Blazers 105, Suns 102 Re-Thoughts


How many breakout games can one player have in a season? A month? Even a week?

Anytime Jerryd Bayless gets significant minutes, he seems to do something we should call breakout worthy. But tonight, on national television, with a career-high 29 points on 15 shots and 29 minutes, Bayless had his moment. He made the clutch shots. The ball was in his hand for clinching free throws. Better yet, he didn’t have to dominate the ball to do it. And he earned himself wingman honors to Brandon Roy in the TNT postgame interview. Before he even began speaking to Cheryl Miller, Bayless had already said, “Hello World”.

If you want to add the opposing defense disclaimer — Phoenix is 27th is allowed points per 100 possessions — go right ahead, but just as you like to see Greg Oden dominating whoever and whatever crosses his path, it’s tough to fault Bayless for making the most of what he is given. He will slip in some games, perhaps soon, and suffer some pitfalls, but he has also given meaning to this season. That in itself is a major accomplishment.

I could bring up all sorts of things the Blazers didn’t do all that well — in particular the early transition defense being dreadful — but after that performance, do you really care. Portland managed to match Phoenix in points in the paint, another credit to Bayless, while giving us a game to remember. That’s it. That’s all that matters until the next game, when we shall resume full analysis and scrutiny.

Twitter Thoughts:

Interesting note about last night: when Bayless really started to go nuts in the fourth quarter, I’m pretty sure he killed Twitter in the process and many people wrote in later felt cut off without an outlet to express their love/joy/amazement. Twitter has changed us, my friends.

@_BlazerNation_: Such an amazing game! Finally we saw guys like Marty and Blake step up (Marty esp.) and JERRYD BAYLESS. words cant describe.

@iverigma: key to comeback: Roy finally decides to push the tempo for the 1st time in who knows how long.

@travismargoni: Make no mistake, some trust has been lost. Beneath our excitement were many of us repeating “We told you so.” 29 times over.

Individual Thoughts:

Brandon Roy looked like he appreciated the other four players on the floor being legitimate offensive threats, and yet he still found success going one-on-one, one-on-two and one-on-Phoenix. At times he dominated the ball, but that is hardly a fault when he had just one single turnover.

Aldridge probably should have had a better game against this defense, but Phoenix did a good job making him play over the top and not allowing him to spin towards the rim. I did notice that Aldridge seems to look for Bayless much more than anyone else when he is on the block and cutters move through. We can’t run the offense through Aldridge expecting much passing right now, but any progress in that area would be huge.

The biggest surprise about Bayless for me was how smooth and confident he looked catching and shooting the three ball. The release was quick and automatic, just the same as his pullup jumper is. If he can do that and earn the trust of the coaching staff and Roy in being a threat from every part of the floor, he’s going a long way to making one of Blake or Miller relatively obsolete to this roster. Better yet, he was working on defense. Bayless was sprinting to catch up to his man, planting his feet for charges, fighting over the top on picks and overall providing a boost of defensive energy the team hasn’t had since Batum and Oden went down. It wasn’t perfect defense, but I’ll take that effort for the rest of the season.

Martell Webster just won’t let me let him go. As soon as I’m starting to adjust my expectations for him, he follows up a thunderdome dunk with a swooping up-and-under layup, all the while rebounding well and hitting some key late threes. His raw +/- was also the best in the game at +18. More please.

Joel Przybilla didn’t get much of a chance to shine, but was a big reason why the lead was small enough going into the fourth quarter that the Blazers could overcome it with a swell of offense.

Under 18 minutes for Andre Miller. Yes, I think Nate is still going with the most effective/hot hands among his point guards, but this team won’t have much reason to keep Dre around if the pattern of the previous two games keeps up. I’m not sure it will, but Bayless playing like this is going to have a major effect on either Blake or Miller, and given the injuries, one of them is going to suffer more bench time than the other.

Steve Blake played 38 minutes, but did anybody really mind when he was able to stay outside and hit 4-of-7 from downtown. He looks much better with Roy and Bayless doing the playmaking, which is mostly because he can just blend in.

Dante Cunningham and Juwan Howard played 16 combined minutes and both blended in a little too much.

From an analytical standpoint, the two wins of this homestand could have been much cleaner, but from a big picture standpoint, the tectonic plates of Portland have shaken, rumbled and rolled. If you couldn’t from Charles Barkely yelling postgame, paraphrased, “You’re telling me, with all these injuries, they couldn’t find playing time for THAT kid. C’mon, Ernie”, the way this team is perceived has been dramatically altered.