Jan 24

Slow Start Burns Blazers

By mikebarrett
I'm not sure the outcome of this game can be summed up quite as easily as you might think.  But, it's pretty clear that Portland didn't bring the defensive intensity early.  They let the Sacramento Kings build their confidence, and in this league, no matter who you're playing, that's a dangerous game.  There was much more at work in this contest, but the Blazers' early defense set the wrong tone on this night.

Now, a little perspective before we dig any deeper.  The Kings have way too much talent to be a nine-win team, and that's what they were coming into the night.  Tyreke Evans was battling foot problems for the first two months of the season, and now that he's evidently over the problem, they'll win more.  They came into Monday night having dropped seven of their past eight games.  In seven of those eight losses they were a play or two from winning.  So, there's a school of thought that says they were due.

But, that doesn't make Portland fans feel any better, given the Kings trailed the Blazers in the all-time series in Portland 16 to 74 going into this game.  To put it mildly, Sacramento doesn't win here very often.

There's, of course, the other explanation to what happened in this game.  The Trail Blazers have been starting games with the same issues, and have been able to battle back to win.  They've trailed early in games a lot lately, and then through in-game adjustments, and behind LaMarcus Aldridge, have bailed themselves out of deep holes.  You can't live that way for long, and perhaps this simply caught up with them on this night.

Against the Kings, they got in a big hole again, and were unable to climb completely out.  This Sacramento team may be deficient in many areas, but having talented, defensive big men is where they're good.  They can play very big, and they rebound very well.  With Aldridge somewhat neutralized, and no one else stretching the defense from the perimeter, the stage was set for what we saw.

Rudy Fernandez is a very important part of this team.  You probably know that, but his punch of the bench is vital to this team's success.  The Blazers like to play inside-out offense.  Get Aldridge going on the low block, suck in the defense, and then open up the shooters to bomb away.  When the Kings ganged up on Aldridge, no one made them pay.  Rudy was just 1 for 10, and the bench was 7 for 25 as a whole.

LaMarcus, who earlier in the day was named the Western Conference Player of the Week, ended the game just 4 for 14, and had 9 points and 7 rebounds.  That's his lowest point total since December 5th.  Sacramento was successful in showing him different looks nearly every time down the floor.  They would double him quickly on some possessions, delay the double on others, and fake the double team on still others.  Samuel Dalembert is long, and is a great shot blocker, and he gave LaMarcus fits.  

Now, nothing the Kings were trying to do to Aldridge was terribly original.  But, they're big enough, and have enough guys to keep coming in waves, and LaMarcus never got enough help in spreading that defense out and keeping it honest.  They dared someone else to beat them, and it worked.

As much as we can sit and talk about Portland's lack of an offensive punch, I still point to the defense early in the game.  Sacramento was allowed to swing the ball around the perimeter, attack and will, and finish right at the rim, time and time again.  They had been off since Friday, so they were very fresh.  When they were allowed to run their offense so easily in the first few minutes, their belief grew, and you could see them starting to think that this could be their night in Portland.  

It was an ugly loss, and it was a bad loss for Portland.  But, it's not time to overreact.  If we've learned anything it's that this is a long season, and another game is always right in front of you.  The problem is that the schedule now gets difficult.  Difficult as in Boston, San Antonio, and a trip to Denver.  Ugh.  But, just as quickly as they were bumped off track on Monday, a big win over one of the next three teams could get them right back on track.

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



  1. Here's another ugly stat; they committed 19 turnovers that led to 31 Sacramento points. I believed they would come back against this team, but it wasn't meant to be. Sadly, they have a tendency to play to level of the competition; look good against the great teams, yet struggle against the teams they're supposed to win. Let's hope they can all play their A game against these next 3 teams.

    by blazerdarren77 on 1/24/2011 11:35 PM
  2. I don't remember the last time the Blazers lost a game simply because the other team was better. Our inconsistent play is killing us. Now, if I performed as poorly as the Blazers did at any job I've ever worked at, I would have been sent home and probably fired. Yet, I made probably 1/1,000 of what the Blazers make. Sad, isn't it?

