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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Game report: Blazers 106, Bucks 80

A good friend of ours invited us to join him for last night's Blazer game, and we were pleased to be on hand at the Rose Garden for what proved to be a major blowout of the Milwaukee Bucks. The Blazers were without several of their main guys, and the Bucks were, too. The banged-up Blazers led the banged-up Bucks from start to finish, and it's a wonder that there are still pro hoops fans paying for tickets in Wisconsin. The Bucks were that bad.

Now that Brandon Roy's career is on the serious downswing, the Portland squad is letting veteran point guard Andre Miller run with the young guys, and it's refreshing to watch as long as they keep pushing the pull upcourt and driving for the hoop. Wesley Matthews knows where the basket is and intends to go there, Rudy Fernandez is actually a pretty good passer, and everybody on the team is looking to throw the alley-oop pass to LaMarcus Aldridge, who's now carrying the team on his back. Tonight he had a career high in rebounds, and he poured in lots of points as well. Scrub Sean Marks is probably asking himself what in the world has happened, as he just played 24 minutes and scored 6 points in an actual NBA game.

It was legitimate sellout crowd, with the Portland faithful decked out for the holidays and enjoying the evisceration of the Milwaukee squad. The timeout and halftime programs were horrible, as were the Blazer Dancers, but it didn't seem to matter. Some of the crowd was there for the basketball, and the rest can't seem to tell the difference between professional entertainment and cheap schlock.

We came away from the game with one overarching concern. Having destroyed Brandon Roy's career by overplaying him, the Blazers seem determined now to do the same thing with LaMarcus. When they were up by 20 points with five minutes to go, for crying out loud, it was time to sit the big guy down.

But no, Sarge McMillan leaves him in for garbage time. I'm sure there was a reason, but whatever it was, it wasn't a good one. People are talking about major player trades in Portland right now, but until the Blazers get some new coaches, it really isn't worth the effort.

As always, a lame cell phone photo rounds out this report. Here's Aldridge taking it to 'em while he's still young and able to walk:

Thanks to our buddy for the ticket and a lovely evening.

Finally, a question: The referees each had some sort of transmitter on his or her belt. None of them were miked -- what are the electronics about?

Comments (10)

The whistles are mic'd. The whistle stops the clock. Very complex. They will test the system a few times while players warm up (pays to get in seats early for all that inside stuff). Been that way for a few years. Computers also log which whistle stopped play, I believe. Referees start the clock from the belt on the inbound. As for LA, my guess is coach was letting LA go for his 20th rebound. Franchise few have put up numbers like that. Even fewer have a 30/20 night. He was THAT close.

More exciting to watch than 1-4 basketball.

Those are how da commish Stern communicates with the refs as he needs. I believe they were piloted during the LA-Portland series in the 1999-2000 series, game seven (7).

I needed a blowout. My brother got a press pass to the Minnesota Vikings game so I was going back and forth looking for him.
Speaking of face-time, Mark, you got a nice long shot while the ref was explaining to you why he was moving a jump ball from one end to center court. You had just the right look of bemused respect.
As for L.A., I say rest him as soon as possible and screw the statistics. What about the last 27 major injuries didn't get Nate's attention?
As for the electronic gadget, that's how the refs follow the odds from Vegas.

The definition of "sellout" has gotten extremely elastic in the StubHub era. I'll defer to Jack's expertise about last night, but at Saturday's "sellout" against the Warriors, there were stacks of empty rows in the upper level on the south end.

Not to brag but in other sports stories from last night my brother asked Brett Favre a question at the press conference.
He didn't go with my suggestion: "Brett, are you sending Christmas cards this year or are you just going to send everyone a picture of your penis?"

Hey, Jack, look me up, I'm in section 108. It was clear from the preseason games that LaMarcus came to play this year. I think the Blazers are much better without Brandon - they move and pass more, push the ball up-court, and Wesley and LA are both better are getting their shots. Plus, Andre and Rudy, not to mention Mr. Camby, are all great passers, and I would guess the assists numbers are better when they are in the game.

