Feb 07

Another One for the Books

By mikebarrett
Sometimes games go exactly as you would expect.  In fact, most of the time you can pretty much at least predict what the flow of a game will be like, and come close to predicting whether or not it'll be a high or low scoring game.  But, not all the time.

There is one reason why this has been difficult lately, when talking about the Portland Trail Blazers- they keep re-inventing themselves.  I'd hate to have to put together a scouting report on the Blazers right now.  Just a couple of weeks ago we said they can't shoot, rely on offensive rebounds to stay in games, and have to slow the game down to crawl to have any chance to win.  Well, that's not really the case this week.  It certainly wasn't the case on Monday night at the Rose Garden.

Against one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, the Trail Blazers shot 52 percent, racked up 18 fast-break points, and scored 109 points.  The Chicago Bulls normally hold their opponents to 92 points and 42 percent shooting. 

The win over San Antonio Spurs last Tuesday was impressive, and was enjoyable.  But, it had nothing on this game.  The Rose Garden was rocking again on Monday, the Trail Blazers were shorthanded again, and found a way, again.  After being tied at halftime at 50, Portland never trailed in the second half, and beat one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference 109-103.

LaMarcus Aldridge had his best game as a professional.  Haven't we said that a lot this season?  He keeps placing the bar higher and higher.  Aldridge (again, against a good defensive team), torched Chicago for 42 points, on 15 of 23 shooting, grabbed 8 rebounds, and blocked two shots.  The 42 is a new career high. 

If Aldridge was Batman on this night then Andre Miller was Robin.  And, I don't mean that Andre wasn't spectacular in his own right.  He was.  Miller had his best game of the season, scoring 27 points, grabbing 6 rebounds, and dishing out 11 assists.  Andre was also 13 for 13 at the free-throw line.

The Trail Blazers, as a team, were 37 for 40 at the free-throw line.  They made 21 free throws in the fourth quarter.  Chicago attempted only 18 in the entire game.

There are couple of places where the numbers were very misleading in this game.  Stats don't normally lie like this, but this is a good example of a time when they do.  The Blazers attempted 21 fewer shots than Chicago in this game.  That almost never happens to Portland.  They were outrebounded 41-31 by the Bulls, and they were beaten in second-chance points 26-2.  That's absolutely nuts.  To win on a night when you're beaten like that, in a catagory you normally dominate, just doesn't make sense.

Huge, huge, huge win for the Trail Blazers.  We got home in the wee hours on Sunday, got a little time off on Sunday afternoon, and then played again on Monday.  Dante Cunningham didn't play, so the rotation was out of whack again. 

Rudy Fernandez, who's become one of this team's most consistent players (you never thought you'd hear that), got 34 minutes because of the rotation issues, and had 18 points.  He was active, as always, and played another very solid game. 

How about Wesley Matthews?  He played 46 minutes in this game.  It wasn't a memorable night for him offensively, but he's been so important to the Blazers in wins like this.

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

A couple of quick notes, and then it's your turn.

You may have heard our news regarding Brandon Roy during the game.  I walked into the arena on Monday afternoon and immediately saw Brandon shooting, and going full speed.  He then told me he's going on the road trip and plans to play in Toronto.  I knew he was getting close, but this surprised me. 

Marcus Camby, who joined us on the broadcast during the second quarter (second career when he ever wants it- he's fantastic), has also circled the Toronto game as when he'll try and return.  So, not only was it a great night in getting the win, but perhaps the tide is turning in the injury department. 

Being 28-24, despite all the crap that's happened, and coming off home wins over San Antonio and Chicago, and now getting Roy and Camby back...   I know.  Every single time it appears the sky is clearing, another storm begins.  And, this has been painful at times, but it's been memorable.  And now, if they really are starting to get healthy...  well, let's leave it there.


  1. HA! First! Oh....wait...this isn't BE :)

    Thanks for the quick blog Mike! I haven't been up this late in awhile, but I am so totally amped up at the this win! I though the Spurs win couldn't be topped....boy was I wrong! I LOVE this team! How can anyone NOT respect the heck out of this team?!?!?

