Jan 20

Batum Leads the Way in Sac

By mikebarrett
Nothing was easy about Wednesday night's win in Sacramento.  Nothing has been easy for this team all season.  And, if you've followed anything that's happened lately, you know that's not about to change.  So, in my opinion, you don't pick apart wins right now.  You take them and move on, no matter how you think the game should have gone.

The Sacramento Kings have been playing better as of late.  They beat the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on their recent road trip, and finished the trip by blowing a lead in Atlanta and losing a heartbreaker at the buzzer.  In the home game, prior to last night's game, they beat the Denver Nuggets by 20.  Should the Blazers have still beaten them?  Yes.  Does the fact that they had to do it in overtime take anything away from the win?  No.

The Blazers won't have Marcus Camby for a while, as you know.  We don't know how long it'll be, but Thursday morning's procedure went very well, and it was relatively minor.  It won't be a case where he'll be back in 8 days, like Brandon Roy, but I would guess he'll beat the 4 to 6 weeks timeline that's usually issued after surgeries like this.  I'm going to be optimistic here and say he'll be back in three weeks or so.  

To say the basketball gods haven't been kind to the Trail Blazers is an understatement.  But, at least in this case, they allowed Joel Przybilla to get back into the swing of things before they took Camby away.  Joel's progress in the last two games has been very substantial.

Joel looked more like himself on Monday.  Last night, he played 29 minutes (they were planning on limiting him to 20), grabbed 11 rebounds, took a couple of charges, and was altering shots inside.  He was also back to playing the role of physical enforcer in the middle.  That's been missing.  Camby is an incredible rebounder and shot blocker, but doesn't get down and dirty quite like Przybilla.  Joel protects his teammates, doesn't take kindly to bully tactics, and often climbs in the heads of younger players (see DeMarcus Cousins last night) and gets them thinking more about him than the game. 

Offensively, it was good to see Nicolas Batum continuing to take more responsibility and being more aggressive.  He had 24 points on 9 of 16 shooting, and also grabbed 6 rebounds.  Defenses are going to continue to try and find ways to stop LaMarcus Aldridge, and Batum has got to be the guy who steps up.

The Kings threw every kind of defense imaginable at Aldridge last night, and they're a big and physical team.  In the past couple of years we would possibly have seen L.A. back down from a challenge like this, and settle for outside shots.  Not anymore.  He ground his way to 23 points and 9 rebounds, and again, scored in a variety of ways.

The other star for Portland's offense on this night was Andre Miller.  He has such a great sense of only looking for his shot when the team absolutely needs it.  He's fine with the fact that he's probably the third or fourth option on most plays.  Last night he had 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists.  And, he drilled a couple of huge shots late in the game, and overtime, that helped Portland survive.

Rudy Fernandez was very solid off the bench, with 13 points, 5 assists, 3 steals, and 3 rebounds.  He continues to disrupt on defense, and is playing very under control.

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

Now it's the Clippers, at the Rose Garden.  These aren't your father's Clippers, and they aren't the Clippers who dropped both meetings with the Blazers so far.  Blake Griffin is a beast, and they are gaining confidence with each passing game.

Given what happened the last time these teams played, when Griffin got completely flattened by Miller, and the fact that Przybilla is back on the court to serve as the protecter, this game will be chippy.  Bank on that.  Also bank on the fact that if Portland wins, it won't be easy.  I know, I know..  I sound like a broken record.


  1. Nicolas is finally starting to come into his own. I maintain that he can become an 18 and 8 kinda guy. What I really want to see from him is to develop a solid two-man game with LMA2. Whenever LaMarcus gets doubled, I want to see Batum charging in to give him relief. It's no secret that LMA2 is a horrible passer out of double teams, so someone needs to step up and help him out. I think it's gotta be Nico.

