In a Nutshell
After playing down to, and perhaps below, the Bobcats' level in the first half the Blazers turn up the energy in the third quarter and cruise to an easy win. LaMarcus Aldridge returns to form with a huge game.
Portland fans get free chalupas if the Blazers top 100 in a game. In the first quarter of tonight's contest it didn't look like either team would score enough to get anybody a free mild sauce packet. When Marcus Camby or LaMarcus Aldridge got past their men for absolutely clear shots the Blazers scored. Otherwise...not so much. Portland missed tons of easy shots at the rim and open jumpers. Charlotte dominated the boards, limiting the Blazers to one miss. After a while Portland all but gave up, setting no picks and running no motion in the offense. It was toss to someone and watch. If the ball moved it was on a total bail-out pass resulting in an ugly attempt. The Bobcats, minus Stephen Jackson and anybody else who could score, didn't fare much better. Charlotte led 16-15 after the first. You read that right...16-15.
Portland's early second quarter consisted of a wheelbarrow full of missed threes. Since they were still getting KILLED on the boards, the Blazers watched rebounds sail to Charlotte and got treated to run-outs. The only guy who was shooting with any confidence was Patty Mills...to mixed results, but with confidence. Later in the quarter Andre Miller would also evidence some backbone offensively. Other than that, the entire quarter was miss and miss again until the final minutes. The Blazers looked taller than the Bobcats, that was about it. Finally around the 4:00 mark of the period LaMarcus Aldridge got some offensive mojo going, scoring with the jumper and on the line. Miller chipped in and Wesley Matthews hit his only shot of the night, a last-second three-pointer, giving the Blazers a 40-35 lead going into the half. Hey, at least they scored more than 16.
Incredibly, the third period started out flat as well. The Bobcats erased their deficit and took a lead within three minutes of the second half starting. That's when you started worrying about this evening becoming a nightmare. Fortunately the Blazers woke up. It started on the defensive end, snagging rebounds with authority and forcing turnovers. Control of the ball allowed Portland to up the pace a little bit and all of a sudden the ball was moving again. Camby and Aldridge again started the parade but Brandon Roy and the guards picked up on it. With Charlotte suddenly unsure on every possession their shots came up longer and wilder. That fed into Portland's hands and the rout was on. The Blazers led by 13, 65-52, when the buzzer sounded. Portland's blitz continued in the fourth and Charlotte had less than no answer...nobody to power them out of the storm. The Blazers win, 93-69.
Much of Portland's roster was flat tonight. Aldridge had a great game. Camby looked perky. Brandon Roy came on late and Patty Mills fired early. Other than that the offense was flat-lined. Portland's size did end up making a huge difference in the backcourt, as Wesley Matthews and Andre Miller hounded D.J. Augustin mercilessly until he couldn't see the play. Once the ball was out of Augustin's control the 'Cats were lost. In a way it was nice to see Portland turn the tide with defense. The caveat is, the Bobcats might well have scored 69 no matter what kind of defense Portland was playing.
Aldridge had a slow start. He was responsible for many of the easy misses early. But hitting a couple jumpers put him in the groove and he kept his production up by getting to the line in the meantime. When he got into rhythm there wasn't a Bobcat in the building who could stop him. 11-18 shooting, 26 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks.
Portland's next leading scorer? Patty Mills. That was the kind of night the Blazers had. Mills hit 4-7 three-pointers to account for his 12 points. He had an assist but wasn't really in point guard mode. Tonight that instinct might have been good, as any kind of points would do.
Brandon Roy had 10 points on 4-10 shooting. He looked ineffective early but hit some Brandon-esque jumpers late.
Marcus Camby had 9 points and 10 rebounds. He was right in the middle of turning the tide in this game. He helped on the boards, on defense, even a little on offense. It was his best night since he's been back as far as effect on the game.
Nobody else had enough of a night to distinguish themselves. Andre Miller provided his usual grit points and 6 assists. Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum played some defense but missed a boatload of shots. Gerald Wallace had 7 rebounds but his timing looked way off, on offense especially.
Stats of the Night
- Charlotte 22 turnovers followed by 31 Portland points. Blazers 9 turnovers for 6 Charlotte points. I don't normally put much stock in points after turnovers but tonight the stat was indicative of how Portland won this game. Portland's offense was off but they disrupted Charlotte's worse.
- Blazers 8-21 on threes thanks to Mills. Bobcats? 1-10.
- Blazers 33 rebounds, Bobcats 41. Oops.
Odd Notes and Links
There was a very nice "Joel Przybilla" chant being thrown up in the fourth quarter. Joel fouled out with 5 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 turnovers but it was nice to see him back.
This game got a little physical late with both teams taking shots at the opposing point guards (Augustin and Mills...Miller being too big to cheap shot) and the chucks and elbows spreading to the bigger guys. The next game in Charlotte could get physical.
Rufus on Fire will tell you how much the Bobcats missed, well...everybody tonight.
Don't forget we're in the final days of being able to send needy kids to the April 1st game for Blazersedge Night. Help out as you can.