    Horrible game. Give the Kings some credit, but we beat ourselves. This is like the 20th time this has happened. It's getting to the point where it's pathetic.

    Don't get me wrong, it's amazing we're 25-21 with everything that's happened in the season, but the fact we're dropping games because we're not playing OUR game is sickening, and most the time the other team really doesn't have anything to do with it. That's the problem of having our bench be filled with only jumpshooters, and especially jump shooters that make very poor decisions.

    Props to Mathews and Batum. Great role players, but they can't be the only ones showing up. This game really shows the value of Aldridge, and why he SHOULD be in the ASG and maybe make an appearance on the MvP list like overrated Griffin has.

    Point is, I'm disappointed as hell. Was a terrible performance, and if I was Nate, I would have taken off my belt and actually have whooped their asses, but the Kings already did that.

    But, in the end I'm not too worried. This could be a good thing. Blazers needed a wakeup call because even though they were winning, they were playing fairly terrible, and I agree it was due. However, against the top 2 teams in the league, I know the Rose Garden crowd will bring their A-Game, and that usually leads to a great game. I don't expect to win, but I don't expect a sloppy performance either. I expect a great performance from everyone.

    by Herr on 1/25/2011 12:01 AM
  3. I understand what you're saying about the defense setting the tone, but the numbers say that we lost the game in the fourth quarter, not the first. We were outscored by five in the first, by ten in the fourth. Yes, we gave them an extra six points on their usual shooting percentage, but we also lost almost that much from our own. Until very late I kept expecting us to get the game under control, because we were again facing a "team" that mostly knows how to lose. The Kings kept making their usual bonehead giveaways, to give us chance after chance to climb back, and we would do it, up to a point, and then we obliged by making the same kind of bad plays ourselves. I was shocked when the final numbers suggested a decent game for Andre Miller, because to me he looked exactly like a guy who's been flat on his back with aching guts, who came back when he was still pretty sore and feeling drained. And, yes, the varied defensive looks hurt LA, but for almost the first time this season he also just looked tired. Nate's decision to use Joel heavily in the first half, and very sparingly in the second didn't help. The defense didn't look bad when we made the Kings work, but there were too many easy transition hoops. That suggests to me that the whole team was a bit exhausted from amping it up to pull out the Indiana game. LA and Andre both had five assists and four turnovers; it felt like more turnovers because they also both blew repeated shots at the rim. Here's how I see it; Andre was making uncharacteristic mistakes, and LaMarcus was struggling, and we didn't have Joel in to set picks for the two guys--Nic and Wesley--who best exploit them, and who were playing well. Nic never got the chance this time to show he could make repeated fourth-quarter threes. Rudy had another of his "time-for-an-eye-exam" nights, and Nate was apparently unwilling to give Patty many minutes. The whole team was trying to make passes that really weren't there--we had more turnovers than assists--and for the first time in a while our poor shooting really reflected poor offensive flow, leading to bad shots, more than just unlucky streaks of good shots that happened to miss. I think it's a very good thing that we get an extra game off--compared to the every-other-day pattern of games lately--to prepare for the Celtics. But if we show up anywhere near this ragged for that game, we'll be out of it by halftime. This is a crucial period coming up, and I hope the guys can catch a second wind soon, that they haven't just hit the wall after burning too much energy trying to stay afloat in the face of injuries.

    by Islander on 1/25/2011 12:12 AM
  4. I won't critique, our team has been playing great and downer games are expected. We just pick up and move on.


    by Hg on 1/25/2011 12:43 AM

  5. before the game i was hoping to see dalembert have to defend thehigh pick and pop/roll as often as possible. it didn't happen near enough for my taste.

    having said that, the team just didn't have it tonight.

    over the next 10 games leading to the all-star break, i'd just like to see them break even or go 6-4 if possible.

    p.s. if lamarcus is seriously injured at all, all bets are off. his minutes need to come out of the 40s.

    by reverse on 1/25/2011 12:45 AM
  6. Fools be scared to mess with us in the playoffs

    by Tobyus Sanchezo on 1/25/2011 2:06 AM
  7. Just an ugly game. Nuff said. Hope Aldridge's hip isn't serious.

