Dec 17

Rudy, L.A., Lift Portland to Win

By mikebarrett
We should have known it was going to be a strange game, and a bad night for injuries, when Minnesota's Darko Milicic sprained his ankle during the opening jump ball.

I know, that sounds like something that would only happen to a Portland player.  But, it actually did happen, and knocked Milicic out of the game.  His replacement, Nikola Pekovic came into the game, sprained his ankle, and had to hobble off.  He didn't return either. 

The Blazers lost Marcus Camby to an injured shoulder in the first half.  Nicolas Batum, who was back in the starting lineup, injured his shoulder in the first half and didn't return (of course, he was starting because Brandon Roy missed this game, and the next two, with a sore knee).  Joel Przybilla rolled his ankle early in the second half, and tried to play through it.  But, he left the game, and when I left he was lying on the training table very swollen. 

In short, it was just another night at the Rose Garden.  Yes, Luke Babbitt is on his way back to Portland from the D-League, just to get the Blazers up to the league minimum on healthy bodies.  They hope to have him ready by Saturday night's game against Golden State.

By the way, the Trail Blazers beat the Timberwolves for the 13th-straight time.  Outside of watching players drop like flies, it was a very competitive and entertaining game.  Minnesota has been playing better as of late, and badly wanted to end this ugly skid to Portland.  But, the Blazers just wouldn't surrender the lead in the second half, and won the game 107-102.  They haven't beaten Portland since March of 2007.

It's unfortunate the all of the injuries, yet again, overshadowed incredible nights from LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Fernandez.  Each turned in inspiring performances, and Wesley Matthews was pretty darn good himself.  Those three players accounted for 83 of Portland's 107 points. 

Aldridge was coming off a huge game in the loss to Dallas that ended the last trip.  He had 35 in that game.  The challenge for him was simple coming into this game- do it again.  He did.  He tied a career high with 36 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots.  I'll call it the game of his career, and I don't think I'll get much argument.

Fernandez, who went 2-21 on the four-game road trip, and has been mired in a horrible slump, was brilliant in this game.  Rudy brought a ton of energy to the game in the first half and helped Portland shoot 80 percent in the second quarter (16-20).  Fernandez ended with a career-high 26 points, on 9 of 15 shooting.  He also dished out 6 assists, including a couple of spectacular lobs to Aldridge.

Patty Mills deserves some mention as well, as he played 24 minutes in this game, and was on the floor during crunch time in the fourth quarter.  Patty Cakes finished with 8 points and 4 assists, and was very solid in a back-up role.

As has been the case so many times in the past couple of years, the good news on this night came with the bad news about the injuries to Camby, Batum, and Przybilla.  Even though no official word came out, I'll be shocked if any of the three play on Saturday night.  Przybilla's ankle looked to be in pretty rough shape.  Camby's shoulder was very, very sore.  And, I talked to Batum right after the game, and even though he said he tried to come back, this is an injury in exactly the same place as his injury last season, which required surgery.  I'm not saying this one will result in the same kind of time loss, but he did seem concerned.

One step forward, two steps back.  Like I said, just another night at the Rose Garden.

To listen to Nate McMillan's post-game comments, click here.


  1. wow, i glazed over the injuries a bit when looking on the sparkle of the win.

    LA is at that age and stage in his career where he will dominate like this more often. he has the tools, it was just a matter of using them all in the same game. huge double-double with 35 & 10 topped off with 5 blocks. i like him in that 5 spot.

    i might have been even more surprised to see rudy go for 26 & 6asst with 3rebs and 3stls. it seems like rudy needs patty to light the fuse and get him going. all i can say is to keep it going.

    i can't wait to be that the RG tomorrow!

    by reverse on 12/17/2010 11:55 PM
  2. i can't believe i just set my starting 5 to LA, andre, rudy, wesley & dante. wow

    by reverse on 12/17/2010 11:58 PM
  3. Nice to se LA do two dominate games in a row both including the 4th quarter. I was worried it was going to be a one game thing with him, but nice to see him making a point to be aggresive in the 4th quarter.

