Jan 24

Camby Helps Shut Down Memphis

By mikebarrett
Following the win over the Sacramento Kings on Monday night, Blazers coach Nate McMillan said he was happy with the win, but not totally satisfied.  After this win, over the hottest team in the NBA, I’m sure he’s feeling even better.  He's probably not yet totally satisfied, because he has high standards, but this was a very solid victory.  And, he loves hustle and intensity, and his team provided a lot of both tonight.

Let’s get the one bad stat out of the way, and then we can get to the many positives that came out of this game.  The Blazers turned the ball over 20 times.  Any time you can turn the ball over eight times in a first quarter, and be tied at the end of that quarter, that means you’re doing a lot of other things right.  Portland jumped out to a 10-point lead, despite the turnovers, and probably would have had a very substantial lead.  But, that part was yet to come.

Defense and rebounding- that’s what won the day.  That, and Marcus Camby-  who provided both in a big way.  Old Man River was in rare form in this one.

Camby, inspired by LaMarcus Aldridge’s 23-rebound effort in Toronto last week, recorded 22 against the Grizzlies.  Not only did he have the 22 boards, but also had five blocked shots, and helped Portland totally shut down Memphis’ front line.  Camby, Aldridge, Craig Smith, Kurt Thomas, and Gerald Wallace were fantastic inside defensively.

The Grizzlies had been getting huge performances from Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol, who was named the Western Conference Player of the Week.  But, against Portland’s defense, Gay and Gasol combined to shoot just 7 for 22.  Throw in Marreese Speights’ numbers, and that starting frontline was just 8 for 28.

Memphis had also been getting very good production out of their frontcourt.  And, Mike Conley was effective at disrupting Portland’s offense and is so good at creating turnovers.  But, offensively, he was just 3 for 13 against Portland’s pressure D.

Like in so many other Blazer wins, the tone was set early by Aldridge.  Single cover him at your own peril.  The Grizzlies decided to put Speights on him to start this game, and not bring a double team.  Aldridge drilled his first five shots and Portland grabbed a 10-point lead.  LaMarcus had 14 in the quarter, and after Memphis put the much-bigger Gasol on him, the damage was done.  Aldridge ended with 23 points and only had to play 31 minutes.

Portland’s bench play was solid in this one as well, as Craig Smith, Jamal Crawford, and Nic Batum have made this a very dangerous second unit.  Smith has been the surprise pickup of the off season.  A solid defender, a load in the block offensively, and always willing to give up his body to hit the floor for a loose ball, the Rhino has become a fan favorite.  You could even make the argument that he’s been the most consistent bench player the Blazers have.

Crawford, coming off his 26-point night against Sacramento, was solid against Memphis.  He had 15 points, and a couple of dagger three pointers that helped put the Grizzlies down for good.  Batum helped in that category as well, and had 10 points.

After Monday’s win, I made the comment that “now it gets tougher.”  So, I say again, “now it gets tougher.”  Playing for the third time in three nights, Wednesday the Blazers take on the Golden State Warriors in Oakland.  I don’t even like saying that.  To say we’ve got bad memories in that joint is an understatement.  Portland has lost 11 of its last 12 on that court.  Golden State has always been a good home-court team, but the Blazers’ struggles there have been tough to explain in recent years.

Another night, another opportunity.  Turn the page, and get set for another game.  Yes, that’s the theme of this season.  A plane ride, a few hours of sleep, and away we go.  Again.


  1. Mike: Thanks for the update. I had to listen on the radio and could hear well enough to know it was a very exciting game. I will watch it later.

    It sounded like the whole game was about defense, and I am glad of that. We need to keep it together for tomorrow night game. then we will feel the accomplishments.

    by Hg on 1/25/2012 12:13 AM
  2. After losses against poor teams, it's always nice to see a win against a good one. Just as we knew yesterday's poor offense wouldn't fly against Memphis, we must know that turnovers like those we gave up tonight will kill us in Oakland. I didn't like the sight of Gerald re-injuring his finger; unlike some people, I think it's a bad idea to play with an injury like that. He's a little rough handling the ball even when his fingers are all okay. And thanks for filling us in on the sad stupidities that had Nic fretting last night. I have few illusions about the people who work at airports for Homeland Security. My ex lost her purse with her passport and all other vital documents in Stuttgardt a few months back. She missed her plane back home because the Homeland Security guy in that city a) didn't know his way around the airport, and b) didn't know enough German to get help. I shudder to imagine the shoddy treatment French-speaking visitors night suffer if they somehow rouse suspicion at the Immigration Gate in D.C.

    by Islander on 1/25/2012 1:13 AM
  3. Alright let's get the good out. Marcus Camby... the dude surprises me. People call him an old man, and he'll likely be in trade talks like he always is, but this guy is so essential to this team that I don't think we can give him up. 22 rebounds at that age, playing the minutes he does, that's just great. I guess there is good reason the fans chanted "Marcus Camby".

