Dec 08

Kings Snag Rare Win in Portland

By mikebarrett
Yes, we used the old cliche tonight about how in the NBA the most difficult game on a long road trip is the first game you play back at home.  And, while that always carries some truth, and even though there certainly was a hangover for the Blazers present on Saturday night, it didn't remotely explain what exactly happened in their 99-80 loss to the Kings at the Rose Garden.

It was almost expected that the Blazers would be a bit disjointed early in this ballgame, and that was certainly the case, but they've become quite good at digging themselves out of early holes and pulling things back together.  Even though they did mount a minor charge or two at Sacramento, there was simply too much bad and not anywhere near enough good on this night to change the outcome.

The tone was set very early in this game.  That much was very certain.  The Trail Blazers were sloppy with the basketball, and handed the Kings just about everything they wanted in the opening minutes.  In the first 12 minutes, the Blazers turned the basketball over a whopping nine times, and those were cashed in for 14 points by the Kings.  In the always-important points-off-turnovers category, right out of the chute, it was 14-2 Sacramento.  I'd love to see that number turned around, but it didn't.

Add to that the fact that Nic Batum was trying to play through a sore lower back, and didn't turn out to be effective at either end, and also that Wesley Matthews suffered a hip injury and had to leave the game, and the margin for error was just too great for Portland.  Had they gotten off to a decent start in this game, and then had those two things happen, then maybe they've got a shot.  But, given the deep, early hole, and then the lack of firepower they had to make a charge, and, well, you saw what happened.

The Kings should be given some credit, even though many of you may disagree (and I'm not spending a lot of time on this), but they were very opportunistic, even if they did most of their damage off of Blazer mistakes.  They have now won a season-high three games in a row, and were loving every minute of this rare win at the Rose Garden.  

How rare are their wins in Portland?  Coming into this game the Blazers led the all-time series in Portland 76-17.  That goes all the way back to when this team was known as the Cincinnati Royals.  They just don't celebrate very often in Portland.

Given all that happened in the first quarter, it was pretty miraculous that this was only a two-point lead for the Kings at halftime.  It seemed, at many of you may agree, that Portland had dodged a big bullet and would come out in the second half and restore order.  As sloppy as Portland had been early, the Kings were dreadful on offense in the second quarter.  How dreadful?  How about 2 for 22 from the field in the quarter.  So, as amazing as it seemed to us that Portland was within two, the Kings had to be saying "we just shot 2 for 22 in a quarter, and we still have the lead!"

The Blazers tried to convince themselves that their road-trip hangover was behind them as the second half began, but those thoughts would quickly end as the Kings drilled back-to-back three pointers to begin the second half.  Even though Damian Lillard got hot at one point, and brought the Blazers back to within four, it never got closer than that.

Really, the lone bright spot for the Blazers was J.J. Hickson, who had 14 points and 15 rebounds.  His energy usually isn't in doubt, and it wasn't on this night.  

The final totals in the points-off-turnovers category was 30-8 in the Kings favor.  That was established so early in this game, the Blazers never really even got to feel their way into the game.  Panic set in during that first quarter, and normally inefficient Kings were able to be themselves, and still win comfortably.  

So, this six-game home stand starts with a thud.  The good news is, the Toronto Raptors come to town on Monday, and that'll be after the Blazers have a chance to further acclimate themselves back to the Pacific Time zone with a practice on Sunday.  But, if Batum and Matthews for some reason can't go on Monday, nothing will come easy once again, and it'll be back to Lillard, Hickson, and Aldridge, to pick up the slack.  On this night those things didn't happen, and you saw the result.



  1. Hi Mike: thanks for the quick blog.
    You forgot to mention that LaMarcus was in foul trouble almost the whole game which effected Lillards game, which caused him to miss several early tries. So in actuallity we were without Lamarcus, Batum and Wesley down the stretch, with Barton and Claver in Idaho, that left slim pickings from the bench.

