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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Game report: Blazers 94, Knicks 88, OT

The dog wouldn't sing, the clock didn't work, and the fat lady showed up mighty late, but the Blazers eventually beat the Knicks last night in overtime at the Rose Garden, 94-88. It was a barn-burner.

The Portland team started off the game strong, but fell into a horrible funk for the entire second quarter and well into the second half, snapping out of it late in the game and forcing overtime. Brandon Roy, who scored little but dished out good assists in the first half, reappeared in the second half and wound up with the first triple-double of his young career. Overall, he didn't look as good as the box score might suggest. Something seems to be weighing down on him -- maybe it's the sudden glory.

The Blazers revealed that they are a weak team inside. They were badly out-rebounded by the Knicks, and New York backup center Dave Lee pretty much had a double-double by halftime. (Eddy Curry was out with the flu.) Teams who pound the ball inside will likely be having a field day with the Blazers the rest of the season, and the Blazers will win games only if their jump shots connect.

Speaking of jump shots, Blazer guard Steve Blake hit quite a few, leading the team for most of the evening. But in the end, it was backup point guard Jarrett Jack who decided that he was going to drive to the hoop over smaller, tired Knick defenders, and he who pushed Portland over the top. Travis Outlaw once again hit a crucial off-balance jumper as time ran low in regulation -- good for him. On the downside, James Jones had a rough night, and neither Martell Webster nor Joel Przybilla contributed much besides a couple of blocked shots each.

One of the more interesting matchups was Blazer power forward LaMarcus Aldridge and ex-Blazer power forward Zach Randolph. The two went at it head to head most of the game, and Zach was the winner on the floor, but not by a large margin.

The Knicks played better ball for a majority of the contest, but they lived up to their reputation of being out of control, unable to hold together as the evening wore on. They lost the second half 43-32. Except for former Blazer Randolph, who clearly wanted this win to vindicate his entire season, the Knicks are now a ragtag collection of misfits. They seemed quite disorganized, and most of the guys on the bench seemed as though they weren't taking things too seriously. Star point guard Stephon Marbury has essentially quit the team or been fired -- he wasn't around -- but they can get good scoring from Randolph and a guy named Jamal Crawford. Crawford took some shots down the stretch that could have won the game, but none of them fell. In the early going, the Knicks got great production from a comparatively tiny guy named Nate Robinson, who showed more moves than Ex-Lax, and a lot of heart. They're better than their record shows, but until they clean out the empty suits in management, they'll continue to be a sad, sad story.

Although Knicks coach Isiah Thomas is largely incompetent, he does have a good resource on the bench in former Spurs star Malik Rose. Rose played 14 quality minutes on the night, and was active all evening feeding pointers and information to the younger Knicks during timeouts. Like the rest of the team, he looked truly downtrodden when Jack sank two free throws with something like 11 seconds to go in overtime to ice the game.

The big raspberries of the event go to the Blazer management, which is showing some disturbing signs of dysfunction. They spent the whole evening hammering home time and again the facts that Roy has been named to the NBA All-Star team, and that Aldridge will play on the second-year team in the rookie-sophomore game on All-Star weekend.

As might be expected, on entering the arena, fans were offered a large card congratulating Roy on his achievement. More power to everyone involved. But that wasn't enough hype. At a timeout about halfway through the first quarter, they stopped everything and had some Blazer management guy get out at center court and do basically a little awards ceremony for Roy and Aldridge. It set off a bad vibe. It took too long, and shortly thereafter, the Blazers pretty much stopped playing for 15 to 20 minutes. The Knicks built a big lead over that time.

Part of the problem with the game stoppage was that it seemed almost as much about the Blazer management patting itself on the back as it was about celebrating the players. It's like the programs they keep handing you with Greg Oden's picture on the cover. Fellows, Greg Oden ain't playing, and he ain't proved squat in the NBA. Flashing his picture around as if he's the only story on your team just demoralizes the players you have, many of whom are busting their tails and getting little if any recognition. It's the same with the All-Star hype. Enough already. We all love Brandon and LaMarcus, and we know what they've achieved. Now shut up and let them and the rest of the Blazers try to win the dang game the people paid to see.

To add to the embarrassment, shortly after the game stoppage for the hype, the 24-second clocks quit operating. For the second quarter and part of the third, there was no visible 24-second clock at all -- instead the arena announcer, Mark Mason, had to announce "15... 10... 5... 4... 3... 2..." It was pathetic. Fruitless repair work prevented the Blazers from properly warming up toward the end of halftime. They eventually got replacement clocks set up on the floor in two of the corners of the court, but they were hard to see. The Knicks were called for 24-second violations a couple of times, and you had to wonder whether the clock screwups were causing them. With Mr. Technology, Paul Allen, sitting in his front row owner's seat, it was the height of irony.

