Mar 07

Blazers Survive Magic Kingdom

By mikebarrett
Make that six in a row on the road.  It doesn't matter how, who they were against, or who wasn't playing in a particular game.  Victories away from home are never easy, especially at this time of year.  Plus, because of all they've been through this season, they qualify for not having to explain anything after wins.

The message before this game in Orlando was about not relaxing because Dwight Howard wasn't playing for the Magic.  Good teams find ways to compete no matter who is out.  No one knows that better than Blazer fans.  If the Magic couldn't win without their star, that's on them.  Everyone has to play shorthanded now and then.

Before this game we talked a lot about what it would take for Portland to get this game in their tempo, and beat the Magic in their building.  Get physical defensively, track three-point shooters, and get the pace slowed down to take advantage of the size differential.  We also said it was vital to play inside-out offense.  In other words, get LaMarcus Aldridge established on the low block, and allow him to work in the middle.

Some of that went as planned.  The Blazers were tough defensively, and they did get the tempo to their liking.  But, Orlando shot the three-point ball very well (11-22), and Aldridge was pushed out of the middle and was double and triple teamed all night.  He still managed to score 24 points, but most of those came from the outside.  The only time he started getting to the rim was when the Magic stopped doubling him late in the game.

The Blazers led by five after the first quarter, and led by four at halftime.  Their lead swelled to 14 in the third quarter, but you never got the feeling they were going to put this game away until late in the contest.

After putting together a 14-1 run, and closed the third quarter on a 16-6 run, Orlando had all the mometum, got the crowd in the game, and appeared ready to pounce.  But, big buckets by Brandon Roy, Andre Miller, and Aldridge, allowed the Blazers to reclaim the lead and keep their heads above water despite the hot shooting Orlando got from Jason Richardson, Gilbert Arenas, and Hedo Turkoglu.

It was a strange final two minutes of this game.  Portland got its final point of the game on a Gerald Wallace free throw with 1:42 to go.  That put them up 89-81.  Then came an odd four-point play for the Magic, when Turkoglu hit a free throw, missed the second, but got the rebound and hit a three, making it a four-point possession with 1:21 to play.  No more points would be scored in the game.

You don't see endings like that every day.  But, the Blazers will take it.  This game was about survival.  Just get the win and get to the airport, and that's what happened.

Now, time to give credit to our guys running the replays in the TV truck.  I tried to explain on TV what was going on during both of these times during the game, but this gives me a better chance to explain what happened. 

Rarely does a TV crew have an effect on a game.  But, our crew happened to save the Blazers three points in this game.  Early in the second quarter, Aldridge hit a three-pointer that was called a two on the court.  The officials made no indication that they wanted to review the shot on replay during the next time out.  And, there was no protest from the Blazer bench.  These things are tough to see.  But, our truck reported to me that Aldridge was indeed behind the line and that this should be overturned.

McMillan spends most of his time during games about five feet from where I call the game.  Once I was told about the replay, I alerted Nate that he should ask for a review of the shot.  During the next time out, he did.  Bill Spooner looked at the shot from several angles and agreed that Aldridge was behind the line.  The score was changed, and the Blazers were given a point.  That has happened one other time this season.  In the game against the Lakers at home recently, Kobe had a foot over the three-point line and was given a three.  We told Nate to ask for a replay, and it was changed to a two.

With 4:39 left in the game, another situation presented itself that would allow for a replay.  Orlando's Ryan Anderson scooped up a miss and scored on a lay in to just beat the shot clock.  Again, there was no protest and the bucket went on the scoreboard.  After our truck took a closer look, it appeared the ball was still in Anderson's hand when the yellow light (the shot clock light) appeared above the rim.  Once again, we asked our coaches to ask for a review.  They got it, and after the time out the bucket was taken off the board.  I can't tell you how rare it is that this would happen twice in the same game.

I also want to say that this isn't a reflection on the referees calling this game.  Spooner, Tony Brown, and Tom Washington are among the best in this league.  These things are very tough to spot in real time.  I actually want to give them credit for agreeing to take a look at these things, in order to ultimately get the call correct.  That's the goal.  I actually told Brown, after the second request, that we weren't meaning to show them up, but just wanted to let them know what the replay was showing.  He was great, and agreed that the important thing was getting the calls correct.  It's great that replay is able to be used in this fashion in the NBA.  Indisputable video evidence is too powerful to ignore.  And, in a close game, it can make all the difference in the world.

Anyway, I'm not tooting our own horn here, but rather giving credit to our guys who bust their humps in the TV truck during the games.  An extra set of eyes (complete with slow-mo) never hurts.  The reason this was so rare in this game, is that no one saw either play, and things would have stood as they were without our guys calling attention to both things.  Three points is huge.

