mikebarrett

Dec 10

Shorthanded Blazers Survive

By mikebarrett Posted in: Raptors
Okay, so this one won't be hanging in an art gallery.  But, after Saturday night's loss, and considering they were down two-fifths of the starting lineup they depend so heavily upon, style points were not exactly a prerequisite.  The only thing that the Blazers cared about Monday night was getting a win over the Toronto Raptors.

In the process of getting the victory, the Blazers held the Raptors to their lowest point total in the history of the head-to-head series, beating them 92-74.

Unfortunately, that little piece of history wasn't only one that was re-written on this night. Portland went 0 for 20 from behind the three-point line.  No NBA had done that before.  The fact that they set a new league record, while winning, removed most of the sting and most of the guys were able to laugh about it afterward.  The Blazers are actually a decent three-point team, averaging 36 percent from long range, which is good for 13th in the league rankings.  You wouldn't have known that watching this game.

Earlier in the afternoon we got word that the Blazers would be without Nic Batum, who was still struggling with lower-back pain.  Wesley Matthews, who injured his hip on Saturday, came out and tried to warm up, and was looking pretty good until he tried a routine crossover move.  He pulled up, hobbled off the court and went straight to the locker room.  

We have talked about the what-ifs concerning injuries to this starting lineup, and now it was here- two of them, actually.  

The Trail Blazers started Sasha Pavlovic and Victor Claver in place of Matthews and Batum.

Even though Claver didn't have a good shooting night, he was still effective as a floor spacer, and showed enough activity to keep him in the game for a career-high 26 minutes.  

Pavlovich was very good, putting up 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists in his 42 minutes. He's a veteran, who has played in some very big games in his career (including the NBA Finals), and Terry Stotts had to be very pleased in what he gave the team on this night, under these circumstances.  

The one thing we did know was that the Blazers would ride LaMarcus Aldridge hard in this ballgame.  As it turned out, L.A. didn't end with saddle sores, like we thought he could.  He was efficient, shooting 11 for 19, had 30 points and 12 rebounds.  He only needed to play 39 minutes. 

J.J. Hickson provided yet another double-double in this game, scoring 16 (shooting 7 for 7) and grabbing 11 rebounds in just 23 minutes.  It was vital Hickson play well for Portland to come out on top in this game, and he was very good.

The Trail Blazers were able survive without Damian Lillard having a Damian-Lillard type game, and that was a positive.  He hit just 2 of his 14 shots, and picked up 6 assists and 5 rebounds.

The most productive bench player for the Blazers in this game was Nolan Smith, who continues to show improvement after being completely out of the rotation at the start of the season.  Smith finished with 11 points, 3 assists, and gave the team 21 minutes.

It was an odd game, with Toronto losing Andrea Bargnani after just 8 minutes, after he fell hard on his right elbow.  They then lost Kyle Lowry, evidently to a shoulder/rib injury, after he got hit hard a couple of times.  He played just 17 minutes.

And, of course, there was the odd situation when veteran Amir Johnson lost his cool with referee David Jones after a made free throw and got tossed out of the game.  Johnson, normally a solid citizen in the league, tried to take the ball from Jones, who didn't want to give it up.  Neither would let to of the ball, and after Johnson apparently said the magic word(s), Jones ejected him.  Johnson then lost his head and fired his mouthpiece at Jones, striking him in the back.  That will undoubtedly cost Johnson at least a couple of games and a lot of money.

The Blazers were able to then finally take the rest of the wind out of the Raptors' sails and deliver the knockout punch, stretching the final margin of victory to 18.  Toronto came into the game averaging 97 points per game, but were held to just 74 in this one due to a combination of things.

It was Portland's 8th-straight win over the Raptors, which is their longest current winning streak over any NBA team.  

One other stat that should be pointed out in this game is that Portland turned the ball over only 7 times.  They had that many in the first 7 minutes of Saturday's ugly game against the Kings.

Next up, it's the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night.  They've been on a typical San-Antonio type regular-season roll, and will come into Portland all business.  The Blazers hope to get Matthews and/or Batum back for that game.  This game showed they've got capable players who can help their team survive Toronto, but San Antonio is an entirely different beast.