    It just seemed like this was one of the nights that our threes wasn't falling because of pressure from Sac's D. Nevertheless we will just have to mark this up as a bad game and move on. We know there will be lots of games like this so we will have to get used to it.

    by Hg on 12/8/2012 11:20 PM
  2. So J.J. was "the lone bright spot" and had the worst plus-minus on the team. How does that happen, exactly? It seems to me that when Hickson puts up one of his impressive double-double scorelines, the Blazers usually lose the game. Of course, we'd have to have a bigger samply size of actual Blazer wins to check this out, but it makes a sort of sense. J.J.'s big skill is offensive rebounds, which will be much more plentiful if the Blazers are shooting badly. He's usually the fifth option on offense, so if he's scoring much it probably means the main men are being smothered by defense. And you have to think that playing a guy at center who's not tall even for a power forward has something to do with the fearlessness with which Blazer opponents drive into the middle of our defense. But whatever J.J.'s defensive limitations may be, he can't be the reason our defense turns bad three-point shooting teams into good ones.
    We lost this game because we really can't afford to get half a game, and poor halves at that, from three different starters, but with Sacramento filling it up from outside while our hobbled guys kept whiffing, there was just no chance. It was too bad Will and Victor were getting their playing time in the D-league, on a night they'd have gotten some NBA minutes. I'm thinking that how fast they come back to Portland will be a good first indication how worried management is about the injuries to Nic and Wes.

    by David Maclaine on 12/9/2012 12:22 AM
  3. Mike, thank you for the blog on such an ugly game. Maybe it's just me, but I really think this team is in big trouble. I mean I could point out so many wrong things in this game (and also with last game and the game before that and the game before that) but I will try to keep this short. I don't know what it is about these guys, but they switch gears so fast that you don't really know what team your going to get on the floor. One minute (and I am talking about our starting five) not a single one of them can make a basket to save their life, they can't get the ball any closer then 10 feet from the hoop, they get deep into the shot clock forcing very bad shots, they telegraph the passing which as we all saw leads to turnovers and points and they get very, very lazy on the basic fundamentals of basketball. Then, out of the blue...they finally start to play with a sense of urgency (usually when we have fell behind by 18 or so...) and you wonder to yourself "where has this team been all game?" At times they play so good they could compete with the best in the league! Then they can turn around and just stink up the place looking like a team that has never played on a court together. To me, as a lifelong fan, this is not acceptable. This is a team that beat the Lakers and now we lose to the Kings at home by almost 20 points and they were short a player. Once again, our bench was awful...and I do not care if Babbit gets 9 points...it is what he "does not do" and the "turnovers" and "bad plays" that need to be examined. Luke makes a few shots the other night and all of a sudden he is a hero...wrong, he had one good game out of how many? God I want so bad for him to be consistent but it just does not happen. Same with Nolan. Even in garbage time he looks like a chicken with his head cut off out there....and please, let us not let Jeffrie's ever shoot the ball! The guy just has no offensive game in him at all. The reason other teams "D" is so good against us is that they study the film and know we will not do anything different. You can almost predict the plays the Blazers are going to run and that is a coaching problem. A good coach will have several sets to run to keep other teams off balance, so...and then when we have players just standing around watching Lillard dribble, what is he suppose to do??? He is the one guy I give credit to. He tries to make things happen but with players standing around it is going to lead to turnovers. He cannot make plays to people who are just waiting to be passed the ball. There has to be aggressive screens and rolls, come to the ball when the defense is over playing and movement along the baseline. Instead we have players standing in the corners just waiting for the ball to be passed to them so they can chuck up another 3 point shot, which we all know will win a few games, but very few at that!

