Oct 18

Progress Shown in Win

By mikebarrett Posted in: Blazers, Nuggets
It's easy to get a good read on our head coach when he spends most of the game five feet in front of where we broadcast the game along press row.  Not only can we hear every word he says, he can hear most of what we are saying (which can be awkward at times, especially if Rice is going off on a rant).  

Even though Terry Stotts is still very new to the scene, we've gotten to spend enough time around him to already know his tone, his patterns, and his expressions.

There was a point last night, in the first preseason game played at the Rose Garden, midway through the first quarter, when Stotts gave us a glance that summed up what he was feeling about what was happening on the floor.  We made a comment about the Blazers' sudden defensive activity, as they started to force turnovers.  Stotts turned, and perhaps feeling a moment of brief satisfaction, agreed with our sentiment and gave a smile and nod.  Not to put words in his mouth, but it was one of those, "ahh, yes.. that's what I'm talking about."

I thought of the scene on Moneyball, when Brad Pitt (playing Billy Beane) explains, "it's a process, it's a process, it's a process," to his players, trying to get them to fully grasp what he had been trying to impress upon them.  

I'm not getting carried away here, and it was only the fourth game of the exhibition season, but last night was a nice, solid step forward.  The second quarter, in particular, was by far the best 12 minutes the Blazers have played in the preseason.

No one seems too concerned about the offense.  In Stotts' system, like it is in a lot of systems, you get the defense right and the offense quickly follows.  You've heard it many times before- defense leads to offense.  So, after watching the Blazers allow Phoenix and Sacramento both to shoot over 50 percent from the field in those two losses, holding Denver to 38-percent shooting was the key stat in the game.  Add the 22 Denver turnovers to the mix (along with the 26 points scored off of those turnovers) and you've got a winning combination.

Now, it's about getting the team to understand why it worked, and repeating the lesson over and over again. 

Forget that the opponent was previously-unbeaten Denver on the court at the Rose Garden last night.  I know, Ty Lawson didn't play.  This wasn't about the opposition.  This was about the Blazers.  You get your game plan in first, and then worry about who you're playing.

Of course, Portland didn't have its starting point guard, Damian Lillard, either.  Nolan Smith got the start and did a nice job of running the team in his 31 minutes on the floor.  Smith ended with nine points, eight assists, and turned it over only two times.

It was also good to see Wesley Matthews and LaMarcus Aldridge rediscover their touch from the field.  L.A. had shot just 33 percent in the first three games, and Wesley 39 percent.  In this game, they each went 7 for 12.  Matthews, who is very streaky, as you know, got on one of those hot streaks in the second quarter, scoring 11-straight points for the Trail Blazers as they outscored Denver 28-16 in the second 12 minutes.

There was also a feel-good vibe to this game, as Coby Karl, in front of his dad George, was very good for Portland.  He's trying show he belongs in the NBA, and last night certainly helped his argument.  Karl had 11 points, five assists, and make good decisions running Portland's offense.  He was also helped create the highlight of the night right before the end of the first quarter.  Karl collapsed the middle of Denver's defense, and floated a perfect lob to Meyers Leonard, who slammed the ball down with one hand.

The other star off Portland's bench was Victor Claver, who had, by far, his best outing of the preseason.  Claver was active and aggressive, and scored 13 points, including a huge three from the corner that put the nail in the coffin late in the game.

Next up for Portland it's Golden State on Friday, again on the Rose-Garden floor.  The Warriors are much improved, and will be another solid test for the Blazers.  Stotts hopes it's another step, in a long line of necessary steps, for his team to show its ready for the regular season.