And, yes, what did that ref say about moving the jump ball to the center circle? The question about who touched the ball last was clearly in front court. But Mark did look respectfully bemused.

As for LA, my guess is coach was letting LA go for his 20th rebound.

That won't be much comfort when the last of his meniscus is in the dumpster.

I believe those belt packs deliver a painful jolt of electricity if a referee fails to call a foul when someone breathes on Kobe Bryant.

And yet, LA encountered the allegedly pitiful bucks Tuesday night:

Milwaukee ends Lakers' 5-game win streak, 98-79
AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) With a lengthy road trip just behind them and the Miami Heat looming directly ahead, the Los Angeles Lakers were plenty aware the short-handed Milwaukee Bucks represented a potential trap.

The Lakers fell headfirst into it anyway.

Earl Boykins scored a season-high 22 points, John Salmons added 20 and the Bucks stunned lifeless Los Angeles on Tuesday night, snapping the two-time defending champions' five-game winning streak with a 98-79 victory.

Kobe Bryant scored 21 points before getting ejected and Pau Gasol added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who flopped in their final tuneup before their Christmas visit from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

"I told them I don't think they can play any worse than that," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "This is what we were worried about. We got out of whack there in the second half and never recovered."

Los Angeles had won six straight over the Bucks, who had lost three in a row over the past week and were down to nine healthy players after a 26-point loss at Portland one night earlier. But those nine Bucks played stellar defense and hit more than 50 percent of their shots for just the third time all season.

"Both ends were good for us, so I don't want to pick one," Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said. "In the second half, we were as good as we've been all year on the defensive end. To hold that team to 33 points, and 13 in the fourth quarter, that's a difficult task."

With the defense holding the Lakers to their franchise low in points against Milwaukee, the Bucks jumped ahead early and finished the game on a 21-7 run, keeping the Lakers scoreless for nearly four minutes down the stretch. The Lakers' crowd waited patiently for a run that never came, and the Bucks even sent a few fans to the exits early, giving them four days to stew on the loss before the Heat's visit.

"I guess you could say there's a possibility (of looking ahead), but I don't think so," said Derek Fisher, who scored just two points in 28 minutes. "Even in looking past someone, that requires an action on your part. So I don't think it was so much about the opponent. I just think we didn't play the type of game that we needed to play. I guess things would have been different if the opponent was different, but I can't say that."

The Lakers left their game on their impressive seven-game road trip, losing at Staples Center for just the third time in 13 games.

Bryant was ejected with 2:07 to play, earning two quick technical fouls after being called for an offensive foul. He also refused to speak to reporters after the game.

"We deserved to lose," said Lamar Odom, who had 12 points and 10 rebounds. "We obviously have to move on, but I feel like that is a game we should win."

Andrew Bogut scored 15 points for the Bucks, who played without injured regulars Brandon Jennings, Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden on the second stop of a three-game road trip.

Ersan Ilyasova had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Bucks, who seemed a bit stunned by the ease with which they earned an improbable celebration in the visitors' locker room.

"They usually always make a run in the fourth quarter," said Boykins, the 5-foot-5 backup guard who hit four 3-pointers. "We were just trying to stay in front for as long as possible. If you play with effort and belief, you can do anything."

Boykins' rub-it-in 3-pointer with 2:16 left capped his night as an unlikely substitute for Jennings, the Bucks' leading scorer.

"He learned a long time ago to use his size to his advantage," Skiles said. "We wouldn't have won the game without Earl tonight."

The Lakers openly worried about overlooking the Bucks in their return from the road, speaking specifically about the possibility during the pregame shootaround. Milwaukee scored 107 points in an 11-point home loss to the Lakers on Nov. 16, causing matchup problems for the champions.

Yet from the opening tip at Staples Center, the Bucks appeared more motivated and better prepared. Milwaukee made seven of its first eight shots and rarely trailed during the first three quarters.

After consecutive baskets by Boykins and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute put the Bucks ahead 82-72 with six minutes left, Milwaukee's game was encapsulated on the next possession: Salmons was faked to the floor by Bryant, yet still managed to strip the ball from Bryant in a seated position when the Lakers superstar drove past him.

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