You remember that old game Oregon Trail? Well if this had been that game instead of an NBA game we would have had to take time out to bury and have a funeral for Lance Stephenson & Ian Mahinmi because they would have died for certain.
We get anything close to normal production from Lance and we win this game. We get any form of made basket (other than free throws) from George Hill and we win this thing.
Ultimately it just came down to we got and are going to continue to get the best that Portland (& every NBA team) can give us and this was just one of those nights that our defense just wasnít good enough to overcome our at times severe lack of offensive production. It happens; you shake it off and move on.
The only thing that will bother me about this is that several of the pundits and talking heads will now act as though we are 11-7 instead of the 16-2 that we are. Other than that you lost to a very good team at home and you led most of the way and had even a small chance to come away with the win. So is anyone really going to complain about the loss?
Now saying that doesnít mean that we canít talk about issues, I mean what would be the point of even having a message board if you canít talk openly about the subject at hand right?
But before we do that I want to take the time to complain about LaMarcus Aldridgeís knees. The first one to me wasnít a big deal, I thought it was just an accident and Roy came over and got caught. But by the second one I was losing my patience with him leading with his knee. That is an old Allen Iverson trick and it was dirty then and itís dirty now. Itís no less of an offensive foul than wiping off with your off hand and beyond that it is meant to cause pain to make sure that they donít keep coming back at you. If the refs werenít going to clean that up then, well it may not be the grown up thing to do but by God itís time for someone to give old LaMarcus a nice forearm upside his head. But thatís just me.
As a club we have got to get back to where we are drawing fouls on the other team. It just seems to me like last year we were always getting more free throw shots than the other team and this year it seems like we donít always do that. I mean we took 12 less free throw attempts than they made. As a whole they shot 16 more shots than we did and you wonder why we lost the game? Some of it is that the refs have been a little more whistle happy with us lately; the conspiracy person inside me wants to believe that the league doesnít like our style of play. But the realist in me knows we play a very physical style of basketball so us being called for fouls is just part of the game. However our lack of drawing fouls is that we are very comfortable shooting jump shots. Now you canít complain about the success so far from this and Paul George has been unearthly good about hitting that face up mid range shot, but the downside is when we play really good teams I donít think we can spot them 16 extra points from the line.
We had a really great first half from our bench but then for whatever reason other than a couple of points from Watson they just disappeared in the second half. I donít think Scola scored a point after the half time.
Look we lost and I want to give credit to the Blazers I really do but I just feel that certain aspects of our own play caused us to lose this game. I know I really should give them more credit than I do but I really just donít think they are going to be able to sustain this for any length of time as I am not sold on the entirety of that roster. But again itís probably just me. I think both Lillard & Aldridge are superb and I have always liked Robyn better than Brook and Matthews & Batum are decent but the rest of that team is suspect. However they won fair and square so we have to make absolutely certain that when they visit us that there is no doubt who is who.
Also while I have absolute faith in Frank I still sometimes wonder why he lets runs go for so long before he calls timeouts. Rick Carlisle called to many but Frank sometimes letís them go to long. I know he likes to let players play through it but damn is it rough to watch sometimes.
Letís hit the grades.
Paul George: A Well this is going to make several people mad but I just consider games like this fools gold to a certain extent. Obviously he is capable of doing this on occasion so in that respect itís not an illusion but IMO Lillard did far more damage to us by getting to the line 10 times and hitting all 10 shots than what Paulís three point barrage did to them at the end. Obviously if we win then Iím singing a different tune, well anyone who knows me knows I hate the three point shot so I would only begrudgingly support its impact on the game. But the rest of Paulís game was pretty decent. He got to the rim a couple of times tonight and he played his normal stellar defense. Iím just saying that while I appreciate the end of the game salvoís I never count on that type of thing happening.
David West: B+ Solid game but obviously had issues with Aldridge. No shame in that as he is probably the best 4 in the NBA right now. He physically was gassed in the 3rd and just could not get his shot to drop or rotate on defense. He still slapped away a lot of balls and rebounded fairly well. Wish he could have gotten something going to the rim or at the very least draw some form of foul as Aldridge had zero fouls in the game (which upon reflection is a real big issue). Still played smart and passed very well.
Roy Hibbert: B+ Just an incredibly frustrating offensive player to watch at times. Hits shots he has no business making but then misses bunny after bunny after bunny at the rim. His field goal % was good but of his missed shots several of them were of the point blank variety that he should have hit. On the other hand he rebounded like a king in the 4th and hit a couple of shots of the ďare you kidding meĒ variety. Also as I was kind of afraid of, he has dropped out of first in the NBA in blocked shots. Weíll see how that impacts him at both the all-star game and the end of the season voting.
Lance Stephenson: F To put this bluntly had Lance called in with actual dysentery he would have done the team a favor. Not only did he produce nothing but in fact he actually was a detriment to our teamís success tonight. Now fear not Lance believers Iím not bashing him at all, well I am for this game, because we all know that our Lance will bounce back. He wonít let this stand and he will get his act together. Iím hoping that he lights the Jazz up. But for this game he was just atrocious.
George Hill: C Our guards really didnít have the best of nights. He certainly was better than Lance in the fact that he actually did dish out 11 dimes and did draw some fouls and did hit his free throws for the most part. But other than that he could not hit the ocean from a boat. Look Lillard is going to get his there is just not much youíre going to do about it. But you have to make him work as well. Sadly because of not being able to hit Lillard was able to expend most of his energy on the offensive end of the floor. Again no big deal, heíll be ready for the next game.
C.J. Watson: C+ Iím giving him the plus for not just hanging out at the three point line and chucking up three point shots. He actually drove and penetrated tonight getting to the line as many times as Paul George did and hit all of his free throw attempts. He played reasonable defense but he did a poor job tonight of running any form of offense. However he spent a lot of the time tonight as the off guard so itís hard to be really harsh on him.
Luis Scola: C This was a tale of two halves. The first half version of me built a golden idol to Luis and was dancing and singing and praising around it. The second half version of me came down from the mountain top and smashed the tablets on the ground burned down the golden idol with fire and ground it to powder. In other words Luis was great up until we hit halftime and then I once again was on the minute count for when West could get back in.
Ian Mahinmi: F If Lance Stephenson had dysentery then Ian Mahinmi game was the end result of Lanceís dysentery (if you donít get this go look up the symptoms of dysentery and youíll see what Iím saying Ianís game was like). Anytime that Luis struggles on offense it just exacerbates Ianís inadequate offense and then our bench struggles (this is an understatement of epic proportions).
Orlando Johnson: C Hard to fault the guy to much as he gets very inconsistent minutes on a game by game basis but I just never ever like it when someone shoots every field goal from behind the 3 point arc. I know that is the way the offense works but still I wish he could develop a mid range game or attack the rim. Honestly heís not bad when he attacks the rim.
Solomon Hill: No grade, developmental minutes.
At the end of the day losing only hurts if we lose to the Jazz, this could be a trap game so we have to be careful not to overlook them.
Hey 16-2 is still one hell of a record and honestly even though we had a couple of players not show up and they were playing out of their minds good we still had a chance so there wonít be any head hanging here.
To ease you into a good Tuesday letís enjoy the smooth sounds of one Billy Joel.