Dec 18

Portland Survives Again

By mikebarrett
The Trail Blazers only had nine players available on Saturday night at the Rose Garden.  They ended up using all nine.  And, all nine, in one way or another, had something to do with this 96-95 victory over the Golden State Warriors.  It's the fifth-straight home win for the Blazers, and puts them back at the .500 mark, at 14-14.

If you felt comfortable when Portland led by 15-points with 7:40 left, you haven't watched many games this season.  Even though this one will go into the catagory of not putting an opponent away, when you're this shorthanded, and this hungry for wins, you can't complain with the way you ultimately get them. 

The Blazers have already lost six games when taking a lead to the fourth quarter, and one stat that kept jumping out at me was that Golden State was 0-15 when trailing after three quarters.  You know they're going to break through at some point, and it could have easily been tonight.  They outscored the Blazers 24-10, after Portland built that 15-point lead, but couldn't get the game winner to fall.

Missed free throws, turnovers, and a couple of bad possessions late in the game were reasons Golden State was able to put itself in a position to steal the game.  Also, Monta Ellis, who had an awful first half, caught fire in the second and gave his team momentum.  When the Warriors got the ball back with 8 seconds left, and called timeout, you knew it would be Ellis who would be involved in the deciding shot.

Coming out of the timeout, we predicted on the air that Ellis would attack the basket and go for the win on the shot, or get it at the free-throw line.  It wasn't like that prediction was exactly going out on a limb.  The entire building knew that would be the case.  What surprised everyone was that Ellis didn't attack the basket.  The Blazers had to switch a pick out top and LaMarcus Aldridge ended up on Ellis.  Surely now Ellis would pin his ears back and put the pressure on Aldridge, and the referees, on a final aggressive play.  But, he chose to pull the trigger on a long jumper.  He missed, Rudy Fernandez grabbed the rebound, and Portland walked away with the win.

It had to be a painful loss for Golden State, who was very shorthanded itself in this one, playing without Stephen Curry, Andris Biedrins, and Brandan Wright.  But, they battled back and fought hard in a building where they haven't had a whole lot of success in their history.  In the end, they had the ball in the hands of one of the best spot-up shooters in the NBA.  He just missed.

For the Blazers, who were playing without Marcus Camby, Nicolas Batum, Joel Przybilla, and, of course, Brandon Roy, you take the win and run.  Portland had six players score in double figures, led by Aldridge and Andre Miller, who each scored 17.  Oddly enough, the starter with the most field goal attempts for Portland was Dante Cunningham, who attempted 13 shots, scored 13 points, and grabbed five rebounds.

Coming off games where he scored 35, and then 36 points, Aldridge was the focal point of Golden State's defense, obviously.  Aldridge didn't get the big numbers again, but he did pick up another double-double, and ended with 17 and 12.

Fernandez, coming off a career-high 26 on Friday night, was solid once again, and showed that with playing time he has a well-rounded game.  Meaning, he's more than just a spot-up three-point shooter.  Fernandez had 15 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals. 

The star off the bench was Patty Mills, who scored a career-high 12 points, including 9 in the fourth quarter.  He's fearless, and that's what fans seem to love most about him.  He's a guy who's willing to take the big shots in the fourth quarter.  He finished the game on Friday night, as Andre stayed on the sidelines.  But, in this one, Mills played the first half of the fourth quarter and Miller got the second half.  Andre had the biggest play of the night as well.  With Portland up just 91-89, Miller went across the paint and got Vladimir Radmanovic to foul him, and also flipped the ball into the hoop.  That made it 94-89, and turned out to be the biggest Portland bucket of the night.

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

Now it's a day off, before hosting the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night at the Rose Garden.  Batum told me several times before the game, and once after the game, that he plans on playing against the Bucks.  We don't know yet about Camby, who injured his shoulder on Friday.  He had it wrapped heavily before the game, and it'll be a wait-and-see situation.  Przybilla could miss about 10 days, it sounds like, with a pretty badly sprained ankle.

Talk to you Monday night.


  1. This win was helpful in another aspect; the bench play has improved quite substantially compared to their lackluster performance the past few weeks. Now the guys are starting to gel and it has helped the starters out a lot. And they're doing it without their key players. This team is starting to show signs of life. Keep it up guys; it's getting better.

    by blazerdarren77 on 12/18/2010 11:42 PM
  2. Man, give Camby the break. Joel out for 10 days? When are we getting a break. We're winning games we should win, that's good. They aren't pretty wins, but that doesn't matter down the stretch.