    In other news, how about Joel Przybilla? Stepping into the void. If he doesn't get the start tonight, it'd be criminal. I like Cunningham a lot as a player, but I like him as a SMALL FORWARD!!! The dude ain't a PF and he ain't a Center--he's a big, smart, tough SF. His toughness and ability to play bigger than he is allows the team to throw him around a little bit. They've needed Bigs, so he's had to play Big. I don't think at any point in his career has he been allowed to slip into the backup Small Forward slot.

    by 500Dogs on 1/20/2011 10:52 AM
  2. If Joel can start, that leaves the backup Center as the highest priority in a trade. Preferably they could find someone that could slide to PF for stretches like, oh I don't know, Turiaf. That, or Cho could try to knock it out of the park and shoot for a starting Center and leave Joel as a backup. If Denver is serious about blowing things up, he could try for Nené Hilario. That 1st round pick from NOH could sweeten a Camby for Nené trade, which would give DEN serious flexibility at Draft Day. Heck, it's possible to get both if we send Oden to NYK for Ronny and A. Randolph...


    That would shore up all the corners but starting PG, which can wait. Unless...


    Add in a Conley and Thabeet for Rudy and Andre element and everything's fixed. That gives us 16 players, so Marx would have to go...>S2< Finally, you let Przybilla go at the end of the season to make space for Batum's extension.

    The moral of the story is, beware the ESPN Trade Machine. It can eat your soul.

    by 500Dogs on 1/20/2011 10:54 AM

  3. MB,

    thanks for the new post.

    aside from all-star hype, and hype in general, this game seems like trouble. over their last 15 games the clippers are 11-4, and the blazers are 9-6. we need a whole team effort. the clips won't be as tired as our guys since none of them played more than 33min last night.

    i'd like to see deandre jordan forced to defend the pick and roll, and have our perimeter guys go at the basket as often as possible. if they can get jordan in foul trouble, the game could become much easier. we'll see if joel can have some effect on deandre as well.

    aldridge again will need to show his whole game, not just one or two aspects. i think he should start firing off an occasional 3 when being guarded by someone like jordan, especially when joel is near the hoop. now that the post game is fully established, show the whole repertoire!

    the refs have to watch griff for pushing in the back, and shoving/riding players underneath the rim. it is a foul. if LA were allowed to commit these fouls without being called, he'd be averaging over 10 rebounds a game. i hope blakey doesn't try any of this on andre again.

    it should be a fun game tonight. i can't wait.

    by reverse on 1/20/2011 10:59 AM
  4. Nice blog! It is great to have Joel back- we missed that for sure.

    Nic was awesome as well.

    I am anticipating quite the chippy game tonight expecially with Joel back- Hope it translates into a win.

    by RedRudy5 on 1/20/2011 11:09 AM
  5. I'll be surprised if we win tonight to be honest. The Clippers front court is more superior to ours atm, and that's their obvious strong spot.

    I didn't get to watch the game, but I started when the game was tied at 83, and think I realized something. Andre is a decent enough closer, so I think the reason we lost close games (like the Heat game) is because we had a rookie (yeah, he's basically a rookie) in Patty Mills playing 90% of the quarter. Hate to say it, but 4th quarter has to be Miller time. He gets the job done when it matters. Bringing him off the bench with a minute left expecting him to play big is not the way to go.

    Nice to see Rudy hustle. He had one play that saved the Blazer's possession, and it probably prevented us from losing.

    Anyways, supposedly Blake Griffin has been wanting another shot at Portland since their last loss. It will be chippy. Go Portland. Beat that idiot Griffin.

    by Herr on 1/20/2011 11:12 AM
  6. reposted from last blog:

    well, we did just enough to win that game and it only took 53 minutes! hey, at least we've got an overtime win this season though.

    i thought Nicolas and Andre played pretty well the whole game through. Nicolas' defense allowed us to stay in it and whether it was making shots or dishing the ball off, Andre really came throuh in this game.

    LaMarcus did what a team leader does -- he came through in the fourth quarter when we really needed him. i completely understand if he has an off night here and there --all players do -- but his ability to turn it on when the game is on the line made a huge difference.

    did anyone else notice that Joel grabbed 11 rebounds and had a block in his 29 minutes? i'm not saying he's completely back. however, i would say it's a good sign that he's on his way. we played a lot better up front when Joel was in the game than when he was not.

