Nothing about this was particularly memorable. The Blazers have more guys on the pine than a gang of squirrels, but relative to overall team talent, the Pacers were missing just as much in Danny Granger. And somehow the Pacers were a threat for 45 minutes until Brandon Roy realized nobody could stop him and busted out his P-Wing to fly over the final level.
Indiana was a threat despite shooting 41 percent from the field, 3-for-17 on threes while fielding no true scorers. Rather, Portland one despite losing points in the paint, 40-28. Let me remind you that while Portland is the worst paint scoring team in the league at 34.1, Indiana is just three spots better at 36.5. And Indiana gives up the fifth-most points in the paint in the NBA.
But who are we kidding? The Blazers aren’t going to be an interior team for the rest of the season, that’s just the way it is. And without many of their good shooters, they are going to struggle against better defensive teams. But they will not make the playoffs allowing anything close to the 15 offensive rebounds they gave the Pacers — who I should mention have the third-worst offensive-rebounding percentage in the league.
Ugh, let’s move on.
@hurrakane212: did not look like a sustainable method of winning.
@theblazerguy: considering Bayless played 1/3 of Blake’s minutes and had same production, how bout more Bayless, less Blake?
@3QCMagic: More interested to see how they do against a better team. Cleveland/Milwaukee b2b this wkd a better test.
@azianred: Game we SHOULD win. Should have crushed the Nicks tho.
@AngieLovesPDX: Well to be fair we’re more undermanned than they are. I’m just happy we were able to pull out a win and have the old Roy back.
There were a ton more tweets about Bayless, but we’ll get to him later. @hurrakane212 said it best, that this does not look like a sustainable style of winning. Not with Andre Miller attempting five threes, or Martell Webster scoring five points in 30 minutes. For Portland to beat the quality teams, they will need other guys to step up. Used to be that you could depend on Outlaw or Rudy — if not consistently, once or twice a week — to provide some self-created perimeter offense. Now, you either have Aldridge on the block or Roy and Miller making something happen.
Which brings us back to Bayless, who PLAYED 14 MINUTES.
Look, it’s very possible Bayless just isn’t a good professional basketball player. He had an 8.2 PER last season, but in 151 minutes this year his PER is 18.9. He does have NBA skills, however, like getting to the rim, drawing fouls and pulling up, in rhythm, off the dribble (making those or not is another question). He’s also shown an ability this season to get along the baseline and find open shooters. You know what kind of team that might help? A team that depends on getting good perimeter looks.
With a month or two remaining with both Rudy and Batum out, there is no better time to find out what you have in Bayless. Sure, you might ruin whatever trade stock he has, but the risk of that versus the reward of him blowing up for a month are leagues apart. He also might have a worse assist-to-turnover ration than Steve Blake, but so does Andre Miller. But for two months of a season that desperately needs a bright spot, who cares? If Bayless bombs, he bombs. At least you gave him a chance. But if he plays 25 minutes per game and still has a PER near 19 by the All-Star break, your season just had its defining breakout. It sure doesn’t look like it’s going to be anyone else.
Until these guys give us more to talk about, I’m going short on these. We’ll lead of with Roy, though, who went all 2008 in the fourth quarter and controlled the tempo like the maestro we know. There is a huge load on his shoulders right now to create for himself and everyone else while dealing with double teams and it’s a challenge we shouldn’t underestimate. We may forget sometimes because he looks so polished in what he does, but Roy is still an evolving player, one that is still learning how to establish his team when he doesn’t have guys around him that he can just throw the ball to and let them work.
Aldridge played well and shot a high percentage (8-for-12) but needs to put a body on guys on the defensive boards…Martell Webster is bringing the hurt and not in a good way. He’s not only missing but he’s missing badly on very good looks…Joel Przybilla was stuck by himself under the basket a lot, and it’s unfair to ask him to box out more than one guy…As much as I appreciate having a vet like Juwan Howard, having him and Joel on the court together is just asking for trouble. That said, he’s always in good position and was a good target for Bayless…We’ve been hard on Blake lately, but he’s another guy who isn’t having the same season as the past two. The Blazers need things from him right now that he just can’t provide, which is unfair to him but also quite obvious…As Portland’s trove of athletes has diminished, Andre Miller has looked a little more like he is playing with handcuffs on…Not a great night for Dante, who was out of position a couple times in eight minutes of play.
Friday night the Blazers will visit Cleveland for an ESPN broadcast game, and I fear things might get a little ugly. If they play like they did tonight, Portland will not have a shot in the dark without Roy getting so hot that summer starts hating on him. Otherwise, I’m just seeing too many holes for them to fill in one day off.