  1. Hey Mike; sounds like it was a great game. I read on Blazer Edge that Stotts sent Scouts to Scout Denver team, up until this game he only worked on us being prepared for anybody. Could that have been the difference in how we played against Denver?
    Thank you for the good cover, Is there going to be highlights of the game on Blazers TV?
    Hello to Jeffrey and Yulonda Platt. get a handle and start posting

    by Hg on 10/18/2012 10:15 AM
  2. Opps my bad that was on Sarah's Blog that I read that Stotts was scouting Denver

    by Hg on 10/18/2012 10:17 AM
  3. Great game last night. Far exceeded my expectations after the last two. Was really happy to see Wesley finally have a productive game. Karl, Claver, Barton and Freeland looked improved..I know Barton hasn't had much court time. The first homegame for the rookies seemed to fire them up! Was most impressed by us finally getting some offensive boards. Freeland was banging down there and even though he missed some shots, at one pt got 2 of his own misses. Karl impressed me most with his passing. It's an area we needed improvement in and he's got some zip on the pass and is pretty accurate. In my opinion, Karl beat Morrison for a spot on the roster last night.

    by riverman on 10/18/2012 10:39 AM
  4. @riverman; You can't go by one game, but I agree with you.

    by Hg on 10/18/2012 11:58 AM
  5. I hail from Boise so I've seen some of Karl's college play; I wasn't a Karl fan & didn't think he'd ever b good enough for the NBA, my opinion has changed. The performance last night, shows me that he's come a lllllloooooooooong way! I have NO DOUBT that he CAN now make MEANINGFUL contributions @ the NBA level! His stat line was impressive/productive but it's the b-ball IQ & intangibles that stood out to me about him; we don't get to see much of the play in practice but I'm almost 100% certain that he does A LOT of good things there that get noticed. IF we don't nab him, we just have to hope that the other NBA team (& he WILL b signed by another) that does, has him severely underutilized (bc not putting him on the team could really come back to haunt us). Will Karl ever b an All-Star? No & he's far from ever getting there BUT signing him is a no-brainer IMO.

    by Simpson on 10/18/2012 6:54 PM
  6. About Joel, his offensive rebounding is awesome! THAT IS the mark of a REAL rebounding beast! Joel WILL rack up the defensive boards (lots of guys get these) in time (not much ;) ALSO but it's the offensive boards that ppl should REALLY pay attention to. Joel WILL b amongst the better rebounders in the league eventually.

    by Simpson on 10/18/2012 12:39 PM
  7. Simpson;
    I agree on both points. I don't know anything about Karl. Where he's been or what he's done but what he did last night was one good decision after another. He put his fingerprints all over that game.
    Joel Freeland is a legitimate NBA player. This may be a stretch but his style of play reminds me of Kevin Love. I wouldn't be surprised if he starts a few games. Freeland is a keeper.
    The new look Blazers will not win the championship but they will go on runs that will be fun to watch.

    by Divotking on 10/18/2012 4:07 PM
  8. i wasn't in my dorm last night, so i as essentially reduced to following the game on twitter & espn's play by play... an interesting way to follow the game, to say the least. a great majority of the tweets were talking about Coby Karl. love the passing; the only question is, do we keep him or stick with our trio of pg's currently on the roster? do we keeping him as a 2 guard? do we make him our 3rd pg and basically call Nolan a shooting guard? many questions there.

    any time you mention Meyers' name, you've got my attention. love seeing him throw it down like he did a couple times last night. it's no secret he's not one of our first scoring options, but if he makes himself aware and available, those opportunities will come. my only peeve is that it ranked second-- not first-- on nba-dot-com's plays of the night even though number one was so unimpressive that i can't even recall what player or team it was.

    it seems to be that Joel is just as advertised. we've needed a guy like him for a while. i also very much understand Victor is going to have to adjust to the nba game, but to me it seems like he has a pretty good all-around game.

    loved the result last night, and i'm pleased with the progress we seem to be making.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 10/18/2012 6:34 PM
  9. Hello HG Go Blazers see you Tuesday Night

    by jyp300 on 10/19/2012 2:12 PM
  10. Hi Mike B Im new on here HG is my friend My wife and I looking forward to another season

    by jyp300 on 10/19/2012 2:13 PM
  11. Hey Jeffrey: Welcome aboard.
    Although we lost last night, it was a fun exciting game that I got to watch on NBA-TV. Boy, DLill is for real. loved his passing, and just think he is noted for his shooting.
    I go by the motto, "Live by the three, die by the three" and I think that will be the Blazers ID this year, except for polishing the pick and roll, which looked great at time last night.
    See you Tuesday.
    Go Blazers

    by Hg on 10/20/2012 7:55 AM
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