Mar 28

Wallace's Huge Night Not Enough

By mikebarrett
Gerald Wallace certainly did all he could at Oklahoma City on Sunday night.  As tremendous as he was at the offensive end, he was perhaps even better defensively.  But, the Trail Blazers struggled to score down the stretch and fell to the Thunder 99-90.  It's the third time this season the Blazers have lost to the Thunder, after dropping the first two contests by a total of three points.

This game was close as well, at least until Russell Westbrook did some serious damage in the final minute.  The Blazers had the game tied on several occasions late in the game, but Westbrook, who ended the game 4 of 5 from downtown, put the game away for the Thunder in the closing seconds.

Wallace scored 40 points for the Trail Blazers, and also grabbed 7 rebounds.  But, his most impressive feat of the night was frustrating Kevin Durant into 5 for 18 shooting.  Durant, who leads the league in scoring, was held to 21 points and wasn't really a factor in the final minutes.

The biggest positive for the Trail Blazers, other than Wallace scoring 40, was the fact that they could have easily checked out after falling down by 15 in the first half.  They went to the locker room trailing by 14 at the break, and the Thunder seemed to have everything working in their favor.

But, using defense mainly, the Trail Blazers went on a run midway through the third quarter and rallied to tie the game at 69.  They tied it again at 79, and at 82.  But, never did take a lead in the second half of this game.  They had several opportunities, with the ball with the game tied, but never got the shot that could have put them over the hump.

In short, Wallace was brilliant, but you need balanced scoring to beat a team like OKC.  Wallace shot 16 for 28, but Wesley Matthews, Andre Miller, Nicolas Batum, and Rudy Fernandez, guys you depend on for offense, combined to shoot 7 for 28 from the field.  As a team, the Blazers shot just 43 percent, and were 2 for 12 from behind the three-point line.

We're now in San Antonio for a rematch with the Spurs tonight.  The second of a back to back on the road is always a scramble, so the blog is relatively short this morning. 

It's not certain yet whether or not the Spurs will have Manu Ginobili tonight.  He suffered a deep thigh bruise last night in Memphis, and evidently was in a lot of pain when he left the game for good in the third quarter. 

The Trail Blazers have recalled Luke Babbitt from the D-League, by the way.  He has joined us in Texas and will be available tonight.  He posted some very impressive numbers with Idaho.  On nights when no one else can hit from the outside (like last night), I still think Luke could be useful.

Portland's magic number to clinch a playoff spot currently stands at 5.  Any combination of Blazer wins and Houston losses, that equal 5, and Portland is in.

Talk to you later on tonight.

By the way, if you haven't seen these Road Trippin' pieces on the .tv side of the website, you've got to check them out.  This is a great one that was added last night, recapping the win over San Antonio on Friday night. Click here to see it. If a live show is taking place when you hit the link, you'll get that first.  But, cycle through to Road Trippin' with Big John to see the feature I'm talking about.


  1. Good Morning, or afternoon in San Antonio.

    It was a good game last night as the Blazers never gave up, but we have to figure out how to keep our shooting % up. If our outside shots are falling we win, if not we lose. I like your idea of steals and creating easy opportunities is great, but we need more uniform scoring in our regular half court offense. My problem is I haven't the foggiest notion of how to get it. Nate keeps saying you got to knock down your shots, but if they are not falling, what do you do then?

    Our defense most of the time is working well for us, but we can't capitalize on it. Of course rebounds would help also.

    I am not the least bit worried about the game, as it was against a good team after an emotional win over SAS. but there has to be a way to get more consistent scoring out of our players. Any ideas other then more experience.

    I think it was you that said we have the talent, and now we are getting the skills to use our talent. is that the answer?

    Time to move on to tonight's game. as the plot thickens.

    by Hg on 3/28/2011 9:14 AM
  2. Thanks for the blog Mike. Gotta love what GW did last night, but as you said, balanced attack is what is needed most of the time. I have to admit, I respect a team like OKC, though of course, in this context, I 'hate' them. It's kinda weird, despite their move to OKC, seems like it is and will be a battle with them like we used to have with the Sonics (have to also admit, I miss those great tense games we had with Payton in the old days) for many years to come. Let's hope we can bounce back tonight. Will definitely check out the show you mentioned (haven't seen an episode of Road Trippin' since the early ones), though I'm more of a Just Casey kinda guy :-)
    -Anees, from Prague

    by Anees on 3/28/2011 9:17 AM
  3. Hey Mike, I was wondering you (or if any other blogger) had the replay of the foul on Perkins (wasn't called) on Gerald Wallace when the score was 88-92. After that no call, there was another no call that led to a Westbrook fast break. If those fouls were called, we could be looking at a different outcome.

