This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 24, 2007 11:15 PM. The previous post in this blog was Dismantling a royal scam. The next post in this blog is Queen of SoWhat. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Game report: Blazers 101, Timberwolves 98 (OT)

What was supposed to be a boring mid-season NBA game between two mediocre teams turned into an action-packed barnburner at the Rose Garden tonight, and the Blazers prevailed over the once-proud Minnesota Timberwolves in an overtime game that left most of the sparse crowd hoarse.

The Wolves had just fired their coach and were coming in on a four-game losing streak. Portland had been fizzling out of late, with some early-season successes fading into a distant memory. It promised to be a sleepwalk, following a typical NBA script -- one team building a big lead, the other making it close near the end, but the initial leader holding on for a victory.

Surprise. This thing was in doubt from start to finish, and neither team ever had a chance to get comfortable. Various players went through their ebbs and flows, and it was anybody's game. Eventually the road team's legs got just a tad rubbery, and the home team edged them out.

Just about every Blazer had some great moments. Zach Randolph, the team leader, had a frighteningly slow start, but he warmed up as the evening wore on. Backup point guard Sergio Rodriguez, normally an assist machine, found himself open for shots, which he took, and mostly made, pouring in 18 points. When Sergio's golden touch started to fade, coach Nate McMillan re-inserted Jarrett Jack into the lineup, and he made key plays on offense in the overtime period.

The performance of the Blazer big men was its usual spotty self, but McMillan wisely switched LaMarcus Aldridge and Jamaal Magloire in and out for each other down the stretch -- the former for offense, the latter for defense. It wasn't exactly a vote of confidence for either man, but they took it like the pro's that they are and did their jobs pretty well. Aldridge, who had jocked up a bunch of ugly shots early in the game, redeemed himself with two crucial free throws that saved it in the fourth quarter. Joel Przybilla spent a lot of time banging with T'wolves star Kevin Garnett. At one point, the two squared off and looked as though they might start some extracurricular activity, but they checked themselves in time to avoid that. Joel did get himself in foul trouble, however, and his night ended long before the excitement did.

Martell Webster, who was left standing around throughout much of the first half, wound up making some pretty drives and playing some gritty basketball (including snagging some fine rebounds) toward the end. Nate always has Martell in there when the chips are down, and tonight it really paid off. Ime Udoka did a workmanlike job for the relatively short time he played; his offensive rebounds were a nice contribution.

That leaves Brandon Roy, who wasn't terrible tonight but wasn't very good, either. Given his many talents, he made a difference just by being out there, I guess. And like Webster and Udoka, he worked hard on the boards -- a place where Aldridge pretty much got schooled.

Here's a word you haven't heard in connection with the Blazers in a long time, but after tonight's game, I'll say it:


It's entirely possible. The young Rose City squad isn't great, but they're very good, and coach McMillan is simply excellent. Tonight's game was a real chess match, and Nate showed his mettle. The team to beat for that last playoff slot is Minnesota. A gutsy Blazer squad showed tonight that, at least at the moment, they're actually the better of the two teams. If the Blazers play the way they're capable of, the T'wolves could be watching them on TV, and not vice versa, come the post-season.

O.k., now for the bad news. So logy was I when I left the house for this game -- as I say, I wasn't expecting much -- that I accidentally left my camera behind. Thus, you won't get the usual out-of-focus photos taken from my vantage point. But thanks to one of this blog's many patrons, we were sitting in beautiful seats, near the tunnel over by the Blazer bench, where we sat last year for this game. Yes, Paul Allen was there next to Steve Patterson, and Mo Lucas looks like he's dropped a few pounds, which is good. So now, just picture Garnett and monster guard Ricky Davis (whose great night ended a little early, thank heaven) in their visiting uniforms, and the Blazers in their home whites, and you'll have the picture. If not, there are some professional photos of tonight's game here.

I'm serious about the playoff thing.

Comments (18)

Great post Jack! You pretty much summed up the game as well as or better than any sports journalist out there. Although I'm pretty sure Ricky Davis isn't a rookie...just a new addition to the T-Wolves team. I was laughing about the how Ricky Davis called the Blazers a bunch of "roaches" before they got their butts kicked the last time they came here. I was watching Channel 8 just before the game, and Ricky D sort of backed off that comment by saying THEY were looking like roaches lately, BUT Garnett said on camera words to the effect that "the roaches are getting squashed tonight". He must have been talking about the T-Wolves. Haa...Haa...we kicked their butts....YES!!! I love it!!! Playoffs here we come! P.S. I loved it when Udoka "shoulderd" K.G. while jockeying for position and pretty much knocked him on his butt...it shows a "I don't care about your super star status" attitude and the Blazer need that. P.P.S. Sergio was great, but Maglorie needs to go because he pretty much sucks no matter how you slice it. Nights like tonight give Blazer fans lots of hope for the future. Even Zach is teasing us a little with the way he is acting interested in playing defense...o.k. now I'm going overboard...time to quit while I'm ahead.

