mikebarrett

Dec 27

Wallace Leads the Way Again

By mikebarrett
It's pretty safe to say that Gerald Wallace is enjoying this new system. 

The Trail Blazers, and their fans, are certainly enjoying Wallace.  Not only was he given several standing ovations from the sold-out crowd at the Rose Garden, the fans continued to sing his name well after he was seated on the bench and the game was moving on.

For the second-straight night, it was Wallace early, Wallace late, and Wallace to the rescue, as the Blazers blew out the Sacramento Kings 101-79.  Monday night he scored 21 points, on 8 for 13 shooting, and grabbed 9 rebounds.  On Tuesday, he scored 25 points, on 8 of 11 shooting, grabbed 8 rebounds, and also dished out 5 assists.  Add to that the countless hustle plays, and the way he leads by example in the effort department, and it's been a winning combination.

The best news?  The Trail Blazers have won their first two games and haven't played anywhere near a complete game yet.  Once the backcourt starts to hit some shots (which they eventually will) this could be a scary group. 

Portland won again, despite the fact that Ray Felton, Wesley Matthews, and Jamal Crawford, three guys you greatly depend on to provide an outside threat, combined to shoot 8 for 33 from the field.  They will find their range, but it's nice that the rest of the team has held down the fort pretty well while that happens.

This was a bit of a strange game, as Portland came out flat, and stagnant on offense.  The defensive energy wasn't there either, as Sacramento was scoring at will. Everything the Kings were trying offensively was working and they built an early 12-point lead.

But, following a very nice 14-2 run to end the first half, the Trail Blazers had already dug themselves out of trouble, and went to the locker room with the game tied at 46 apiece.  Portland was shooting just 40 percent at halftime, and the Kings were at 50 percent. 

A few tweaks to the defensive game plan, and a heavy dose of Wallace and LaMarcus Aldridge, and this thing quickly turned into a rout.  The Trail Blazers held the Kings to just 24 percent shooting in the second half, and only gave up 33 points.  Portland meanwhile shot 50 percent in the second half and built a 25-point lead before coasting to the finish line.

For not having much of a preseason to gather his legs, Aldridge has been impressive in the first two nights.  He had 25 against Philly, and against the Kings went for 24 in only 33 minutes, while hitting 10 of his 15 shot attempts.

Despite the fact that Crawford was just 2 for 11 shooting, and Batum was 4 for 12, it wasn't a bad effort turned in by the bench.  They were a bit shaky at times against Philly, but against the Kings the Blazers didn't lose much ground when they went deep into the bench. 

It was also nice to see the Smith's play well in the second unit.  Nolan was 2 for 2, and continues to get his NBA feet wet.  And, Craig Smith showed that he can be a very capable sub on the front line, as he scored 4 points and grabbed 3 rebounds in his 8 minutes of action.  He's also a physical presence, and showed great hustle around the rim.

It's tough to tell too much from these first two games, as they were games Portland was expected to win, but it's nice to see that they can win, and even be dominant, when they aren't at their best.

And then there's Wallace.  He's off to a fantastic start in his first full season as a Trail Blazer, and is more than capable of putting this team on his back, if necessary.

Next up, it's Denver on Thursday.  They'll be playing the second of a back to back, while Portland will be coming off a very light day, with no game.

Previous Story: One Down, 65 to Go

25 Comments

  1. During the 1st half I was like Oh oh. Other than Wallace, looked like the Blazers were just not into it, flat and tired. LA looked like his legs were jelly, and he didnt see to want the Ball. Of course the 2nd half Came, and Wallace played even better. Aldridge found his footing at least somewhat and scored some points and Batum came in with some extra energy as well. Looks like the Blazers were able to kick it up another gear, and with the help of Sactown shooting horrible and playing very lazily, the Blazers were able to blow this one open.

    Wesley and Felton are still struggling....but honestly Im not worried...this will not last, and I look forward to them playing great again. Crawford hasnt exactly been making alot of shots and hes still fitting in. Once again....the training camp was super short, and pre-season was stupid short...These Blazers like alot of players in the league still dont have their player legs yet, and with new faces and a new strategy its going to take TIME, before this entire team gels.

