I’m not going to spend too much time recapping tonight’s abysmal performance, but I will lead off with one thing: if you are a Blazer’s doomsayer, as some fans in the Rose City are wont to be, you could point to tonight’s 100-78 loss in Oakland to the night Portland’s 2010-11 NBA season went down the tubes. And you could say that for one reason. Pregame Blazer’s radio play-by-play man Brian Wheeler dropped this little piece of knowledge. In Blazer franchise history, the team has suffered only nine losing preseasons. Each of those losing preseasons was followed up by a losing regular season. Falling tonight to the Warriors, a team the Blazers effectively blew out at home not two days ago, ensures that preseason 2010-11 can finish no better than 3-4. If history is to repeat itself, 2010-11 could be a long season.
Of course it’s not really as bad as all that. This preseason has been very lackluster, with a few bright spots, but no real sustained continuity or good play. Tonight Portland was without Marcus Camby and Wesley Matthews, saw big minutes being played by rookies Armon Johnson and Luke Babbit, and overall seemed to play with the type of effort that would indicate that they, undoubtedly like the fans who have yet to see a televised game, are over the preseason and are ready for the real games to start. The question is, and has been the majority of the preseason, will a different, better prepared, more determined Blazer team show up in eight days when they take the Rose Garden floor against the Phoenix Suns. We will have to wait and see.
Here are a few thoughts I had about tonight’s game:
- First and foremost, it’s great listening to Brian Wheeler. The guy can flat out call a game, and my overall favorite part, you can tell how the game is going by the tone of his voice. His call of tough shots and dagger threes by opponents is enough to make any Blazer’s heart sink. Too bad once the preseason ends most people will turn off Wheeler and watch the TV broadcasts. Don’t get me wrong, Mike and Mike are a great duo, but neither has the skill of Brian Wheeler.
- On to the game. Portland got out rebounded by Golden State (48-41), got out shot from the field (44%-33%), took fewer free throws (34-30), made fewer free throws (24-23), and turned the ball over more times (25-18). Basically the Blazers got outplayed, no two ways about it.
- Portland got a few of their end of the bench players in early, which actually may have been where the game got away from the Blazers. Portland led in the first half by as much as 11, but saw that lead cut to one at the half, then turned into a 13 point deficit in the third and fourth quarters. During the majority of that time the three Blazer rookies were on the court.
- Armon Johnson was unable to follow up Saturday’s performance. Johnson finished the night with 9 points, 2 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 turnovers in 26 minutes played. If Johnson plays himself into minutes, which in reality is a big if, he still has a ways to go before he’ll string together good games. Jerryd Bayless has Johnson there. Bayless finished with 8 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals, making 6-of-6 free throws in 18 minutes played.
- Raymond Sykes, Patty Mills, and Elliott Williams say some action. Sykes got in briefly the first half of Saturday’s game, and Mills and Williams have played the least of any Blazer this preseason, minus the now departed Seth Tarver and the invisible Blazer Steven Hill. The trio finished with 10 points between them. Mills hit his only three point attempt of the evening.
- Andre Miller and LaMarcus Aldridge were the only Blazers to reach double figures in scoring. Aldridge scored 11 points, shooting 4-of-8 from the field, and Miller notched 10 points, all without making a field goal.
Portland will finish the preseason without a road win, which of course means nothing if they can wrangle some wins away from the Rose Garden once the regular season starts. The Blazers always have to be thinking in the back of their head, though, that if they want to contend, seriously contend like for the Western Conference Finals, they have to beat Golden State every time the step on the court. Of course Golden State has more to do during this preseason, they have a new coach, a new system, some new key players. They likely have more to play for in these meaningless games, nevertheless, and I feel like a broken record saying this again, it would be nice to see Portland come out fired up and get a win against an obviously inferior team.
The Blazers wrap up their preseason Thursday night back at the Rose Garden against the Denver Nuggets. No matter what the outcome of Thursday’s game, I for one will be glad when the preseason is over. As much as it is fun watching the Blazers play, or more accurately listening to them play, I feel like preseason has me slightly emotionally confused. I want to get excited when the team wins, and I want to be outraged when they lose. Unfortunately neither of those outcomes matters. One more night of this, and for that, I’m glad.
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