I'm serious about the playoff thing.

Yeah, but are you serious about your free chalupa?

The Blazers are now a positive story again. In fact, I don't recall ever reading a Dwight Jayne's column that was as upbeat as his piece on Sergio Rodriguez last week. Dwight is usually a little cynical - okay, joyless - but he was absolutely giddy about Sergio, and as a reader that was fun. In that spirit, I'm at peace with the LaMarcus pick, after complaining bitterly that we didn't take Adam Morrison. I think LaMarcus is a good presence here in Portland, and I wish him the best.

As far as making the playoffs, I remember the Oregonian's Canzano bringing that up early last season - a season where we ended up in the Onion being left off the NBA schedule for this year. So, I hope they do, but let's not get crazy. It's a fine line between enthusiasm and reality, but for me the worst emotion is projecting misery onto a situation that is actually a fun story. The Blazers are once again a fun story and Nate McMillan is a great coach.

I'm not sure talk of the playoffs is helpful just yet. Even talk of realistic expectations can drag down a young team. I even wonder if Brandon Roy could be set back a little by all the Rookie of the Year talk. Why not just hope for the best and see how the season goes? The Italian kid playing for the Raptors is quite something, too. There are also nights when Adam Morrison looks excellent. Steve Smith announces for Atlanta and he started out a recent two game stretch against the Bobcats making fun of Adam Morrison's defense, "They say he can't guard his own shadow." Then Morrison started draining some incredible shots and Steve made that "Woo" sound, and started talking about how great his stroke was and how he's a real basketball player.
This is also the time of the year when the rookies have played an entire college season's worth of games and sometimes hit the wall. We have our share of rookies. I will say if one of them made Dwight Jaynes that happy, it has already been an incredible season.
One last note: I was sad to see Steve Blake go, but now that's he's bounced into the situation in Denver you've got to feel good about it.

Yeah, but are you serious about your free chalupa?

Seriously not gonna eat one.

I'm pretty sure Ricky Davis isn't a rookie...just a new addition to the T-Wolves team.

Of course. I think I got that dumb idea out of the program they gave us when we walked in the door. Davis was a Blazer killer, though, until he tired out.


They'll have to go 25-15 down the stretch if they're gonna make the playoffs. That ain't gonna happen.

Next year. Yes. Next year...

I was sitting up in the 200 level last night. I screamed myself hoarse and loved that clip of Belushi from Animal House with about a minute to go in the 4th quarter. "Was it over when the *Germans* bombed Pearl Harbor?" Nope, it sure wasn't. Playoff hopes? Sure, why not?

I was at the first Minnesota game this year, the home opener, a sellout and it reminded me so much of the crowds we used to get it was freaky. People were chanting, getting extremely loud and when Juan Dixon hit the GW 3 with 4.5 seconds on the clock the place went nuts. I'll actually pay to go to a game this year again.

They'll have to go 25-15 down the stretch if they're gonna make the playoffs.

It's possible that 23-16 -- a .500 record for the year -- would do it. Not out of the question.

a .500 record for the year

I was just talking off the top of my head when I said 25-15. I was shooting for .500 myself. But with the grease fire that is the Eastern Conference giving Western teams cheap wins (hello Cleveland!), I'm not sure .500 in the West will do. I'm guessing it'll have to be 45 maybe 46 wins just to get in. Doable? Yes. Probable? No.

The top teams in the West are killing the East, but within the West right now, I believe .500 would be the eighth playoff spot.

Once proud timberwolves? Where in their history have they been proud?

I believe .500 would be the eighth playoff spot.

I stand corrected. The Blazers are only 3 games out of the eighth spot.

Pass the Kool-Aid!

It's a bit of a stretch, sure. There are half a dozen teams hovering around that level. It would take an amazing second half for the Blazers to make it. But if they play like they did last night, it's possible.

snore.........I'm just waiting for baseball season to start.....

Kathe--Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in about two more weeks.

Why is Magloire in for defensive purposes? At one time, in New Orleans, he had a reputation as a defensive specialist, but he can't do it now. Aldridge played Garnett tougher last night and Pryzbilla still had another foul left, but never got back in. I can't believe McMillan is playing Magloire to boost his trade potential, inasmuch as he seems to lower it every minute he's on the court.

As for Brandon Roy, they stuck Trenton Hassell on him after the first quarter and Hassell is one of the best defenders in the league.

Seriously not gonna eat one.

You're a wise man, Jack. I ate one of those "free" chalupas once. Once. Seriously bad idea.

Blazers in the playoffs? I watched a game on TV not long ago, Blazers up when I channel surfed to the game...then, staying, they tanked. "Why" I asked myself, "do I let myself get sucked up into this?" Waste of time and emotional energy.

Gotta be strong. Just say no. Playoffs? Ain't gonna happen.

batter up! and it's not waffles we're talking here!

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