    Overall the officiating was okay. I thought it was a bit lame the Thunder shot 5 more free throws when the Blazers had around 7 less fouls (sometimes I questioned why they were on the line and we weren't). But it just sucks that two plays in this game ruined our chances when they should have been different and could change the outcome.

    This kind of BS is what annoys the crap out of me in this league. The Thunder have won well over 30 games this season in the final minutes, each having horrible officiating. They aren't anything compared to a 4th seeded team in any conference. Denver will beat them in the first round easily. That will be very enjoyable to watch.

    However, I did see some lazy play by the heroes of Friday night. It looked like they were more interested in tonights game. So, I expect a good fight, win or loss. Even though its against a tough road trip with bad officiating, you can't afford a 2 game losing streak.

    We're still sweeping April however, so I'm not concerned.

    by Herr on 3/28/2011 9:30 AM
  4. We should beat an injured S.A. Spurs team no matter where the game is....... as long as the effort from the whole team is there. Where has Wesley Matthews been?

    by mbmurr1 on 3/28/2011 9:30 AM
  5. the story of our night was Gerald/Crash. i've seen in the past two games -- especially last night -- what i had hoped to see from him when we obtained him in the trade. the guy was everywhere. when he did the most damage was when he played sf. he was able to be a lot more active and push himself. we wouldn't have been anywhere close at the end if it weren't for Crash.

    of course, the main reason for that is that we seem to all but abandon our offensive plan of going through LaMarcus. bad things always seem to happen when we stop doing that. this game was no exception.

    the only other really notable performance we got was from "Uncle Cam." it became clear early we were going to need the inside presence of our elder statesman. he came through with 13 big rebounds and a couple nice shots (that 10-footer might just be the prettiest bank shot i've ever seen). i'll just add that he was the only blazer with a +/- rating at +8.

    while Andre didn't shoot particularly well, he did have eight rebounds, five assists and a steal. i think we could see that Nicolas' quad injury was slowing him down. after his heroics of friday night, i would let that slide a bit btw, MB, any update on that?). what is concerning me is the inconsistent/non-existent play of Wesley and Rudy. this is hurting the team right now. to be honest, i'm growing weary of even complimenting Wesley's defense or Rudy's hustle. there's something off in both cases, and in my opinion, we're not going to go far if it's not corrected.

    officiating played a role in this game, only because the worst calls came toward the end of the game. but alas, i'm not here to rag on David Stern's puppets.

    so the question is: we CAN beat the spurs, but WILL we?

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 3/28/2011 11:36 AM
  6. Miss Kassandra, Miss Kassandra, Miss Kassandra, Miss Kassandra, Miss Kassandra.

    You seem to be right on all five of your statements of your Post.

    Hats off to you on your call on natural positions that was stated on the Casey blog.

    I am somewhat worried about the off and on and the more off of Matthews and Rudy, don't know what to think, but it is clearly visible that they are not performing. That might have been the reason for bringing Babbitt back from the D league, not only is the D league about over, but if you are going to pay high bucks for missing shots you may as well add Babbitt to the option. His D isn't up to par, but he can miss threes with the best of them.

    Are you and your Dormie back at school? I seen on the news that there was a traffic jam of students coming back from spring break. Was you one of them or do you drive to and from College? Just full of questions, am I not?

    by Hg on 3/28/2011 12:09 PM
  7. Good post Mike I saw you on chalk talk. So no manu or ducan tonight should be a easy win . My concern is Matt Bonner with his 3 pointers that guy can shoot the 3's . And wednesday with chris paul being back another tough match.