    Overall, this was just an ugly return home and now we have hurt players. This team really needs to practice their shooting skills...from the field and from the foul line for it has been going downhill quickly. There is talent in our starting five, and I believe they could really be a competitive force in this league but they need consistency. Sorry if I offend anyone with this reply and I really would love to see this team succeed, but the way it is right now...I have a feeling we will see plenty of nights like this. Regardless, I will still watch every game and root them on and how I hope they start getting serious at the tipoff instead of when they are 18 points down!!!!

    peace out,

    by daddylogan on 12/9/2012 12:29 AM
  4. Kings were on fiyaaa! Didn't help they were wide open most the time. Sac-Town knocked 'em down, got to hand it to them. Then Outlaw just came in blastin'! I'd say Blazers should try to get him back, we could use an extra spark off the bench.

    by Tobyus Sanchezo on 12/9/2012 2:35 AM
  5. David Maclaine:
    It was decided when Barton and Claver went to the D league that it would only be for 2 games and they will be back Sunday to play in the Monday night game, So that is not an indication of how bad Batum and Wesley is hurt, but I do agree with you, we could have really used them, although it was also reported that they stunk up the place in their first D league game.

    I am not debating with you on JJ, because the shooters was way off last night, but it was also, because LaMarcus was in foul trouble early and we went through JJ a lot.

    part of the big problem you are referring to is the fact that they are so young and sometimes it takes too long to adjust to what the opponents are throwing at us. Of course the Kings did a good job scouting us and had the players to make it rough on Lillard. Lillard is fast becoming a focus point of all the opponents and It is sadly true, the way Lillard goes, so goes the Blazers. Also, like BRoy, Lillard spends much of the first half getting his team mates involved in the offense then takes the game over in the second half; of course, both Batum and Wesley are somewhat streaky all the time, let alone when they are playing injured.

    In the end they are playing just about like most of the fans expected, they are young, there is always a big slack after an exhausting road trip, and we have been guilty of playing down to our opponents, like forever. As fans we are as guilty at looking at the record of our opponents instead of looking at the opponents team itself as our team is; the fact is Sac has a pretty good young team themselves and they have growing pains just like the Blazers.

    The big thing is, don't forget our bench is very inexperienced and we were playing basically without LaMarcus, Nic and Wesley for most of the night so how the make shift bench played is about what I would expect.

    Patients is the word to live by; we are getting better each and every game; it just doesn't always seem like it as it is two steps forward and one back or sometimes one forward and two back

    by Hg on 12/9/2012 5:30 AM
  6. Three things:
    1. too many missed baskets from the field and line. We struggled to even make layups. OUCH!
    2. We get no respect, not from the refs or the other team players. The close calls rarely go our way.
    3. We have too many guys who want to shoot from the outside. We need some who penetrate, one of whom should be LA, and please make the layups and the jams.

    All I want for Christmas is a good allie-oop!!!!!
    Going to Monday's game. Can't wait.

    by allie-oop on 12/9/2012 8:54 AM
  7. This game rates two clothes pins (It stunk so bad one wont do). When Batum was ineffective because of his back he shuold have sat down and not made it worse. Egos get in th way sometimes.

    Leonard needs to go to the D league until he can figure out the defense and they can teach him how to out rebound the ball girl.

    by Ancientone on 12/9/2012 9:37 AM
  8. It was a stinker. On to the next.

    by the golden ladder on 12/9/2012 9:50 AM
  9. Can we fire Stotts and pick up Mike Brown? I feel like we have a golden opportunity to get a proven coach. I know Brown gets a LOT of hate, but the Lakers having the same record as us proves that it wasn't him, and he did lead a terrible team (that had one player worth mentioning) to the FINALS.

    Stotts is failing at every move. I think our bench has some decent talent, but we play them wrong. From what I hear, he also tried Wesley Mathews after his injury. Good coaches know when to say no. We should pick up Brown, and get rid of Stotts, who know one in Portland knew was until we hired him.

    by Herr on 12/9/2012 9:54 AM
  10. Stotts certainly hasn't been able to get them to play any defense. I say give him a chance. I've never been impressed with Mike Brown but even if I was, I think Stotts deserves a chance to get this team to buy into his ideas.

    by Ancientone on 12/9/2012 10:46 AM
  11. @Ancientone: I do agree, he hasn't got a lot of defense from the guys, but that again may be from playing to many minutes and not having enough stamina to play both.

