Apr 07

Wire to Wire in Utah

By mikebarrett
It doesn't matter who is in uniform for the Utah Jazz, or who is coaching them for that matter, a win in Salt Lake City is a win in Salt Lake City.  And, winning both meetings in that arena doesn't happen often.  In fact, the last time the Blazers won two games in Salt Lake City in the same season was during the 2000-01 campaign.

It's very true, this isn't as impressive a win as the one the Blazers recorded in Utah earlier this year.  Back on December 27th, this was a different Jazz team.  They came into that game 22-10 and in first place in the Northwest Division.  Following Portland's win on Thursday night, the Jazz are now 37-42, and this was their fifth-straight home loss.

This may have been a more meaningful win for the Trail Blazers, however, as they never trailed in the contest, leading by as many as 15, and won it 98-87.  It was a game they absolutely had to have, following the home loss to Golden State on Tuesday night.  They kept their hopes of grabbing the sixth spot in the west alive.  But, they'll still need some help.

Gerald Wallace continued his incredibly-consistent play for the Blazers, this time scoring 29 points.  He also grabbed 8 rebounds, and was back at the power-forward position with Marcus Camby back in Portland nursing a sore neck.

Nicolas Batum was solid as well, scoring 21 points, and Wesley Matthews, playing against his former team, had 18 points and 7 rebounds.  Andre Miller was just 1 for 9 from the field, but recorded 12 assists.

The Blazers shot 46 percent as a team, and improved to 33-8 on the season when they shoot 45 percent or better.  That illustrates how vital it is that they shoot just a decent percentage.  Sounds simple, but when this team hits from the outside it's very, very difficult to beat.

It's tough to find many negatives when you win in Utah, but if we've got to search for one, it's that the Blazers didn't put this game away completely a little earlier, and had to play their key guys heavy minutes.  Wallace played 43 minutes, LaMarcus Aldridge 43, and Andre 36.  You have to wonder how much they'll have left in the tank on Friday night, when they host the Lakers at the Rose Garden.

It was nice to hear the TNT announcers point out that Portland faces so many back-to-back situations.  The Lakers have just 13 such situations this year, while the Blazers have 23.  Making matters worse is that in three of the four meetings with the Lakers this season, the Trail Blazers were in the second night of a back to back.  The league's schedule makers have a tough job, but please.

As I stated after the loss to Golden State on Tuesday, the Trail Blazers do not control their own destiny at this point, in terms of grabbing the sixth seed.  That's what made the loss to the Warriors so costly.

New Orleans, by virtue of holding season series against Portland, and thus owning the tie breaker, can claim the sixth seed if they win out.  The Blazers have to win their remaining games, and then hope for a Hornets loss.  New Orleans does still have to play at Memphis, and at Dallas, so it's certainly possible that they lose at least one of those games.

The Blazers not only will have to beat the Lakers on Friday, but will have to get past Memphis (no easy task) on Tuesday, and then win the finale at Golden State on Wednesday.  But, if they win those three games, and New Orleans trips just once, they'll have the sixth seed.  There simply isn't any margin for error right now.  We've said that a lot lately, but never has that been more true than it is right now.

It's not known yet if Camby will be back on Friday night, but the Blazers certainly hope so.  The Lakers are big and long, and Camby's presence will be vital to Portland's chances.

By the way, I've gotten a lot of questions from fans about the Mike and Mike t-shirts that are currently being sold in the Blazers Fan Shop.  The initial batch sold out quickly (no, I'm not kidding), but there are more now.  Because of several issues, that I'm not going to bore you with, these haven't been able to be an online item.  But, if you want one, for $16 bucks, send an e-mail to this address and they'll hook you up.  




  1. So, that was the deciding game so far between these two games in my opinion. We will win the night tomorrow. We shall raise our glasses as I do now, and say we finally beat LA! I'm a bit nervous for my prediction of LAL slowing down and being wrong, but here is my theory.

    Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant, and everyone on the Laker bench would much rather have New Orleans over Portland in the first round. After this game, they know Portland has a good shot of winning the next 2, so they'd be 6th. Winning against Portland would nearly doom Portland to the 7th seed, in which they would face them. LAL doesn't want this. They don't want to risk playing heavy minutes of their guys that are "day to day" in an arena they have trouble winning in. It's not worth the sweep. It's not worth giving up the secrets. It's not worth it to them. They don't want us in the first round, and would probably love for us to possibly get knocked out by Dallas and then finish Dallas off, or at least play a long series against the Mavs before knocking us off themselves because they are going to sweep New Orleans.

