“We’re just going out and playing. We have nothing to lose” – Martell Webster
That quote says a lot about this Blazer team right now. As ridiculous as this season has been injury-wise, there is no denying that this team has found their heart. And that discovery has led to Portland winning 6 of their last 7 games. I would be lying to you if I said any of this made perfect sense. It doesn’t. Last night’s game didn’t make much sense. Portland dresses 8 players, two of which play a combined 9 minutes. Golden State drops 41 points in the first quarter shooting 95 percent (ok it was more like 70) but Portland then holds them to 48 for the rest of the game. Martell Webster and Dante Cunningham spend extended minutes at the 4 and 5…and it works. Last night’s win was a beautiful head scratcher. Out of all the confusion, I can say this: the W came because of heart, defense and Brandon Roy.
The tale of the first two quarters was unreal. It truly was the story of the game as the Warriors slipped and fell DMX style in the second quarter and well couldn’t get up the rest of the game. I don’t think I have seen too many teams go from so hot to so cold in that short of a span. The Warriors went from shooting 15-for-22 in the first quarter to 6-for-18. Yikes, indeed. Portland had a lot to do with that as they picked up the intensity but also threw different looks at the Warriors. Also, credit Portland for containing Golden State’s fast break game. Half of that came from not turning the ball over but overall the transition D was there. Some may find the zone/man combo a bit gimmicky but there is nothing wrong with gimmick defenses. When you’re undertalented or undermanned sometimes you have to get a little more gimmicky on D than you would like. The most important part is that you make it work. For example, look at the college game. Under talented teams thrive on gimmick d’s, the Pac-10 alone has Oregon State throwing every zone in the book at you and Arizona State playing 3-2 all the time. I like that Portland is finding a way to make it work, its nice to have it in the back pocket.
Before I say anything else, just an unbelievably efficient performance by Brandon Roy. 37 points, 12-16 from the field, 12-14 from the charity stripe. That is one hell of a line and he deserves all the praise he is about to get. Golden State had no answer for him. Not only that but he came through with 13 points in the final 12 minutes. As the season progresses, more and more we’re seeing the Brandon Roy we know and love. As long as Roy can continue to find ways to be efficient, the Blazers have a chance to do good things. Efficient remains the key word. Basically he can’t get 30 the Monta Eliis way (25 shots while shooting as many free throws as CJ Watson and Anthony Morrow combined).
Also, Martell Webster’s 21 points, 11 rebounds cannot be dismissed. My favorite performance of his in a long, long, long time to be honest. I was surprised when he was in at the 4 and surprised at how well it worked. Actually why am I lying, I was surprised Martell remembered how to rebound and make three’s. And yes that was a dig at you Coup. In all seriousness, I’m not trying to take away from a great night from Martell, just that I remember after the game I couldn’t fight the feeling to say ‘ok…do it again’. Kind of like the idiot roommate who brags about bringing a stripper home.
Other individual thoughts…I was more happy with Andre Miller’s 10 FTA’s than anything else. Pendergraph kinda got that ‘Senior Night’ start, you know in college how seniors start their last home game but some of them only end up playing 5 minutes. That’s what it felt like. I could have sworn he was hurt. Bayless had one of his lower games. It comes with the territory, I mean he’s still going to be inconsistent as he finds his wings. Dante Cunningham put in work at the 5. You have to love the Cunningham/Pendergraph picks. Victor who? Shavlik Randolph…played.
Last thing, I loved the freedom Andre Miller seemed to play with. Actually scratch that, its interesting to see how Portland is playing so cohesive and scrappy and hard because, well, they only have 8 guys and have nothing to worry about. Its kind of like in a rec league when you only have 6 players, you know you can just go play the game. Could it be that depth was our gift and our curse (Blueprint 2)? Is Portland going to win games they shouldn’t? Absolutely. Was last night an example of this? More than likely. I’ve learned with this season just to enjoy the ride.