    All I've been hearing about the Blazers is stuff happening off the court. Are we making a blockbuster trade? Are we going to start rebuilding? "Experts" say we must give up on Oden and Roy and let Andre and Camby go. "Experts" say the Portland dream is done.

    It's not a good time to be a Blazer, and I hope Wheeler didn't lie on the radio and say it is.

    by Herr on 12/18/2010 11:43 PM
  3. Good game overall especially with only 9 guys! But I left the RG feeling we were very lucky to have gotten the win after blowing a lead once again!

    by RedRudy5 on 12/18/2010 11:46 PM
  4. Complainers will have complainers remorse soon. The writing is on the wall. With the Suns blowing their team up the Blazers stand to get a player or two from them. I can't see Nash staying either. I thing he's going to ask to be traded. We stand a good chance of holding on to the 8th spot for the playoffs.
    This trading deadline we have too many great moves we can make and money due to Oden's injury. It's on Mr. CHO to pull something off. If he doesn't then I'm thinking he may be a little soft.
    Does anyone know if there is a surgery that Bradon can have that could help his knees heal!? Is a bone on bone Knee the end? Can micro-fracture surgery help?

    by civilhold on 12/19/2010 1:59 AM
  5. Mike:

    I had to listen to the GSW announcers, as you said they were very disappointed in this loss. They were much like you, and everybody else, in the fact that they thought Ellis would go one on one ISO to the basket and make the shot or win at the foul line. They could not figure out why there was a pick and roll that gave LMA a chance to stick out his long arms and caused Ellis to shoot way to high.

    This win was really a gut win with new players in new roles. You mentioned the turn-over’s being the big factor and I have to agree with you; The fact that these players were not used to playing together and causing timing to be off and the player that was to receive the pass wasn't where they would have been predicted to be. The turn-over’s surely could have been expected, but we stuck together and for once the final shot went our way.

    When the free throws started missing, I could feel the past games creeping into my thoughts. The GSW have had the same problem closing out games that we have so it was a British stand off.

    This game considering the injury problems was more of an un-expected type win then a needed win, but we do play as a team better when facing adversity.

    Batum may be back playing Monday, but I don't think he will be a 100%, so we will still need to depend on the bench. Oh I forgot, Batum is part of the bench LOL.


    by Hg on 12/19/2010 4:22 AM
  6. Civilhold:

    I don't think you will see Nash going any where, the Suns did do some house cleaning, but they needed to get Turkoglu off the roster as him and Nash wasn't to compatible. Getting Gortat will be a big help for Gortat and the Suns, and I believe Richardson and Carter to be a push. In fact I think both teams will be better because of the trade as both teams were starting to sink in the standings. I wished we could have gotten Gortat.

    I am like you; I don't know what can be done for BRoy in the case of him wanting to play BB. As help for his pain, artificial knees would help.


    by Hg on 12/19/2010 4:34 AM
  7. Thanks Hg. I just feel bad for the man!

    by civilhold on 12/19/2010 6:19 AM
  8. Civilhold: I am not an expert here by any means, and regarding total knee replacement, I do believe Hg and Ancientone are the resident experts, as they both have artificial knees. According to what I have read, there is nothing the Blazers or Brandon can do about his condition currently, other than rest him when his knee is bothering him. Knee replacement will probably be in his future, as his condition appears to be degenerative, but it is not something he would be able to come back and play from, and if it gets to that point, he would likely have to take a medical retirement.

    The knee joint has cartilage on the end of the leg bones that provides protection and helps the bones slide and then has another type of thicker cartilage that cushions impact between the leg bones, which is called meniscus. Brandon has little to no meniscus in either knee. This means all the impact is occurring between his bones, with the only protection being that cartilage on the ends that primarily provides for the smooth sliding action of the knees. Though not actually "bone-on-bone", it is almost like that, since there's no real CUSHION left. Obviously, considering the type of strain basketball is on the knee joint in particular, playing like that is going to cause pain and swelling at times. Brandon indicated recently that he used to compensate for his left knee (which hasn't had much meniscus since his 2008 surgery) by relying on his right knee. After April's surgery, which removed much of the remaining meniscus in THAT knee, he has noted that what used to bother him in only one knee now bothers him in both knees. He adjusted his game while still in college to compensate, then adjusted it again to comensate in 2008. The problem now is that there is little room for him to compensate, since he doesn't have any "impact" material left.