We're in Miami now, and take on the Heat on Tuesday night.  No, it's not a good time to be catching the Heat.  They've been catching plenty of Heat.  It's another reason the win in Orlando was so huge.  Now, you're playing with house money, and the pressure is squarely on Miami.  I'll turn you loose with predictions, and what you believe are the keys to Portland making it seven-straight road wins.

Talk to you after the game.

Previous Story: Off to Florida


  1. Nice road win. Why did Rudy only play 16 mins? Liked Wallace getting 10 rebounds especially compared to LA's 3 with Howard out.

    by mgb on 3/7/2011 11:26 PM
  2. I so enjoy your play by play of the games. You and Mike Rice are knowledgeable, funny and give credit where credit is due as you do in this posting. I watched tonight's game and was impressed with the TV crew as well as the refs. That's the first time I've seen a basketball referee make a change in a call minutes after the fact and, in this case, two calls. Pretty impressive.

    I hope the Blazers keep Dre next season. To me he's kind of what Derek Fisher is to the Lakers - the glue that holds the team together. He's valuable not only for his playing ability but also for the veteran leadership he provides on and off the court. I'm glad the Blazers didn't include him in the recent trade to Charlotte, though I miss Przybilla and Cunningham.

    by Alex5 on 3/7/2011 11:37 PM
  3. The Blazers finally had what I would call a good game. It didn't look that great, because we missed too many threes and free throws while the Magic were on fire from behind the line, but think about this part of the stat line: seven steals, seven turnovers. The Magic numbers in those categories were 3 and 18. The Blazers executed, made good plays on offense and had stellar defense. Rudy and Patty and Gerald and Marcus all shot badly, but they didn't take that many bad shots. I'm guessing Rudy's short minutes were because Wallace was playing well and Rudy's shin had a rough encounter with a seat when he went diving into the crowd. And LaMarcus' low rebound number was mostly because Camby gobbled up everything when he was in there, and the Magic kept pulling LA out to the perimeter to guard people like Turkolu. We'll see how much they have left against the Heat tomorrow; LaMarcus logged 42 minutes, and none of the key guys except Camby and Rudy were under 30. But I would sure love to see them be the next team to knock the preening, strutting arrogance out of Lebron.

    by Islander on 3/7/2011 11:45 PM
  4. Mike: great report. Before I get into the game, I want to let you know that was me on the Up and Adam show that asked about CP3 being injured. I watrch most of the Up and Adam's shows, but mostly just lurk. Therefore he didn't know who I was and I just signed it Hg Mangum. Anyway I want to thank you for your response, I was somewht surprised it got through. I had thought it was CP3 knee again and was really worried.

    I had to listen to the Orlando announcers, so your blog was refreshing to say the least. They did show the replays of both the shots. But our camara crew never got credit for seeing it. I remember listening to you not very long ago, about the announcers back eas not knowing players on the west coast unless the name is Kobe. The Orlando announcer sept saying that LMA always shot from the perimeter and never shot free throws. and the Blazers try to get him to go inside more, but he just won't do it LMAO. Then as the game was getting out of hand for them the fist time they implied that the game was just more important to us then it was them because of the fight to stay in the play-off race.

    I can't make any predictions on the Miami game, because they are too good, but I will say that if we play them anyway like we played tonight we will give them a run for their money; that is all I am hoping for. just relax and have fun.

    Thanks again for the up date.

    Hg Mangum

    by Hg on 3/7/2011 11:53 PM
  5. Come on, Mike, Nate gave the credit to his assistant coaches not you guys for the saved 3 points. :)

    by mgb on 3/7/2011 11:58 PM

  6. 10rebs = ring the bell, wallace should start.

    for the stretch run, i'd like to see the Bs start
    and come with a bench of
    collins (only 6-10min)

    b-roy needs those 3pt shooters around him, especially patty.
    wallace should be on the court with andre as often as possible because miller will start hitting him with passes that = dunks for the g. child.