    I don't feel there is any problem other then our team needs more time to mature and more bench players that can at least hold their own.

    I don't think changing coaches would help a bit. Not even with the quick fixers or finger pointers. I am not saying that another coach couldn't do better, I am just saying, like you, the coach and the players need time to get the ball rolling, if anybody thought we should be better then we are right now, hasn't paid much attention to the team, just want sensationalism. We are a new team and we are going to have double close pin games and sensational games, but I don't think we will be one or the other all the time

    by Hg on 12/9/2012 11:09 AM
  12. Hi Mike,
    Your blog has become engrained into the Blazer season. After a win, we get to express all the things we like about our team. How well a player or players are doing.
    After a loss we vent. Troubleshoot whats wrong and play Monday morning quarterback.
    Keep'em comin'.
    The game last night showed how important Nic is. For that matter anyone of our starters. There's not a lot beyond our first 5.
    One play stood out the most to me. Outlaws uncontested dunk. Not sure who was on him but Luke was pulled from the game after that. Didn't return until late garbage time. Really Outlaw, a driving throw down.

    by Divotking on 12/9/2012 11:24 AM
  13. Some of the guys are learning quickly and others very slowly. The shortcomings at times are glaring. The important thing is that they learn and that means that they have to play and then be willing to stand back and say "Ok I should have done that different.", and then come back and try to do it better.

    by Ancientone on 12/9/2012 1:25 PM
  14. I don't think stamina is an issue since we fail to play defense for 48 minutes. Unless they're tired in the first minute, in which they shouldn't be in the NBA if that is the case.

    by Herr on 12/9/2012 5:38 PM
  15. i really can't believe we're all reading and writing about a loss like this. getting blown out to a mediocre team at home -- before or after a road trip -- is inexcusable.

    i completely understand the injury bug hitting is. is there a member of the BlazerNation who does not? the baffling thing is that Stotts still played Nicolas even though from all reports, Nicolas was not nearly well enough to play. even more baffling is that Stotts kept him in there when he was grossly ineffective. that's just not intelligent coaching.

    in fact, Stotts rotations over the course of this first quarter of the season have been largely ridiculous. i mean seriously, take J.J. out in the first quarter when he was playing well? everyone knows you have to ride your hot players. well, apparently everyone except Stotts.

    the real problem is that this team has little to no direction at either end of the court. let's face it, we would need a significant improvement on defense to rise to the level of "pathetic." i believe we have the players who can play effective defense; i also think we have a head coach who doesn't have a clue as to which defensive schemes to call at any given time. that's very unsettling.

    you all know i've never been sold on Stotts. i had hoped to be wrong about that. as it turns out, my criticisms have been mild. it's not personal. he's probably a great guy, treats his family and friends kindly and so forth. my real problem is that i do not see this team getting any better with Stotts as head coach.

    is that reactionary? i don't think so. a quarter of the season is done and the miscues have been glaring. there has not been improvement over these first 20 games. that's what we want to see, right? losses to teams like the Wizards, Pistons and Kings (i almost included the Pacers in there, but i won't since they were the home team) just prove this team is going nowhere. that, is due to lack of real leadership.

    so what's the answer, Kassandra? well, i honestly don't have one. we know the coach is the first problem, but there's no way Paul will fire him after just 20 games even though is is becoming more and more evident that this was the wrong hire. i do, however, feel it's just a matter of time before it becomes too clear not to take such action.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 12/9/2012 8:02 PM
  16. Someone from the bench will have to step forward and prove they are a future starter. Will, Joel, Luke, Meyers. The Blazers need someone right now they can lean on.

