Blazers 102, Pacers 91 Re-Thoughts

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.

Twitter Thoughts:

@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.

Individual Thoughts:

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.

Tags: Blazers Brandon Roy Danny Granger Pacers Recap

  • Travis

    Appreciate the extended Bayless thoughts.

    I’ve been willing to give the staff a break on this for long enough, and you guys are probably getting tired of hearing me rant about Blake’s defense. So I’ll rant about Blake’s offense for a bit now. :) Remember that skip pass Bayless made to Andre, where Andre made a three (!)? Remember when Bayless beat his man baseline, found himself under the rim, then hit Aldridge for a jumper at the free throw line? Those are passing lanes that Steve Blake can’t find. This is why he’s able to have 6 assists and 1 turnover. That doesn’t equate to production, not real production. That’s playing carefully within a system because he knows he’s under the gun with two good PGs behind him, and because he’s never been a great passer.

    This is all getting ridiculous and I’ve really had it with this coaching staff. But you know, Bayless played 12 minutes in the first half, then 2 in the second. 2 minutes, as Luther Head and some nobody second-round rookie whose name I didn’t bother to remember were blowing by Blake far too easily.

    What, did Nate call Dean at half and remind him not to play Bayless too much, no matter how obvious it seems that he should be in the game?

    I really hope this team doesn’t mishandle Bayless. He shouldn’t be traded, and shouldn’t ride the pine much longer.

    I know, I know, I’m overreacting. Just a little.

  • Coup

    I’m actually starting to wonder if the pressure you mentioned is getting to Blake a little bit. Seemed like he opened up at the beginning of the season when he got the starting spot, but that’s been gone for awhile now.

  • Travis

    I’m sure it is, to some extent anyway. Imagine having Bayless behind you. (And you secretly know what a lot of fans don’t — that Bayless can actually shoot the three a little bit.)

    Wanted to get this up on the blog, too: Bayless still hasn’t turned the ball over more than 1 time in a game all season. I hope he does, though, because that’ll mean he’s probably playing twice as many minutes as he did tonight.

  • Sam Chan

    Trav and I are probably some of the biggest bayless supporters out there, and he pretty much said anything I wanted to say. I missed the game tonight, but I probably would have been more frustrated in anything.

    To me, Blake’s strengths are that he doesnt’ need the ball to play well, and that he can shoot the heck out of the 3.

    However, his weakness (defense) absolutely kills his strengths so much that even when he hits a clutch three, i’m still screaming for his head cause he directly (or indirectly) caused the last 10 buckets for the opposing team. Even my non-watching basketball friends can see how he gets beat by anybody he’s guarding.

    Andre miller is almost the anti-blake. He penetrates extremely well, passes well, is extremely intelligent and isn’t a complete sloutch on defense.

    However, he can’t shoot worth bananas and he really needs the ball to play well. Even though its hard to categorize a man who makes his living by throwing up a HELL lot of dimes, i notice that he has to have the ball in his hands a LOT. Because there’s only one ball, that means its out of Roy’s hands, meaning that for the defense, they only need to guard roy OR miller tightly per possession.

    The reason behind the little mancrush for Bayless is that I see he has a decent blend of both. His slashing ability has already been seen, and I know he can stroke the ball; we’ve seen it in summer league and college. In the small minutes he gets (pre injury), it almost seems like he is not involved in the offense, and his main job is to swing the ball, similar to what steve blake does. IMHO, that’s not his game. Ideally, he should be putting pressure on the defense like miller at times, while keeping defenses honest not dissimilar to blake when Roy has the ball.

    Bayless also has an intensity to him that we don’t see in all ball players, and while he is far from a great or even good defender, i think he has the highest potential on defense of the 3 guards.

    My friend argued that he’ll more likely be the next telfair or dajuan wagner. I disagree because unless the previous 2, Bayless hasn’t had any serious injuries (knock on wood) and he works harder than both those guys. We rarely see guys that work hard AND are talented fail.

    Well that was long as heck, but I think i got it all out.

    PS – bayless kicks some serious ass in 2k basketball :)

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