    What Aldridge did today was also amazing. Grabbing rebounds and scoring early. That is what he needs to do. Obviously, players follow leaders. If he sets the team up early, the rest will follow and knock down their shots. Things just become easier when you enter a game knowing you have breathing room rather than entering a game thinking you have to be the one to pick up what the starters were slacking. This helps Jamal, Smith, and Nico to just play how they normally play. If Aldridge wants to be a leader, I just hope he knows that starting a game well is just as important as finishing a game well. Many games are decided by one bad quarter. We beat Sactown in the 2nd just like we lost to Detroit in the 2nd. Aldridge getting off to a good start is always a positive to the team.

    Overall, it was a team effort. The thing that makes me believe this team can do so well is games like these. Yes, I know the Grizzlies were on the 2nd of a back-to-back and I know the Grizzlies are missing their all-star powerforward and I know they played a lot of minutes last night and had to fly in... BUT, when this game started, it just felt like one of those games where it'll be somewhat close in the first half, but dominated by the Blazers in the 2nd half. That's exactly what it was. Despite the Grizzlies being RED HOT and being almost a lock-in for the playoffs, this game just felt like we were taking out the garbage and securing a win for the books. All in all, the Blazers responded to this game like they should have, and this is what makes me believe they're ready for the next step.

    BUT, because I do believe so much in this team, and because I want them to succeed, I'll be more of a "negative nancy" this year. I just hope everyone knows I'm not a hater, nor a troll. I just want this team to succeed, and it's hard to look at the positives when there are still haunting negatives. So, let's get on with that, especially since that is what this shortened season is about - going forward.

    I don't know what happens, but I have a feeling we're going to have a repeat of the Lakers game and then the Suns game. I think we're going to get blown out, once again, in Golden State. The Blazers have already been as notorious as before this season, and I've been able to call games at halftime and just watch to pray if I'm wrong (but, not to brag, I'm not. I called the Detriot, Houston, and Hawks game at halftime, just because the Blazers were too predictable).

    So, we have these games, and the Blazers all talk on Twitter how excited they are and happy they are that they got a big win, and how they're ready to move on to the next one, but they don't come out ready, and get blown out, and then we see on Twitter "Oh we'll get them next time" and a million fans, being too nice, tell them it's okay.

    So my question is, when is it not okay to come out playing like garbage? Maybe I'm digging in too far, but as I said in the last blog, I'm expecting a loss, and I'm expecting it to be a frustrating game. The Warriors, just like the Blazers with the Lakers, know that they whoop our sorry rear side everytime we enter that building, and they just lost a heart breaker. They're going to attack the hell out of the Blazers and be playing full of confidence. This is the first true test for the Blazers in my opinion. Third night of a back-to-back-to-back, flying overnight, and then playing on the road where half our players seem to struggle... chances aren't good for us.

    So, I really challenge the Blazers to try and win this one. Put in 100% effort. This would be a great victory for their moral.

    But, don't hate me if I'm right. I'm for sure thinking the Blazers are going to get whooped tomorrow night. And as always, I pray I'm wrong.

    Not hating, just being realistic. The Blazers are just too notorious for having these big wins and then having an embarrassing loss the next night.

    But hey, we won tonight, and showed our dominance on NBA TV. That is a great thing, and that brings a smile to my face.

    by Herr on 1/25/2012 1:51 AM
  4. Hey Herr: You said a mouthful there LOL. being realistic isn't the same as being a negative Nancy. In reality, we have a pattern as you say of winning against a good team and losing the next night against a team with a worst record, but that is a pattern also, The team, IMO, has a tendency to play the wins of the team they are playing instead of the team itself. In as much as the Grizzlies had a great record was somewhat deceiving because of who they played. Houston, when we played them had a poor record because of who they played. Look at both teams now. Therefore, IMO, like you, the team doesn't think the teams with losing records or teams from the east is that important to get up for. It is said that it is impossible to be up and adam, pun intended, in all games, So I am not sure all the deciding factors. One is to win as many division games as possible the second is to win in the conference.

    On to Golden State, we should know by now that they are a thorn in our side and I will bet you the house that Wheels don't own that we will come out and play like they should in this game, because, 1. it is a road game, 2. It is to break a spell that GSW has on us and 3. it is the third game of a b2b2b, that Portland has been angling for.