    Go Blazers!

    by thedanman on 1/25/2011 2:31 AM
  8. I think this is probably an example of what we will run into in the playoffs (if we make it). I see the other team keying on LMA and us not being able to take advantage of the double (very often) because of our streaky shooting. We really need to pick up a big body or two that can shoot and a PG that can knock down the jumpers consistantly. Cho needs to either get busy and get us some help or put a plan to rebuild because I just don't see us climbing out of mediocrocy unless we get some help. It would seem to me to be a waste for us to not use expired contracts and our old players in their prime if we are just going to get our butts kicked in the first round. I would prefer to rebuild and get key younger players and not make the playoffs and reload with Roy and Oden next year than suffer four and out in the first round of the playoffs.

    by Gavinfan on 1/25/2011 7:43 AM
  9. i've been expecting a loss like this since we've fallen into this pattern of getting behind early, then winning it in the fourth. it's a dangerous game to get into and it came back to bite us last night

    Wesley, Nicolas, Dante and Andre came to play last night, but there was something missing. it seemed like much of the game, we were avoiding our best offensive player. LaMarcus should touch the ball on every possession, save for a fast break. if he's double teamed, spread the floor and someone else will be open. we all know this. we seemed to have gone away from that in this game.

    i don't want to point fingers on a loss like this; i think enouh of us true fans are angry enough about it that we don't need to go that route. there was a lack of defensive intensity, a lack of offensive execution and way too many turnovers. that's not going to get it done; not even at home and not even to a team who came into the game with just nine wins.

    there are a couple of positive notes to mention: Dante' came into the game with a career high two blocks; he had four last night (he also had seven rebounds). Andre shot 8-15 from the field on a night the team shot 39.5 percent as a whole. Nicolas finished with a team-high nine rebounds. three blazers shot 50 percent or better from behind the arc; Wesley 2-3, Nicolas 2-4, and Patty 1-1.

    the road doesn't get any easier as our next five opponents post records above .500. if it's true that you play to the level of your opponent, hopefully we'll see some more competitive outings.

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 1/25/2011 10:18 AM
  10. Agree it was a ugly game- Hope they snap back for Boston and that LA's hip is ok- we need him!!

    by RedRudy5 on 1/25/2011 11:17 AM
  11. I agree with Kass. By the time I stopped watching the game to go work out (New Year's resolutions), LaMarcus only took like 4 shots, and that was in the start of the 3rd in which I left. I can automatically assume that we never went to him until it was panic mode, and our game became predictable. LaMarcus should touch the ball more, and set us up to win the game. In the first, it seems we just try to see if our jumpshots will be on target or off the mark. Knowing this team, they're often off the mark.

    LaMarcus needs to set the tone for the game at the start, but he can't do that when the Blazers aren't passing the ball to him. Even when he can't score, he still demands a double/triple team, and can give the ball to a shooter or open up the lane for a cutter.

    I like Rudy, Patty, Batum, and Wesley. I really do, but those 4 probably have the closest friendships together in this team. Because of that, they tend to find each other more than the player that actually needs the ball, which is Andre and LaMarcus. I see Rudy and Patty passing to each other far more often than the leaders of this team. That kind of concerns me.

    Point is - we need to set up LaMarcus early, and we need our bench to look for him as well. He tends to never touch the ball when playing with the bench. Andre, Camby, and Roy are our best players to give it to LMA. Sadly 2 of them are out.

    by Herr on 1/25/2011 2:51 PM
  12. Some might be overlooking something in their analysis of the Sacto loss. Anyone else see the close up of LA's face near the end of the Indiana game on Saturday? He was looking up at the clock and was totally bushed! He was probably praying that game didn't go into overtime like the Wednesday game had.

    No one can play the minutes LA has been playing against tough bigs over the last couple of weeks and not have a letdown eventually. 45+ minutes for most of those games, give the poor guy a break!

    He needs some time off to get his legs back and he'll be fine again.

    by dgpdx on 1/25/2011 8:31 PM
  13. LA is alright, and I think he will tough it out. He needs rest, but he's not going to get it. I guess he'll have to rest in the summer.