    I will be VERY surprised if the Lakers come into the Rose Garden and play a serious game, play heavy minutes, and try to win. They're virtually playing for nothing. Dallas and OKC are too far behind for the Lakers to fall.

    So, I would be surprised if they came out, but that doesn't mean the Blazers can sleep. Also, if Camby doesn't play, I may be a bit pissed at him. I respect Camby a lot, but this is important, and we saw how crucial he is against the Lakers. According to some radio guys on 95.5, the doctors are giving him a yes, but Camby is saying no.

    As for this game, great win. Brandon Roy looked like a beast. Once his shot is falling, we're good to go.

    by Herr on 4/7/2011 10:56 PM
  2. It was nice to get the win we needed, even with Camby out and our rebounding severely compromised. Utah has no identity right now, no real confidence, and so even though they were doing a lot of things well, it never seemed in the cards for them to come back and win. But I'm becoming pessimistic about our chances in the playoffs, unless someone can find a time machine so we can wisk LaMarcus and Rudy away to get a month of rest. I'm convinced now that Rudy just hasn't built the stamina for an NBA season--his results get worse and worse--and the injuries (plus the trade that sent away half our big men) have left LA playing too many minutes for far too long. He now lacks that fierce energy he had during the great run earlier in the year, is always reacting instead of forcing the defense to react, and is missing shots he would normally make. He's playing too much center too, has all year. So, even though Batum seems to be peaking, Wallace is learning daily how to mesh his energy with the other Blazers, and Brandon finally has finally played a game that suggests that he could really help us--I'll start to believe a little more if he plays decently tomorrow night-- we have no real chance in the playoffs without LaMarcus playing like an All-Star. If we had any plausible warm bodies to put on the floor I'd be tempted to cut him back to fifteen minutes a game for the last three games. Why burn him out chasing the uncertain chance of a better seed? On second thought, I don't even care about plausible bodies: just play Chris and Luke and let LA relax. Imagine, if we had only had Jeff Pendergraph around all year to give him another five minutes rest per game.
    Regardless of what approach Nate takes tomorrow, I'll be relieved again to be able to watch skilled professional announcers instead of those doofuses on TNT. I spent way too much time swearing at the screen, telling the babbling idiots to please, please return their attention to the game being played in front of them. I swear, I'd go out of the room for a few seconds, and from what they were saying, there was no way you'd even know a game was being played. I tell you, Mike I'm now much, much more impressed with how you and Rice manage to chat about refs and coaches and all sorts of other stuff WHILE STILL TELLING US WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE GAME! These network guys get on a topic and just go on and on for several trips up and down the court, utterly ignoring what's happening on court. Thank God--or at least Paul Allen--the Trail Blazers have professional announcers who actually care about the game that's being played, concentrate on the action, and know what they're talking about. I mean, just try to find out from these TNT guys something as basic as who fouled who and and when and how. Not from the guys who think a game between Portland and Utah is the perfect occasion for a two-minute overview of the Lakers' season. We get accustomed to how good you guys are, take it for granted, and it takes a night off to remind us just how lucky we are.

    by Islander on 4/7/2011 11:48 PM
  3. Thank you for the post Mike:

    I am always glad to win in Salt Lake City, but I tell you what, Utah is a better team then I gave them credit for.

    Do you think that Nola will sit CP3 for the rest of the season, after getting so much fluid drained off his knee? I guess we will find out tomorrow night, but I sure would sit him because without CP3 and West their chances in the play-offs is gone.

    Utah playing Harris and Watson at the same time when BRoy was in was an attempt to expose BRoy's weakness due to his injury, therefore it was double good for BRoy to have a good night. I hope he becomes more consistent now. for that is the one fault that our team has is inconsistency from the outside shooting.

    It was a very good game to watch; it seemed like Portland was in complete control from start to finish.

    by Hg on 4/7/2011 11:57 PM
  4. Herr, then again they might figure if they beat us then we'll fall to the 8th spot. Also they might not want to give us any confidence if we do end up facing them.

