I’m not going to spend any time on a recap of this game, apart from saying that it actually was a game for 12 minutes and by the 7:22 mark of the second quarter it was effectively over. Portland should watch the game tape of this once time through, just because there are some highlights and a few takeaways, and then, like any game that ends with one team owning a 38-point lead, they should probably tuck it away in a corner.
Post game, all the Blazers said that this was the kind of game they needed. Yes, Phoenix is not a good team, but still, this Portland team is on the brink of the top level of the Western Conference. They needed a blowout. They got it.
Here’s my brief game synopsis: Portland scored inside early, this allowed their shooters to get open looks, they shooters knock down open looks, thus spreading the defense, allowing the Blazers to go back inside and score so more. Phoenix doesn’t take care of the ball, can’t hit the ocean if they were standing on the beach, and put up nine points in the second quarter. GAME OVER.
Portland has been up and down all month, although if you take out the Orlando game they’ve been pretty up at home. The get a chance to finish out the month on the road at Utah. One of the reasons a game like this is fun but deceiving, is that it could have implications for the next one. The Blazers are going to have to play a good 48 minute game in SLC to come out of there with a win. They can do it. Running against what at times looked like a Junior Varsity boosts confidence, but it doesn’t make you too sharp.
Like I said: short and hopefully sweet. Just like this game, which was over in about 15 minutes.
Couple of quick things then go enjoy your Friday night, and don’t forget to pour one out for the Suns:
- Steve Nash is good, like very good. So good, in fact, that his good play the last time these two teams met was the difference maker (and by difference maker think about this, the point swing from January 6th to January 27th was 63, with Phoenix winning by 25 at home and losing by 38 on the road). One thing I’ve noticed, and I’m sure everybody who has seen him notices too, is that Steven Nash almost never kills his dribble. He always keeps the ball moving, regardless of where he is on the court or how many guys are in his chest. Many many times in the game’s first quarter, a quarter Phoenix won by three mind you, he was trapped in the corner looking up at LaMarcus Aldridge and Marcus Camby. But because he hadn’t stopped dribbling, he was able to get an angle an slot the ball through to an uncovered big man. What make Steve Nash so good, back-to-back MVP good, is that to effectively shut him down teams have to rotate two or three times every play. That’s very tough for even the best defenses to do. The Knicks are a lucky team. When he does get traded, and if this team continues to play like they did Friday he will get traded, Phoenix is headed straight for the number one overall pick.
- Nolan Smith and Chris Johnson picked up technical fouls in the fourth quarter. I think it was partially an effort to keep a 40-point blowout from turning into an end of the bench street fight. My guess is coach Nate McMillan will have some words for those guys, something along the lines of don’t get T’ed up in the last five minutes of a 40-point win. But hopefully he’s also happy to see his last guys go out and not back down.
- Elliot Williams can sky, and Friday he knocked down a couple jumpers. I would love to see him in a game that matters. Not sure it’s going to happen though.
- Jamal Crawford did very well running the team at the point position. In 25 minutes he dished out 10 assists and turned it over only once. Phoenix is allergic to defense, but still it’s nice to see Jamal play well, especially since Raymond Felton can’t seem to get out of his own way.
- Minutes watch: 12:00 for Craig Smith. This comes with an asterisk, all of Rhino’s minutes came in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand. Before Blazer-nation gets all hot and bothered about Craig losing his minutes, hear this: Nate made a decision to go with a shorter–meaning smaller not fewer guys–rotation. Phoenix has no front court. Although Rhino would have dominated in the paint on offense, he very well could have been run ragged on D. I really don’t think Craig’s been demoted. At least I HOPE he hasn’t been demoted. Rhino still scored five points and grabbed four rebounds. He also had back-to-back three second violations.
- Standings watch: Portland comes into the game at six, ahead of Dallas and Memphis, and just behind Utah. Dallas beats Utah, Memphis loses last night to the Clippers. Portland jumps to five, Utah falls to seven, Dallas moves to six, Memphis–the hottest team a week ago, reaching as high as fourth in the conference–falls off the map. The Lakers grab the eight spot. And this is a deep reach, watch out for Minnesota, back-to-back wins, 9-10, still a few places out of the eight spot, but coming on strong. If we are lucky, and Minny keeps playing well and the Southwest or Pacific Divisions continue to be one-team spots, the Northwest could have five teams in the Playoffs. They’re long odds, but hey, anything’s possible.
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