wanted to see it. They had 2 bigs on the floor, we were going to put Joel on West for a few minutes, and we only played it a minute or two."
BE SURE TO CLICK THROUGH FOR PICTURES OF KICKS AND TATS.
-- Ben (firstname.lastname@example.org)
David West's calf tattoos: "Carpe Diem." Indeed.
Hilton Armstrong's kicks.
Morris Peterson's kicks.
David West's kicks.
-- Ben (email@example.com)