    I don't care what they do, we going to kick their butts!!


    by mgb on 4/7/2011 11:59 PM
  5. Islander,

    If we have a time machine lets jump forward a year and bring back a healthy Oden! :)

    by mgb on 4/8/2011 12:00 AM
  6. Islander, I completely agree with you on the TNT announcers. If you had to listen to some of the other announcers as I do on the NBA package, you wouldn't be quite so upset with them though. Shawn Elliot for the Spurs is the worst of all of them. You would think he would at least go on-line and read about the opponents before he made idiotical statements about them.

    by Hg on 4/8/2011 12:05 AM
  7. I think LA will be at that all-star level again when Oden and JP are back. We also could sign a young, big body down low. I'm liking Chris Johnson, he wants to bring it every game, and has the energy, you can just tell he's a young player. I'd be satisfied signing him for awhile.

    However the one pet peeve I have with Nate is that he lacks the trust of his team. We've got a full bench, and play 8 guys, while 3-4 of them sit there waiting for one team to get blown out so they can take at least one shot to get their moment of fame. You look at coaches like Popovich and Karl and a result is they've got great young players playing well. Armon Johnson and Luke Babbitt are never going to live up to their potential unless Nate gives them a chance. I'm not suggesting throwing Babbs in at this point of the season, but I'm sure LA wouldn't complain about being tired if these guys got minutes in place of LA, and I'm sure that Babbitt would be a decent player at this point.

    Anyways, with the trade, I'm near 100% positive that we'll see Oden in a Blazer jersey next season, and same with JP. No way can we rely on our only centers being Camby, LMA, and Pryzbilla (if he resigns with us).

    Islander, I agree completely with you. Although I generally like listening to National TV announcers if it's not a Blazer game, because getting a shoutout is nice, but I remember one point in this game (I actually listened to the 2nd half on the radio) there was a whistle, all the players went to their bench (Blazers had possession), and the commercials came on. During that, Reggie Miller was trying to out-annoy his sister (is that even possible). When the game returned, it was somehow Jazz ball. But Hg is right, the Spurs guy is probably worse. I believe he said Steve Novak was more athletic than Gerald Wallace, and that Camby was not a good defender.

    mgb, I hope you're right! I'm confident we can win this game, but the only thing that makes me worry is that we choked the last two games in the final moments.

    by Herr on 4/8/2011 1:07 AM
  8. Good win in Utah. I wish Harris would got off Batum real fast when Batum was hurting his back on the steps. Need to win tomorrow for sure Hornets are hosting the Suns go blazers. Sorry you didnt go to Salt Lake to see the game Mike but see you tomorrow .

    by jyp on 4/8/2011 2:10 AM
  9. Herr: You may not remember, but the Spurs announcer, Shawn Elliot, was the one that made the 3pter, I think in 1999, that gave the spurs the win to go on to become championship with half of his foot out of bounds. It was ruled a legal shot because his heal never quite touched the floor. Later Elliot had a kidney transplant that all but ended his career. Long short he was a heck of a player, but a bad announcer.

    by Hg on 4/8/2011 4:46 AM
  10. jvp: ya, I was getting somewhat suspicious of Harris LOL.

    by Hg on 4/8/2011 4:47 AM
  11. i thought this was a quality win. not because utah is tough but because we did what we were suppose to do, control the game and win. even though we had lapses and lulls we were always in command and we clearly looked like the superior team which we are.

    batum started off cold but continued to attack and it paid off. it's good to see him grow. his assertiveness/aggressiveness is taking his game to another level.

    GW is a warrior. it's trite describing his game because he's so consistent. and i'm not talking about numbers. i'm talking about effort and everything that he contributes. i'm talking about the intangibles combined with the numbers. his game is so balanced it's difficult to point to an area that he's weak in. i'm so happy he's a blazer.

    it was good to see roy make some big shots. we need that.

    rudy seems to not drive as much as he was when roy was out. i don't get that. that little drive, pick and hook pass ally oop to aldridge was a real killer play but i haven't seen much of it recently.

    this was a good win. beat la! it's important.

    go blazers!