Thursday's game is a TNT game, so that's where you'll need to go to watch it.  We'll be back on TV Sunday, when the Blazers host the New Orleans Hornets.

  




14 Comments

  1. Hi Mike:
    When your 3pt shot ain't falling take it inside.
    Aldridge was a monster last night.
    I only got to watch half of the game and tried to listen to the second half on the radio, but to no avail.
    So I thank you for the update.

    by Hg on 12/11/2012 7:56 AM
  2. This one only gets one clothes pin. What record to set.

    Where was Freeland? We could have used him last night.

    by Ancientone on 12/11/2012 8:55 AM
  3. Strange game. 0-20. We were simply the best of the worst last night.
    We are now 4th worst record in the west. Tied with the Lakers.
    When Batum and Wes return should pump some life back into us.

    by Divotking on 12/11/2012 9:35 AM
  4. Disagree divotking...I saw more fire from Pavlovic than Batum ever shows. I think Batum is over rated.

    I am wondering why Leonard didn't get more time in the game. I loved his slam dunks. He got three in very short order and then we never saw him in the game again. What's that about.

    LA was amazing last night. Did he shoot 100% from the free throw line? Aggressive, points in the paint and on the line. Fun to watch!

    Still think DLill needs to watch some BRoy tapes and figure out how to draw the foul and not lose the ball. I know he is capable and will figure this out. Hopefully sooner rather than later. He looked really tired last night. He takes a pounding under the hoop.

    by allie-oop on 12/11/2012 10:16 AM
  5. I think it's clear that the Blazers are going to lose a lot games this season, but it was nice to see that they were up to the task of beating a bad team, tired from a long road trip when both opponents were missing a couple of key players. Who would have thought that we could win with Lilliard having another bad night, with Wes and Nic on the bench, and with no one on the entire roster able to hit a three-pointer? And I think we learned a few things that may help down the road. We learned that Sasha is solid, that Victor looks comfortable out there, and that it's a little too early to write off Nolan. We also got a bit more insight into Terry Stotts' coaching style. He's either very keen on making decisions based on match-ups, or else he thinks the best way to sort out confusion is by making a decision before the game that certain guys are out of the rotation. We're short a starting guard, but Ronnie Price doesn't play. It seems that that was because the Raptors have big guards, and was a match-up decision. J.J. plays only 23 minutes, LaMarcus gets a same 39 but Joel never gets a minute, while the spare minutes for the big men get split between Meyers and Jared and Luke. That one looks more like a "too many cooks...." decision, probably made for the same reason Sasha started, a desire to have some veterans out there to keep all the rookies and second-year guys on track. I'd question the decision, because there was a stretch where the offense was bogging down and Jared was left to try to make a play in positions where Joel actually has more game, but it all worked out so we'll let it slide. Damian also needs to work on seeing the court better when he's driving; his urge to take it to the paint on a night when the jumper was missing had him smothered in a crowd of defenders too many times. Let's face it; it looked like a D-league game out there when LA was on the bench. But I'm happy to see the bench guys get the playing time they need for improvement. I'd even pull a Popovich against San Antonio, and rest a few starters besides the two who are most banged up. Lilliard turned his ankle, and LaMarcus has played too many minutes this season. Why not just admit that we're very unlikely to win the game and use it to teach the young guys some valuable lessons about competing against good teams?

    by David Maclaine on 12/11/2012 12:23 PM
  6. @Maclaine;
    Very interesting take on the game plan last night.
    DLill will get better at dishing in traffic.
    I like the idea "pulling a Pop". Interesting food for thought.

    by Divotking on 12/11/2012 12:57 PM
  7. @allie oop: Leonard plays very poor defense and doesn't rebound.

    by Ancientone on 12/11/2012 3:34 PM
  8. The recent events in the Portland area make something like a basketball game seem somewhat insignificant. Things we take for granted like our safety, our loved ones and our community are put into perspective. As a community, the grieving process will take many different forms. One of which is getting back to doing the things that make us a community. Working, helping one another and enjoying life.
    Go Portland Trailblazers.

