Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thoughts on Portland 106, OKC 92

This season has shown several of Portland's flaws: poor perimeter defense especially on the pick and roll, poor free throw shooting and little movement on offense. It seemed like another typical Portland loss was brewing during the first quarter, but fortunately OKC is a young team and is playing the second of a back-to-back. Portland couldn't keep Russell Westbrook (!) off the offensive glass, but got it done in the third quarter and early fourth quarter to put away the Thunder. I think it was more a case of OKC running out of gas rather than anything Portland did, but a win is a win. This game definitely could have used Steve Blake.

OKC has a solid nucleus of Durant, Green, Weaver and Westbrook and should be a pretty decent team next season. They certainly aren't as bad as their record suggests.

Individual notes:
  • Brandon Roy played his usual solid game and got 22 points, 6 boards and 5 assists. More importantly, he didn't really whine much to the officials. He still looks for his own shot too much, but it worked out well tonight.
  • Sergio Rodriguez played only 20 minutes and had a pretty poor game. He dribbles purposelessly and passes the ball to the wrong teammate. He had his usual matador defense (ole!) and couldn't keep Westbrook in front of him. He seems to be the odd main out when Blake returns.
  • Greg Oden only played 24.5 minutes, but scored 16 points on 8 of 10 shooting, grabbed 10 boards and blocked 3 shots. He also altered many more shots and tipped balls to his teammates. He got into foul trouble, but fought through it and seemed to have more fun out there. He's making great progress this season and will only get better. Don't forget that this season is only his second of high level basketball since he just played one year in college and his first year was wiped out by injury.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge shot too many jumpers, but ended up with 11 points and 10 boards. He's becoming one of my least favorite Blazers since I think he could be playing a lot better. He's fast and tall so he should be looking to drive to the hoop more rather than settling for outside shots.
  • Nicolas Batum played just 12 minutes and never really found a rhythm. He did play credible defense on Durant.
  • Travis Outlaw shot well and scored 21 points and dished out 4 assists. Unfortunately, he only collared 2 boards which is a crying shame for someone with his athleticism. For some reason he only goes to the hoop to dunk. He doesn't really have a nice touch around the basket and plays indifferent defense.
  • Jerryd Bayless had a great game with 12 points and a career high 8 assists. There are concerns that he can't run the point, but he was able to tonight. I'm not sure if that's because he was going up against another rookie, Westbrook, and some weak sauce called Watson, but he got it done. He still drives into too much traffic, but he's learning to look for his teammates rather than throw up a crazy shot.
  • Rudy Fernandez shot poorly, but scored 13 points and was more active on offense and helped run the show in the third quarter. He got fouled quite a bit, but none was called. He's an international rookie so he's not going to get a lot of love from the refs, but some of the fouls were pretty obvious.
  • Joel Przybilla played his usual solid defense and hit all his shots for 6 points and 13 boards in only 24 minutes. He also had 2 steals. He played without his left wrist wrap, but apparently there are still broken bones in that hand. He's a great rebounder and boxes out well. Hopefully Oden can learn from him.
Portland has a game tomorrow night against Golden State. I had planned to try to get tickets back in December, but the craptastic economy through a huge monkey wrench into those plans.

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