Unfortunately I can't recap this game completely because for some reason my brand new Tivo didn't like the recording. It started and stopped at exactly the same moment. My guess is it said, "Power on. Now what are we recording tonight? Ewwwww! L*kers?!? Forget that. I don't do that." Then it shut right back off. They're making those machines smarter and smarter nowadays, and apparently with better taste. Fortunately I caught the error at halftime and got to see the second half (or perhaps unfortunately considering the first half was clearly a better one for us) so all of my observations are from that stretch. Since I categorically refuse to recap a game I haven't seen just using stats, the observations are going to be more limited in scope.
We got killed in that third quarter, which is typical when going up against good teams when you've played them well early on. They come out of the half ready to prove the game is theirs. If only the evidence hadn't been so convincing...
We had problems with turnovers and 24-second violations. A big part of that was the L*ker defense, but we also had no meaningful penetration which left us up the creek when trying to counter that defense. Basically we ended up hoisting jumpers to the exclusion of everything else throughout the half. We had one of the most amazing-funny-horrific possessions I can ever remember seeing with around 9:30 left in the fourth quarter. We ended up with 5 shots, getting an offensive rebound after the first 4 misses. But the clincher to this quintuple possession was that we launched a three on every...single...attempt. 4 missed threes, one make at the end. And we shot threes on the next two trips down the court as well, totaling 7 in a row. That typified the offense. Mind you, they weren't bad threes. We were open. But you can't keep up with the L*kers while firing jump shots. The law of averages is going to catch up to you.
Also of note: the Blazers have a lot of players who do limited things very well on offense. Lamarcus is going to face up or turn around but not penetrate. Travis is going to jab step and charge to the side then pull up but not penetrate either. Rudy will launch a three or a step-back jumper but won't score off the dribble. Sergio will penetrate off the dribble but won't get a shot up. Blake is a spot-up shooter. Oden will back you down and try the hook. The L*kers had all of that scouted and knew what to do against each opponent. This is where Brandon Roy and his multi-threat offense become important. He breaks down the opponent and draws attention, leaving the other players free to play to their strengths when the defense is occupied. We had no Brandon tonight, nor anything close.
Our defensive effort was just as sketchy. Kobe Bryant could have scored 50 tonight had he wanted. Every time he touched the ball he got a good look with ease. Unlike us, the L*kers were getting penetration which meant their jumpers came off of the dish...wide open with time to shoot. Our big men had a heck of a time dealing with Pau Gasol as well. Nobody could stop him. Oden and Pryzbilla were too slow, Lamarcus too busy, and everyone else too short.
The long and short of it was, we got spanked by a really good team. It was their game to win and they took it. So be it...on to the Pistons.
Again, keep in mind these are incomplete, based only on the part of the game I saw.
Lamarcus Aldridge looked good on offense. He took the shots the L*kers gave him and didn't force it. I just wish his offensive game would generate more pressure on the defense and more fouls instead of just points. He's like a technically skilled boxer who can land a bunch of punches and win by decision but doesn't have knockout power. You can win against decent fighters like that but when you come up against somebody who can take a punch the effectiveness goes way down. Also there are just too many moments on defense when Lamarcus doesn't look ready. I guess what I'm saying is that he had a great game but not a superstar-level game that carried us beyond ourselves to the win (or close to the win).
Nicolas Batum looked active and confident. He's the first player I noticed in the game. I love it when he gets his energy on. I want to see more penetration out of him on offense even though the Blazer small forward slot is basically penciled in for deep shots. I did cheat and look at the boxscore to see how he did and it appears he had an amazing game...hitting every shot he took from anywhere, scoring 17, and notching 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and a steal.
Greg Oden looked OK. Andrew Bynum didn't look like he did much, so that's a notch in Oden's belt. We just didn't go to the big guy much. We drew some fouls when we did.
Steve Blake was missing open shots like crazy which is a sure sign that the Blazers are going to lose. He fixed it up near the end of the game, but too late. I'll remark again how much we need him.
The L*kers played Sergio for the dribble penetration dish and it hurt.
Rudy had a spotty shooting night but hustled around the court, which is good. He's playing that Euro-League in-between defense though and we're losing points off of it every night. Classic example: end of third quarter, L*kers have the last possession, Kobe is up top with the ball and Rudy is on the left wing watching Vladimir Radmanovic. Kobe starts to drive and Rudy leaves Radmanovic to dive down in the lane. Kobe zips an easy pass to Vlad who launches an effortless three which goes straight in. You can't even count the number of no-no's on that play. Radmanovic is a 45% three-point shooter. Shooting deep is all he does. There was nobody else out there to guard him...it was Rudy's assignment as he was the only one on that wing. He left the entire side of the floor unguarded to become the third or fourth Blazer in the lane, as Kobe was defended and a big man was waiting deep. Plus since he was coming into the lane down the baseline he was way too deep to cut off the passing angle, let alone do anything had Kobe driven the ball all the way. Bryant would have been 90 feet in the air and all Rudy would have accomplished was giving up an and-one. Under the best of circumstances he would have been redundant. We saw the worst of circumstances...an easy three points for the L*kers. And that wasn't the only example tonight. This kind of thing wasn't as apparent when he was playing against opposing second units but it's glaring now. Basically Rudy is getting us extra points and possessions with his hustle and then giving them back again. The net effect is that his contribution tends far more towards neutral than his skill and energy warrant. This is wholly preventable but he won't become a great player, or even a good full-time player, until he shuts off that leak.
Jerryd Bayless was also active and I was impressed by his hard-nosed play. He need to relax enough to make a shot though. The basketball is still round. The hoop is still proportionally bigger than the ball. Just put it in.
Travis Outlaw just wasn't much help from what I could see. This was one of his poorer games in a while. A long while.
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