    Wayyyy too early to pick and scratch at things going wrong...more things are going right and with all things considered, they are playing pretty good! Nice to be 2-0...need to win as many home games as we can in this short season of ours.

    by whitefeather21380 on 12/27/2011 11:25 PM
  2. It was a very entertaining game. Enjoyable to watch Crash. He's looked like a superstar out there. I don't know how awkward this sounds, but without him, we would NOT have won todays game. No way. He started the game good, played some hustling defense, and was the only Blazer really doing anything. He gets out, and the Blazers fall behind. The second he gets back in, he starts hustling, the crowd gets into it, and EVERY Blazer starts hustling. The energy he brings to this team is remarkable. The second he got on the court is the second the Blazers rallied as a team, and went on like what.. a 60 something to 33 run? That was Gerald Wallace's energy on the court.

    Jeez, keep this up, and both him and LA will be headed to the ASG.

    It also amazes me that Crawford, Wesley, and Felton are shooting so poorly, because it really doesn't feel that way. You can tell the maturity and talent of these guys because they can still be productive while shooting poorly. Same with Nico. It's nice to see Nico being aggressive and looking to take the ball to the rim despite shooting poorly. Wesley needs to do the same. Eventually they will fall.

    I just gotta whine about one thing. The refs are calling way too soft of fouls this season. It's getting annoying. Both teams in the penalty with like 6 minutes left to go in a quarter, all ticky tacky? Cmon. It seems like all a player has to do is put his arms down and flop over to get a charge call. It's becoming ridiculous. A real charge is like the charge Crash took when he got dunked on.

    by Herr on 12/27/2011 11:37 PM
  3. Btw, can anyone confirm if @CrashWallace on Twitter is the official Gerald Wallace?

    by Herr on 12/27/2011 11:38 PM
  4. Lots of things to like so far, especially the number of assists per game. The shooting will come around, no one can keep missing point blank shots like that for very long. I'm thinking 46 wins minimum.

    The compressed schedule will be tough on the players but what a great time for the fans -- a game every 44 hours ;-)
    --
    don

    by dgpdx on 12/28/2011 12:26 AM
  5. It was a quality win for this team. It shows a glimmer of what we're capable of after trouble early on. A spectacular win to start off out homestand. I have to say, Wallace to Batum on the break is a JOY to watch. Everyone played well, I liked everyone's contribution tonight. LA played great, Craig Smith and Thomas early played well, Wes found his touch...etc..

    We found out Jimmer can shoot and the Kings were executing well early on. I think we tightned up and played our game so the win was special that way, we earned it. Tyreke and the Kings I think could push for a spot so it was a good win. On to the next game. Really liked the spirit here, and a great strategy. It's early. It's just one game. Well played Blazers.

    It's more than just entertaining or fun to watch, it's just good all-round basketball.

    by Bull Frog on 12/28/2011 12:48 AM
  6. we trade our toughest guy pryzbilla to get our new toughest guy. that was such sweet deal! i'm so glad our fans are showing him some love.

    keep up the great work blazers and keep improving!

    go blazers!

    by thedanman on 12/28/2011 12:49 AM
  7. I hope Marcus Camby is alright, he does add a lot to our team.

    by Bull Frog on 12/28/2011 1:15 AM
  8. Crash FTW

    Nuff said.

    by Tiago Torigoe on 12/28/2011 3:07 AM
  9. Mike thanks for the post,
    I had forgotten that Wallace and Felton played together in Charlotte. That does help in the early goings. BTW as I told Sarah on her blog I was nicknaming Wallace the Predator because it fits him and the idea came from Nate, by turning him loose to prey on victims. And does he ever do that.
    It was a great win and as soon as the team gels some more we should be fantastic.

    by Hg on 12/28/2011 5:39 AM
  10. It was great to see Craig Smith produce and LMA able to hold down his minutes.