    At this point, it has been reported that there is not a surgical option for him. This would seem to mean that his knees are past the point of doing anything like microfracture (which is typically used to repair certain types of cartilage in the knee, but not the meniscus). Though we don't have all the details, it sounds like the doctors have simply indicated that Brandon's condition is just going to deteriorate over time. How long and to what degree things get before Brandon opts for a full knee replacement is completely up to how the condition is managed and what his personal tolerances are. Considering how much pain he has now, it seems to ME that he won't be able to play, in any state, for years to come. It's really subjective though.

    Short answer to your original question: there is a surgery (total knee replacement) that would work, but it is career-ending in the NBA. I have read that there are some experimental methods being done with replacment materials and injectable materials that simulate meniscus' cushioning effects, but since it doesn't appear the Blazers or Brandon are pursuing them, perhaps they are not really viable options at this point.

    Go Blazers!

    by EowynAmarie on 12/19/2010 10:11 AM
  9. Mike, you're absolutely right: take this win and run. i'd have loved to see us win this game by double digits, but there's no asterisk in the win column when it's a one-point game.

    missed ft's hurt us a lot last night, and if we would have made half of our misses, the game never would have been in doubt. the stat which shouts out to me, however, is rebounding. we lost the rebounding edge, 42-40, but i think the fact that it was so close -- given the personnel we had -- is a telling sign of what kept us competitive and enabled us to win.

    MB mentioned LaMarcus' double-double (his 11th this season in our 28 games played), and i want to point out that his 17 points came on 6-10 shooting from the field. sure, it would have been great to see him take some more shots, but 60 percent shooting is better than good.

    i was surprised we played Rudy on Ellis for much of the game; i'd have thought we would have Wesley playing more defense on the warriors' biggest scoring threat. both of our guys played really well and were really active on both ends of the court. i don't think i'm the only one who sees Rudy's confidence increasing. part of that is getting some solid minutes and the other part is his relationship with his teammates. i don't think enough can be said about guys like Patty and Nicolas reaching out and making him feel more comfortable here. they're having fun, and it's beginning to show in Rudy's play. Wesley didn't have the scoring night that we might have liked, but i have to say that he was very active and had some major hustle points.

    Andre turned in a solid game; the kind of game we needed from him. sometimes he facilitates and at other times he lets the game come to him. he played very well last night, i thought. what can i say about Patty? his style of play opens up a lot of things for Rudy, Wesley, and LaMarcus. i think we've seen that the past couple of games.

    Dante played really well last night, especially in the first half; it was really nice to see him get out of the gate early. Sean also had a good game, also especially effective in the first half.

    this game was important to show the resilience we have this year. we saw plenty of it last year, but i've been wondering how we would respond in short-handed situations. remember, last year, we had Juwan and Jeff, and this year we don't. i'm glad to see us pick up this win.

    i'm also glad to see we have a day off, then another home game. we beat milwaukee once, and we certainly have the opportunity to do so again. hopefully, we'll have Nicolas for that game.

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 12/19/2010 10:13 AM
  10. Although it wasn't the prettiest of games--all those turnovers and offensive rebounds leading to opponent put-backs--it was good to see a strong effort from all our players. I always like to see the reserves get a chance in a situation where they won't be yanked back to the bench the second they miss a shot or make a turnover. And I like our guys because they're not like the Golden State reserves who think "I've got a chance so I've gotta shoot." The fact that Dante led in shots taken actually shows you how unselfish our guys were; they took what they were given. The Warriors naturally thought Dante and Sean Marks were the best guys to leave open, so we fed them and said "go for it." Obviously that's easier to do with fewer big stars on the floor, but it's also related to the number of international guys on our team. Because most of the world grows up immersed in soccer, international basketball has absorbed the soccer truism that you always pass to the open man. I can't tell you how many times Drazen Petrovic threw passes to a teammate under the basket who wasn't expecting it, because he was getting ready to rebound the shot that almost every NBA player would have taken. The longer our American players spend on the court with their pass-oriented teammates, the better they'll get at being ready for the feed. Our turnovers are up in the short run, but I expect them to go down as we get used to the new combinations.

    by Islander on 12/19/2010 11:25 AM
  11. Survive is a good word MB.

    Mills is fiesty, and I do like the energy. But, it's going to take seeing the Blazers beat OKC and the Celtics for me to be convinced he is a back up pg of the future. Not to take away from the good play :)

    My gut feels that some players are being showcased. I have faith Cho's fresh eyes will it right.

    You've got to make your free throws !