    Rudy played fantastic too. Love his engery and heady play. Nice to see him hitting his 3s again.

    by mgb on 12/18/2010 12:20 AM
  4. Wow, should have used my spell checker!

    by mgb on 12/18/2010 12:29 AM
  5. Mike:

    I can't say enough about LMA. I can't figure Rudy out. I love Patty's ball movement and increasing the tempo. Wesley is becoming a very constistent player and where would we be without him?

    Regardless of the win and loss record of Minny, they looked pretty good on offense. Amd Love is a monster. wow!

    It was sure great to listen to you and Mike R tonight. I know they say there is no moral victories in the NBA, but this was just as much a moral victory as it was victory.

    Thank you for the update


    by Hg on 12/18/2010 12:39 AM
  6. RUDY!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have been waiting to see that! Awesome! And side note..... Go Patty Cakes!

    by Olallie on 12/18/2010 12:56 AM
  7. first of all. i take back the severity of my words towards rudy on the last blog. not ready to buy his jersey yet, but it's a start.

    is it just me or does the team seem to be playing with more joy when brandon isn't on the floor? he's been kind of a party pooper lately. he doesn't enjoy playing right now and i think as the go-to-guy (but not leader)on this team, it affects everyone's vibe.

    by sudelander on 12/18/2010 2:12 AM
  8. Nice win. Didn't get to watch the game, but I was fairly impressed seeing 3 players account for 83 of our points.

    by Herr on 12/18/2010 2:30 AM
  9. Sudelander:

    It is hard to say whether BRoy is a party-pooper or not, but with him and Dre on the court we can't play the up tempo that the youngsters can play for long.

    Nate should keep in mind that this type offense may not work all the time, but when he wants to give it a whirl, take Dre, Camby, and BRoy out of the game. Put Patty in for Dre, Rudy in for BRoy, move Wesley to the 3, Batum or Dante to the 4 and LMA to the 5, and let them fly. With Patty pushing the ball up the floor and LMA and Batum or Dante beating everybody else down the floor we will be a much more potent offense and hopefully adequate defense to get steals or rebounds and fast break.

    But without Camby last night, they got more then there share of Rebounds, so we would have to modify the line-up at times.

    We only need three guys on a fast break as long as one of them is LMA, So Camby or Joel won't have to sprint everytime down the floor and still be effective if the fast break isn't there.

    We seen this line-up against Dallas and almost won the game; then again last night, so IMO, it is very effective offense at times.

    Uncle Hg

    by Hg on 12/18/2010 6:55 AM
  10. I'd rather have a greasy win,than a hard fought "Moral victory" loss.

    by DowntownVinnie on 12/18/2010 8:58 AM
  11. Man,last night injuries came down like Oregon rain.
    Aldridge was a LaMonster for the second game in a row.We need a new leader on the floor and with the exception of a couple of missed free throws, he might be the "closer" that we need in the fourth.his defense has also improved dramatically from last season.
    RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDY,What caan I say Rudy was In Fuego.Great floor game.The fastbreak touch pass to LMA was a classic. http://www.nba.com/blazers/tbtv/video.html?videoID=445
    This one too. http://www.blazersedge.com/2010/12/17/1883362/rudy-fernandez-throws-an-alley-oop-to-lamarcus-aldridge-lamarcus Rudy definitely has a knack for gettin the RG rockin.Defensively,he has really stepped up,also.Makes me feel proud to don his jersey again:)
    Big ups to Pat Stacks who played solid minutes at crunch time .Good experience for him

    by DowntownVinnie on 12/18/2010 9:32 AM
  12. Vinnie:

    Of course a win is nicer then a moral victory, but hard fighting games produces wins: Therefore, a hard fought game will give us more wins then losses.

