Jan 11

The Cheerleader and the Realist

By Kassandra Posted in: Blazers, LukeBabbitt, Magic, NicolasBatum
The Blazers nearly came back from a 23-point second-half deficit tonight, but Orlando made just a couple more shots and the Blazers suffered their first home loss of the season.

As I often do, I joined the in-game chat for the game. Sarah (RipCitySarah or Sarah Hecht or even dot-tv Sarah -- whichever she prefers) was there, as well as many of the regulars; Teresa, Albert, Kylie, Darren and Brian. Heck, even Mike (BlockParty) braved the late east coast hours to join us from Charlotte.

As you undoubtedly know, things did not start well for the Blazers, falling down 8-0 from the outset. Orlando seemed to make every shot -- especially three-pointers -- while the Blazers seemingly made few of theirs. The Magic were dominating in nearly all aspects of the game and, ultimately, the scoreboard proved that.

Well into the third quarter, things were still not going well for the Blazers. They had battled back, but Orlando had answered. At one point, the Magic were up by 23 points.

It was around that point when one of the regular participants in the game chat, who had been critical of the Blazers defense and general performance for much of the game, called it. "Game," the poster said.

The person added a couple follow-up critical statements, specifically stating why they thought the team was not doing as well on the season. There were other chatters telling  the person to have faith and that the game was not over yet. In fact, Sarah even told the person that she disagreed and that the Blazers still had a chance in the game. Sarah even quoted the person's own word, "realist," in her statement. The person responded.

*           *          *

"If me being a realist makes us come back to win, then so be it."

Yes, I said that. For I am the one being skeptical, in the game -- and in the past few games -- regarding the team's performance.

The Blazers almost proved me wrong. They almost came back. In the fourth quarter I found myself switched from skeptic mode back to cheerleader mode (I believe all of us have a bit of both sides in us). As we narrowed the deficit, I was more and more hopeful that this would be one of those miracle comebacks.

However, as you know by now, it was not to be.

Don't get me wrong. I have absolutely loved everything Blazers for nearly 90 percent of my life. Nothing has changed. There was nothing I would have loved more last night than to see that comeback.

Be that as it may, I have been increasingly concerned with the team of late. Against the Clippers Tuesday night, they were solid and put themselves in a great position to win. Against the Cavaliers, they dominated the second half and won the game. However, against the Suns on Friday and during the first three quarters tonight, they looked like a team who didn't know what to do in certain aspects of the game, especially defensively. Sure, Orlando was making shots, but from what I can tell, they were shots not being contested by Blazers defenders. 

That is a problem, especially as they embark on a six-game road trip. There are no guarantees in any of these games. I want to be a cheerleader. I am, however, still skeptical and trying to look at this in a realistic way. Yes, I do consider myself a realist.

*          *          *


* Despite once being down by 23, the Blazers had just eight turnovers for the game.

* Jamal and LaMarcus each shot 10-17 from the field, and lead the Blazers with 24 and 23 points, respectively.

* Nicolas, who shot the ball excellently and scored 14 points, had a game-high plus-17 efficiency rating.

* Nicolas and Jamal, who each scored nine points in the win against the Clippers, each had 10 at halftime against Orlando.

* Luke saw action in just his second game of the season in the third quarter. He missed his only shot (a trey), but had three rebounds in 4:25 on the floor.


* The Blazers three losses have come from teams representing just two NBA divisions (Pacific - Clippers and Suns; and Southeast - Magic).

* Despite the loss last night, the Blazers still hold the second-best record in the Western Conference. They would host the Jazz in the first round if the playoffs began today.

* The Blazers are one of 12 NBA teams who have played 10 games thus far. Only one of those teams (the 76ers) is leading their division. The Blazers beat the 76ers in what will be their only meeting this season, on opening night.

* The Blazers home winning percentage is 86 percent. During the lockout-shortened 1999 season, the team had an end-season home winning percentage of 88 percent.

So the Blazers are off on their first road test of the season. The realist has a few questions in her mind. Can the Blazers bottle up the Rose Garden energy and use it to propel the team to some quality performances and wins? Can the Blazers break .500 and go 4-2 on the trip? 5-1? Are you crazy enough to think they can go 6-0?

Are you a dreamer? Are you a cheerleader?

