It’s rare when a game is decided in the first 6 minutes of a ball game, but last night was definitely the case. Utah jumped on Portland like this was a grudge match, opening up the game in dominant fashion and never looked back. In his Pre-Thoughts, Coup talked about how there may not be a team that matches up better with this current Blazer team than the Jazz. They are physical, love to score in the paint, have a dominant PG and can shoot the ball. It was dangerous going in and it all exploded in the first quarter. Ever since Big Joel and Oden went down, we’ve talked about how our weakness has been our frontline. Utah knew that and exploited it. It was like watching a D-Bag in an Affliction shirt buy a 21 year old girl drinks all night.
21-2 was the run. Utah was the aggressor, and if you look at how they scored those 21 points a lot of them were in the paint. As a matter of fact 8 of their first 9 field goals were dunks or layups. You can’t allow an opponent to continuously get easy buckets on you on your home floor. Whilethe Jazz were getting layups and dunks aka dominating the paint, Portland was missing jumpers. And anytime they tried to attack the paint they got their shot blocked. It’s tough to overcome an opponent when that kind of tone is set that early. That 19 point margin was far too much for the Blazers to overcome and sadly it only got worse. Utah shot 73 percent from the field in the first 24 minutes, and when you’re giving up those kind of video game percentages you’re more than likely going to be down big. For example, look at Boozer, Millsap and Kirilenko. Those three combined scored 41 points on 17-for-21 shooting and made a living in the paint.
I don’t think much more ‘analysis’ needs to be thrown around. The Jazz had a gameplan and it worked like a charm. You let a team shoot 60% from the field, 40% from 3, get a bunch of points in the paint and shoot 35 free throws bad things are going to happen.
On the other side, Utah also successfully rendered Portland inefficient offensively. LaMarcus Aldridge struggled with Utah sending double teams at him. 25 points on 24 shots is some old school Zach Randolph type numbers. Tough to swallow anytime, but double tough when Brandon Roy is out of the game. Martell Webster dedicated his effort to Haiti but struggled to 14 points on 14 shots. Bayless had 16 on 12 shots, Miller had 7 on 11 shots, Rudy had 9 points on 8 shots. Steve Blake was Stone Cold (0-for-6). Batum was the only ray of light in the whole game, specifically in the first quarter. He absolutely Nutella’d all over Kyle Korver’s soul.
The last two losses have seen the Blazers get punished for what they DON’T have on the floor. Against New Orleans, without Brandon Roy down the stretch they struggled to score and put the game away. Against Utah, without Big Joel and Oden, they struggled to defend the interior. Now after two straight home losses the Blazers have to go on a Texas Two-Step to Houston and Dallas. A four game losing streak is unfortunately a possibility.