    With Our problems this year a hard fought moral victory may produce many more wins.


    by Hg on 12/18/2010 9:33 AM
  13. Great win for us, though as usual didn't watch the game. NIce to see Rudy have a nice game and awesome that LA had aother great game, this time in a win. Man, rough times once again.

    On a side note, was supposed to be back in Ptown as of yesterday, but Europe's weather is crazy right now. Will be flying tomorrow though. Peace - Anees, from a 'chilly' 10 degree Prague

    by Anees on 12/18/2010 9:52 AM
  14. TravisD: The only problem I have with that lineup is rebounds. We were whipped on the boards last night. However, that is a very entertaining team. A good rebounding 5 with a great outlet pass (Joel? Marcus?) doesn't have to be a greyhound to be at the heart of a great running team.
    The running, open court style fits Rudy much better and allows LMA to use his tools without time to double a triple him.

    by Ancientone on 12/18/2010 10:43 AM
  15. went to the game and Ltrains dunk was nasty!!

    by Miller on 12/18/2010 10:49 AM
  16. Let's hope that Rudy's performance last night will give hime the spark he needs to be a solid player, especially with Patty running the point. I've noticed also that ever since Mills has been playing, Rudy's joy of playing has gotten better, and it showed last night. That's the Rudy we know and love. As the saying goes, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.' GO BLAZERS!

    by blazerdarren77 on 12/18/2010 11:46 AM
  17. Someone swat that injury bug before it gets its nasty little proboscis into any more of our Blazers! I'm totally bummed that Nicolas wasn't able to capitalize on this starting opportunity. Oh yeah, and we're fresh outta centers...again! The hits just keep coming...

    Good morning ladies and gentleman of the jury. I stand before you calling for the deconstruction of the NBA preseason. It is my belief that the regular season should be extended to the beginning of October without increasing the number of games played. 82 games is a long season, folks, and crushing those 82 games between November and April is a sadistic practice that reduces the quality of the entertainment by hobbling the players.

    Exhibit A: The Portland Trail Blazers. Friends, this team has been saddled with a horrendous number of back-to-back games to start the NBA season--six already, people. For starters, any back-to-back situation creates an unfair advantage to the more rested team. Nobody likes to play with a stacked deck; am I right? Even the victorious team knows that it wasn't a legitimate win.

    Now, beyond simple fatigue from having played a competitive game the previous night, travel is an additional weight these champions must shoulder. I don't know how many of y'all have suffered jet lag, but she is a bear. I don't know how many times this team has arrived at a city in the wee hours of the morning, stolen a few precious hours from Father Time's larder, then trotted out on the hardwood for 48 minutes of brutality. I have a rough enough time hailing a taxi when I'm jet-lagged, I can only imagine what these fine gentleman suffer.

    Finally, let us turn to our international colleagues. Rudy, Nico, Patty and Sean, please approach the stand. Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you god?
    Nico: Oui, monsieur.
    Sean: Of course, mate.
    Patty: No worries.
    Physically, how do you feel after competing in the FIBA games, then returning to the USA for Coach McMillan's grueling training camp, a worthless stretch of exhibition games, then embarking on an 82 game marathon.
    Rudy: Soy triste. Mis compañeros en España son muy--
    --Physically, Rudy. I asked how you feel physically.
    Rudy: Ah, asi asi. Mi espalda no es perfecto y soy un poco triste--
    --Uh huh, how about you Nicolas? How do you feel?
    Nico: Comme la caca.
    You feel...
    Nico: Comme la caca. Je suis LE HOMME de Les Blues. Ici, je suis un enfant. C'est terrible, mec.
    How about physically? A little tired?
    Nico: Oui! Trés fatigue, mec. Je suis tout pres de mort.
    Okay, how about you Sean? Has the schedule been rough?
    Sean: Lord, no. I'm ready to go, mate! You need me to start at Center tomorrow? I can do it! Just put me in coach and I'll show such hustle, such grit, such scra--
    --That's great, Sean. Lastly, Patty. How are you feeling?
    Patty: Knackered.
    Understandably. Any concern about the season catching up to you?
    Patty: No worries.