    No comment on the game, other than that this was Wesley's third straight game of 15+ points. I know some of us have had some debate and doubt about his game, but when I looked back over his season, I realized he has like a string of 8 or 9 games straight where his PPG were all over 15. Feel bad I forgot about that when I was noticing the pattern in his "slump".

    Batum did another blog. This time, I am providing the link via google translate, which might make it easier to access :)


    by EowynAmarie on 1/25/2011 9:48 PM
  14. Well MB... I guess we know why it's not a Doctorate Degree, LOL..

    Tough Loss.. but maybe this will tick us off enough to take it out on Garnett and the Big Cry Baby!!

    I'm excited about the new kid.. but i think.. tonight might have been a better night to try him out than the next couple of upcoming games, eh?

    How about that Dante?!?! I'm looking forward to him frustrating Garnett!!

    GO BLAZERS!!!!!!

    by Blazermaniak on 1/25/2011 11:15 PM
  15. Also...

    A couple of responses..

    Islander.. i imagine that "Nate was apparently unwilling to give Patty many minutes" because he was trying to win...

    Gavinfan.. I wouldn't follow that build plan you've got in mind..
    Roy is likely to be a bench player. He MAY... be a starter.. but he will not be a franchise player again.. to be realistic. so.....

    I Trust the franchise.. I support our players.. And I hope that we will continue to develop into the team of my dreams.. Where LA is a beast.. where lies a bigger beast in ODEN to help step on the opposing bigs... where Roy didn't know anything about Knee's.. and we never have to tell Batuum to shoot.. Rudy gets glasses.. and Wesley stays' mad..

    GO BLAZERS!!!!!

    by Blazermaniak on 1/25/2011 11:26 PM
  16. Blazermaniak:

    I was thinking on the same line.

    We can't second guess the coach, since we don't know all the situations.

    Team has to be built around LMA because Greg and BRoy is a question mark.

    Our role players in Batum, Wesley and Rudy are doing OK, Batum and Wesley will keep getting better, Rudy's style of play will get him in trouble from time to time but his flamboyance is needed. Our freshman's are going through the learning curve, therefore it is too early to tell; our Vets still has a couple of years or more in them and Joel is not healed up yet, plus we know he is a warrior and will do fine as he is right now.

    If you trade doughnuts for doughnuts you will still get doughnuts. Sometimes you prefer one over the other, but all in all they are still doughnuts

    LONG SHORT: with all the adversities and long play of our ROLE PLAYERS, we are doing great so I vote as my friend told me yesterday, Cho needs to sit on his hands and wait this whole thing out because of the pending lock out and the healing of our injured. As my friend told me, if we go out and get a big contract with a multi million dollar tag, after the lock-out it may well be a lot of wasted money.


    by Hg on 1/26/2011 6:57 AM
  17. I thought I'd show up with the same timeliness and effort as the Blazers against the Kings

    by Ancientone on 1/26/2011 7:58 AM
  18. Ancientone:

    Why are you scoping your heart. Nothing serious I hope.


    What is your take on PRP? Does it really start growth with remaining Meniscus or gives growth to cartilage by stem celling.

    I don't understand the full theory behind it all, and disregarding religious beliefs, does it work?


    by Hg on 1/26/2011 8:23 AM
  19. Oregon Live did some ACTUAL translation of the Batum blog. Here's the link for the excerpt they did:


    by EowynAmarie on 1/26/2011 8:33 AM
  20. Eowyn Amarie:

    I was going to read yours, but seen they had one. It was a very good article and it supports my feelings that Batum will only get better.

    It is exciting to hear him talk about his mid-range shot, his options of going off the curl or going baseline and shooting and making 50 in a row from different places on the floor.

    I thank you for the link


    by Hg on 1/26/2011 10:09 AM
  21. hg: I had unstable angina and got another stent. Rooting for the Blazers will do that to you. Kidney stone passed wednesday, heart cath saturday and now I get my stomach scoped Fri.