    by thedanman on 4/8/2011 4:47 AM
  12. everyone check out the dunk of the night on espn. favors dunks on camby. apparently, camby's mutant powers allow him to change appearances. i swear he looks just like chris johnson. amazing! not a nice trick.

    by thedanman on 4/8/2011 5:05 AM
  13. Whats Shakin,Blazer Buddies? Business and life is busy as all hell right now,Miss all you guys!
    This is tough watching the season unfold with maybe facing our worst matchup possible in the playoffs.
    BUT........it is what it is.The Golden State loss couldn't have happened at a worse time.I knew that somehow New Orleans having the tiebreaker would come into play,somehow.
    However,We need to come up big tonight.This is goin to be a war tonight,for two reasons.We NEED every win from here on out.I also think that it would be a good time to put the seed of doubt in the mighty Lakers.

    Crash has been a DEMON.He is my new favorite player.Da man does it all on both ends,too.And as MB mentioned to me,Nic has really come alive because off it.plus seeing what Crash does makes for great inspiration,as well.


    by DowntownVinnie on 4/8/2011 6:52 AM
  14. Good to hear from you DTV.

    Regardless of who we play in the play-offs this has been a rewarding year and I look for more of the same or better next year.

    I read so much about us being a failure if we don't get out of the first round, but I just don't get that. How can a team that gone through all the adversities be a failure.

    I am not a Jazz fan, but watching them last night with their rebuilding showed me as the Blazers did, they are rebuilding and although their win and loss record isn't what we are used to, they are going to be a team in a near future.

    by Hg on 4/8/2011 7:44 AM
  15. Mike,

    I really like what Chris Johnson gave the team last night. He's another big body we can throw out there if Camby or LA are in foul trouble or injured. He seems very raw, but I liked his defense and his effort on every play. He's got those really long arms that can disrupt people's shots too. Did you have any thoughts on him? I say he's a keeper.

    by gvartan3 on 4/8/2011 8:30 AM
  16. -George

    by gvartan3 on 4/8/2011 8:30 AM
  17. BEAT LA!!

    by Miller on 4/8/2011 10:16 AM
  18. Very ugly game in the 4th quarter, but we won, so that's all that matters. It amazes me how much better of a team we are when Batum plays with a swagger. He shoots with a purpose, he dribbles with an initiative. If he can get us 15-17 nightly in the playoffs, we will be a tough out. But I still worry about our size down low as we continue to have our struggles defensive rebounding.

    by DHawes22 on 4/8/2011 11:02 AM
  19. i'm going to start out by agreeing with thedanman; we won because we did what we were supposed to do. there's not reason would should have lost last night. the guys went out and did their work. plain and simple.

    i loved when Nicolas started hitting in the first quarter and then Brandon took over when he got into the game. both of them were key for usin getting on top and maintaining the lead in the first half. Wesley played solid all night, and particularly in the second half. LaMarcus had some shooting issues, but he was all over the boards, which is always good to see.

    however, the night belonged to Crash. he certainly lived up to his nickname! the guy can do it all, at both ends of the floor. while i have limited opportunities to see games on television, i very much enjoy watching Gerald play the game.

    i listened to the tnt announcers only because the broadcast is out of sync with the audio stream and Reggie Miller is a moron. i counted three simple facts about which he was wrong; can't recall the third, but here are two of them.: 1. he said LaMarcus is 6'10" when he's on the 7-foot side of 6'11"; 2. he said we called up Chris from idaho rather than dakota. i just have to say, i thought listening to tnt would have been much more enjoyable with Chuck Barkley having a night off!

    i think it's important for us to win these last three games. tonight will be tough, but we certainly can do it. the officials --oops, i mean ... the lakers -- stole one from us at the RG before, but now it's time to really protect our house. Nicolas averages more points per game (21.3) against the lakers than any other team in the league. it could be a very special night if he can step up again. we'll also need LaMarcus strong tonight, not to mention Crash and Wesley. doses of Brandon and Rudy would certainly be welcome as well.

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 4/8/2011 12:31 PM
  20. Well, it was good to get the win, in Utah, and the season series over them :)

    In my opinion, we must WIN OUT, period.

    Love what Crash brings to this team, and I would never undo the trade that got him here, but I really cannot stand LA at the 5 anymore. He does fine with it, but it's just too taxing, and usually interferes with his offense. I just wish we had a real back up Center (long sigh). Oh well, moving on.