Are you another realist?


Note: Photo courtesy Oregonlive.com. Blazers' Nicolas Batum battles Orlando's Ryan Anderson.

In Kassandra's Words features regular blogs throughout the year. Comments and questions are welcome and encouraged. Seasons begin and end; players come and go; our Blazers are forever. Please follow on twitter: @PDXKass


  1. As a realist. This actually has to do with a lack of heart of the Portland players. Three quarters of walking through the motions and then expect a fourth quarter rescue is not a sign of character. All the teams are tired because of this schedule, so that is no excuse for not showing up for 3 quarters. We all have to produce day to day. You can't goof off until the day of finals. My patients expect and get my best everyday even when I'm tired. It's time this team showed that character, We have the talent. Now let's see the heart.

    by Ancientone on 1/11/2012 11:41 PM
  2. thank you, Ancientone, i feared i was not alone. you know form my other comments that i want to see us play 48 minutes (16 might have been enough tonight). You're right, you can't fail to show up for three quarters and expect to come back in the fourth. Let's see the heart.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 1/11/2012 11:42 PM
  3. Interesting take and choice of words. My interpretation of the word "realist" varies a bit from yours and isn't in conflict with what I deem a "cheerleader."

    IMO a "cheerleader" is someone who stands behind their team through good times and bad. This person is by no means blindly believing that the improbable will happen, but instead chooses to relish the enjoyment of watching their team in any circumstance.

    On a different spectrum from cheering falls the "optimist," "pessimist" and "realist." I'd call the "optimist" a fan who absolutely believes a team has a high probability or will comeback from a large deficit. In this scenario the "pessimist" would call it a night by sloughing off any chance that said comeback could occur. Then there's my interpretation of a "realist," they would be the one open to any possible outcome. NBA contests are games of runs and can turn on a dime, a realist would remain open-minded.

    I consider myself a realist as well as a cheerleader. I will root for my team no matter where they stand. And after I've supported them I'll enjoy analyzing them in whatever direction my opinions my take me. They may be optimistic, they may be pessimistic.

    That's the beauty of fandom, you can fall into every category depending on the situation.

    As for the issue of heart. It's there, you saw it in the never-give-up attitude during the fourth quarter. Just unfortunately not in the previous three.

    by sarahhecht on 1/12/2012 1:20 AM
  4. My glass is always at least half-full in almost all matters related to basketball, so I'd be an optimist as Sarah has defined it, at least in regards to my sports teams! My professional career as a CFO requires I be the skeptic, the guy that can quickly identify the worst-case scenario in all situations and then make sure the Company does everything in it's power to make the most of the situation. I suppose that means I bottle up my optimism and it has to be released outside of work hours.

    Last night I wasn't able to accept defeat until about 20 seconds left, our shots stopped falling and their free throws continued falling. And when I arrived late in the 2nd quarter and the Blazers were down 16, I was sincere in my concern for Van Gundy, I Believed the Blazers would come back and win the game!

    besides, it takes less energy to smile then to frown, and if you facial expression ended up getting stuck...which would you prefer? Thanks for the blog you passionate realist!

    by BlockParty aka Teamship on 1/12/2012 4:52 AM
  5. @Sarah: dreamer, cheerleader, realist. my whole point is that none are mutually exclusive. you can be one, two, three and even more at the same time. you also can be just one. it depends on the mood. criticizing three quarters does not mean one isn't hoping for a comeback in the fourth; it doesn't mean one doesn't want his or her team to win.

    the point in calling it realism or myself a realist is that those kind of comebacks are extremely rare, especially when a team has not shown signs through three quarters that it has a comeback in them. it was absolutely an outstanding effort for the guys in the fourth quarter and, as much as anyone else, i was hoping they would take it all the way and come out with the win. it didn't happen.

    the realist part of me steps back and looks at the big picture and sees the odds and liklihood of a comeback. the cheerleader remains excited about each play hoping to see something positive. the dreamer dares to dream that a massive comeback is possible.

    obviously, i am as knowledgeable and passionate about the blazers as anyone. i have never been nor ever will be accused of lacking in heart when it comes to this team. when it comes to me and how my mind ticks; i am extremely analytical, therefore, the realist in me tends to factor a bit more heavily at times.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 1/12/2012 7:28 AM
  6. @Mike: i would consider myself an optimist 99.9 percent of the time, period. i admire that you are class half full ... you know, being a Panthers fan and all! all joking aside (wait, did we both agree to that?), there are bigger issues i see with this team than one game. i think you and i, by nature think of the big picture from a skeptical point of view. i don't see a problem with that. in fact, it's at least occassionally required of us.

    there were no actual frowns last night; just frustration and confusion more than anything else. on paper and even 10 games into the season, this team sould not be falling behind by 23 points in a game. i understand what you're saying though -- turn that frown upside down! of course, a glass half full only means you haven't finished your drink!