    Well, as you can see, the Euros on the Blazers squad who saw real minutes over the summer have some concerns about fatigue. Our companions Down Under were disqualified quickly enough to get some rest. Nico and Rudy saw a more difficult run. Undoubtedly, they would have enjoyed a breather. Let's give it to them. Kill the preseason, extend the regular season, and save some money at the surgeon's. It's the right thing to do.

    by 500Dogs on 12/18/2010 12:20 PM
  18. Great Blog ! Bummer all the injuries- I thought for a bit we might loose Matthews as well with that nasty spill he took in the 2nd half- very glad to see him back out out there!!

    Should be a run run and run some more game tonight- hope Rudy and LA can repeat their performances!!

    by RedRudy5 on 12/18/2010 12:23 PM
  19. We got to be there last night, and I was really glad we made it, though both of us were very tired.

    After LMA's 6th alley-oop dunk, I was like, "wow, wasn't that like his 5th or 6th like that?" and when I saw him poserize Beasley, no slouch btw, I was like, "play of the game!" and "that dunk BETTER make it onto the NBA's Top 10!" - it did, coming in at #2 (they put Griffin's 360 floater/layin as the #1 "dunk", robbing LMA's of it's proper honor - the 360 was actually the #1 play also - booooooo!). Anyway, I figured his game in Dallas was due to the lack of a double-team and playing for his hometown, and so was absolutely thrilled to see him doing it again. I wasn't convinced he would carry it the whole game, but am very, very glad he stepped up for all four quarters. To me, it's too early to make real conclusions about him, his play, or his place on the team exactly, but it certainly looks encouraging and is something to hopefully build upon.

    Rudy was phenomenal, but I won't expect to see it again soon. Not to knock on Rudy, or take away his achievement, but I think Antonio Harvey hit is spot on when he said last night on Talkin' Ball that Rudy's game is dictated by his emotions. The host tried to say that BRoy has been holding Rudy back or something like that and Tone said, "no, I've seen Rudy do this before. He was in a slump, and then just all of a sudden came out of it and went out and had a great game in Los Angeles. Brandon played that night, so no, I don't think so." (an approximation of the actual quote, and I am not sure when he meant). Based on my own observations of Rudy's game and character, I think that's very likely. Unfortunately, Rudy will probably never be reliable, unless someone can figure out a way to keep him happy on a consistent basis. Mercurial personalities are exciting at times, but they also take you very low in exchange for the extreme heights. Just sayin...

    This was a win with a heavy cost in players. I am glad we won, but have to point out that we can't expect career nights from our players every night. Had either Rudy or LMA not had the games of their careers, we likely would have lost.....to the Timberwolves. Despite Curry being out tonight, I have serious doubts this is going to be a win, especially without Camby and Joel. LMA has been very resilient, but having to play center all game long is going to be tough and I expect to see him doubled tonight. Trying to be optimistic. I think this game will tell us more about who LMA truly can be than the last two did.

    Btw, Gilbert Arenas, Brandon Bass, and Gortat are all off the table it seems. these are names I have heard floated around lately in regard to us. But today, the Magic and the Wizards completed a deal that sent Arenas to Orlando for Rashad Lewis. Since they traded for a G, and not another F, it seems to signal that Orlando is committed to utilizing Bass more. With the move, it's clear they wouldn't need or want Dre or Nicolas or anyone else we could give them for Martin. My guess is that we won't see a move for some time, if we see one at all.

    by EowynAmarie on 12/18/2010 1:26 PM
  20. Hahahaha......this report has Orlandon making a deal with Phoenix as well, where, it turns out, Gortat IS moved, along with Carter and Pietrus (another player some were thinking would be good here). Orlandon is blowing up its roster!!! Jeez, if this doesn't work, will Dwight jump ship?!?!? Man.....that woud mean he might end up in the Western Conference! Can i start dreaming NOW???? LOL!
    Here's the link:http://blog.oregonlive.com/nba/2010/12/nba_read_react_huge_trade_between_magic_and_suns_figures_to_affect_blazers_playoff_prospects.html

    by EowynAmarie on 12/18/2010 1:35 PM
  21. Obviously, that's supposed to be ORLANDO, and not Orlandon.....I wish there was a way to edit!!!

