To: The Blazers
From: Your Loyal Fans
When someone asks you what you would do for a Klondike Bar you have to stop answering like this. Just go buy your own ice cream sandwich. Seriously, they're not that expensive.
For the second night in a row the Blazers blue-screened in the first period, letting--nay, helping--the opponent to streak out to an early lead which they never relinquished. The Jazz were about as close to losing this game as I was to getting a date with this girl named Candy (seriously) back in high school. She was a senior, she knew how to wear makeup effectively, and ay Chihuahua! Did she have nice taste in fashion! Providing, of course, your idea of "fashion" is knowing exactly how to accentuate...I mean...well, let's just say that she was quite empowered and seemingly liberated and I had about as much chance of attracting her notice as a chipmunk had of lifting the Empire State Building. The chipmunk was having a permanent bad hair day, too. Poor guy.
Believe it or not, that futile memory was actually more encouraging than tonight's game.
You knew we were in trouble when the first defensive play of the game featured blown coverage on a pick and pop in which both defenders drifted to the dribbler, allowing Mehmet Okur an uncontested 15-footer. The first offensive play of the game was a Brandon Roy turnover, leading to a slam dunk on the second defensive play. Then Greg Oden got his shot blocked. Soon after the Blazers blew coverage on another screen play in the exact same way they did the first time. And it was all downhill from there.
The most critical errors came on the defensive end. The main one of those was that there was no defense. I've seen man-to-man defense. I can recognize a zone. I can usually tell when there's a matchup-zone being employed. But for the life of me I don't know what to call it when at least four, if not five, defenders just sort of plant in a spot, maybe wave their hands around a little, but basically just stand flat-footed. Is this scheme code-named "Trees in the Breeze"? The Orange Safety Cone Special? Did someone pass a note pre-game saying "The less we move the sooner we can get out of here"? I'm used to the occasional slow rotation, but no rotation? The Jazz shot approximately one-hundred-billion percent in the first period and finished the game at a more-than-respectable 60.6%. I could actually stop the recap right there because when you see "60.6" followed by a percent sign in a boxscore and it's not talking about free throws you're done.
But I can't stop yet because we haven't covered the Blazers' offense yet which, when spoken of in the first-quarter anyway, now carries a mandatory "What the hell happened to..." in front of it. Much like the British offense in the First World War according to Black Adder, the Blazers evidently decided than since shooting jumpers one-on-one off the dribble without ever getting the ball inside first didn't work the first 100 times they tried it last night the opponent would never be expecting them to attempt the same tonight. In the opening stanza Portland heaved like supermodels at the buffet. Meanwhile Steve Blake looked inept and Andre Miller looked like he was purposely trying to lose the game for us, Between them they handled the ball a lot. Roy and Aldridge were the only guys who made any noise and neither of them did it in sustainable fashion. It was more one-on-one trick shots. Blazers down 15 after one...leaking more than a point per minute.
Defying every principle of probability, space, time, and decency the defense actually looked worse in the second period. The Jazz didn't score as many points but they came close without Deron Williams on the floor for most of the quarter. The second unit tried to initiate some passing but they ended up whipping it around the perimeter without ever mounting an attack of any sort. The strong side was guarded so...around the horn the ball goes. Now it's on the other side. No openings here. Send it back! What? I just sent this away. Nobody did anything with it? Well I'm still shut off. Send it back again! It was like watching fourteen year-olds passing love notes in class, except the fourteen-year-olds get results sometimes. Finally the Blazers got the ball in to Greg Oden for a couple shots (and we do mean "a couple") and that loosened things up a little. Portland ended up scoring 27 but also allowed the Jazz 27, chipping away none of the 15-point spread they inherited from Period One.
Brandon Roy came out with phasers on kill in the third period. He tried his best to bail the team out. On teams with clear superstars--let's say the L*kers--this kind of display often ignites teammates and fills them with confidence about their chances of winning despite being behind. With the Blazers this kind of display seems to fill everyone with nonchalance. His teammates seemed content to watch Brandon operate. Nobody played appreciably better when he started damaging the foe. At this point Carlos Boozer also started taking advantage of Greg Oden, who looked a bit slow tonight comparatively. He scored and got Oden in foul trouble, taking him out of the action. Utah continued to move the ball faster than the Blazers moved their feet. The Jazz took the quarter by 7 and put the Blazers down 22 entering the fourth. The third unit showed some spirit and won the final period but it didn't really matter. Another night, another lesson in humility. Or futility. Wait...make it "fumility". Whatever it is, it's no fun.
The Blazers got killed in every offensive stat except offensive rebounds and points in the paint. There were too few of either to matter though. Utah had 36 assists on 43 makes, a sure sign they were doing whatever they wanted. Boozer and Williams scored at will. The Blazers had no will. End of story.
For the same reasons I explained last night, these will be short.
Roy did what he could offensively.
Jerryd Bayless and Dante Cunningham both brought energy that their teammates lack. It was garbage time when they came in (defined in this game as "anything after the six-minute mark of the first quarter") but they still showed desire.
Andre Miller: 6 minutes, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 0-4 shooting. Yuck.
Final Thoughts and Links
It doesn't get any easier for the Blazers after this. They come home to face Miami and Houston before embarking on a four-game road trip which, while not sporting the toughest of opponents (Cleveland aside), is still four games on the road back East. Somebody better glue the pieces of the vase back together or mom's gonna get home and deliver some awful whuppins. Fortunately there's a three-day break in between the Miami and Houston games. I'm guessing there will be some practice involved there.
Boxscore (definitely NSFW)
Hear them get rowdy over at slcdunk.com.
Here are the Jersey Contest scores for the month and this game. Remember that final scoreboard is not accurate yet. I'll let you know when the Minnesota results are in and we can declare a winner for the month. Meanwhile, go ahead and enter the first game of December.