The Podunkville atmosphere was enhanced by the singing of the national anthem, by a woman who held a chihuahua in her arm as she sang. Apparently, the dog was supposed to join in on the high notes at the end, but it refused to do so.

Anyway, the Blazers survived, but they didn't look all that good. The Knicks lost, and we almost feel sorry for the players.

Off the court, we were thrilled to get in a couple of words with Knick legend Walt "Clyde" Frazier, now a Knick television analyst, who was bedecked in a multi-thousand-dollar New York suit, monogrammed shirt cuffs, and several NBA Championship rings. He was kind and gracious with everyone who approached him, including us. He signed many an autograph and posed for many a cell phone photo.

Between the clock stoppages, the overtime period, and a 7:30 start to accommodate ESPN, it was pretty close to 11 by the time the contest wrapped up. Darn near 2 in the morning for Frazier's audience on the East Coast.

And now, what you've all been waiting for, our blurry photos from fine seats. Here we go. First, our stock shot of the visiting coach during a timeout:

Here's Mailk Rose, the senior statesman who is making the best of a bad situation in New York:

Here's Roy setting up for a jumper late in the game. Note the replacement 24-second clock on the floor in the lower left, and the fact that the regular clock behind the backboard is totally dark:

A nervous setup for an inbounds play in overtime:

And here's "Clyde" getting ready to go on the air during pre-game warmups:

In sum, another fine outing with the Blazers. Thanks to the benefactor who gave us the tickets. But a word to the Blazer management: Back off on the hype. Honor all your players. Take the money you're spending needlessly glorifying Roy, Aldridge, and especially Oden, and buy yourself a new 24-second clock.

Comments (17)

This is the youngest team in the NBA. In my mind 2007-2008 is just one long pre-season. I'm thinking NBA Champions in 2009!

Maybe I'm being too critical, but I don't see McMillan as being a lock on coach of the year. The Blazers had no excuse to come out flat against the Knicks. They weren't mentally prepared to play the game and almost lost to one of the worst teams in the league, when it shouldn't have been close. McMillan couldn't get his players to stop launching three pointers until midway through the fourth quarter. The Blazers have won a lot of games on luck this year, and this was one of them.

Add to that the losses in Toronto and the last game against Cleveland, where McMillan's substitution patterns contributed mightily. In each case, Aldridge was having an off night but McMillan stuck with him, rather than using Pryzbilla's defense, which certainly could have prevented LeBron's last second lay-up.

That said, the Knicks might have been better last night without Eddie Curry. I definitely would want David Lee on my team.

One thing, though. I'm yelling at my TV again when I watch the games. I haven't done that since Drexler and Porter were playing.

I thought the Knicks had a group of players who belonged in the NBA, but only as individuals on more well-rounded teams. Together they're sort of endearing like the cast of one of those misfit sports movies, but unlike in that type of movie, you can't win with this formula. They did play hard and they haven't shunned Isiah - not yet, anyway. On a personal note: Thanks for taking me to the game, Jack. You were very entertaining and the seats were from God. I've never sat that close and I have a new appreciation for how intense everything is in the NBA. Even routine matters like passing are done at a ligament-defying, super-human level. Later watching the highlights at home, I realized that TV does a disservice to these athletes. Everything they do is 10 times more amazing than it looks on the small screen. Thanks, again.

Thanks for the in-the-seats perspective. On tv, their letdowns were less fathomable. Blazer Mngmt, it's gut check time. The fellas are gellin and building momentum and along comes an award ceremony? Now some unscrupulous team might start using award moments to disrupt an opponents rhythm. Great. The league needs a rule, if there isn;t already one on the subject.
My image of the anthem is a faux Paris Hilton type w/doggie. That's just wrong. Good reportage, it's welcome in the hinterlands where Blazer Cable is now only a fond memory.

Whether or not you're interested in the facts:

There is additional time to kill when the game is an ESPN broadcast. Hence the "... timeout about halfway through the first quarter, they stopped everything and had some Blazer management guy get out at center court and do basically a little awards ceremony for Roy and Aldridge. It set off a bad vibe. It took too long..." ESPN needs to do their show and roll their money reels. Blazers have no choice but to fill time. Considering Roy’s All-Star selection occurred only 24 hours prior, do you really think it was out of place to publicly congratulate him and let the fans join in? Sorry, man. Fans really do enjoy showing their support.

