Knicks 108, Blazers 109 Re-Thoughts


The Blazers deserve a lot of credit for that win. You’ll hear it often, but taking a hit like that second-half Knicks run and coming back to win is worthy of a pat on the back. The Spurs did it one the road at Boston today, and it was only more impressive because of the caliber of the team they were playing. But they way the Knicks were shooting for about six minutes, they might as well have been the Showtime Lakers.

I’ll start with the positives. The Blazers had five guys with at least sixteen points, they out-rebounded the Knicks 43-29 (had to happen) and did enough right things at enough right times. By that I mean the Oden post-up where he kicked out — that’s a right thing. Getting Outlaw the quick two off a curl in the final thirty seconds — that’s a right thing. LaMarcus picking Duhon on the final play, another right thing. Portland never quite found a cure for their problems, but they remedied things with effort, timely efficiency and simple trust in each other.

As for the bad, remember when I said I wasn’t going to talk about the Dallas loss much unless the problems persisted? They have. Now, maybe these guys really are just exhausted and need the All-Star Break as much as anyone, which is fine, but the general disconnect and disarray on defense has not been fixed. At all. No I’m not suggesting Nate be fired or anything silly like that (please, tell me I’m dumb, but you better come with a better option to helm this group), but it’s clear that the coaching staff needs to take a step back and maybe offer a fresh approach to D. It might not change a damn thing about the actual schemes, but sometimes just giving the same old package some new wrapping can work wonders. Maybe run a 15-minute drill where roles are reversed and big men handle the ball. Obviously you’d have to tell the guards not to go for the steal, but it would give a guy like Greg a different way of looking at things. Then pull a D2: The Mighty Ducks and give them balloons to play with and everything should be A-OK.

Or not. But you get the picture. The Blazers need to survive this thankfully less-challenging week (they better mow through OKC this time), take their time off and come back with new things ready for them.

That was in response to the last three games, and I say that for anyone out there freaking out about tonight’s defense, understand that very few people in the league would’ve been able to guard Nate Robinson when he went nuts. No, Al Harrington shouldn’t be sitting wide open in the corner, but not everything that goes wrong is just a broken down car waiting for Nate to come fix it. And no, just any trade is not going to fix things either. Some defensive problems might not even get turned around till training camp next year, but surely enough holes can be patched to make it to the playoffs.

No game ball tonight because too many people made huge contributions. Maestro Roy had the beautiful game winner, but that was only possible because Outlaw hit his jumper and Oden grabbed a big rebound and Sergio went B-A-N-A-N-A-S from downtown and Aldridge made clutch jumpers. Oden gets extra credit for his six blocks.

As mentioned, problems have arisen from the grave dug by a winning streak and started doing the Thriller dance all over the Blazers defensive efforts, but the silver lining is that this group started going down as a team and earned itself a victory because players believe in their teammates. That’s trust, baby. Call me an Optimistic Opie, but unless the All-Star fails to plugs some significant gaps or find a way around them, the Blazers deserve some of that same trust from us.