Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Thoughts on Houston 98, Portland 94

Portland traveled to Houston to battle it out for fourth seed in the Western Conference. Portland got off to a good start in the first six minutes, but then imploded until the third quarter when it made a run to keep the game close. Portland had a chance to win it in the fourth quarter, but ran out of gas.

Portland imploded for the usual reasons: poor perimeter defense, poor shooting, poor free throw "defense" and an inability to keep Houston off the offensive glass. Portland had no answer for the quickness of Aaron Brooks and couldn't match the toughness of Luis Scola. No Greg Oden meant a thin front court so Channing Frye was called upon to back up Przybilla to predictable results. Portland doesn't have anyone as tall as Yao, but he wasn't able to get it going until the third quarter.

The first quarter also featured some of the most egregious flopping (by Portland) that I've ever seen. It even rivaled the Maggette flopping and he is notorious. I agree with Matt Bullard, the Rockets' color analyst, in that the NBA needs to crack down on flopping.

Individual notes:
  • Brandon Roy had his usual solid game with 24 points, 5 boards and 5 assists. He complained to the refs quite a bit and hasn't learned that they tune him out pretty quickly.
  • Steve Blake shot poorly, but still ended up with 9 points, 7 boards and 5 assists. Steve was the recipient of a lot of tipped balls from Yao. Steve also was unable to stay in front of Brooks.
  • Joel Przybilla played 30 minutes of fairly solid defense and grabbed 8 boards, but wasn't able to keep Yao's hook shot from falling though in his defense, I don't think there is anyone in the league that can block that shot.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge scored 21 points and grabbed 8 boards, but took too many outside shots and failed to take it inside against the smaller defenders.
  • Nicolas Batum got more playing time with 27 minutes and 14 points. He only grabbed one rebound and his defense wasn't as good as usual.
  • Travis Outlaw shot 50% from the field and scored 15 points, but grabbed only 3 boards and played his usual matador defense. He needs to be more active overall and not settle for an outside shot every time down.
  • Rudy Fernandez missed all three 3-point shots he attempted and only scored 4 points. Portland could've used a good game from him.
  • Channing Frye played nearly 9.5 minutes and did jack-diddly. Well, he did pick up 3 fouls. I hope Oden comes back soon so that Frye goes back to the end of the bench. He's too thin to play center and isn't a great power forward either since there is no "power" to his game.
  • Jerryd Bayless, Sergio Rodriguez and Shavlik Randolph each got 4-5 minutes of burn, but none did anything of note.
Not a great start to the road trip and it seems like Portland thought it would have another easy game like against the Clippers.

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