    And Aldridge....WOW. Andre....WOW.....Camby AND Roy back soon.....WOW..as Wheels would say...TODAY, it's a good day to be a Blazer!

    by SisillaRiann on 2/7/2011 11:57 PM
  2. Oh yeah....Canzano can kiss it!

    by SisillaRiann on 2/7/2011 11:58 PM

  3. LaMarcus has to be the next injury sub for the all-star team. Similar to what he did to griff and love, he made boozer look like a defenseless child on a few occasions. The L-train may still go to L.A. If he starts dropping 40 every 4th or 5th game, it won't matter anyway, we all know what we're seeing.

    If Camby, B-Roy & Dante all play in Toronto, I may have some kind of fit of joy. Can it possibly be Portland's turn for some good health?!?

    Big props once again to coach McMillan. You look at some of these games, wonder how they will get it done, and then they are in the position to compete. EXTEND COACH NATE!!!

    by reverse on 2/8/2011 12:02 AM
  4. From start to finish, I don't think our team has looked that smooth all year. We came out shooting in the first quarter, turned it over but hung in there at halftime. Then in the second half we absolutely turned it up a notch. Andre Miller killed it and LaMarcus was a beast tonight. And the Rose Garden crowd when LA was shooting the final two free throws was just awesome, what a great feeling for him, the team and the city of Portland. He's our all-star and this was a really fun game to watch tonight.

    by KGF on 2/8/2011 12:25 AM
  5. Excellent win! Great game by LA and Miller.


    by mgb on 2/8/2011 12:51 AM
  6. Wow!!! You are fast tonight, Mike.

    I just got home from work because I took time out to watch the game. This team never ceases to amaze me. I am like EowynAmarie, I have been so wound up since the game I could hardly work.

    I wasn't worried about Rose's game, we have handled high scorers many times. I was worried about Chicago's D. Portland usually have trouble scoring when taken out of their comfort zone. But they did terrific tonight on both sides of the court.

    As you said Mike you can usually predict how games are won or lost. I kept expecting the Bulls to clamp down in the final minutes and put the screws to us. Up to the one minute mark, I was sure we would win. It really amazed me that we kept our poise, played our game and beat them soundly. I don't care if it was by one point or twenty, we beat them soundly from start to finish. WOW I love this team.

    We got a lot of help from everybody tonight by beating the Nuggets, Memphis, and the NOH.


    by Hg on 2/8/2011 1:02 AM
  7. I might sound like a bandwagoner but, before the game started, I was watching WGN since I somehow get it, and it had the Bulls broadcasters. They said about Andre Miller, "he's a winner, a lot of teams trade him away and quickly regret it". I hate to say it, but I think the Blazer might be on that list unless we EXTEND MILLERS CONTRACT, which we should do. He deserves it. Not enough can be said about how much he helps this team. Everyday I hear "he's the most underrated guard in the league", and I find myself agreeing.

    He also said, according to Cleveland's broadcasters, he wants to play until he's 38. He's turning 35 soon. SIGN HIM RICH CHO!

    All in all, I almost cried after this game. I am so proud of this team, and it violently angers me that LaMarcus was cheated out of the freaking All-Star game. He has a strong case for being the BEST POWERFORWARD IN THE LEAGUE. Yes, he does. I'm not talking about all-time, but right now, LaMarcus is the best powerfoward. If you disagree, I want to hear reasons why. I'd give mine, but, you already know.

    by Herr on 2/8/2011 1:34 AM
  8. Thanx as always for the awesome post,MB.I think with this teams heart right now,we could really make some noise i the playoffs.Now ,with Broy and Camby coming back,this team is about as healthy as it has been all year.I am a little concerned as to whether BRoy will slow down the offense.But,if he is scoring ,it willbe a bonus having him come off the bench.
    LaManchild is playing about as good as anybody in the league.I just want to mention what a travesty it is that LMA didn't make the All Star team.I hope he continues to take it out on the rest of the league.
    Once again,Sarge continues to get the team up for the big games.
    Dre was a monster tonight.The Maestro continues to run this team brilliantly.Making him invaluable at the trade deadline.
    What a fun game to watch.Rudy is creepin up on the Sixth Man award, too.