And the technical difficulties with the clock were caused by a drill, being used by an ESPN utility person, unfortunately severing the control wires inside the structure that was being drilled. When something like this happens and there is a malfunction, it takes time to diagnose the problem and then correct it. Mark Mason’s response was not pathetic, it was the only solution. Perhaps you could have assisted in the “fruitless repair work” if you were there? And the comment about Paul Allen is more than a little silly. A long time ago Paul helped to write a pretty clumsy code for an operating system, that due to intelligent marketing became the basis of his wealth. That doesn’t qualify “Mr. Technology” to know one end of a hammer from the other. And I doubt he travels his electrical repair kit anyway.

Jack, It’s no longer chic to go out of your way to bash the Blazers. They really are trying hard to prove and improve themselves. Notice that the comments here are positive. But I agree that they should be as open to criticism as any team based on their performance on and off the court. But to poke at management, technical, and support when there is apparently not enough to poke at with the team, implies you just need to criticize someone. You might try just enjoying things instead.

I wasn’t at the game, so I missed the “woman who held a chihuahua in her arm as she sang.” I’m sure that was corny. I never cared for the guy who played the saw that much either. But the fans did. Why not take the time to write to the Blazers and let them know what you think? They listen to fan feedback.

And I’m sorry you “almost feel sorry for the players” when the Knicks lost. I imagine you’re in pretty sparse company. You see, the object is, in fact, to win. And the Blazers do need to work on their consistency through all four quarters. But the fact that they are able to come from behind - sometimes overcoming a huge margin - to win a game, is being noted as a tremendous statement of their capability.

Anyhow, I’m glad you are following the Blazers and providing a forum for discussion that goes beyond typical fan sites. I hope you continue to follow and enjoy the Blazers with the rest of us!

Alexander, I'm sure you know the quickest way to the ear of management - so please suggest they consider featuring great Portland singing talent for the Anthem. Local bands could use the plug and a little extra scratch for the vocalist is always appreciated. How about "Dirty Martini" for instance?

genop: I completely agree with your talent suggestions. I also know this blog is considered a first choice for many who seek intelligent and interesting dialogue on local affairs. And more than a few of those people are, I'm sure, part of the Blazers' industry, considering the number of employees there are. My guess is that your comment will be read by someone in the industry and hopefully passed along to who ever makes the talent decisions. There used to be more local talent at the events, and I think it would be wise to highlight one of the outstanding features of Portland - the number of truly talented musicians who live here.

Alexander, I'm struggling with your phrase, "I wasn't at the game", after the more confident, "Whether or not you're interested in knowing the facts."
The 24-second clock was repaired and broke back down several times. It started and stopped several times - with a stoppage of the game each time. It was finally repaired at halftime, and then it broke again. It DID affect play. Mark Mason was the glue that held the whole event together but putting him in that situation was a little pathetic. There should be a backup system in place at the touch of a button no matter if the ESPN guy blows the first one up with a grenade. How about an automatic audio version that kicks in and is run by the official time keeper, so Mark can announce the action? The sanctity of the game is involved. How would you feel if Brandon Roy blew out a tendon because he didn't warm up right at halftime, because a repairman was on a ladder putting duct tape on the situation? And I repeat, shortly after the 3rd quarter started, the system crashed again.

I also think it's fair to tease Paul Allen. He's a billionaire. At the time he declared bankruptcy in the Rose Garden deal, he could have given everyone in the Rose Garden a million dollars, and still have been rich. As a professional comedy writer, let me assure you, billionaires are always fair game. Why? Because they're billionaires. The only way I'd rush to his defense is if I worked for him.

The speech also affected play in my opinion. As Coach Nate would later comment, the team could be tight in response to all the praise. As Bob Dylan once said, "You can kill someone with kindness too."
I thought the trembling little dog saved the day by having the judgment not to howl during the National Anthem. There's your theme for you: Fun ideas like the praise, and the dog but at the wrong time. Do we really want to turn the National Anthem into a Stupid Pet Trick? Is that what we want from Portland on YouTube around the world?
Finally, as to how the Blazers could have filled some of the ESPN time, how about some video acknowledgment of the presence of Walt Frazier? Maybe they did when I was out of the arena but I didn't see it. Here sat one of the legends of the game and the fans could have benefited from remembering that this was - after all - the New York Knicks. Just a close up of the rings on his fingers might have been a cool moment.
The important thing though is why are we squabbling? Things are going great with the team and everyone - including Jack - is loving it.