    The theory is that stem cells will grow new cartilage hopefully growing over the substructure that is already there being it bone or cartilage. I think it's a great idea to try but there isn't enough experience with high stress atheletes to know how they will respond or how it will hold up. Fingers are crossed.

    My wife wants to know if she can get a frame off restoration of me. She says i'm high milage.

    by Ancientone on 1/26/2011 11:11 AM
  22. ancientone & hg,

    is it safe to say that the blazers have tried something cutting edge/experimental with brandon's knees? is this similar to what they did for brandon's hamstring last season? in addition to the debridement/cleaning up of the joint, it sounds like they tried something else. the something else part seems to be being revealed slowly over time.

    BE just linked some things that i'm about to delve into. the brandon roy that can drive against ron artest and trevor ariza before using his 40" vertical for a power layin against yao ming may not be coming back, but he may be back as something different. interesting.

    by reverse on 1/26/2011 11:47 AM
  23. Ancientone:

    sounds like you better get a clone really fast. heart, kidney stones and stomach problems all in one week, High mileage and old parts and being a Blazer fan will do that to us LOL.

    Thank you for the info. I tried to do research on it when I was in college, but it was so muddled up with beliefs and fear of telling the truth that I couldn't decide what was truth or beliefs.

    I will surely have hopes for BRoy, of course a lot of that is selfishly thinking because I love watching him play. In the Canzano interview, It does sound like he will be able to play productive minutes and will be willing to take whatever part it takes to help the franchise. Therefore, I do have high hopes from him


    by Hg on 1/26/2011 11:57 AM
  24. travisd:

    I read that article, they referred to two different types of injuries. An overuse injury as in BRoy's hamstring that didn't help quickly, (maybe because BRoy wouldn't give it time) and the injury he has now that will help healing and growth of tissue that otherwise wouldn't grow. As Ancientone said it gives BRoy hope, and like you said it could make him a productive player again. With out the clean-up and the PRP his long term would definitely be short.

    And just think if the experiment works, the discovery will be almost like a miracle.


    by Hg on 1/26/2011 12:31 PM
  25. hg,

    the question also becomes, can they give him multiple prp therapy sessions over the course of the next several years if the first one done on his knees is successful? if so, they could have a way to keep brandon on the court instead of possibly losing him to medical retirement.

    by reverse on 1/26/2011 2:15 PM
  26. TravisD:

    Good thought, I would love that, but in time if he could grow new Mencius he wouldn't need anymore injections.

    by Hg on 1/26/2011 2:38 PM
  27. Ancientone....I feel ya on the stint.I've been there but you got me beat on all the rest.Yeah, bein a Blazer fan could be hazardous for your health, but who would have it any other way?Good luck,sounds like it's time fer a tuneup:)

    by DowntownVinnie on 1/26/2011 5:05 PM
  28. happy australia day to Patty today!

    just thought i'd throw that out there.

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 1/26/2011 8:51 PM
  29. What a week. Now they tell me I need to have my gall bladder removed tomorrow. C'mon Blazers give the Celts an old fashioned whoppin. I need something positive this week

    by Ancientone on 1/27/2011 9:54 AM
  30. Blazermaniak Miller, Joel and (to a lesser extent) Camby are older, well paid players with expiring or short term deals (with a team option in Dre’s case) on a team that is at best a first round and done squad. It’s logical to expect Cho to try to duplicate the Seattle/OKC rebuilding blueprint of flipping old players for picks and cheaper, younger replacements. It has worked out pretty well for the Thunder so far and assuming Roy and Oden can give the team something, a core of LMA/Roy/Oden/Wes/Nic is not a bad group to start with – heck, I could see Roy running the point with Nic guarding that position on D, and with any semblance of a bench that could be a very solid team.
    But I think he will receive opposition from Seattle because dealing off the vets would affect the W-L record, and (ergo) season ticket renewals heading into the lockout

    if Paul and the Vulcans are willing to be patient and let Cho take a step back (retool the roster) so the team can take a step forward after the lockout, then more power to him. There’s also some hope that the new CBA will allow teams to dump one bad contract without jeopardy, like back in 2005. This could have a huge impact on Roy and the future of the team’s salary structure.