    by DowntownVinnie on 2/8/2011 8:02 AM

    by DowntownVinnie on 2/8/2011 8:03 AM
  10. Come on, Vinnie, Miller is invluable to the Blazers! Just imagine if we are healthy next year with Oden playing what we could do? I know the being healthy part is going to take a lot of good luck, but we certainly deserve some!

    by mgb on 2/8/2011 8:23 AM
  11. EowynAmarie: Amen on post one and two.

    by Ancientone on 2/8/2011 1:08 PM
  12. Great Blog and Great game!! LA continues to play Awesome! And Miller- wow- Please DO NOT trade him- he is not playing like he is "old"

    Great news for BRoy and Marcus!!

    by RedRudy5 on 2/8/2011 2:08 PM
  13. I agree that while Andre isn't the point guard of my dreams, he's been a big part of a lot of big wins, and he seems to be meshing better and better with the players around him. Last night was the first time I found myself thinking we really should offer him another contract, especially since we have no really good prospects to take his place as the starting point. (Which reminds me, what has our Finnish draftee been doing in Europe?) It is getting almost monotonous to watch LaMarcus dominate whatever big-name power forward we play, and yes, he's a worthy All-Star, but the coaches went for what Barkley called the Lifetime Achievement Award and put Duncan on the team, and that was that. I thought it was unfair, by the way, for some of you guys to rag on Charles for his vehement support of Kevin Love, because he was the only one of those TNT guys to pick LaMarcus for the team, and he was also outspoken about why he thought Duncan shouldn't be picked. But as I've said before, we've been working LA like a government mule, so I'm happy he'll get a chance to rest during that break. I'm also glad they were able to hold Dante out of the Chicago game; I'd feel more comfortable if he had more practice sessions under his belt before putting his damaged eye socket back on the firing line. And I detected a background note of concern in the way almost everyone talked last night, during the game and on Talkin' Ball, about Brandon's return. Too many people went out of their way to explain why they thought he'd be able to fit in better with the team this time, which tells me that they've been thinking hard about the reality that offensive flow has been better since he left and are trying to reassure themselves that it will work out this time. I hope they're right, but I'm skeptical. But I am stoked at the prospect of Marcus in the starting line-up with Joel coming off the bench for 20 minutes a game. No more getting pushed around and outrebounded by the bigger teams. We've got a chance to get rested before this short and intense road trip, and I've got my fingers crossed that the team redeems itself for that nightmarish Eastern Trip back in November and early December, and comes home 3-0.

    by Islander on 2/8/2011 2:52 PM
  14. I got to watch the game again this morning, since my hubby was home unexpectedly and so actually had time to watch it (he was asleep last night - gets up toooo early!). Gotta say, it was even more fun the second time around :)

    Just listened to LA's interview on the BFT (yep...know thine enemy! Lol). I have to say, I have been extremely critical of Dre's role and fit here in PDX, but after hearing the sincere enthusiasm LA has for Dre - his game, his high BBIQ, his skill, his leadership - I must now reverse my previous long-standing opinion (the one I have had pretty much since he got here) that we should replace him. He's not really that old, shows no signs of slowing down, and apparently has the total respect of the Blazer's best player. Humbling, yes, to admit I am wrong, but listening to LA made me realize Dre is perhaps even more valuable off the court than he is on. So, since PG prospects seem thin, and we appear to be on the verge of making a serious playoff push, I hope we keep him for the remainder of this season and into the next (unless of course, we can get a highly suitable PG in return).

    As for the BRoy drama, I am reserving judgment until I see him on the floor for at least 10 consecutive games, in whatever capacity. By that point, we should have a good idea of how things are going to work out in regard to his durability, his productivity, his effect on the chemistry of the team, and his effect on the flow. I am hopeful, but cautious. At this point, the only thing I feel strongly about is that LA absolutely NOT defer to Roy at any point in any game. He MUST continue to be the #1 option.

    by SisillaRiann on 2/8/2011 4:38 PM
  15. Nice post MB. Dre has been the glue to this team since he joined them. He may be 'old' but I like seeing a 30 something guy play like a 22 year old and do well at it. Can't wait to see how Brandon and Marcus fit in to this unit.

    by blazerdarren77 on 2/8/2011 4:41 PM
  16. From Quick's article on Roy's return...

    "Roy said he wants to come off the bench when he returns."

