This one doesn’t need much. It doesn’t need an extensive recap, it doesn’t need to be picked apart and it certainly doesn’t need any video analysis. The Blazers weren’t perfect, but the Kings didn’t have it in them to take advantage of Portland’s mistakes like they did on Tuesday. And it was good enough.
The Blazers didn’t play defense all that differently than they did when they gave up a double-digit lead in the fourth before pulling away in the last meeting. The help rotations were often slow or absent, particularly when dealing with passes in and across the paint. Per tradition, the largest hole was in those secondary shifts, where the first guy goes to help and the perimeter player never slides over to hinder the guy who stands and sticks his hands in the air. All told, they gave up 52 points in the paint, though a significant portion of those were inflated by extended garbage time.
Oh, and Tyreke Evans probably doesn’t like being guarded by Nic Batum.
The passing wasn’t even that great, either. Just 15 assists on 38 field goals and lots of isolation play, but Portland still managed to shoot 51 percent, which speaks to both Brandon Roy’s individual dominance and to Sacramento’s disinterest in doing much more than jumping at guys penetrating the lane.
If this sounds like a box-score interpretation, that’s because there wasn’t much to single out in the actual play. The Blazers made a couple 13-6 type runs, and once those built up to a 20-point lead, that was it. The numbers that really defined the game were Sacramento’s 20 turnovers — some caused by a defensive carryover from the Warriors game with the Blazers playing the passing lanes a bit — and Portland getting to the line 32 times, making 29. As a sidenote, for the second night in a row, the refs gave Portland three-free throws when Jerryd Bayless (Roy last night) drew contact at the end of a period and then went into a shooting motion from 40 feet out. Seems like a no-brainer call, but maybe the refs have just been punishing the bad teams for committing dumb-ish fouls.
These last four days have been marginally forgettable, but just as they would be games you look back on as costing the Blazers the playoffs were they to lose and eventually drop out of the race, these past three wins might be the ones you might point to as the wins that secured the spot ahead of time. Considering Toronto and Washington are the only two teams on the slate for next week, with a nice break in the middle before the guys buckle down for the playoff push, things are certainly looking good.