    CJ is very cool, love watching him hustle and man, can he leap!

    Kassandra - yes, Reggie is a moron. Can't stand the national broadcasters, they lose track of the game too much.

    (Wheels said on the radio today that he didn't think Marcus would play tonight, just a guess he said, but I really do hope he is WRONG!)


    by SisillaRiann on 4/8/2011 1:15 PM
  21. Kassandra - was the 3rd thing Reggie was mistaken on the 3-goggle thing? He said it was from Wesley, sort of mentioned Rudy, but completely neglected the person who actually got it really going - Patty Mills!

    by SisillaRiann on 4/8/2011 1:36 PM
  22. With a little wgt and experience I think CJ can be a really good backup center. Right now he gets pushed out of position too easy. Long arms, quick as cat, and great leaper.

    by Ancientone on 4/8/2011 2:35 PM
  23. There are some words that real men just don't say. "Fabulous", "Gorgeous", and "Scrumptious" come to mind. But damn it man, GW's game is flat out delicious! You'll never hear me say how I idolize anyone; no stars in my eyes, like 500 Dogs recently shared (although I love 500 Dogs, and I wouldn't intentionally offend him for being a rabid fan). I see the dives for loose balls, the sacrificing his body on a charge, a hustle rebound, and the stars I see are the ones circling around my forehead from Gerald's passion for the game. Give me that headband because I think my noggin needs a tourniquet. I mean really, how much of a salt lick would we have taken in Salt Lake in the fourth quarter without Mr. Wallaces' contributions? There was a time when I would never have uttered the name Wallace in the same breath as desire and sportsmanship, so today I am a happy man. Why I'm feeling down right supervalous, and a little persnickety to boot. Sorry, even spell check doesn't recognize that one.

    by Phi Slamma on 4/8/2011 3:11 PM
  24. EA: To be truthful, I thought we should win all the games this season. I know where you are coming from with your absolutely must win out, but I am looking at what happens if the Lakers refs takes our game away. We will just have to group and beat the opponent we end up meeting in the first round. Therefore I am going to back-off my nervous anxiety and hopefully enjoy a good game.(held my head between my palms and said, I wonder if I can do that). I am going to try though because you and I as fans don't have any control over the outcome and it is insane to get so worked up for a stupid game of BB. Isn't it?

    Besides Rice guaranteed by betting his house that he doesn't own or live in that NOH would lose two and Memphis would lose one--to us and we would get 6th spot. but said it could very easily be OKC that we play, if they overtake Dallas. Anyway it is time for me to quit worrying because I am feeling like Kassandra, and I am not hung over. all that adrenaline pumping in my stomach. Talk about a diet, Wow. I lost 5 pounds in two days. and it only cost me a case of toilet paper LMAO.

    Kassandra: adding to the comment on the three goggles, Reggie said that he thought the 3 goggle sign was horrible or something to that respect and his partner asked him what he did when he made a three. His reply was I just held my arms up as a 3 pt field goal. Does that make him sound more like a moron. Does to me.

    by Hg on 4/8/2011 3:23 PM
  25. WOOHOO!!! LETS BRING OUT THE CHAMPAGNE AND LETS PARTY! Oh sorry, few months too early. Oh well, WE BEAT LA!!! BEAT LA!! BEAT LA!!!

    Now, Blazer fans.... GAME TO WATCH! Sunday, NOH@MEM. GO MEMPHIS!!! WOO!

    by Herr on 4/8/2011 9:06 PM
  26. Excellent win!

    Now if we can beat GS I'll be impress! :)

    by mgb on 4/8/2011 9:15 PM
  27. We ran, we attacked the rim -- we won! The game only got close when we started hoisting threes and stopped attacking the rim. Of course the Laker defense had something to do with that but the fact remains -- when we attack early in the clock, good things tend to happen. Let's hope we don't forget that in the playoffs and resort to trying to beat the Lakers with a half-court offense. Probably wouldn't work well...

    by dgpdx on 4/8/2011 10:07 PM
  28. And many props to Wes Mathews for his defense on Kobe! The only time got hot was when Wes was on the bench after his third foul which was a total phantom.

    by dgpdx on 4/8/2011 10:09 PM
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