    by the golden ladder on 12/10/2012 7:37 AM
  17. by Hg on 12/10/2012 8:45 AM
  18. Kassandra: No we don't know that Stotts is the problem unless you are talking about you and other naysayers of our coach are all of the BlazerNation.
    I think immaturity and learning the ropes is the problem and no one can put a time limit on where we should be in the growing curve. You are about 1/4 of the way to being a licensed Attorney When you get your degree and get your first case, do you think all will be roses, are you going to look back and say WELL we all know that Instructor so and so was the fault of my imperfection, not me because as a player I have no imperfection. That is what it is about, I am not saying that Stotts is the perfect coach, I am not saying that the GM that put the team together is right or even Matthews that you have been against is right. I am just saying it is way too early to be a finger pointer IMO.
    As you and Herr as seemed to have teamed up in saying we know it is the coach that is not the majority.

    And to you Herr, ask Kassandra to go out and sprint her entire running routine. Stamina is built by pacing yourself and slowly pushing your wall back.

    Horrible Harold the Prianha has been released, I am 72 and supposed to be cynical, I am just surprised to see such Cynical behavior is young Brats, but all to their own.


    by Hg on 12/10/2012 8:45 AM
  19. @Hg;
    I agree with you. It's a thankless job being a coach. When a team wins, it's about how great the players are. When they lose, coaches fault.
    20 games into the season. Ridiculous. i.e. Lakers.

    by the golden ladder on 12/10/2012 9:56 AM
  20. By February the trade deadline this team will clean house if we cant get to 10 or 15 wins by the all star break

    by LA 2012 on 12/10/2012 12:19 PM
  21. Mike, you made me look good during the game. When Luke Babbitt stepped to the line, I told my brother and father who were watching the game with me that you're going to mention that this was Luke's first trip to the line this season (yes, I was aware of it since I always look at the stats) and I also added that Mike Rice wouldn't know if you asked him about it.

    I guess that was the only highlight of the night for me because of the poor performance against the Kings.

    by Shem on 12/10/2012 6:23 PM
  22. @Hg: so you saw a little Lebrona last blog & you want her to stay around for a while?! i'm just gonna clarify a couple of things.

    the only time i said "everyone" was when i said everyone knows to ride your hot players (like JJ in the first half the other night). i understand we have some guys we want to get into the lineup, but when we've got a guy getting it done, we need to leave him in, at least for a while. i'm by no means saying we ride the guy into the ground, just benefit from the hot hand.

    when i said "we know" i was referring to the growing number of people who are seeing glaring deficiencies in Stotts' coaching. you may not be one of them (yet), but i've met several already (as well as those who agree with me in that he was the wrong hire for our head coach).

    in no way was i trying to infer that everyone feels Stotts' hire was a mistake and he should/will be fired soon. i don't make sweeping statements like that. i believe everyone has a right to their opinion. i may try to change their opinion, but i will not stomp on their right to possess it.

    for lack of better terms, i will probably suck when handling my first case as an attorney (i'm kind of banking on the opposing attorney sucking worse!). what i do have is work ethic, intelligence and research skills. so, fast forward to the point at which i've handled my 20th case. i certainly don't anticipate being successful only 40 percent of the time. i would hope for at least 70 percent.

    finally, Stephen and i have just come to the same independent conclusion. in fact, i've tweeted to him about three times over the past week and he hasn't replied (i guess he's engulfed in video games!). i've very tepid in my patience regarding Stotts, but i've just come to no other opinion.

    oh, i realize it's not a sprint (no way i would try to sprint five miles!), but we should really be seeing progress. however, we seem to be going backward.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 12/10/2012 6:38 PM
  23. Portland had every reason to come out with some nasty. Nasty stayed home. A win is a win I guess.
    Simply the best of the worst tonight.

    by Divotking on 12/10/2012 9:28 PM
  24. by Divotking on 12/10/2012 9:29 PM
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