Blazers 87, Clippers 72 Re-Thoughts

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If this game could be put into a real-life scenario, it would have to say its instantly forgettable one-night stand. Stick with me people. You have to have seen the scene before. It’s just about closing time at a club or a bar and you see all sorts of guys on the prowl. You can easily tell by the way they are walking and surveying the scene that they have one thingon their mind. They are focused, in a controlled frenzy looking to put in a last-ditch effort to get someone to come home with them. At that point you can throw everything else out the window. There’s no buying drinks, no flirtations, there’s only one thing on their minds.  And in the morning, even if it wasn’t pretty at all…they got what they wanted. Hows that fit in with this game? The only thing that mattered tonight was Portland going into the Staples Center and picking up a W. They did. It wasn’t pretty, but they got what they were looking for. Just like a sleazy bar skeeze.

If you want to look past the winning aspect, be impressed by the poise of this team. This was a gutsy win in the fact that Portland found a way to get it done without having their best stuff. You have to credit not only the squad but the coaching staff as well for their ability to reach this team. Wins like tonight are what the top-level teams do to the bottom-level teams. It’s what the playoff teams do. How many times in the past few years has this type of thing happened to the Blazers? Exactly.

In the pre-thoughts, I mentioned that this game had all of the makings of a trap game. The second end of a back-to-back against an inferior opponent after a highly emotional win. There was going to be a natural letdown and boy oh boy it did not take long to make its presence felt. I mean seriously, it showed up faster than Lindsay Lohan to go “skiing” in the women’s restroom. Zing. You could tell right from the jump that the Blazers did not have their best stuff. A 1-for-9 start from the field…which ended up being a 6-for-19 performance..which led to 17 points in 12 minutes against the Clippers? Yikes. Immediately it was the type of game that the Blazers were going to have to grind out. Patience was necessary as the Clippers were not going to be able to keep it together for 48 minutes.

That first big run took place in the second quarter when the Blazers seemingly got their things together. With 6:50 in the 2nd quarter, Portland took a timeout with the game tied at 25. The Blazers responded by outscoring the Clippers 21-6 to finish the quarter. The whole team got involved in the run. 6 from Brandon Roy, 6 from LaMarcus, 5 from Rudy and  4 from Big Joel. The defense picked up forcing 5 turnovers (including a shot-clock violation), two Alex Acker jumpshots (which to me are the equivalent of turnovers) and LaMarcus Aldridge telling Marcus Camby “You really need to retire” in the form of a blocked shot. The halftime lead was 15 and it seemed like night-night for the Clippers. If I wasn’t blogging away, that’s the type of run that would lead me to change the channel or actually go do something with my life. That sounded way less self-depricating in my head.

Unfortunately that energy shown in the last 7 minutes of the first half could not be sustained. Portland again came out flat. The Clippers busted off an 11-3 run within the first 4 minutes of the quarter to cut the lead to 49-42. It started with LaMarcus turing the ball over 15 seconds into the first possession of the half and went downhill from there. Honestly…is there a worst sign than opening up a game or a half with a turnover? High school, collge, pro, video game or real…it neve leads to good things. Tonight was no different. Four turnovers and a ton of jump-shots as besides one LaMarcus shot inside, every shot taken during that span was from 20+ feet. The Blazers were ignoring Jennifer Nettles and settling for the outside shot (+5 for another Sugarland reference). Truth be told, that was the story of the third quarter: too much jumpshooting. 11 out of the 14 field goal attempts were jumpers from 20+ feet. Can’t do that against any team as that’s just leaving the back door open and asking for trouble.

And sure enough the Clippers tried their best to burst right through it. Led by….OMG….IS THAT BRIAN SKINNER’S MUSIC?!?!?! BUSINESS IS ABOUT TO PICK UP!! Skinner, apparently still raw about that whole ‘trading him back to Milwaukee and making him sit on a plane with Ha-Jeung Sin’ thing, decided to go to work. And I could not believe it. I mean seriously…this is the same guy….that did this…

 

Yes. That same Brian Skinner who missed an open dunk, grew the most disgusting facial hair this side of Drew Gooden and has been actively stealing money from the NBA for years, was a game-changer. He sparked a 10-3 run with 4 points and two pretty vicious rejections of Greg Oden and Travis Outlaw. He botched a dunk but rejected them? Unreal. I wonder if he’s a fan of Double-Stuf Oreo’s (buh-dum-CHING!). Thanks to Skinner’s injection of energy, the Clippers were up 68-66 with a little under 8 left in the game and… SKINNERMANIA WAS RUNNIN’ WILD BROTHERS.

What did Portland do? They cooly responded. This is the part where you can be impressed by tonight’s win people. Be impressed by the fact that Portland dug down deep and said “You know what…enough is enough.” It was kind of like one of those fights where the guy whose supposed to be kicking tail isn’t taking it seriously until the other guy draws blood. And the crowd watching is like ‘ohhhhh snap’ as dude looks at the blood and then at the guy. That happens in real life right that’s not just a movie thing? Anyways…the red & black attack put the feet on the gas and left the Clippers way back in Lottery-ville with some extra change to buy a Slurpee. Portland outscored the Clippers 19-2 the rest of the game. To quote Fabolous “Da-da-da-da….dadadadadaDAMN.” Rudy had 8 points in that stretch including the dagger three to put Portland up 10 with 3:35 left in the game. You have to love the dagger three, the other team calling time out and the run back to the huddle. Just have to.

Tonight was ugly. No one really had their A-game at all tonight, from the top to the bottom nearly everyone struggled offensively. The whole team shot horrible from behind the arc (4-for-16, 25%) and it even leaked to the free throw line (19-for-27). Brandon Roy had one of his rare off nights. As easy as everything looked last night, everything tonight seemed like a battle. LaMarcus Aldridge had a 21 point performance but put up 17 shots. Although I will give him props for the 9 rebounds and like the fact that he is attacking the boards more. Speaking of attacking the boards…Joel Pryzbilla continued to show why he is probably the MIP behind Roy with 10 points and 14 rebounds.  Rudy Fernandez continued his strong play, making some big shots for the second consecutive night. Everyone else was either ‘meh’ or ‘OMG I DONT WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT’. And that last part was about Travis. 3-for-14 on 6 points? Yipes.

As stated earlier, win is a win is a win. That’s the only thing that mattered and the events of this game will be forgotten very shortly. Definitely a game where all you needed to know is that the Blazers won and everything would be ok. Even better is Utah dropping a home game to the depleted Golden State Warriors. I think that officially means that after living there all year, Dallas won’t be finishing 8th. I take great joy in this by the way. No coincidence ever since that beatdown in the RG that the Jazz have lost 7 of 8. Anyways, gloating aside…The Blazers are officially done on the road having wrapped up a 21-21 record away from the Rose Garden. An 8-win improvement over last year’s 13-28 road record and the best road record since…you guessed it…2002-03 when the Blazers went 23-18. Well done, gents.

Two games left and both are at home . Depending on the events that take place on Mega-Monday, the division title could be on the line against Denver. It would take the Kings pulling off the unthinkable so don’t cross your fingers. Either way…let’s go Blazers.

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Tags: Brandon Roy Brian Skinner Ha-jeung Sin Jennifer Nettles Joel Pryzbilla LaMarcus Aldridge Los Angeles Clippers Portland Trail Blazers Rudy Fernandez Sugarland Travis Outlaw

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