    Music to my ears. Enemy benches beware: you've got BRoy comin' atcha!

    by 500Dogs on 2/8/2011 5:24 PM
  17. What a game by LA! So great to see him keep this up. Should be interesting to see what happens with Roy and Camby. Hope Roy doesn't rush things like he did last time, though I can understand his eagerness to get back on court. Also, wonder how that will change, ir at all, LA's role from his current position. Don't know if it is possible, but would love to see LA still get his 25-10 game as well as Roy doing his thing. Yet, I would rather see us go inside to LA and get those high % buckets. As Roy said, he will ease himself in, so I think LA should still be the main option. We still have to see if Roy can contribute much early on if he does come back at the Raptors game.

    Wow, Andre with 27, very nice! :-)

    -Anees, from Prague

    by Anees on 2/8/2011 10:21 PM
  18. helluva game! andre and aldridge have amazing chemistry so count me in with those asking for us to keep andre.

    mike, you say scouts are gonna have a headache figuring us out. i say the same about cho as far as his challenge of moving forward on whatever plan he has.

    great, great, game!

    go blazers!

    by thedanman on 2/9/2011 5:49 AM
  19. If BRoy is or if BRoy isn't, it is still exciting to know that he is close enough to practice for 30 minutes or so a practice.

    I don't know if Nate or BRoy will win out; I just hope BRoy is smart enough to give all prospects time.


    by Hg on 2/9/2011 6:02 AM
  20. "...we all know that this is (Roy's) team..." ~LMA

    Aw, crap. Here we go again. Goodbye playoffs.

    by 500Dogs on 2/9/2011 12:01 PM
  21. This was the best game I've been to yet!

    Uh-Mazing.. I've thought several times.... Man.. Where would we be without Miller?!... and not just in in this game, as a few have mentioned.. Seriously.. If we had dumped Miller when Roy was in a tizzy about his injury/lack of scoring... We'd be sitting next to the Clippers.

    I CANT WAIT for Camby to return, It's gonna be sweet. I like the idea McMillan was going for, Starting Cunningham instead of Pryz.. I love Joel, with exception to his late hard fouls.. he's been lacking.. watching guys just run around him... and for rebounds.. there's no blocking out.. just standing there thinking that 7'1" is gonna cut it.. against the Bulls.. it was embarrassing watching those Offensive Rebounds.
    Nate said he wanted to go with a more athletic front line.. I like that, and although Joel has really come back in, and not bothered the chemistry, Dante has been a good fit for quicker teams. I'm not suggesting we phase Joel out.. just that, It'll be nice to actually have the option, to bring a quick GOOD defender out, or our big tuff guy to adjust some attitudes.

    Seriously.. I can't be the only one that gets a kick outta opposing PG's trying to get the switch on our two Forwards, Dante and LA.. thinking it's gonna be an easy bucket at the rim.. just run around them.. but NO.. those two can stay with the quickness.. and JUST when you think the PG beat them.... They come up with a block from behind.. just like they planned!!

    ROY... hmmm... I love Roy.. but I lost a lot of respect for him with his Miller talk.. A guy i fell in love with (<<<
    So.... I'm glad to hear, at least so far... that Roy will be coming in off the bench. I don't miss watching Roy stand there... dribbling... twitching..sizing up his opponent..for 10+ seconds at a time.. while his teammates just stand around. I hope he comes in with a team attitude.. not a "IT'S TIME FOR ME TO TAKE BACK MY CITY".... approach..

    If Roy is outproducing Batum or Matthews... on BOTH O and more importantly D.... THEN, and only then.. do we consider him for the starting line-up.. I HOPE!!! He sure as hell shouldn't be coming in for Miller.. I hope that debate is over!

    Go Blazers!!!

    by Blazermaniak on 2/9/2011 12:04 PM
  22. Sorry.. anybody else having issues on this site with parts being left out of the post?!

    Above, my sentence starting with ROY... I"m gonna attempt to finish it, lol..

    So if you're even interested.. insert this where it left off <<< and picks up at So....