    The gaurd play has been good ut they don't seem to be able to spit in the ocean. Maybe they need to check the wind direction. I don't expect that drought to last and when they start hitting it will open up the inside even more. Scary.

    by Ancientone on 12/28/2011 9:19 AM
  11. @Herr, I can confirm that Gerald Wallace is NOT on Twitter. And I doubt he ever will be... not his style.

    by sarahhecht on 12/28/2011 10:28 AM
  12. I was happy to see the first two posters mention Batum. On the broadcast, everyone was too busy gushing over Wallace to pay much attention to the guy hauling down court to take his pass and put it in the basket. Likewise no props for Nic on the post-game, or Talkin' Ball, or Barrett's Blog. But one of the keys to this game was that Wesley went out with a back problem and the team played even better while he was out. The Jimmer jokes started when Nic took over the D. Yeah, I know, his shot was off, but he was the team's number three scorer, and tied for team lead in offensive rebounds. Wes deserved the lavish praise, but let's not forget that he had a little help, okay?

    by Islander on 12/28/2011 11:01 AM
  13. Nic Batum is awesome...everygame has a hero or heroes so to speak, but I know a lot of us are plenty aware how good he is and valuable to us he is as well. Amazing talent and just an all round nice guy. Him and Wallace one the break together....you know something good will happen

    by Bull Frog on 12/28/2011 12:37 PM
  14. hey MB, i hear you on Crash. he was amazing. does anyone realize he's shooting 16-24 in these first two games? he's doing everything else too. what we need now is for some other guys to step up and give him a hand. i really liked the periods where he played along side Nicolas. they really seem to play well together. i know we can't always do that, but it was a nice boost in the second half.

    LaMarcus seemed to have a tough time getting his legs under him, but he was uber-efficient, especially in the second half. loved that he shot 10-15 from the field. i also love the fact he didn't have to play more than the 33 minutes he did.

    that means we got some quality minutes from the bench. Kurt Thomas was solid (then again, i figure we'll be saying that a lot over the course of the season). the guy i'd single out on the second unit was Craig Smith. "Rhino" was awesome in just eight minutes (4 pts, 3 reb, 1 steal, and some tenacious defense). i'm really liking Craig's game and what he can bring. the more of that he does, but more we can let LaMarcus rest. i'm going to say it right now -- that's going to be a key this season.

    Nicolas shot poorly, but hit all his free throws and was fluid in other parts of his game. i see him as a guy who needs a bit of time to get going in a game. he looked pretty good last night.

    we had just 10 turnovers, which is great, especially given the short time they've been playing together. i really like most of what i've seen, sans digging the hole in the second quarter last night. knowing we can come back is one thing, but relying on coming back is another.

    here's a few points so far:

    * our starting forwards are averaging a combined 47.5 points per game.

    * we are currently on pace for a 66-0 record (btw, the lakers are on pace to go 22-44).

    * Marcus is averaging 11 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2 blocks.

    * Gerald has a efficiency rating of +36 in the first two games.

    * sign of a true team: we're 2-0 and have no single player in the top 5 of any major statistical category.

    * there are three 2-0 teams right now; the blazers and the two teams most predicted to make the finals (thunder, heat).

    * condensed schedule? as i write this, the blazers have only one game in the next four nights.

    one last thing: i said this yesterday (and many times last season), but we need to play a full 48 minutes. it's important to set the pace in the first quarter and just build on it from there. i'd really like to see us come out strong, see our bench keep up the momentum and put away our opponent in the third. i see no reason why this team can't do that.

    anyway, great win and bring on the non-china nuggets!