    Bring on the Bucks !!!!

    by Kim~ on 12/19/2010 11:48 AM
  12. patty mills and his shooting were so needed last night. he was knocking down the open shots and kept the reserves scoring. nice team effort on a night where they needed every point. sean marks' put-back dunk was huge.

    despite the fact that joel may be out 10 days, hopefully that only means 3 games. after the bucks monday, the team doesn't play until saturday in oakland. if there is a better time to be injured, this may be it. hopefully marcus can put in a few minutes against bogut. if nic can go, he has to play big and get to cleaning the glass!

    as for the trade news, the suns are a big winner in that one. they have a legit big to go with lopez, and can put frye in more of a power forward role. giant upgrade over rolling earl barron (who is a fringe level nba-er) out there. richardson/carter is more of a push. turkoglu/gortat is a big plus. they fill their void at center.

    orlando actually got over too. turkoglu will work well for them. brandon bass will probably start regularly now that lewis is gone. all season they had been lacking a quality sf. now they have a line-up of nelson, richardson, hedo, bass & howard. HUGE front court & extremely deep bench.

    by reverse on 12/19/2010 12:07 PM
  13. in light of the trades, rich cho needs to keep looking at turiaf/mozgov, varejao, love, and any other young 4/5 guy that can be teamed with the L-train. gortat and bass are off the trade board. varejao is looking more useful by the minute, especially since it seems that turiaf has some recurring knee issues. we'll see what mr. cho and PA come up with.

    d-vin probably hit that one on the head when he pointed to andre's durability making him less tradable. 'dre and LA taking the court every night keeps portland in lots of games, and creates a framework for the likes of dc and others to make valuable contributions. does that send marcus to the knicks? maybe in a 3 team trade with cleveland?

    the trade machine says that camby to the knicks, varejao and turiaf to the blazers, and azubuike and mozgov to the cavs works. there could be some cash and picks mixed in to. if only i had the gm's cell # i'd text him my ideas!

    by reverse on 12/19/2010 12:28 PM
  14. trav...love that trade,as much as I would hate to lose Camby,Varejao and Turiaf are both high motor guys and would add considerable depth to our roster.

    by DowntownVinnie on 12/19/2010 1:15 PM
  15. On Brandon, I don't know enough about his pathology but one wonders if Synvisc. injection would be an option. Knee replacement would be the end of his career.

    I'd hate to lose Camby but that trade might work esp. if Nate would let the team run.

    by Ancientone on 12/19/2010 2:56 PM
  16. corey magette is lurking. marcus and lamarcus need to break out the knee pads. rudy has the new style ones, so they should copy him if they don't want to go retro. the L-train has been rocking the dream shake lately though, so...

    without brandon jennings, we very well may be treated to 12-15 minutes of patty mills vs. earl boykins. weird. the bucks' offense may look strange, and the blazers should pressure them often. andre and patty should try for 5 steals a piece.

    if batum and camby play, portland has a really good chance of taking this game. if nic can take a turn applying on the ball pressure, and marcus helps on bogut, things swing for the blazers. forcing turnovers is the order of the day.

    given that a win would put them back above .500 and that they don't play again until saturday, i'm really hoping to see an all-out effort. if this is the team that they have to roll with for a while, they need to bring the A game.


    by reverse on 12/19/2010 11:26 PM
  17. Wow! Eowyn Amarie Thanks for the indepth information. That helps me when I look at Brandon"s Play.

    by civilhold on 12/19/2010 11:29 PM
  18. While the bench played well usually they do at home. It's on the road the bench disappears. Hopefully they'll keep it up on the road as well.

    by mgb on 12/20/2010 1:24 AM
  19. Man.. LaMarcus is a beast.

    Hope he get this going on till the team can rehab.

    by Tiago Torigoe on 12/20/2010 5:36 AM
  20. I was at the game and it was a fun game to watch. Glad they pulled the win out! Miss seeing Roy out there in is healthy days. Its too bad that he may be done. Great player great attitude.

    Go Blazers!

    by Rob Schaper on 12/20/2010 6:33 AM
  21. Cycle down for a nice piece on Dre.

    by DowntownVinnie on 12/20/2010 8:04 AM
  22. Nice Blog....It was a total nail biter, even being up by 15 with 7:40 left it was evident that Golden State was heading for run. It wouldn't be a Blazer fourth quarter without watching a lead dissipate. We got the w though and that is all that matters. Major props to Patty for a great game off the bench!

    by Kraydayz on 12/20/2010 8:41 AM
  23. By the way, considering the dissertation on the knee (which was very well done and medically correct) by EWM, why does she refer to hg and I as the resident experts?

    by Ancientone on 12/20/2010 9:59 AM
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