Blazers 83, Magic 92 Re-Thoughts

Felt like the Blazers were playing backwards the entire night. They started the game out somewhere around St. James place, moving the ball and getting each other good looks while limiting the same from Orlando, but by the fourth quarter they were creeping up on Baltic Avenue. At the six-minutes mark of the fourth, they missed four consecutive jumpers and landed smack on Boardwalk, on which the Magic had planted a swanky 5,400 room beach-side hotel. 11-0 run. Game over.

OK, so I’m oversimplifying with a slight-lame Monopoly metaphor, but it was a flat game that doesn’t deserve much in the way of poetic prose. The same old offensive problems cropped up, but those aren’t going to dramatically change. When the Blazers shoot 3-of-18 from beyond the arc, they are going to lose. When LaMarcus Alridge and Martell Webster combine to shoot 2-of-17, they are probably going to lose. And unless they are playing someone remarkably cruddy, shooting 29-of-78 (37 percent) is a quick ticket on to a sinking submarine.

For Orlando’s part, things felt like they did earlier in the season when a healthy Blazers team was letting squads like Minnesota hang around until they remember they were a vastly more talented team. The Magic were much more talented tonight, which let them get away with 42 percent shooting. You could see it in Orlando’s demeanor that a beaten-up Portland was little more than a nuisance, one that was carried by Brandon Roy for long stretches but not one to be taken all too seriously. That’s the type of demeanor Portland will have to take advantage of this season — like two or three years ago — but still, they aren’t going to do that on the road if they can’t shoot.

Not much more need be said about this one. Two starters didn’t show up. The offense showed a total lack of ball movement and only had seven assists on oh-crap-it-doesn’t-even-matter-but 29 makes. Shots off the few drives into the paints didn’t fall, and Portland wasn’t able to excuse their so-called shooting with energy and hustle — not that there was an excess of either of those two things — because Dwight Howard gobbled up every miss in sight. Hopefully the law of averages comes into play tomorrow.

Or maybe the Blazers are just upset that they go to the east coast and get left out of all the Blizzard 2009 hoopla. Really quite the show, that…

Twitter Thoughts:

@travismargoni: If LaMarcus or Martell show up for just a few minutes in this game, #Blazers win. And one of them is paid to step up big.

@nickclark360: hard to win when you can’t make any shots. they need to get out and run

@theblazerguy: 4-guard lineup? BRoy at power forward? I kept looking for Don Nelson on the side line.

@hurrakane212: If LMA is injured, we’re screwed. If he isn’t injured, well… that isn’t good either.

@AngieLovesPDX
: My thoughts are that we’re just getting lazy. I’m sick of losing games in the 4th quarter.

Individual Thoughts:

Asking Brandon Roy to single handedly outscore the Orlando Magic in the second half is too much. That’s too much to ask of anyone, really. Even with all the focus on him, Roy still managed to score on some gorgeous moves in the paint, not limiting himself to the mid-range game. It worked well for him, and if anyone else could have provided aid he might have shocked the system. Alas, too many guys sucked.

One of those being LaMarcus Aldridge. If he was hurt, he probably shouldn’t have been on the floor, since I can’t remember a more invisible 30 minutes out of him this year, or maybe even last. Yes, he had some tough defensive responsibilities, but when he isn’t even trying — putting up six shot attempts — to even the playing field with offense of his own, the Blazers have already fallen halfway down the well.

In that scenario, Jerryd Bayless looked like he really wanted to be Lassie. He wasn’t quite as bad as 3-of-11 appears, since a number of those rimmed out and another handful were tough looks around Howard in the paint. Can’t fault him for trying to make things happen, but you also can’t say he was very successful either.

You know who did look as bad as they shot? Martell Webster. It’s impossible to know what is going on inside his head right now, but were I to fathom a guess I’d imagine it looks like one of those upside-down staircase mazes from Labyrinth populated only by David Bowie clones in.

What else do you want from Joel Przybilla other than 10 rebounds and keeping Dwight Howard from getting up double-digit shot attempts or free throws?

Andre Miller was the only one besides Roy who had anything going on offense, but most of his passes — the hockey assists — were wasted because whoever caught the ball held it for far too long. He played 33 minutes, further showing that Nate McMillan is just going to play whoever can score among the three point guards.

On paper, Blake shot fine — 3-of-5 — but I didn’t take one single note about him nor can I remember him doing much of anything. Take that for what you will.

Juwan Howard and Dante Cunningham continued to act as young-old mirrors of one another. That’s not exactly a good thing when there aren’t any other big men to play.

Topics: Brandon Roy, Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Orlando Magic, Portland Trailblazers

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  • http://www.couriernewculture.blogspot.com Travis

    LA, Martell, Blake (of course): awful, just awful.

    I think equally as troubling, though, was the fouls Howard got away with in this game. He totally wiped out Bayless on one play; just because you block a shot does not mean you have the right to crash through a player. Honestly, I haven’t put together a string of swears like I did when I saw that in a long time. Roy got hit a bunch of times, no calls. Joel got away with one or two, but that doesn’t even things out. Lesson learned: in Orlando (or anywhere, maybe), Howard is the king sh!t and will not be fouling out very often. Van Gundy was sweating all over the refs every time he had a chance, Lewis and Vince didn’t stop talking to them. Just disgraceful.

    All that aside, yeah, Blazers still should have/could have won this one.

  • SJ

    I think the frustrating part about this L, and thinking back to the last two road L’s (CLE, MIL) they have all been winnable games. There’s just been one stretch that ends up murdering the Blazers in the end. The little things are meaning so much more with this depleted team and Portland has to put together a near perfect game for 48 minutes. That’s tough even without the depth problems.

    And LaMarcus…well before the season I said we were going to go as far as he took us.

  • http://www.couriernewculture.blogspot.com Travis

    I agree, and LA’s importance is sometimes overlooked. Roy’s going to do what he does. There’ll be support most nights coming from someone — now Bayless or Andre, soon Rudy, later maybe Outlaw again. But we need LA to be consistent.

    People talk about Roy needing to improve off the ball on offense, and I agree with that, but LA does, too. He grabs his share of O boards, no doubt, but I’d like to see him get even more active without the ball. (We can say this about 80% of NBA players, but this group really can play team ball.)

    Some of these things will come with experience. I often need to remind myself that even Roy and LA are young players, and that they’re still growing.

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