    A GUY I FEEL IN LOVE WITH (<<<< WIERD!) that was all about staying humble, went rogue...
    We've now seen TRUE humbleness with our new leader LMA.. Despite being overplayed, Despite his team not always playing their best, and Despite being overlooked for the All-Stars... he has not wavered in his TEAM FIRST approach.

    by Blazermaniak on 2/9/2011 12:12 PM
  23. MGB,my brotha,I was saying how invaluable Dre was.

    by DowntownVinnie on 2/10/2011 9:00 AM
  24. Really nice perspective on Brandon's imminent return over at Rip City Project. Enjoy! http://ripcityproject.com/2011/02/09/on-the-pending-return-of-brandon-roy/

    by SisillaRiann on 2/10/2011 1:28 PM
  25. Sign up Nate. We need this guy.

    by RWRoeder on 2/10/2011 1:31 PM
  26. just when i thought LaMarcus couldn't do any more, he goes out and resets his career high. on chat, i actually said on the game chat that he'd hit 41+ iin the third quarter when he had 29. it just looked like a close game in which he would have a good final quarter. he's playing out of this world right now. not to look overly ahead, but if he surpasses 42 against Minnesota, i'd love tha (yes, pun totally intended!)!

    what we did against chicago is play 48 minutes of basketball. sure, the bulls had their moments, but we never let the game get out of hand. we stayed close, struck when the time was right, and just kept applying the pressure until the final buzzer sounded. these are the types of games we will win just about every night.

    i'm cautiously optimistic about this road trip. it's three games in four days, but against teams with sub-.500 records. we could sweep this. we've played these three teams a combined five times thus far and have won each and every game. i previewed the series on my blog if anyone would like to check it out:


    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 2/10/2011 2:14 PM
  27. EowynAmarie:

    Thanks for the link, I read the artical and agree with the author. The return of BRoy holds more positives than negitives. Besides if he can't play we will still have the team that we have now plus Camby. Anyway I am excited about him returning.

    I think it will actually by Patty that loses the most time but time will tell.


    I worry about playing sub 500 teams more then I do elite teams.


    by Hg on 2/10/2011 2:38 PM
  28. Sorry, Vinnie, thought you said Miller was invaluable in a trade.

    Hg, I'm right with you, I worry when we play bad teams because we get up for the good teams, but not the bad teams.

    by mgb on 2/10/2011 6:34 PM
  29. I am not nearly the Blazer expert as I see many of you are, but I follow the team closely. I have been somewhat surprised at some of our recent quality wins and equally perplexed at some of our losses. It is very true as many have mentioned that LA has become our go to guy!

    My concern is how will Nate reinsert Roy back into this new lineup that has been running so much more? Frankly, I am tired of watching "Roy Isolation" basketball anyway. We are better on the run or working the ball in and out. So, I am hoping for the best and that all the great things Roy is saying matchup with what he does, we truly need the depth he brings to the team, but we don't need him to score 20 a night.

    I am with Kassandra on her thoughts about this road trip, at the very least we should win two of three and we are clearly good enough to win all three. We shall see soon!

    by Spletz on 2/10/2011 10:22 PM
  30. Spetz,

    We still iso, LA does, Miller does, so Roy also iso isn't the problem as long as we run when we can and move the ball well, then Roy just gives us another weapon. Now if we let Roy just walk the ball up the court and iso most of the time then we'll have a problem, but I don't think that'll happen since he's in no shape to take the ball up the court all the time or take the majority of the ISOs when we do ISO. I'm looking at him being a deadly outside shooter when we kick it out as well as making his only plays once in a while.

    by mgb on 2/11/2011 3:48 AM
  31. Spetz:

    I totally agree with MGB, BRoy isn't a problem on offense, and seeing as how we are close to the bottom of the NBA in scoring efficiency, I would argue with you on not needing his 20 point scoring. Just not at the expense of Dre, LMA or Westley and Nickli. But with Wesley and Nickli both being mainly defensive juggernauts, we need a consistent shooter to keep the pressure off of LMA.

    IMO, we need both, the pushing the ball up the floor to score before opponents defensive units can set up and also a versified half court game. With BRoy coming back that will happen, whether it is ISOs or being a spot up shooter, an added offensive juggernaut is not going to hurt the team


    by Hg on 2/11/2011 6:26 AM
  32. Will Nate hand Roy the keys again, and let this faster-moving Blazers team disappear? Or will Nate keep Roy on the bench, and keep Matthews at the starting 2?

