sarahhecht

Jan 06

Road Review: Rough Night In Phoenix

By sarahhecht Posted in: Blazers, Suns
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!

PHOENIX 102, PORTLAND 77

First Quarter

Loved: LaMarcus Aldridge creating offense for himself

Watching LMA create his own offense always makes me smile. When teams decide not to double team him, and even sometimes when they do, he will abuse whoever gets the misfortune of his assignment. The way he take the pass then puts the ball on the floor for a couple dribbles... whew, it’s over for his defender. And so fun to watch!

Loathed: Shooting percentage

It was a rough first quarter. Shooting 28 percent from the floor on 7-of-25 shooting is bad. It becomes worse than bad when your opponent shoots 54.2 percent and carries an 11-point lead into the second quarter.

There wasn’t even a chance in this one as the Trail Blazers rounded out the evening shooting only 32.5 percent from the floor to Phoenix’s 46.8 percent.

Second Quarter

Loved: Spurts of hustle

There were moments in the second quarter when the legs of the Trail Blazers were a bit quicker. The few plays that could have been momentum changers didn’t roll into any runs, but were enough to keep the Suns from sitting back and getting too comfortable. Glimpses of the Portland basketball we’ve become accustomed to in this short season were there, but unfortunately didn’t stick around.

Loathed: Turnovers

We racked up four turnovers in the second to add to the six from the first. There were only four TOTAL in last night’s defeat of the Lakers. When you more than double that in the first half of a ball game there’s no doubt things aren’t going as planned.

The Suns ended up earning 21 points on 17 Trail Blazers turnovers. Eliminate those mistakes and this game has a whole different feel and ends with a different victor.

Third Quarter

Loved: Forcing turnovers

There was a bit of a spark in the third. We gained a step or two on the Suns for a few plays and in turn forced six turnovers. That’s all I’ve got for the third... I was hoping for a turnaround and didn’t get it. Sad face.

Loathed: Hitting a 20-point deficit

I don’t think I’m alone when I say being down by 20 feels worse than being down by 19. I’m not sure exactly why, but to me there’s a major delineation in how I feel about the game. Like we have a chance to come back, but then you hit that 20-point mark and it’s all downhill. Pull the starters. Call it a night.

Trailing by 20 is for the birds.

Fourth Quarter

Loved: Three blocked shots

The bench got a chance to run in the first “garbage minutes” of the season. While that’s never really a good thing due the the circumstances, it was nice to Nolan Smith, Chris Johnson and Elliot Williams get some burn. And one of the few positives is the extra rest for the starters. Though I’m not sure you can qualify their bench time as “rest,” because I’m sure they were reeling. I know I would be.

Loathed: Final score

Yuck. I can honestly say I wasn’t expecting to get blown out after the two solid performances against the Thunder and the Lakers, but I guess that’s the definition of a trap game, right? They catch you when you least expect it.

Overall Impressions

Well... yeah. This really isn’t one of those games you can break down and dissect easily because so much went wrong. When you’re faced with one of those games where nothing goes right the reasoning almost becomes intangible. You can’t narrow it down to being beaten in a specific statistical category or to a player or two having an off night. (Well you can, but that doesn’t always explain the feeling of the game.) Instead it becomes more of an overall impression of how the game felt.

For me, tonight was one of those games. From the first few minutes through the final buzzer I didn’t feel the passion. We were a step behind across the floor. And when you’re not feeling it shots aren’t going to fall and you’re not going to win.

The plus side of this condensed schedule is we don’t have to wait long to get back on track.

On to the next. Cleveland on Sunday.

10 Comments

  1. Uh... yeah...forgettable. At least they showed fight in the Clipper loss. This one? It felt as if they were a sparring partner for Phoenix. Major hangover from the Laker game as if all the energy was exhausted from that game. But on the plus side, they'll be home for Cleveland and they'll get the energy back (not to mention an angry Wallace, who'll look to redeem himself)

    by blazerdarren77 on 1/7/2012 12:25 AM
  2. Hey Miss Sarah: I was almost predicting this type game; not the outcome, because like blazerdrren77, I thought we would show more fight in a come back fashion. It just didn't happen.

    I asked you in the last blog if you thought it was time to bring on the bottom of the bench guys to give them some burn and rest the magnificent 8. We did that and I thought they looked OK. Smith and Smith, with Williams and Chris Johnson looked OK. I loved Smith and Williams.

    I am sure there will be other games of this fashion, don't know when for sure, but you can look down the schedule and predict at least one coming up next Saturday against Houston.
    Although we are due to lose one at the Rose Garden, Ya I know wash my mouth out. I hope it is not against Cleveland as that would make it two loses in a row. And I would be willing to bet the house that Wheels don't own that it won't be the Clippers. So maybe Orlando because of the next game being SAS which we will win to keep our road record in tack. Then a b2b with Houston, same scenario as last night.
    A week in advance is the furthest I dare adventure, but don't forget, I am often proven wrong, so don't try taking my predictions to the bank.