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 1/12/2012 10:53 AM
  7. Hey Miss Kassandra:
    I am a realistic, optimistic cheerleader. As I am much older and wiser then you, and not to step to hard on Ancientone toes LMAO. I have learned through time that a great come back and a great game does not always constitute a win. With about 5 minutes left and we had cut the lead to 10 giving ourselves a chance to win. I was happy as could be, My Blazers never gave up, the played with HEART when most teams would give up and they almost won against a team that was hotter then the fourth of July in Prineville.

    We did make mistakes, we did do some foolish things, I do feel that Nate should not of dbl teamed Howard. I believe the Magic passed the ball well keeping us scrambling because we were trying to keep pressure on the ball. I do believe Orlando had ample time to study our game films, learning our strength and weaknesses, and exposed our weakness and avoided our strength. With all that we still almost won.
    Maybe we didn't get in the WIN column, but to me we are still winners. As Sarah said in her Blog there is still such a thing as a moral victory and we got that Oh the glory of old age and wisdom.
    Straighten your act up Ancientone, LOL.

    by Hg on 1/12/2012 1:58 PM
  8. Kass, I learned the hard way that being a pessimistic fan can bite you in the you know where. Even tho they were down, I kept waiting for that comeback I was hoping for. Sadly, it was a case of too little too late, but they never gave up like I believed they would. To quote Yogi Berra, "It's not over 'til it's over."

    by blazerdarren77 on 1/12/2012 5:52 PM
  9. Hg: i like what Ancientone said. It's great to be a fan of a team such as we are, but sometimes you just plain have to tell it like it is. i don't think i've ever indicated that there are no such things as moral victories. true, you have to learn from them. it's kind of the don't-make-the-same-mistake-twice thing. as i stated, the comeback was outstanding. while that's a moral victory we can appreciate, we need to learn how to not to dig ourselves a hole.

    i would like it noted though, again, that i have never denied the validity of a moral victory. as a matter of fact, i NEVER even brought up the term, moral victory.

    to be honest, i think a lot of my statements here are being misconstrued or misinterpreted. i've actually not disagreed with the principle of any of the points made in the comments. the problem is, most of them don't really apply to the blog as it was written. it's like me bringing you a basket of apples and you thanking me for the oranges. i'm really not sure where the confusion is, but it certainly seems to be there.

    for the record, i AM an optimist at heart, i DO believe a person can display multiple sides simultaneously, i DO believe in moral victories, i DO believe the team played with heart last night.

    i really don't know how much more plan i can make that and, if anyone tries to tell you otherwise, they are mistaken.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 1/12/2012 6:47 PM

  10. @Darren: i agree about the pessimism principle you mention. as i said, however, 99.9 percent of the time, i am the optimist. in my comment to Hg i mention how my words have been misinterpreted. i guess despite the fact i repeated it in the blog and my initial comment numerous times, i just wasn't clear that i was hopeful for the comeback. again, i think much of what i have said have been misconstrued.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 1/12/2012 6:48 PM
  11. Miss Kassandra: I wasn't so confused with you blog anyway, I didn't think I was, I was just answering you question Are you a dreamer? Are you a cheerleader?

    Are you another realist?
    I am most definitely a dreamer, Always a cheerleader I am not sure about being a realist. I can see the mistakes, I can see where we need to improve, but I am not a BB guru, So I don't know all the time when we are playing good or bad or if the other team is just on a higher level.

    But most of all I was giving Ancientone a bad time in a joking way. I always thing that we have heart, but not always energy. But then I look at the Phoenix game and I am not sure they had heart, intestinal fortitude or any business being on the court.

