Jan 03

Road Review: Portland Takes Conference Lead In Oklahoma City

By sarahhecht Posted in: Blazers, Thunder
As the team heads out on the road I’ll share my thoughts on the highs and lows of each quarter and their importance to the game, team and season going forward. Let’s discuss!


1st Quarter

Loved: Drawing fouls on OKC bigs, getting to the rim

Talk about getting to the rim! A move virtually nonexistent during the Clippers matchup proved to be important in the first quarter tonight against Oklahoma City. The Trail Blazers pushed inside from the jump and quickly drew two fouls apiece on big-men Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. These fouls and Portland’s ability to get to the line—12 free throw attempts to OKC’s three—kept the Trail Blazers in the game as the Thunder shot 52.2 percent from the field to Portland’s 31.3 percent. Without those trips to the charity stripe to keep things close we may be looking at a very different outcome.

Keep this up fellas, it’s fruitful.

Loathed: Points in the paint, fast break points

I’m starting to sound like a broken record here, but these categories are too important to ignore, especially when we’re changing our offense to be more up tempo. Zero fast break points in the quarter and only four points in the paint while OKC scored seven on the break and 14 in the paint isn’t going to hold up over time. Eventually we evened things out in the paint, but ended up getting worked running the floor with free throws leveling the field in that department. We’ve got to improve here.

2nd Quarter

Loved: Wesley Matthews

Wowza, Wesley. Matthews played all 12 minutes in the quarter and used his time wisely. He hit 100 percent of his shots in the period (he was 7-of-12 on the night,) with each coming at what felt like a crucial moment. He followed up the second quarter with another impactful run in the third nailing 3-of-6 from the floor and pulling down four rebounds.

I liked just about everything from Matthews. And I truly enjoyed watching him play a solid game without being the one player to shine. He’ll have his games to be the man, but getting reliable performances from him when he’s not the star of the evening is huge for this squad.

Loathed: Turnovers

Six turnovers on the half is nothing compared to the 20-plus we’ve racked up over the last two games, so this point may be a bit picky. But the point here is that we had more in the half than the Thunder who only had four. We took care of the ball much better tonight but to continue to improve we can’t give up the ball to be converted into easy buckets.

3rd Quarter

Loved: Camby to LA ally-oop, smart passes

This was a fun quarter to watch. Russell Westbrook missed a dunk (classic on it’s own) that was converted to a Marcus Camby to LaMarcus Aldridge ally-oop. That little diddy was followed closely by Matthews taking it coast-to-coast and the tempo of the game picking up. The pace was flowing and was nicely complimented by better passing than we’ve seen in a few games. The improved offense was augmented by a tightening defense and a 78-74 Trail Blazers lead heading into the fourth iced the cake.

Loathed: Nada

There wasn’t anything that stood out to me as we began to refine and polish our play. So I’ll chalk this quarter up to nice and satisfactory.

4th Quarter

Loved: Nicolas Batum, defense, LA’s intensity

Nicolas Batum owned this quarter. He led the team in scoring with seven points (catch-and-shoot three anyone?,) yanked down three rebounds and had two monster blocked shots. It was another quarter where one guy dominated, but it didn’t feel like it. The entire squad stepped up defensively, made smart moves and got shots to the open man. It was a warm and fuzzy quarter with intensity. Odd mixture, but good in the end.

Get outta town Perk, and take your attitude with you. You don’t mess with Aldridge without repercussions. I’m not exactly sure what tipped off the little scuffle between the two, but you can bet the team leader will be the last to take any fluff.

Loathed: Westbrook’s scoring, missing lob dunks (yikes!)

Westbrook went off for nine points causing a bit of anxiety in Rip City. Portland did a thorough job in limiting the point guard to 11 points through three quarters, so watching him get hot at the end of the game wasn’t what the Trail Blazers were looking for. But in the end, it wasn’t enough.

Missing lobs when open at the rim? Not good. And really not good in a close game.

Overall Impressions

Heading into tonight’s challenge in Oklahoma City I preached BALANCE as my big key to success. I’d like to take this moment to say, I told ya so! Portland was relatively even in every category aside from two. We lost the fast break battle and won at the free throw line.