    by EowynAmarie on 12/18/2010 1:39 PM
  22. I'm as frustrated by the injuries as anyone, but I can't help feeling pleased that the Blazer's finally figured out what I have been saying all year. The foundation of this team is LaMarcus. The adjustment made in Dallas by Nate and Roy amazed me; Brandon correctly scaled back his ambitions and let the extra shots go to LA. We lost only because Popovich won the defensive chess game, having prepared the counter-move of taking Dirk to the low post as soon as we switched Batum to cover him. With Brandon now sitting, there is at last no one to divert the Blazer's from making Aldridge the focus of the offense for the whole game. Of course, we have to worry how long he can last with bodies dropping around him and so many extra minutes coming at center. Last year's overload of talent at small forward has certainly thinned out a lot--with Batum hurt again I find myself wondering what it would take to extract Claver from Europe--and I'm unhappy that our centers are banged up right when a solid line-up should have gained us a couple of more wins in a row. But I really like the energy with LaMarcus, Rudy, Patty and Wesley on the floor. Fast play with creative passing is a pure joy, and we had a lot of that last night. Here's hoping for more.

    by Islander on 12/18/2010 2:21 PM
  23. Great job by Nate to leave Mills in to finish the games. Imo, a huge step to go away from his pattern, and Dre gets rest on a back to back.
    Bring on the Warriors !!

    Go Blazers !!!!

    by Kim~ on 12/18/2010 3:20 PM
  24. Kim haters dont get to excited. Even with beer and googles, I still dont see Mills as the pg to take this team toa championship.

    by Kim~ on 12/18/2010 3:22 PM
  25. Am I the only one not surprised by what Rudy did last night? He finally got to play significant minutes with the ball in his hands at the tempo that made him famous, and that made all the difference.

    The Blazers need to figure out an identity. Are we a half-court, slug it out team that runs when the opportunity is there, or are we a running team that pushes the tempo on every possession and forces the defense into unfamiliar situations?

    Let's have a look at the current roster:

    Strong half-court game: Roy (when healthy), Prizbilla.

    Strong running game: Fernandez, Mills.

    Can play well either way: Aldridge, Mathews, Miller, Batum, Camby, Cunningham.

    Still unknown: Johnson, Babbit.

    Of those who can play either way, Mathews, Batum, and Cunningham would benefit greatly from a running style. They seem to me to be designed to be open court players. And Miller is no slouch at the running game either.

    I think it's obvious which way we should go...

    by dgpdx on 12/18/2010 3:38 PM
  26. Awesome win. I think with Roy being a hurt man this year, Aldridge who has always been the #2 option behind Roy, should now start being the leader. I dont expect 35-10 everynight, but a consistent 20 to 25-10 would be awesome. Hes got all the tools to do it, just needs to continue.

    I loved how Rudy played lastight, who didnt. Im not worried too much about Camby or Prys, cause there good bouce back players and prabaly wont be out for more than few games@ the most I assume. But my attention goes to Mr Batum. Its that SAME darn shoulder..and he looked like he was in pain when MB last saw him, so lets stay positive, but this worries me.

