If Friday’s game were a regular season game, it would be the kind of game that would make most Blazer fans pretty angry. It was the kind of game we saw a lot of last year, for the first time in Phoenix for Portland’s first loss. We may see it again this season. And if we do, it’s not going to make many people very happy.
What kind of game am I talking about? The kind of game in which the Blazers come out lazy or unengaged, get down early, and instead of gathering themselves and figuring out a way to work back into the game they bomb three pointers and freelance on offense to limited or no positive results.
Portland’s offense came early and often Wednesday, and they cruised. Friday they stumbled through their opening possessions, they’re offense was out of rhythm, and nothing was going in. Instead of pulling their collective heads out and establishing themselves defensively as a way to keep the damage from getting out of control, the Blazers allowed Phoenix to have all the open looks they wanted. And with those open looks, the Suns made hay.
Portland worked the deficit down to a respectable distance on more than one occasion, but they were never really in the game. A slow start was partially to blame for that.
Of the ghosts of 2011-12 that the Blazers are going to have to shake this season, letting games get away from them too early is one of the big ones. I know it’s almost an entirely different squad this season. There’s no Jamal Crawford to blame for taking bad shots. There’s no Raymond Felton to blame for dribbling the ball off his own foot. But there is still a chance a young team struggling to find an identity, with one or maybe two budding superstars, can get caught up in the action on the floor and let a game they should win or at least compete in, and Phoenix is a team Portland should be able to beat a few times when it counts, get away from them before they’ve had a chance to find their rhythm.
But hey, it’s preseason. This loss is as meaningless as Wednesday’s win against the Lakers. As Mike Rice said mid-game, it might actually be better to lose a game or two in the preseason. It helps with overall development to know what you’ve done wrong.
Portland did a lot wrong Friday. They’ll figure it out in practice, and work it out over the course of the remaining exhibition schedule. When these Blazers take the court come October 31st, they probably won’t have any issues offensively or defensively.
And if they do? Well then we’ll really have something to talk about.
Just a couple of quick things:
- Meyers Leonard got the start due to a J.J. Hickson pre-game scratch. Leonard looked out of place for most of the first quarter. He found his way as the game progressed. His body control is still a little suspect, and it’s very clear that he’s thinking way too much. He’ll get there though; 14 points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes is an indication of that.
- Damian Lillard had another nice night, this time getting rolling a little bit later in the game. When he gets going he can be very smooth both shooting the ball and running the offense. Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge working together in a two-man pick and roll game could be a real game changer.
- Four out of Portland’s five starters clocked more than 20 minutes. Lillard racked up 34 minutes, but that was mostly because Ronnie Price went down with a turned ankle. Price’s x-rays were negative.
- Zero points in 11 minutes for Adam Morrison. Four points in 18 minutes for Sasha Pavolvic. However, the signing of Justin Holiday might spoil the party for everybody
- Portland’s next game is not on TV, which means I get to do one of my favorite things, list to the Blazers on the radio.
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