Trail Blazers/Grizzlies Post-Game
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  1. DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 03/02/2010 11:27 AM

    Post-Game Thoughts
    After a first half which saw the Grizz run out to a 53-41 lead, it looked like a typical end to a long road trip. Portland played the part of Moses flawlessly and opened up the paint for Memphis like it was the Red Sea by allowing 34 points inside. All actions and body movements on the court all left Blazer fans and even Coach Nate wanting more. The Blazers were putting on a clinic how to lose a huge game in terms of playoff seeding, throwing passes into the 3rd row of Fed Ex Forum, settling for jump shots quick in the shot clock, and getting smacked around under the boards. Seeing a big lineup wasn't going to rebound any better than a smaller one, Coach McMillan inserted Dante and Jerryd off of the bench. The move ignited the team and they closed a double digit lead down to two, 35-37, solely on forcing turnovers and upping the tempo. Cunningham only had five points, but both were energetic finishes on the break (see photos below) to momentarily get Portland back into the game. As soon as the small lineup was taken out for the regular starters, the Blazers went back to their old lackadaisical ways, which was the last straw for Nate. He earned his paycheck tonight at halftime in the locker room.

    ``He's was (ticked off),'' said Portland rookie Nicolas Batum, who scored 21 points and is averaging 26 in his last two games. ``We did not play good. We did not play defense. We had too many turnovers. He said we have to wake up. We played their basketball. We had to play our basketball.''

    ``We were turning the ball over,'' McMillan said. ``I thought we were really loose the first half with the basketball. They (Memphis) didn't play well, but we played poorly that first half. In the second half, they came out and we got some stops defensively. We talked about not trying to get it back in one play, but slowly chipping away, and we ended up having probably our largest quarter this season.''

    Whatever Coach said during the halftime break, it worked. The team took advantage of 21 Memphis turnovers, most in the 2nd half, to score a team-high 41 points in the 3rd quarter, the most scored in any quarter this season. It was a fantastic quarter that saw the Blazers outscore the Grizzlies 41-21 behind a barrage of three-pointers from the likes of Batum, Roy, and Fernandez and a lock down of the paint. In total Memphis scored 50 in the paint but only 16 came during the final 24 minutes of action. All was not perfect in the 2nd half, as the Blazers slipped back to their conservative ways of playing not to lose and nearly blew a 13 point lead with under 10 minutes to play. After a Z-Bo three-point play with 2:19 left, Memphis was nearly all the way back, clawing within one and 93-92.

    Knowing the team could not allow this one to slip away again, especially to Memphis, Roy made the play of the game. Working one on one out top, Roy took it hard left, only to lose his dribble but before it could be chalked up as a turnover, he tipped the ball to Batum who streak down the baseline for a huge And-1 dunk. A flurry of huge plays from Camby and Batum sealed the deal. Marcus tipped in a missed Brandon lay-up and gave up his body to dive on the floor for a loose ball to call timeout. Nico hit a corner three, picked off a Conely pass on the fast-break, and after botching an inbounds pass, Batum saved the day by blocking O.J. Mayo's attack on the basket which preserved a late five point lead.

    Batum definitely passed the first test of consistency for a young player. One game after having a career-night, he comes out like gangbusters to score 21 points, the 2nd highest outing this year, on an efficient 7-11 shooting from the floor, another sharp-shooting 4-7 from distance, 3 rebounds, and the games biggest block and steal of the night. Currently, there is no shot that Nico doesn't like right now. He's hitting the 3 at ridiculous 46.3% clip, shooting 57.1% from the floor, and an incredible 91.3% from the charity stripe. In fact, Nico is 21-23 from the foul line and his only two misses came at home against the Lakers. I realize 18 games is a relatively small sample size, but if he can play near this level for the rest of the season (19 games) the Blazers have themselves one helluva talent on their hands, but we all already knew that!
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