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 12/28/2011 3:32 PM
  15. Wallace for All Star! Aldridge will make the roster this year as well.

    by blazerdarren77 on 12/28/2011 4:33 PM
  16. That Jimmer kid, smooth stroke. Nate must have told Batum to go at him. You could see Nic light up and play more aggressive. Nic was way to long for Jimmer to stay on him. That group Nate went with at the end of the 3rd we will see more of. Is it too early to declare Gerald Mr. December?

    by Divotking on 12/28/2011 5:01 PM
  17. That was the best defense in the second half I have ever seen from any Blazer team...ever. If we keep plying "D" like that and our shots from Wes, JC and Felton start to fall, this is going to be a very dangerous team! Watch out west...rip city is on the rise again!

    peace out,
    daddy

    by daddylogan on 12/28/2011 5:29 PM
  18. I think this team will break a bad habit the Blazers picked up over the past few seasons: losing to teams they should beat. If we can do that and break even at least against the top teams, it could mean home court in the first round.

    That said, I'm still glad we don't have to go to Philly this year!
    --
    don

    by dgpdx on 12/28/2011 6:13 PM
  19. Just a few random thoughts. We are 2-0 with Wesley and Felton not playing their standard game. Also Crawford is still fitting in, and LA does not have his gamer legs yet. Hmmmmmm...Im looking at the west I see okc and lakers as strong teams obviously. Denver,Memphis,Clippers can make some noise and never count out the Spurs. Of course the Mavs are still good, but not near the same team as they were last year.

    IF....IF...the Blazers can play to close to their full potential..were right there as a team that can go to the finals. Were fairly deep teem with ALOT of talent. Kinda like the 2000 Blazers without the criminal activity. ill take it. Its wayy too early, and Im just sayin...and hoping..but the capability is there for sure!
    pg Felton= 13-15ppg/8-9 apg
    sg Mathews= 15ppg/40% 3pt shooting
    sf Wallace= 15-20ppg/ 8-10 rpg
    pf Aldridge= 20+ ppg 8-10 rpg....I expect 24/10 this year.
    c Camby= 4-7ppg/10-12+ rpg/2-3 bpg

    *notable* back ups
    Crawford= 15-19ppg/4-5 apg/35% 3pt
    Batum= 12ppg/5 rpg/37% 3pt
    Thomas= Veteran, good rebounder, soft touch around 15ft,leadership

    We also got some promising guys like Nolan Smith and Elliot Williams. Chris Johnson can make some impact and is learning every day. Craig Smith gives us some size and ruggedness. He can also score down low.

    All in all, fairly promising...got to get the pieces of the puzzle to match up..players need to get in game shape...Well just have to wait and see..but my bottom line is, I see quite a bit of potential with this Blazer team :)

    by whitefeather21380 on 12/28/2011 7:11 PM
  20. Just sayin': Andre Miller had 12 assists on the last Denver game, where they blew Utah Jazz. And Rudy Fernandez looked good too, having unusual 30 minutes of play.

    Well... Again, I hope they do good there, just not versus Portland :)
    (I'm kinda scared with Denver Nugget's depth, versatility and team focus, remembers our team)

    by Tiago Torigoe on 12/29/2011 6:58 AM
  21. Crash is happy here, that is plain as day. And when he's happy, he plays all out :) I am looking forward to seeing him play for us the entire season, and beyond. I really hope it doesn't come down to choosing between him and Nico.

    Looking forward to seeing Dre play tonight. Think the Nuggets get this one, but can also see the Blazers pulling it out. For sure, this will be a real test for the team. They cannot afford ANY big lapses in defense and MUST get reliable shooting from the perimeter.

    by SisillaRiann on 12/29/2011 8:33 AM
  22. 2 superstar forwards in Crash and LA, both to the all-star game.

    by mbmurr1 on 12/29/2011 10:02 AM
  23. Batum and Crawford battle for NBA 6th man award.

    by mbmurr1 on 12/29/2011 10:02 AM
  24. wow Eowyn ... i don't know what to say about your prediction ... except: YOU'RE OFF YOUR ROCKER! i see a game where we put the gas on at the end and come out with about an 8-point win.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 12/29/2011 4:07 PM
  25. Dre and Rudy had 20 assists last night combined. Good to see them playing well. Not tonight. Nate knows their tendencies all to well. Blazers play smothering defense which I hope becomes their identity. RG will be ready. Blazers will be ready. Denver on a back to back. Goodnight.

    by Divotking on 12/29/2011 4:58 PM
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