    Rudy shot well last night which added to his hustle at both ends of the court. he was 3-7 from three-point range and 5-10 overall. not all of Dante's impact shows up on the stat sheet, yet he had several big plays which helped us out.

    in all, it was a rough game for us, and i'm concerned that three guys played 40+ minutes, including LaMarcus at 46. that could hurt us on the second end of the back-to-back tonight. i hope it doesn't. i agree with Travis and several others here. getting some help up front for LaMarcus, et al is of primary concern. we have no idea when Marcus will be back, but i'm pretty sure it's going to be a while. we've needed someone for a while, but it's become more urgent now than at any other time this season.

    i hope we can follow up this win with another tonight; a game i will be able to watch since it's nationally televised!

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 1/20/2011 11:13 AM
  7. 500Dogs,

    After talking to Joel last night, it's safe to say he will start tonight. They were close to starting him last night. He had no discomfort in the knee, and the ankle is getting better. Seeing him go for 29 minutes, after they had planned for 20, and have no issues, was huge.


    by mikebarrett on 1/20/2011 11:23 AM
  8. Mike: I have been waiting all morning for you, see how you are?

    I detect reading the clippers blog that they have hostile feelings against Portland. Like Griffin never did anything wrong to get shoved by Dre. And they are going all out to protect Griffin. With Joel in the middle protecting our players, do you feel there is any reason to be concerned? My fear on this is more of a revenge tactic then a physical game. If the refs are not calling the fouls down low equal then it could get ugly quick, and I don't enjoy that kind of get together. somebody could really get hurt or suspended and we have enough players missing, But OTOH we do need to protect our own.

    Do you think it will be an OK game or a violent game?


    by Hg on 1/20/2011 11:29 AM
  9. Before the game I was half-watching the telecast of The Fan, and they were talking to one of the beat writers who was having a bad trip. I was shocked when he concluded that Camby's injury means the Blazers' playoff hopes are finished for this year. That's not how it felt to me at all, and this game confirmed why I feel that way. Yes, we were lucky Joel's recovery had him able to contribute just at the moment we needed him; they may need to send poor Cousins to a shrink after what Joel did to his head. But this win was primarily a hustle win. LaMarcus had a bad game, or what passes for one at his current level. He was thinking too much about the double teams early, waiting for them when he should have attacked, and later he was remembering the three times he had been blocked, hurrying shots, fading too far etc. But he got his scoring numbers up in his normal range because of his hustle points, especially those crucial tip-ins and tip dunks. It seemed to me that in a close game the Blazers won because they had the confidence to feel that they ought to win, that if they kept playing hard they would beat these guys. The only point at which I doubted them came when they fell behind by seven in the fourth. They cut that deficit back to two in a matter of seconds. There were a lot of moments that made me happy, but one was a little subtle if you don't follow this team closely. It came in the second half when Evans had clearly decided he needed be the leader and make something happen. He fought hard to shake Wesley, finally forced a switch, only to find himself guarded by Batum. You could see what what was in his head when he realized that, something very like what Wile E Coyote feels when he sees the desert floor rushing up to greet him. Needless to say, Evans missed the jumper. I know there are reasons for concern about tonight's game, especially if they keep calling fouls on anyone who touches Griffin while he commits mayhem in the paint. But the Clippers have been a losing team for a while, and despite all their tough early schedule and all their losses, the Blazers are still winning. I think our guys really believe they should win, and if they just avoid digging a deep early hole for themselves, I think they will. Wesley is due for his bounce-back game, and LaMarcus should play better too. With Joel in there we have the muscle to put Griffin in his place if he tries to keep taking cheap shots; no need for Andre to get suspended again. I guess what I'm saying is that these guys have made believers out of me. They'll need some time before they mesh as well as they did with Marcus out there, but I think they have the mental toughness to get the wins they need during this stretch against bad teams. They'll gut their way through February, and with luck we'll get Camby back in March. The beat guy is crazy; we'll make the playoffs, and it will be fun to watch the process.

    by Islander on 1/20/2011 12:02 PM
  10. Thanks for the update, MB. It's good to know that Joel is on the mend.