    by Gavinfan on 1/27/2011 10:50 AM

  31. ancientone,

    my mother had that done. she was better in relatively short order. it is no doubt, no fun to go through all that though...

    about boston

    i like the match-ups that are there. i'd try crossing the guards defensively. maybe not for the whole game, but in stretches, and definitely sub rudy in for miller somewhat early.
    wesley vs rondo
    andre(rudy) vs allen
    nic vs pierce
    lamarcus vs garnett
    joel vs perkins
    without shaq and j. o'neal, the celts don't have a huge match-up advantage anywhere in the starters.

    one big match-up problem off the bench is dante vs davis. he gives up about 60lbs there, sheesh.

    patty vs. robinson should be fun.

    if the blazers can put together a complete effort, i think they have more of a chance to win than they'll be given credit for before the game happens.

    i think that wesley should also take some time defending pierce to keep him off balance and give him more varied looks. with wesley and nic having to do a lot defensively, andre will need to really make the offense go. i'd like to see the whole array again from lamarcus. he'll need to bag a few long jumpers against that celtic defense.

    this is the game where they need to show effort and intensity from the opening jump. a big win here could show some promise leading toward the all-star break.

    go blazers!

    by reverse on 1/27/2011 11:06 AM
  32. Ancientone: My wife went through all that stuff, her kidney stones was a result of a tumor on her paratyroid that raised her calcium. Whether that was what caused the gall bladder to go bad, I don't know. You Dr. just go through one step at a time so good luck LOL.


    I like the match-ups too, but it their rough shod defense that they get away with that I am worried about.

    by Hg on 1/27/2011 11:19 AM
  33. New look for the site, eh? I appreciate the toning down of the advertising. That banner of ads at the bottom of the screen was pretty obnoxious. I decide what I'm going to buy and where I shop based on three things:
    1) Quality of product
    2) Location of retailer
    3) Recommendations
    Anything else is wasted on me, which is why Google is king (their ads are tastefully tucked away).

    Speaking of Kings, we have them to thank for our upcoming victory against the Beantown Bullies. Had the Blazers been on that win streak, Boston would have had some great motivation to put them in their place. As it is, there might be a little underestimation on Boston's part, and a chip on Portland's shoulder. Our guys have a reason to fight and might be overlooked.

    I didn't get to see the KIngs game, but I've been shocked to see how poorly they've fared this season. Coming into the season, I had them picked to be the most improved team in the west (after the Blazers, of course!). Tyreke Evans is amazing, Omri Casspi is a very talented shooter, Carl Landry was a 4th quarter killer in Houston, and if Cousins keeps his cool he can beast (predraft measurements had him looking like a chubby Oden). What I didn't consider was that they share a division with LAL and Blake Griffin (of course I also didn't know Evans would get hurt).

    Now that things are starting to click for SAC, I doubt they'll be the bottom feeders of the west anymore. Look for them to take better teams than the Blazers by surprise in the coming weeks.They are big and deep enough to have a decent 8-man rotation. Mike Rice's estimation of the lesser western teams improving was right on the money.

    With a little luck and a lot of elbow grease, POR could be tonight's SAC. I sure hope so, because I'll be at this game with some friends, one of whom was at the shellacking I witnessed last January and hails from the Boston area. I would love nothing more than to see him creeping out of the RG with his tail between his legs. He was fairly gentle with his gloating last year and I will try to extend the same courtesy...I can't promise I'll succeed, but I'll certainly try.


    by 500Dogs on 1/27/2011 2:46 PM
  34. Great job fixing the double-post nightmare!

    by 500Dogs on 1/27/2011 2:48 PM
  35. I have been watching LaMarcus Aldridge play recently from 303 and notice that he typically receives the ball to the left of the key dribbles, backs and either turns and shoots or makes a move to the center at which time he is double or triple teamed and cut off. If he pivots left and goes strong to the hoop with a quick move along the baseline he is set up to jam and the defender is out of position. I do not see him making that move very often and it is there for him most of the time. Does anyone else see this or am I missing something?

    by stevewiley on 1/27/2011 4:14 PM
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