Yeah, Bill. I thought the opening line, "Whether or not you're interested in the facts" was pretty heavy-handed. Unfortunately, once you hit the "Post" you're committed. My bad.

I really wasn't there. The Atlanta game earlier in the week was the first I've been to all season. My knowledge of the events came through listening to TV and the radio, both media explaining the cause of the problems. I would wager that a backup clock is being considered or even developed right now. But I hope your not suggesting that all elements of all production are duplicated in the event that some malfunction occurs. Sometimes it takes an accident to discover the need for redundancy, and the nature of an accident is that it occurs in the most untimely and disruptive manner. My guess is that the damage to the wires caused a short in the system that would affect the integrity of the clock's electronics. The repairs would need more than duct tape I suppose.

You can tease Paul all you want, but I don't see anything "ironic" about him being at a game when there are technical malfunctions. Neither am I rushing to his defense. And I'm not a comedy writer. I do play guitar, however. So I guess I have that in common with Paul.

But if my comments crossed the line between responding and squabbling, I apologize. Believe it or not, I enjoy this activity on a slushy, cold and grey Saturday morning more than you can imagine! All I need now is one more cup of tea!

I have to agree with one of the commenters above. Some of you seemingly go out of your way to find a way to complain about just about everything or anything regarding the Blazers.

As for hyping Oden, Roy and Aldridge -- they are the now and the future. It's not Jack, Rodriquez and Webster. Maybe you'd like it if they showed more of Darius' rehab???

Enjoy the season for what it is -- a look into what can be in year's to come. Of course, I'm one of the "suckers" who bought season tickets at the end of last season. I have a good time at every game I've been to this year.

People, people, people. Can't we all just get along? Just kidding … flame all you want. Here's a little more background. In my 483 consecutive regular season /playoff games at the Rose Garden (shameless plug, thank you for your time) this has happened only one other time. Statistically, then, a .0041 chance of the clocks going out if my math is correct. But the fact is no system is infallible, outages occur and the league tries to anticipate that. The ref can wait to see if the problem is fixed in a timely fashion (maybe as simple as a reboot) or elect to continue play with the PA announcer counting off the seconds while the arena crews diagnose and attend to the problem. That’s the protocol, however silly it seems. And it isn’t the first time players have had to work through such issues. Seems too simple to say it’s part of the game, but, on rare occasions, it is. On a personal note, you guys have a valued stats crew who deserves appreciation. The refs have great respect for the people that occupy that row in Portland and we saw why last night. Everyone adapted and overcame. The 24-second clock operator promptly sat behind me, stopwatch in hand, calmly counting off the seconds as we were in manual mode. We did a verbal ballet as the countdown occurred over and over on the PA. The game’s integrity was never in jeopardy. What a pro.

I don't go out of my way to complain about the Blazers. They've been moving in the right direction for a long time. Nate is one of my favorite public figures anywhere. They were lucky to win last night, and they're over-hyping some aspects of their success. Other than that, it's all roses, with a butt in every seat. Deservedly so.

a faux Paris Hilton type

Nope. Not at all.

Oden, Roy and Aldridge -- they are the now and the future.

Oden is the maybe-maybe-maybe future. For one thing, he has the body of an old man. Plus, what kind of statement are you making when you spend a whole year shouting, "We won the draft lottery"?

As for the other two, both of whom I love and whom I in fact named as two of the best four players the Blazers possibly could have drafted that year, well... you have to have more than two guys on the floor. The great thing about the Blazers right now is that they're playing as a team. The fans are loving that. You don't need to hype players to make stars out of them, and in this case it eventually is going to screw with some of the role players' heads.

I'll say one thing, without Jack the Blazers would have lost last night. He finally broke through the ennui and took the ball to the basket.

They have trouble rebounding and lack a dominant big man. Oden will rebound. He will block shots. He will get some easy hoops until he develops a game. That is the best core of three guys under 24 in the league. Besides, with at least $15M to throw at a free agent in 2009 there may be another player to add to the mix in a year and a half ... Chris Paul, maybe.

I'm also intrigued about the kid in Spain, Rudy Fernandez. You're right, they are definitely moving in the right direction.

One last note: If the Blazers had done the overwrought tribute to Roy and Aldridge at halftime, or between the first and second quarters, it probably wouldn't have messed with the flow as much as it did.


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J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 113
At this date last year: 155
Total run in 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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