    by jyp on 3/28/2011 12:24 PM
  8. Gerald's big night was a great accomplishment, but it was also a symptom of the Blazers' biggest problem in the game. Gerald is the new guy, whose game doesn't quite fit in the team's established offense. He is very good when he gets the opportunity, and the breakdown of our offense gave him that opportunity. It has been a while since I've seen the team struggle this badly to execute offensive basics. When the Thunder were sagging in the first quarter we couldn't exploit it, because Wesley's shot hasn't been falling, Gerald's perimeter game took a while to get going, and Andre has limited range. Then, when they were pressing our ballhandlers in the second half, we looked like we were wading through molasses. I don't remember a single time all night we had a basic pick-and-pop, or had a good kick-out after an entry pass to LaMarcus. And we weren't running nearly enough to offset our sluggish half-court game. It's noteworthy that there was a potential solution to these problems sitting on the bench all night. Patty Mills has a good outside shot, so they couldn't sag on him. Patty is quick enough to punish guys who try to pressure him outside, so that approach wouldn't work either. And he's an actual point guard, so we wouldn't be relying on guys like Rudy and Brandon to make the basic passes to start the offense. And, oh yes, he's the most aggressive Blazer guard at pushing the ball up court. I also thought he would be quick enough to cover the guy who came in when Westbrook was on the bench. But since that seven-second meltdown a few games back, Nate has lost all interest in exploiting Patty's strengths. I'm sorry to say it, but our coach too often plays like he's trying not to lose, instead of taking a chance in order to win. So it really doesn't matter that Luke Babbitt is back with the team. Nate made it clear a long time ago he would never let Luke play when the game was still on the line as long as there was a single healthy body to play instead of him.
    As for the recent struggles of Wesley and Rudy, it seems worth mentioning that their slide has come since Brandon started competing with them for minutes. Could be a coincidence; maybe they're just wearing down after being out there scrapping all season. But the mindset is a bit different when you KNOW they need you out there. When you miss in that situation, you think "better concentrate on my mechanics next time down." When the coach has other options, you end up second-guessing whether you should take the shot next time around. I think our accute announcer is wrong a couple of times a game when he says that players "pass up an open three." From the TV view I can often see the onrushing defender that made them decide to pass up the shot. But it is still obvious that several guys have become gun-shy from the three-point line. And the one player who NEVER loses confidence in his shot is on the bench, relegated to the role of cheerleader.

    by Islander on 3/28/2011 12:53 PM

  9. i've been wanting a camby, aldridge, wallace, matthews, miller line-up since the trade was made.

    beat san antonio

    go blazers!!!

    by reverse on 3/28/2011 12:57 PM
  10. I love when we lose a tough game and fans start complaining, lol!

    This game was lost in the first quarter, when the Blazers forgot they were fighting for a playoff spot, forgot they had any talent, forgot how to handle the ball, and prettty much looked like they just forgot they were Blazers. I was glad to see them come back multiple times, but I remain concerned about their combined focus and determination for the full game.

    While it was really cool to see Crash get his 40pts and is always great to see him play both ends so hard, I think it's a bad thing when our newest guy is leading the way. I have been trying to reserve judgement, but I have to finally say that Lamarcus has taken a step back. I've mentioned a few times I sense his hesistancy is a mental thing, and still believe that. As soon as BRoy returned, something went away. What? That SWAGGER he had so recently acquired. Now, Brandon, other than a great game-tying shot and his 21 point game has done very, very little for this team since his return good or bad. His actual presence hasn't done any of the things on the actual court that people were so afraid to see. But, it does seem to have affected LA. And only he can fix that. So, here's to hoping he figures it out. Maybe a superb outing in Texas, where he tends to relish playing, will remind him of who and what he has become. And if anyone mentions double-teams as the "reason" for his struggles, I think I will actually scream in frustration :)

    Okay, so, glad to get that off my chest finally.

    So far, we have won the game I thought we would and lost the game I thought we would. I called this game tonight as a loss I think (anyone remember?), but I will certainly be hoping, wishing, and willing a WIN!

    by SisillaRiann on 3/28/2011 1:45 PM
  11. Hg: thanks. i know there are players who are "swing" players who can play a couple of positions but, in reality, they just play better at their natural positions (i.e. LaMarcus at pf rather than center). that's really the only point i have to get across. i commented on Casey's blog, as well.

    Julie and i left milwaukie at 3 a.m. sunday. it was rainy, but otherwise good. we took our time (and turns driving) and got back at about 2:30. it wasn't too bad, though a little busy. on to spring term now!

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 3/28/2011 3:27 PM
  12. Too bad Wallace couldn't have had a better support although LA did pretty decent ($20,000 toward Japan relief is pretty decent) the role players need to step it up as the playoffs approach.

    by blazerdarren77 on 3/28/2011 3:59 PM
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