    Being realistic isn't bad as long as you keep your faith, and I believe you have done that. Looking at the whole picture is one of my bad points because I tend to go one game at a time, but in the grand slam of thing we are still above 500, we are back in the play-off race and we have won some important games.

    by Hg on 1/25/2012 7:38 AM
  5. Someone should tell Camby he's 37 cos it doesn't look like he's aware of it! After only playing 12 minutes against Sacramento because of a groin strain, he came out and played the most minutes of any blazers and made them count with his 22 rebounds!

    I just had to add a negative point to the turn overs which was the shooting beyond the arc. We were a unimpressive 5-22. However even that didn't matter thanks to our big mens hustle at the board who made up for a few poor shots.

    Tonight we are however gonna need to find a source of energy on the road in one of the toughest arena's in the league, and one that has left us with many L's. So to be honest I'm hoping for an amazing Gerald Wallace to ignite the rest of the team!

    Go Blazers!

    Btw Herr I do strongly agree with you that we do often get caught up in big wins and neglect the next game. However as much as it doesn't look like it if you look at the league's standing, tonight is a big game for us and I think the guys know that. So let's hope they won't neglect Phoenix again on Friday once they beat GSW!

    by Eric88 on 1/25/2012 8:38 AM
  6. Great win, but enough celebrating, tomorrow will be a tough game. I think the time is ripe of a Blazer win. GS will be mentally exhausted after a tough loss and they'll be sluggish thoughout the game. The Blazers are looking for a win this time. Now, let's talk about Batum's contract negotiation. I think he is solid, he likes Portland and we want him around. But Batum is not an all-start material and doesn't have the creativity to create his own shots. Some nights he will be good, but on most nights he'll be an average player. I think Blazers should give him $5mill a year for 3 years, and she what happens after that. What do you think?

    by anORinSpore on 1/25/2012 8:50 AM
  7. Hey Eric88; When you are 71, 37 is still being wet behind the ears. As you will probably learn age has nothing to do with desire or skills. The big thing with being 37 is you can still preform as good, you don't get any more fatigued than younger players if you keep your conditioning up, but it take your body longer to rebound and heal. Also, at 37 Camby has learned the wisdom of the game. In short, don't mark him as too old, just keep rooting for him to play, that will in itself make him younger.

    by Hg on 1/25/2012 8:52 AM
  8. At 37 it is no longer that Marcus is so much more atheletic than others. It's he has learned what others will probably do and position himself to let his remaining athletic ability have maximum results. I'm saying he is one smart,savy, tough old timer.

    by Ancientone on 1/25/2012 9:11 AM
  9. Hg: In no way was I saying that his age was a problem! I was actually doing the exact opposite! His hustle is amazing! And as you said he makes himself to be younger and that what I meant when I said that he didn't seem to be aware that he was 37! And wisdom of the game is extremely important if you don't want to end up like the wizards or the knicks! All this to say I completely agree with you, and I will be rooting for him to play games like he did last night all season long!

    by Eric88 on 1/25/2012 9:47 AM
  10. 1. Mike, great post as always. Love to get this added insight from you after games. 2. Herr well said and Im with you. 3. Camby is the MAN. What a great athlete and team member. We are blessed (as @aldridge_12 would say) to have him.

    by Tattoo You on 1/25/2012 1:32 PM
  11. turnovers aside, this might have been the most complete game of the season. different guys lead in different games (though LaMarcus is usually there every night). yeah, turnovers were a problem. i think the guys underestimated Memphis' propensity for steals; most of our turnovers came from steals.

    i could say a lot, but with anothger game coming up in 3-1/2 hours, i think it may be time to keep this short.

    LaMarcus was solid, but Marcus' rebounding, blocks and general defense were the key. it didn't hurt that we got good games from Jamal & the Rhino (coming this fall to a tv set near you!). Nico was smooth as well. i think he's becoming a pretty intelligent player; knowing when to take his shot and when not to. Crash is Crash. exceptional effort from him (perceptively quiet though, i thought). Wesley had some nice buckets, but needs to step up his shooting percentage. also nice to see Elliot & Chris get some buckets.

    all in all, a very good game where we got to limit the minutes of our starters. hopefully that will translate into some success for this third game of our triple-back.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 1/25/2012 3:51 PM
  12. Good win. Memphis is a solid team.
    Quote of the week. LaMarcus- "He got 22. It aint 23, but its ok".
    No one played 32 minutes or more last night. That helps. Warriors are rested with last night off.
    I am anal about rebounding. I feel it is the most important part of the game. However, tonight I think the key to a win by the Blazers is the guard play. Defending their guards and making their guards defend us. I look for Matthews to play a big role in this game.