    Personally, I think the second option is the most realistic. I think it is a bit silly to expect Roy to ever be the Roy we knew again, and in all frankness LA (sorry clandestine!) is proving the more potent offensive weapon…I can’t ever remember Roy scoring like this before, and how can you try and go back to the way things were when we suddenly appear to have one of the league’s premier big men?

    But…where does Roy fit in? The second unit is even faster than the first, and Rudy and Patty seem to have a burgeoning chemistry, albeit they are both inconsistent at this point.

    And what about Rudy? He’s obviously going to lose playing time, and I think he has demonstrated that he really blossoms the more he’s on the court. Will he retreat into his shell again?

    I guess my dream is to see a Miller-Matthews-Batum-Aldridge-Camby starting five, and a Mills-Roy-Rudy-Dante-Pryz bench crew, with maybe Rudy and Roy taking turns at the 2 and 3 and Roy, Mills and Rudy all doing a little 1 duty. I think it could work, but it is predicated on Roy learning to move a bit faster, and to let Mills and Rudy dictate the pace.

    Admittedly, this seems unlikely. I mean, I should be thrilled to have a guy like Roy coming back, but I’m really wondering about chemistry now. I hope both Nate and Brandon can show some versatility here!

    by Gavinfan on 2/11/2011 12:34 PM
  33. Good thoughts, mgb and Hg,
    I know we still iso, I just don't enjoy Roy ISO's. If Roy can fill the role of knocking down the J consistently, that will help a lot. We will just have to see what he can do on those knees? I hope he can still go hard to the basket and create his own shot, LMA will get even more open looks if BRoy can go to the hoop. I am hoping for the best, but still think it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    by Spletz on 2/11/2011 12:42 PM
  34. Kass,MB said on Courtside that BRoy will be coming off the bench.we both have the same concerns about Broy taking the "Fast" out of the Blazers.I think having another scorer will help immensely,but we do have great chemistry now.I think that this will be Nate's biggest challenges this year.


    by DowntownVinnie on 2/11/2011 2:34 PM
  35. Spletz: ISO is taking it to the rim or pulling up for a jumper. So you, MJB and I are talking about the same thing. If you were talking about ISO as dribbling in one spot until the clock is running out then creating, then I am with you that kills the offense. That is playing not to lose and not playing to win. That is why the can't keep a big lead. The Blazers are just not good enough with all the injuries to coast.


    by Hg on 2/11/2011 2:51 PM
  36. Vinnie: BRoy if his legs are as good as Mike Rice says, won't slow down the Blazers any more then your slow-poke Dre will do. Nate's plan is to push it up the floor and get a shot early in the time clock or pass it around, work the opponents defense and get an open look or high percentage shot at the rim.

    If you don't want me to bad-mouth Dre, don't bad mouth my man. Anyway, the only concern we should have is BRoy being healthy enough to play because as fast as our team is if they don't get a transition basket, they can't hit an open shot to save their Butt. That is where BRoy comes in. besides it only takes three men to make a fast break. And remember LMA runs like an antelope. So don't be concerned about his play just be concerned about his health to play.


    by Hg on 2/11/2011 3:02 PM
  37. This is pretty funny... Roy admits he's a slow player.. and Roy calls Dre a slow player... yet some peeps seem to think our Healthy slow Roy will transform into a Gimpy Fast Roy... some pretty good logic there...

    Roy will be a great asset to the team. Another sweet option off the bench. Some nights he'll probly have 20-30 minute nights.. and some nights he'll have 10+ minutes... I'm sure it'll all depend on what's occuring in each game.. who's hot/cold...

    Like I said, a great option.. Dre is not an option.. he is our starting PG... that conversation about Dre or Roy.. SHOULD BE... well over..

    All these fantasy talks about starting line-ups, are just that.. fantasy... as there's bound to be a trade mixing things up soon.

    Lets just hope we keep our key players.. LMA, DRE, NIC, WES, & DANTE (obviously, i'm partial to that last one!)

    Nice WIN tonight Blazers!!!

    by Blazermaniak on 2/11/2011 9:14 PM
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