    I sure wish I could see the game tonight but, like a dope, I signed up for a Tuesday/Thursday class that meets from 6-9. I plan on playing hookie for two games of my quarter season ticket package, but beyond that my grade will suffer. Oh well.

    by 500Dogs on 1/20/2011 12:25 PM
  11. Here's my new Fanpost on Blazersedge for anyone who cares to read it.



    by 500Dogs on 1/20/2011 12:26 PM
  12. Holy Toledo! Mike Barrett responds in the comment thread??? Wow, didn't know that happened! (just kidding Mr. Barrett, if you're still reading)

    I have been waiting to comment on the game last night. It's been a rough day here in my world, and I didn't want my negativity to color my perspective :)

    The best moment in the last few days for me came when I watched Joel get into Cousins' head. Seriously, with each passing moment, culminating in the charge when Joel got back up and walked over a very irritated Cousins, my simple delight at seeing our enforcer return grew and grew. I love Camby, don't get me wrong, but as I watched Joel I realized that we really HAVE BEEN missing a tough guy in the middle. I can't wait to have them BOTH playing, and see the headache that causes other teams, especially as LMA is there to just feast off of it all!

    Keep the beard Nico! What a great game from him. I don't want to speak to soon, but did Nico quietly turn a corner as well? Wouldn't THAT be nice? I get shivers thinking about the possibility of having TWO All-star caliber players on this team (and no, I am not considering Brandon Roy). This team's trajectory is beginning to remind me of the Drexler-Porter team....I don't know if that's good or bad though.

    LMA had me worried....and then he came ALIVE in the 4th quarter and OT, showing the first real signs of becoming a true closer. That man was dog tired, had been fighting all night, missing what should have been easy buckets, only had 8 points by the end of the third and just EXPLODED, leading his team to victory through sheer determination to get what was rightfully his. I continue to be in awe of his rapidly accelerating development. Every time I think he's reached a new level, he goes a little higher. Only one thing concerns me, and that is how tired he is. He keeps mentioning it publicly, which I think is his way of trying to get it across to the organization that he really is tired. I have never been worried about him getting injured, but I am beginning to become so.

    Wouldn't it be great if Rudy AND Patty had great hustle games off the bench the same night? I really like what Rudy is doing defensively and agree that it was really fun to watch Rudy, Wesley, and Nico disrupt well-planned offensive sets (oops! I think that was on another blog, lol!)

    Wesley.....is establishing a new pattern, one and one. One great game, one bad game, one great game, one bad game. I'll take that, especially if he has the best game of his career against the Clippers :) Maybe someday soon, he'll just have good games.

    Dre......no comment. Maybe he's reading my posts and has decided to prove me wrong :)

    This next game is totally freaking me out. How many times have we felt around here that a game was pivotal, or was going to say a lot about our team, or was a "must-win"? Jeez, it seems never-ending, but this is one I think we NEED to win. I don't know if we will, I can easily see us losing, but it will be one I am hoping for SO MUCH that I likely won't actually watch it until it's over. I am a coward, and my personal life is a mess right now, the last thing I want to see is us losing to the Clippers in real time.

    by EowynAmarie on 1/20/2011 4:58 PM
  13. my concern for tonight is the minutes the team racked up last night but i believe they can feed off the energy that the rg will bring to the team.

    by blazerdarren77 on 1/20/2011 4:59 PM
  14. im loving the new Nick, Rudy, and Lamarcus they all have stepped up their game at a time when we REALLY need them to KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK guys I'm behind yal all the wayyy GOOOOOOOOOOOO BLAZERSS!!!!!!! YEAA

    by Amy Morris on 1/20/2011 11:46 PM
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