    by Divotking on 1/25/2012 5:02 PM
  13. @divotking:
    I feel with Craig, LMA, Camby and Thomas playing that great and LMA and Camby competing for rebounds, I think the guards can stay at home and guard the guards and Jamal, Ray, Wallace and Nic can make their wings and guards play defense. It is time for the whole team to stand up and make a defensive unit from 1 to 5. because that is what it will take. We should not have to double anyone unless someone gets real hot. I look also for a lot of trapping. But be aware of posting up Ellis, he is a sly fox.

    by Hg on 1/25/2012 5:13 PM
  14. Wow, what a match last night. The first half was harrowing because of all the turnovers, which were a killer, but in the second half the Blazers did something I haven't seen them do all season: They put Memphis away. That made me proud. Now if only they can play like this on the road against teams like San Antonio or Houston........

    by outcast on 1/25/2012 5:47 PM
  15. I hate being right sometimes... Can someone answer this question please


    He gets so much praise, rightfully so, when we play at home, but when you compare his home and road games, it's completely lopsided. It appears the Blazers go as he goes. He's our energy guy, and when he doesn't come out with energy on the road, we aren't going to win.

    Was obvious that Aldridge was tired last night. He let Lee DESTROY him. Heck, I'm ready to make a campaign to get Lee into the ASG. When you're tired, you settle for jumpshots, and that is exactly what Aldridge did, and he did it early too, when I said that he needs to score early and set up his team. Leaders lead for a reason. Aldridge wasn't leading last night except for maybe on stretch where his jumpers went in. But I think he only scored 2 pts a game.

    The first half was impressive, but we got blown out in the 2nd half. I expected a loss, and it makes me mad that I was right. The Blazes need to fix these problems. I don't feel like I can trust what they say on Twitter about the games anymore because they seem to have the right attitude but the wrong execution.

    And can someone PLEASE tell me why Nate benched Batum while Crawford was struggling. Why Aldridge and Mathews left Lee and Curry WIDE OPEN when combined those two scored nearly 60 pts. The defense was gone in this game, and it just sucks because they had a chance to end this horrid streak of losing 12 of the last 13. But they proved me right and I've never wanted to be proven wrong so much before.

    I feel like we're LA, and we have two teams. One shows up, the other simply doesn't. In our loses, I think about 7 of them have been the Blazers fault, where as only 1 (Orlando) was because they were the better team that night (Although I think that the Blazers are a better team than Orlando).

    by Herr on 1/26/2012 12:17 PM
  16. The Warriors two hottest shooters played 76 minutes and got 40 shots; our two hottest shooters played 53 minutes and got 17 shots. There's the loss in a nutshell.

    Sometimes the go-to-guy is someone else. We're not flexible enough to take advantage of that. Look what Monta Ellis did last night. He tuned himself from a shooter into an assist guy because he had two hot teammates to pass to. Where's our guy that does that?

    by dgpdx on 1/26/2012 4:35 PM
  17. @dgpdx: The problem wasn't necessarily that. I didn't expect them to win because of the schedule, I would have understood a blowout, but not this. After a bad third quarter, they were within three with a big posession to make it within one.....and then they choked. That bad call against Craig Smith didn't help, but that wasn't all that went wrong in the final minutes. The defense wasn't switching, shots weren't getting made, devastating turnovers during key possessions. What happened out there was more than mere fatigue, it was much deeper and more fundemental. We've seen these "4th quarter meltdowns" time and time again this season on the road. We saw it in San Antonio, then in Houston, then in Atlanta, then Detroit, and now once more in Golden State. This problem, which is definately mental, seriously needs to be resolved ASAP if we want to make it into the playoffs, let alone have a prayer of getting out of the first round in this ultra-competitive western conference of ours.

    by outcast on 1/26/2012 6:03 PM
  18. Have you ever played golf with a guy that is missing putts. At the turn he goes to the pro shop and buys a new putter. Only to find out he can't hit a putt on the back nine either. Reminds me of some of the armchair GM's that call themselves Blazer fans I hear on talk radio.
    Bench this guy, trade that guy. Humorous.
    The Blazers have a solid team. The season is still young. Be patient Blazer fans. This team has only been together for a short time. They have a lot of room to grow. Their potential is yet unseen.

    by Divotking on 1/26/2012 6:13 PM
  19. I feel there was ample reason (third game in three days plus being on the road) to start Nic Batum at SF against GS. It's hard to be Crash three nights in a row, something Gerald Wallace never had to do even when he was a lot younger. Batum will now be a restricted free agent this summer and the team isn't going to find out how much they are willing to pay him unless they play him in game-on-the-line situations.