    I think that I am the one that confused you, I was trying to express what I felt about the game, and was in no way debating you. I am smarter then that, I don't think I could win a debate with you. I was being somewhat of a antagonist, but meant it in a teasing way. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

    by Hg on 1/12/2012 8:57 PM
  12. Hg: the whole point of the entire blog is to show that you can be all at the same time or any combinaiton of that. perhaps not you, but it seems others didn't see that.

    now, in my last comment to you specifically, there contained some gernal qualifications not specifically intended to go your way. sorry about that; definitely not the intention. you know me and if i didn't love and care about this team, i wouldn't be here.

    that's win or lose, though i can be -- and should be -- critical of losses. we should examine what did and didn't work, then attempt to fix it for the next game. that's what every coach does. it doesn't mean your less of a fan; it merely means you want to see improvement both within a game (i.e. halftime adjustments) or from game to game.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 1/13/2012 7:57 AM
  13. @Kassandra:

    OK, BTW, I love your blog, and I knew what you meant, I love the part of learning from your mistakes, correcting them and moving on. I am critical of many of the teams faults. I am very critical of JC hogging the ball and taking Batum out of his game, but of course I am bias toward Batum. Even when JC shots are going in there are times when he should be giving the ball up to better shots. Oops getting off the subject again.

    I was being a Brat on my first post, but then that is just me being me. I took no offense to your rebuttal, in fact as always I enjoyed it.

    On being critical of losses, I agree entirely, but as said, I am not a BB Guru, so I can't tell what we were doing wrong and what the other team is doing well. All losses can't be fixed. I was just happy that we kept our head's in the game and gave ourselves a chance to win. For instance, I thought dbling and sagging to the middle was a mistake when we should have been staying out on the perimeter, but Nate seen it completely different. Not that Nate don't make mistakes, but I am surely not in a position to be critical.

    All in all, I have no problems with your wisdom at all, I eat it up, but sometimes I have to explain my explanations LOL.

    Keep blogging babe I love it

    by Hg on 1/13/2012 8:28 AM
  14. Miss Kassandra:
    Wasn't LAL, guilty of playing passive at the first of the season last year then pouring it on at the end of the season? Do you think that is what they are doing this year? Or do you think they are just slipping? Last year that strategy back fired because they lost their ability to dig in when the going gets tough in the trenches and just gave up.

    It seems to me that the Blazers chooses not to show up or they think they are as good as the Lakers and can put on a show in the fourth and walk away with a win, but that leads me to my next question. Remember last year when we were guilty of playing great for 3 quarters and lost it all in the fourth. Now it is the opposite. Do you feel this is the results of trying to correct last years melt down in the fourth? I would love for all our games to be like the OKC game and the LAL game, play aggressive for four quarters win or lose. But Batum says that is impossible to be up for every game and I couldn't argue with him.

    by Hg on 1/13/2012 8:40 AM
  15. Hg: i feel fortunate that you and i never have had an issue with understanding where the other is coming from. i am thinkful for that.

    as for the question(s) in your second response, i remember when some said LaMarcus came out a little slowly at the beginning of last season. i'm not so sure that was the case. it seemed more like we used him as a decoy in a couple of the first games. his statline leveled off, then after Brandon went down, he took the next step.

    i think we had an issue last year with closing out games, and you're right, this year we seem to play our best ball in the fourth quarter. it wouldn't surprise me if last year's fourth-quarter letdowns have been addressed. Did Nate and his coaching staff overcompenstate? i'm not sure. i suppose it's possible, but i'm not quite ready to go there yet. i don't think it has to be either/or. as you know, i'd just like to see us play 48 minutes (note: in the won over the clippers, even Nate said we only played about 40 minutes).

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 1/13/2012 11:27 AM
  16. @Kassandra: you misread my first question it was LALakers sluffing off not LAldridge. I only asked because everybody is thinking they are washed up, and I remember last year they were saying the same thing then they kicked it up at the end of the year.

    I have never questioned LMA game, he is an Ace to me.The rest you pretty well answered, and I thank you a million.

    by Hg on 1/13/2012 4:04 PM
  17. i don't really know if the lakers were sluffing off last season. they could have been. i'd say it didn't help them too much in the second round!

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 1/14/2012 9:57 PM
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