    keys to victory against miami?
    batum and wallace in lebron's face
    attack the rim
    throw the kitchen sink at them and keep the pressure on for 48min

    by reverse on 3/8/2011 12:31 AM
  7. Tonight's win was great. The defense seems to be building a little bit every game and that alone, I think, will improve our offense down the stretch. Tonight's performance indicates that much if our team history hasn't.
    My keys for tomorrow night's game:
    Hold the Heat to fewer than 18 points in the paint. - with no post plays in their scheme, just keep the driving lanes closed and hope egos lead to the belief that outside shooting will save the day.
    Blazers commit fewer than 8 turnovers. - the Heat have a lot of speed and athleticism and can scorch open court defenses, protect the ball and make them earn their buckets.
    Play for the 4th quarter. - I don't mean to say take the rest of the game off, and I realize this game comes as the second of a back to back, but the Heat have shown an inability to change gears defensively and grind out the final 12 minutes, amp up the intensity in the 4th and the Heat will feel the pressure all the more.
    Also, I think that we should stay home on defense and not sell out on double teams for 3 quarters. Mike Miller is struggling with his shot and Bibby hasn't shown much interest in offense yet. I don't think we should make it easy on them by leaving them open to double James or Wade when that might not even help. I would wait to bring double teams until the 4th when the role players are out of rhythm and the big 3 are feeling the pressure of closing out the game.
    Anyway, I'm sure Nate has it all figured out.

    by BlazerStache on 3/8/2011 1:15 AM
  8. Whew...glad we got this game won. Cause its off to good ol Miami. Iam not ahuge fan of the Blazers being the team that has to play them after thier biggest drama show. This is a MUST win for Miami, and feel like the blazers will be the sacrificial lamb. BUT...gotta stay upbeat...play solid 48 min of basketball and see what happens. If we do win this game, it will be HUGE :) I think it will be a very nice confidence booster.

    Then afterwards go issue some much deserved payback to the Hawks, after we beat the Bobcats hopefully. Go Blazers!

    by whitefeather21380 on 3/8/2011 3:11 AM
  9. Congrats to the TV crew indeed. I didn't protest it. I saw the Aldridge 3 and said "yay a 3" and then you said it was a long two, and I sat down and accepted it. Nice to see he got a 3 pointer!

    Anyways, Blazers played great, and shot awful, and still picked up a win. Lovely. clutch defense, clutch shooting from our stars, and a road win against an "elite" team (well, I don't think the Magic are elite).

    Only thing we must do differently to beat the Heat is... MAKE OUR SHOTS. I was going to smash my palm into my head if we lost this game because we were 8/25 or so behind the arc and always wide open.

    by Herr on 3/8/2011 3:13 AM
  10. Herr:
    We are wide open behind the Arc because we are a very poor 3pt shooting team and that is where most of the opponents will let us beat them from. close up the middle and dare you to shoot a three then run out on us. Maybe LMA will be our new three pt specialist.

    by Hg on 3/8/2011 6:53 AM
  11. that was a hell of a win! i don't know about miami but the this game gives me a lot of hope. it wasn't perfect but it wasn't ugly. it was an improvement. i was thrilled to see roy and wallace come off the bench and hurt the magic. it's not their natural positions in a rotation but they came in and did damage.

    patty mills!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! the orlando commentators were raving about him on his defensive skills. thank you for noticing. he is the HIDDEN HERO of this team. his value goes beyond his stats. just like pryzbilla.

    we can beat miami and our progress supports this.

    go blazers!

    by thedanman on 3/8/2011 8:18 AM
  12. LMA more than 42 min on the front end of a back to back. Just sayin. How long before he's in Dr. Cooks office?

    by Ancientone on 3/8/2011 8:44 AM


    by reverse on 3/8/2011 12:13 PM
  14. it's great that the officials showed some professionalism. there are games where i don't think we'd have seen that from a lot of the guys wearing the stripes. that could have been huge had we not had the four-point lead in the last minute, but instead, just a one- or two-point advantage.

    great line about everyone having to play shorthanded from time to time. we could write the book on that ... actually, i think the blogs and comments here could comprise such a book!

    during my run this morning i ran into an acquaintance who knows i'm a blazers fan. he was quick to inform me that portland woud not have had a chance if Howard would have played. after rolling my eyes, i asked him how many games we might have won if we hadn't been missing some players. he indicated he didn't know, to which i responded, "neither do i, because the blazers don't make excuses." i then ran off, feeling triumphant!

    the point is, MB, you're statement is absolutely correct, and we don't make excuses. instead, we talk about what we have (i.e. LaMarcus) rather than what we do not have.

    it didn't sound like a pretty game, but we did what it took to win. that's what we need to keep finding a way to do. all it takes is one point to win, and there are no asterisks in the win-loss column, just wins and losses.

    hopefully, we pick up one of those wins tonight.

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 3/8/2011 2:04 PM
  15. definition of "irony" as it pertains to last night's game: the blazers hit just 19 percent of their three pointers; but LaMarcus and Andre had on apiece!

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 3/8/2011 2:06 PM
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