    I hope Nate isn't concerned about Wallace's ego, because any player on the team should be the first off the bench cheering if his backup helps win a game that he wasn't able to help win himself. I know it sounds Joe College, but isn't that a good definition of a team?

    by dgpdx on 1/26/2012 7:29 PM
  20. I don't even want to think about that loss last night because looking at the predictions in the comments made before the game, those predictions held. So we understand what happened. We know enough about the last 2 days. Now all we got to do is make sure it doesn't happen again. By that i mean Portland has got to stop these bad habits. And Its funny cause we're pessimistic when we win and optimistic when we lose. It's like the Oregon Ducks football team. We were always optimistic when winning games in the season but pessimistic when we loss one game (LSU) and always questioning whether or not we can really contend against the elite teams. (yes Oregon did beat Wisconsin, but we should have got that BCS, i'm still pessimistic with that team.) Portland is that way on the road. Can we contend on the road? That is the real test now. If we pass it, then we won the rose bowl. Now on to that BCS. (sorry beaver believers.) If we can't we'll just end up with that traditional Oregon spirit of losing when it counts. In the playoffs, and probably first round, at best second round and that's my prediction if this holds up. But i do sure hope were okay. We kind of are right now anyway. I mean, we are winning against good teams this year and if you look at the schedule, we've lost a majority of our games against the bad teams. Right now if this was a football season we'd be 3-1. Because we are a bit over 500. We won the first three weeks but got that tough loss against an elite team we should have beat because we were coming in favors. Heck, we're right where oregon was. 3-1. And we need to get that easy road game win against Arizona. If we win tomorrow and on the road against the Jazz then i'll think we'll be okay. But i hate coming on here after a disappointing loss lol. C'mon Portland lets get these fans optimistic! lol

    by Ballinrotation365 on 1/26/2012 8:35 PM
  21. What upset me most about the Golden State loss was that we were in the game with a good chance to win. Then it all went south, and to my mind the reason was pretty clear. Yes, the guys were tired and a step slow closing out, and LaMarcus was ragged and Gerald was off, but in spite of all that we were right there with a good chance. And then Nate decided that he didn't want Nolan Smith in the game when it was on the line. So he let Jamaal play point again, and he demonstrated, once and for all, that he cannot play point against a team with quick, agressive guards. The turning point in the game, for me, was when Jamaal got his pocket picked, the Warriors got a breakaway but missed the lay-up, he got the ball ball and hurried up the court and then threw the ball into a crowd of Warriors, who made their fast-break bucket on the second try. And Nate left him and the game went down the drain. Did anyone else notice that Jamaal ended up making half of our 12 turnovers? The game was lost because of a predicable failure, was completely preventable if not for the myth that "veteran leadership" can compensate for concrete skills. Marcus Camby makes a contribution at age 37 because he does what he knows how to do. Jamaal Crawford looks washed up at age 31 because he's being asked to do what he simply doesn't know how to do. At that age you cannot quickly overwrite your body memory with new patterns. Pass Jamaal the ball when he's open and he'll nail the three. Swing him the ball so his defender is a step out of position and he'll beat him like a drum. Hit him on the break or a cut to the basket and he'll make a good move and shot inside. But ask him to bring the ball up under pressure, protect the ball while sorting out the defense and deciding where the ball should go, and he's completely out of his comfort zone. This is on-the-job retraining, and there's no good reason for it. Nolan Smith is a point guard; he has college training in the basic duties of the position. Jamaal is an experience veteran who has proven that he is not a point guard. How is it riskier to give a rookie the chance to do what he is trained to do, than it is to force a veteran to figure out new duties with the game on the line?

    by Islander on 1/27/2012 1:40 PM
  22. Islander;
    Good point. We all know how tight Nate is with young players. I don't like Jamal at the point. He's capable for short stretches but it takes away from what he does. I've said a along backup point is one of our weaknesses. As for Nolan, its hard to prove yourself from the bench. GO BLAZERS!!!

    by Divotking on 1/27/2012 3:57 PM
  23. Islander : Amen

    by Ancientone on 1/27/2012 4:01 PM
  24. Against the Suns, Jamal was the second best PG on the floor, right behind Steve Nash. When he looks to pass first and takes care of the ball, he can be a very good PG.

    by dgpdx on 1/27/2012 9:44 PM
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