    We must not forget this is still a young season and it is a process in the making. Two steps forward one back or one step forward and two back, as long as we are gelling and ironing out the bugs, we will come out better in the long haul.

    by Hg on 1/7/2012 6:38 AM
  3. Hello,

    I like your blog. The loved/loathed thing makes it easy to reflect on the game. The performance was so lopsided, it's hard for me to point out anything that you didn't. The one thing I do know, we are better than that. Nash had a perfect game, didn't miss a shot, 9 assists in like 26 mins or something. How do we slow him down? The Blazers do great on Kobe but have trouble with Nash. My strategy: put a guy on him that's as quick (or as close as possible to chase him around) and mismatch the other 4 players with bigger/better rebounders and control the tempo. But don't be surprised if that doesn't work either, I just got to thinking about that game and it's just a puzzling loss. Go Blazers.

    JW

    by Bull Frog on 1/7/2012 1:34 PM
  4. In other words...to clarify my strategy, box them out with the other 4. Their interior defense (PHX) was better than expected. They play like this weaving offense, it was weird and clashed with our new style. Hope we can do our thing tomorrow night. I am concerned about this schedule taking a toll on players. Gonna keep the faith regardless, that's par for the Portland course.

    by Bull Frog on 1/7/2012 1:40 PM
  5. @Bull Frog; best thing is to have the Blazers show up with energy and the intensity they showed against LA. No sleep, emotional high, tired legs and a feisty Nash can cause most of the problems you are trying to solve.

    by Hg on 1/7/2012 1:49 PM
  6. @Bull Frog, thanks for commenting! I always appreciate your opinions over on MB's blog :)

    I agree that the loss was puzzling. On paper (and through what our guys demonstrated in the two previous games) we should have handled Phoenix without much trouble.

    @Hg, I think your point about energy rings true. Had we not been a step behind there's no doubt in my mind this game would've had a different outcome. Seems to me when we're a step behind we don't get legs under our shots either leading to the heinous shooting percentage.

    As you said, on to the next. Lets get the Cavs on Sunday.

    by sarahhecht on 1/7/2012 1:57 PM
  7. Hi Sarah

    Enjoy your blogs a lot. I want to make a few points about the game to add to yours.

    First, I fear it isn't *just* that it was a trap game, but that there is a strategic issue here as well... Specifically I noticed that Phoenix (particularly Nash and Dudley) pressured the ball very aggressively throughout, and in my mind, that was exactly what Chris Paul and the Clippers did, with very similar effect. I worry that the word is out, that to beat the Blazers, just overplay on defense constantly. What specific things can Blazers do to counter this?

    Second, the slippery floor was a real concern for me. I wanted Nate to get our starters safely to the bench much sooner!! What a ridiculous hazard; it was painful to watch.

    Third, my favorite blazer is Jamal Crawford and I love his game. Still, I think once Nate observes the fact that Jamal is "not hot", he shouldn't force the issue by leaving him in that long. Using JC to max effect means gauging his game in real time.

    I'm hoping Blazers will win and even run up the score a bit on Cleveland b/c we need to "send a message" after that weak showing.

    Thanks!
    John

    by jsciv314 on 1/7/2012 2:18 PM
  8. @Hg - no doubt my brother. This schedule is way harsher than the last shortened season. Fans should cut a little more slack than usual in my opinion. Love the enthusiam.

    @Sarah - love the passion for basketball. I will subscribe and comment as much as time allows. I wish I could give all the bloggers some love. Once again I think you broke things down really well. Peace and thank you for replying

    by Bull Frog on 1/7/2012 3:31 PM
  9. Our guys were 1) tired, and 2) thoroughly scouted. AND those are two things Nate & crew will have to overcome to get through this season.

    Blazers have a new style of play, which even they aren't 100% comfortable with, but you know film is being studied by every upcoming opponent. We're looking very good, but are not quite "finished," and well-coached teams aren't gonna wait on us to mature.

    We're gonna lose a few. As the song says, "Mama said there'd be days like this / there'd be days like this my Mama said."

    Personally, I'm more comfortable flying below the radar while the team is still on the learning curve.

    by occassia on 1/7/2012 4:06 PM
  10. Obviously this game was a Laker hangover. But, with that already well known, I would like to bring to the attention of all of us Blazer fans the third quarter. This is where the Blazers cut the lead down to 12 (I do believe). Phoenix was in the penalty with quite a few minutes remaining. (7 or 8?? correct me if I'm wrong) What do you do when a team is in the penalty and you are not? ATTACK with your guards! Nash is an offensive genius, but he sucks on defense. That is why Phoenix can't get to the finals. As I listened on the radio, even Big B (Mr. Wheeler) seemed to forget they were in the penalty until the three minute mark. As far as the trap game mentioned earlier, I think it has always been known that the Blazers don't respond well to an overly aggressive defense, especially when it is directed at the ball handlers. This is just another reason to attack and get the opposition in the penalty early. But of course, it is up the players to respond to just such a tactic.

    by T on 1/9/2012 2:40 PM
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