    by the golden ladder on 12/12/2012 11:25 AM
  9. Ancientone;
    Leonard's defense has been questionable. With his size he is not a big shot blocker. Young raw talent usually are able to bring their shot blocking skills to the NBA.
    He doesn't have the natural "nose for the ball" when rebounding. Is often caught out of position.
    He has been called a late bloomer in his college ball.
    My question is- do you see him developing those skills? At least to the level equal to his physical gifts.

    by Divotking on 12/12/2012 6:55 PM
  10. finally, we did what we were supposed to do; beat a bad team by a lot of points on our home floor. i think it all starts there. this is how we build wins and confidence. it's not going to come right away, but it is important to show improvement along the way.

    LaMarcus was great, and Sasha, JJ and Nolan really stepped up (who hasn't been waiting to see Smitty have a game like this?). particularly, i think Sasha was huge for us. while Will can be exciting (and Elliot when healthy), it's comforting to know we have a veteran who can step in and help us get the job done when we need him to. he's definitely been a bright spot for us several times over the course of the season. aside from shooting the ball, Victor did everything else we needed him to do. no complaints there.

    much has been and continues to be said about the 0-20 shooting from the three-point line. you know something; i don't care as long as we're getting to the basket and to the line -- and winning by nearly a score of points. ultimately, the most important stat is the final score. the guys took care of business monday night.

    i know some of you are talking about Meyers. i think he's coming along. he's not nearly the defensive or rebounding liability which some think he is. let's face it, our defense as a team just plain sucks (sans vs. the Raptors). Meyers may not block every shot, but he changes a lot of them. when it comes to rebounding, he really needs to adapt to the nba style of the play down low. he needs to learn how to better anticipate the ball's bounce. i remember what Marcus Camby said after a couple of his monster rebounding games. he said he was able to anticipate the ball. now, i'm not a professional basketball player and i'm over two feet shorter than Meyers, but i wonder how much of that can be taught and how much is natural instinct.

    Divotking, i know your question was aimed at Ancientone, but in my opinion, Meyers can develop many of those skills. i remain confident he can and will.

    like most of you, i spent quite a bit of time wondering where Joel was. i really hope Stotts isn't working up guys' confidence just to turn around and bench them so they lose it. Joel could have definitely helped us.

    anyway, i'm in finals week, but i'll be watching tomorrow night's game; as always, looking for a win and some improvement from this team.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 12/12/2012 8:17 PM
  11. I was doing a countdown on that NBA record of 0-20 on our game day thread at RealGM: http://forums.realgm.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=1219130

    If you go to page 4, I start it when the Blazers were at 0-13. You'll even see me inquire about what the record was when the Blazers were at 0-18 as at that point I knew our team would either set a record or be close to it. Good thing we won or many of us including me would have been bitter about it.

    by Shem on 12/12/2012 8:48 PM
  12. Kass;
    I share your confidence in Meyers. He's green. Raw. Great attitude. He continues to work, thrown into the fire at the right times, his competitive spirit will bring him along. A little Bill Bayno wouldn't hurt. ( there I go again)
    A big man that can shoot free throws as well as him can earn a living in this league.

    by Divotking on 12/12/2012 9:12 PM
  13. Divotking & Kassandra: I think that he has the ability and the intelligence to develope into a great center. However he needs to have a lot of instruction and experience and that is why I think he needs to spend some time in the D league now to get the experience he didn't get in college.

    by Ancientone on 12/12/2012 9:20 PM
  14. It's official. Forget the ballot. Forget the voting. We have two allstars in this town. The real deal DLill.
    All around team effort. JJ was all over the place. LMA doing his thing. Sasha hoisted one bad shot. Solid performance. Big shot Batum. Career high 9 assists. Blocking shots. One big block down the stretch against his frenchy friend. Contributions from others not mentioned. Good win.
    Please send a letter to Splitter for flopping.
    Pop wanted this one.

    by Divotking on 12/13/2012 10:29 PM
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