“That team comes in here and jumps on us like that? No energy. I thought for most of the game there was no energy and really no excuse for no energy,” McMillan said. “I don’t know if we thought this was going to be easy or what. It just shows that if we don’t come to play, anybody can beat us.”
That quote says a lot to me and it should say a lot to you as well. Let’s get this out of the way: the Blazers deserved to lose this game. There is no other way to put it. I’m not trying to hear anything about rotations or coaching, the effort Portland put out there was a losing effort. End of story. The Blazers came out flat and ended up getting flat out pummeled. And there is no excuse for it, not one excuse or fact that makes this loss make any sense. The Blazers showed no pride in the first half. Don’t agree? Well explain how the Grizzlies came in and went on an unbelievable, usually-only-seen-in-video-games, 31-2 run. An embarrassing and game-killing stretch from the 5:43 mark in the 1st quarter to about the 6:41 mark in the second quarter. Let’s take a closer look at that run though. It started coming out of a Portland timeout with the Blazers up 15-11.Then this happened.
Steve Blake turnover, Roy misses a three, Steve Blake turnover, Roy turnover, Roy missed jumper, Rudy missed three, Roy gets jumper blocked, Andre Miller turnover…then the Grizzlies go on a block party and the Blazers keep missing jumpers. By the time Andre Miller gets a layup the Blazers are down 42-17. To Memphis.
In the mean time while Portland’s missing jumper after jumper, the Grizzlies are getting layups and free throws. And that’s on top of not having any energy defensively, shooting poorly, turning the ball over, etc. You can see how this all adds up to a loss right? What is the one thing that Memphis can do? Score…the…ball. What are they not good at? Team….defense. So why are we letting them score left and right while jacking up jumper after jumper? Playing right into their hands.
Over the course of the season you learn things about a team’s character and their identity. Last night’s performance showed that the Blazers may not have one right now. Let’s be honest…what are we? Boston hands their hat on defense. Houston hangs their hat on hard work and team play. Portland just seems like a sometimes team. Sometimes we play defense, sometimes we get out and run, sometimes we’re a monster in the half court. This team just feels different that last year’s in a weird way. The 08-09 Blazers would never get outscrapped, ourhustled and outworked by the Memphis Grizzlies. Last year you knew the Blazers were going to excel in the half court and you knew the effort would be there. It seems that too many times this year you can point to a Blazer loss and the same issues keep coming up, usually surrounding effort. To take that next step where everyone around this team wants to go, these are the types of games you can’t have. Essentially a blowout loss at home to Memphis? That’s unacceptable. It’s one thing for poorer teams to come in and win a hard fought victory. That happened last year. It’s another to basically give away a game at the Rose Garden.
All that being said….the sky is not falling. Tonight hopefully showed the Blazers that they cannot expect to show up and win. They have to come out every night and get the job done. They have to maintain that hunger that got them to where they were last year. Sometimes when young teams taste success they think they have arrived. There were some warning signs (GS, DET) leading up this explosion. Let’s hope the Blazers correct this before it continues on.