    Other than that, just gotta play. No one in this league is going to feel sorry for us, gotta get it done. Im ofcourse HUGE Roy fan, but I agree he is this years party pooper, and im not saying that cause of his numbers alone, but just watch him play..He just looks depressed out there. Sucks. I think Brandon Roy will get his swagger back someday and will look at this and go remember that!?...much luv for "the natural" but for now let him rest up and play this uptempo team led my Lamarcus and see where it leads us.

    by whitefeather21380 on 12/18/2010 3:42 PM
  27. to the injuries in a moment. i'm more impressed with how we battled through our three guys going down and still put on the pressure minnesota to come away with the W.

    and ... what have i been telling all of you for the past couple weeks when it comes to LaMarcus?

    the guy has stepped up his game just when we need it. i can't say i'm surprised or shocked. i've always felt LaMarcus had the ability to take over a game. the past two games, he's done that. i'm greatly impressed with both efforts. he seems to feed off the younger guys such as Patty, and that's only something which can continue. the 10 rebounds and five blocks, in addition to his 36 points, show me that he was getting it done on both ends of the court. he certainly is looking to me like the second player taken in the draft.

    i thought i'd throw out a couple facts here. LaMarcus ranks 26th in the nba in ppg; 3rd in offensive rebounds; 22nd in total rebounds; 5th in minutes played 12th in made fg, 27th in both ft makes and attempts, and 16th in double-doubles. he is our go-to guy now.

    Rudy can be confusing at times, but after the dallas game, he said he was committed to shooting better. he was amazing last night. what i noticed was that he used some inside game to set up the outside game, and i don't think minnesota ended up being prepared for either. i also think Rudy played off LaMarcus and Patty very well. we absolutely needed Rudy last night, and he came through. i don't know about 26 points in every game, but hopefully this effort enhances his confidence and he can become consistent, much as we saw during his rookie year.

    i like how Wesley became the third guy and really helped us out near the end of the game when we were tying to put the thing away. the timberwolves were pesky, but Wesley came through with some nice efforts in the fourth to fend them off. i'd like to see us be able to rely on him consistently for that 20-24 points, especially since he's in the starting role now. we'll need Wesley the next few games.

    Patty's energy infusion makes this team better. you can tell the team is having more fun when he's in pushing the tempo. it seems when the guys are having fun, we have better chances at success. Patty's energy is the catalyst for that.

    Dante had a pretty decent outing and Sean gave us some good minutes. Andre is going to need to make more of an impact if we are to win these next couple of games.

    we saw some of this last night, and i wouldn't be surprised if we didn't see both Patty and Armon on the court. Patty dished an assist to Armon's three pointer, and i can see circumstances where using both could be a boost for us. we're a short team without Marcus and Joel. if LaMarcus, Dante and Sean serve a three-man rotation at pf/c, it will be up to Wesley, Rudy and Luke to man the sf spot, and much of the sg position, but i can see us using Armon at sg. i don't advocate this for long periods of a game, but having both could provide some speed which could be difficult to defend. of course, golden state is a quick, running team, so the athleticism may be just what we need.

    you know, i hear all this commenting about morale victories, with this or that. i thought i could provide a little context: morale victories don't mean much, but in some tough losses (i.e. the dallas loss), you can take some things from the game which worked well (i.e. feeding LaMarcus the ball), and bring them forward to your following games. let's say in the dallas loss we found a couple things to incorporate into the game plan which led us to several victories. that's what's called a morale victory. it's just a matter of looking at the big picture.

    finally, as i just checked some news, i see Andre has been fined $25,000 by the league for tossing the ball into the stands during that dallas game. obviously, Andre is frustrated, but who wouldn't be at that point? with all the rumors going around about Andre and trades, and Brandon's alleged comments about he and Andre, i can't blame him for his frustration. i guess we'll have to wait to see what happens.

    getting ready to get the game on tonight ...


    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 12/18/2010 4:25 PM
  28. okay, so we're without Joel and Marcus tonight, and Nicolas is a game-time decision. the nasty injury bug has reared its ugly face.

    we're down to 10 players after calling up Luke -- 11 if Nicolas plays. seems as we've been through kind of thing before. here's how i figure tonight's lineup:

    sf: Wesley - Luke
    pf: Dante - Sean
    c: LaMarcus - Sean
    sg: Rudy - Armon
    pg: Andre - Patty

    yes, i really did mean to pencil in Armon as the back-up sg. i think Nate will experiment further with this lineup.

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 12/18/2010 6:21 PM
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