Overall, I’m extremely satisfied with the night and it’s not just because of the win. We played team ball tonight and it showed. We passed, we ran, we defended. And we still didn’t play our best game. Another encouraging aspect.

There are many other topics from the game to discuss, like Aldridge's 30-point performance and the defense of Kevin Durant. So let's get started, what did you love and loathe?


  1. Hey Miss Sarah:
    I loved the first half because I got to watch, I loathed the second half because I had to listen on a radio that kept fading out.
    I loved the win, I loved LMA taking it to the Thunders. and I love the fact that we are 5-1

    by Hg on 1/3/2012 9:46 PM
  2. What I loved about LA was that he was hitting his shots in the 4th, which will boost his confidence down the road (as if he doesn't have any already) I also loved Gerald's energy on Durant. He needed that after the Clipper game. Finally, I was pleasantly surprised at the team's ability to hit the 3. I had been harping that they're not a 3 point shooting club, but on certain nights, they can catch fire. Let's hope that fire doesn't get put out.

    by blazerdarren77 on 1/3/2012 9:54 PM
  3. Loved LA standing up for himself and showing a backbone - I actually think LA is believing his own words - wanting to & showing he wants to be a leader - good for you LA - keep it up!

    by BendBlazerFan on 1/3/2012 10:32 PM
  4. Now THAT'S what I'm talkin' 'bout!! I love to be proved wrong. If LA plays like that, well then I am going to start asking for my leftovers at restaurant Montage shaped in foil to be in the likeness of the NBA championship trophy.

    by T on 1/3/2012 11:37 PM
  5. do your math, it's 4-1 ...we beat thunder, king, 76er, nuggets and lost to clipper.

    by ijamesza on 1/4/2012 7:17 AM
  6. Hey Miss Sarah:
    Kassandra is always harping on bringing it for forty-eight minutes, It appears that the Blazers finally did that; that is something else I love. If they continue to play for 48 minutes, watch out.

    by Hg on 1/4/2012 8:47 AM
  7. Looking at the stats this morning, I was impressed by the way the playing time was very evenly distributed between starters and second teamers. LA had 41 minutes as befitting the hot hand. i liked the minutes split between Camby, Thomas, and Craig Smith. They are a skilled trio and everthing looked like it meshed well between everyone on the floor. There wasn't any real glaring issues unless it was getting out on the OKC 3 pt shooters. When the beard started off hitting everything he threw up, It looked like it might be a long night. The tempo of the game was upbeat but under control. Felton and Crawford did a nice job of taking care of the ball while fending off Westbrook. Wallace and Batum looked more organized with their defense on Durant and that efforet erased his ability to score at will. I think that the number of games played by OKC did have something to do with his off night. Coach McMillan will need to get some of his other reserves involved over the span of this frantic paced season or we will see some of our guys melt down like that too. I would like to see Nolan Smith and Elliot Williams get into the flow. With that said, This team has earned an A- overall, showing some attituse and not quitting in LA against the Clipps. Thanks for the vine!! B;azers' all the way!

    by bigblazerfan101 on 1/4/2012 3:08 PM
  8. Dividing, Sarah, the story of the game -and telling it- in 4 chronologic quarters, is just like dividing it in any four other *arbitrary* categories, as for example, more or less colllective/individual play, and more or less offense/defense. In fact these would be much more natural a four division, but harder to delimit. You could try to find the point(s) of inflection of the game, and trying to understand them (it´s not easy at all). For instance: a point of inflection is when the team, after losing for along time , begings to win. And trying to understand why this is happening. Another is when offense or defense does not work well, and suddenly the ¿"fate"? changes. These points of inflection, we should try to understand them, when possible. There might be 2 or 3 or 1 or 4 in a game, not more. Frequently not more than 1 or 2, clearly delimited.

    Again, sorry for my very bad English. Hope you understand what i´m trying to say, though, cause words are just words, are. And they are different, though similar in my country and in Europe.

    by sopadeajo on 1/4/2012 4:11 PM
  9. Loved all of it. No complaints. Nicolas Batum, GW, and LaMarcus are my MVP's. Good blog as always, Sarah. That is all :) Oh! one more thing...BEAT LA!

    by blazerfan8825 on 1/4/2012 5:37 PM
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