Blazers Survive Hungry Nets
By mikebarrett Posted in: Nets, GregOden
There were several reasons to be concerned heading into this game.
Any time you're playing a team that hasn't won a game yet, you know you
could be "it." And, here's a cliche that you can certainly apply- New
Jersey is better than its record. Perhaps that isn't saying much,
because they're now 0-15, but they are now finally getting healthy.
the people I talk to before games, the only one who had the outcome of
this thing nailed long before tip off was Mike Rice. He said the Nets
would bring a ton of energy, play strong defense, and would give the
Blazers all they could handle. Coming off Monday's game, where Portland
cruised past Chicago, this probably sounded odd to some people.
it turned out, the Nets brought a ton of energy, played very strong
defense, and gave the Blazers all they could handle. It goes down as a
wire-to-wire victory for the Blazers, and just another loss for the
Nets, but it was no day at the beach.
with every bit the desperation we expected, the Nets played one of
their best games of the season. Now that they're getting healthy, this
streak probably won't continue much longer. And even though Portland
was in pretty good control of this thing throughout, no one was
terribly comfortable until the final minutes. Not with what the Blazers
had to lose.
We focused on one matchup during
our pre-game segment, and that was the battle of two of the best young
centers in the league, Brook Lopez vs. Greg Oden. Lopez, who played 40
minutes, scored 32 points, and grabbed 14 rebounds. Oden, who played
only 25 minutes, had 18 points, 8 rebounds, and blocked 4 shots. Oden
got his points on 11 shots. Lopez took 25 shots, and is a handful for
anyone. It was a fantastic game for Lopez, and a solid game from Oden.
Blazers came into this game second in the NBA in point differential, at
+8.2, and this game won't hurt that number. But, the fact is, it
shouldn't have been as close as it was. Portland has been shooting 81
percent at the free-throw line. But, in this game were just 14 for 24.
That allowed the Nets to stay within shouting distance.
12 wins for the Blazers this season have been by six points or more.
That's a good thing, but a scary thing at times. While they were so
good last season in games decided by three points or less, we haven't
really seen them come through in a very tight game this season. One of
their home losses (Denver) came because they missed five free throws in
the final 33 seconds. If not for the cushion they had in this game, we
could have seen a similar outcome simply because of the lack of hitting
foul shots in this one.
To listen to Nate McMillan's post-game comments, click here
Jersey was playing the second of a back-to-back, as they lost in Denver
on Tuesday night. But, because of their situation, I didn't ever feel
that was going to be an issue in this game. Simply a chance at a win
would give them enough adrenaline to survive.
Blazers got away with not being as sharp as they've been in recent
games. I think some of this has to do with the schedule. It has been
favorable, as far as who they've been playing, but no one has played
more games than Portland at this stage. This game made it 17 games in
30 days to start the season. By Saturday, we'll be talking about 19
games in 33 days. That's a brutal pace.
it's because I travel with the team, and am with them every day, but I
am so much a believer that the timing of games is just as important as
who you're playing. It's perhaps more important. That's why I always
point out things like "four games in five nights," on road trips. Those
things are huge hurdles for teams. They are pros, but they're also
It's one day off for Thanksgiving, and
then back to work on Friday night as the Blazers host Memphis. After
that game ends late Friday night we'll fly to Salt Lake City, and
Saturday night take on the Utah Jazz.