Monday, December 14, 2009

Trail Blazers vs Kings: Game 26

One of the surprise teams of the NBA during this young season has to be the 10-12 Sacramento Kings. The Kings, who finished last season with the NBA's worst record at 17-65, are finding a way to get it done behind Coach Paul Westphal and stud rookie Tyreke Evans. What is even more impressive about their record is the fact they are doing it without leading scorer Kevin Martin, who looks to be out for at least another month or two with a broken wrist. All of these numbers and records are great for the Kings, except one minor detail. They are an abysmal 1-9 away from Arco Arena and were swept at the Rose Garden last season, including a 109-77 blowout.
For Portland, this is about as close to a must win as you can get in December. With only 9 able bodies and the next 6 games going a little something like Phoenix, at Orlando, at Miami, at San Antonio, at Dallas, and Denver, the Trail Blazers can not afford to lay any more eggs at the Rose Garden any time soon if they still want to achieve their goal of making the playoffs. Sacramento doesn't attribute all the talent in the world, but they fight, claw, and scrap their way to victory, something Coach McMillan would like to see his boys doing on a more consistent basis. The Blazers showed a lot of urgency in their late 3rd/early 4th rally against Milwaukee, which was a breathe of fresh air. Hopefully, we see more of that tonight, even if it is against the Kings.
Sacramento is both top 5 in scoring per game at 105.09 and points allowed at 105.31, so the Kings giveth and the Kings taketh away. Jason Thompson is a promising, young forward averaging 14.9 ppg and 9.1 rpg, but this is another game where Portland has the decided advantage at the 4 spot. Personally, I'd love to see Aldridge work his dribble-drive game and force the officials to make the calls on Thompson. If Thompson gets in early foul trouble, Aldridge will have a field day against Job Brockman or Andres Nocioni.
Make no mistake about it, if Portland decides to to play with a lull and wastes the shot clock down on nearly every possession, the Kings can and will score in bunches. We must move without the ball, cut, and make quick decisions as we saw the 2nd unit perform the give and go at will on the Cavaliers during the 2nd quarter. The Kings will turn the ball over, 15.81 a night which is bad enough for 9th worst in the league, so Portland needs to take every opportunity to push the tempo and get easy fast break buckets. A lot of our players have been in year-long shooting slumps and sometimes the easiest way to break free during a game is to get a cheap lay-up to get your rhythm going.
The game is sold out, which shows that Blazer fans are still behind their team. I know the team is hungry for a win after going 1-3 on a very winnable 4 game road trip. Add all of that together with the fact that the team regains their leader in Coach tonight and I see the makings of a drubbing. I believe during the road trip, the team was still shell shocked from the loss of Greg and is just now realizing how much extra it will take to win on a nightly basis. Roy and Aldridge lead the way to a dominating victory.
Game 26 Prediction: Trail Blazers 107 Kings 92
Post-Game Thoughts In what looked like "Memphis 2.0", the Blazers fought their way back from a 54-43 halftime deficit behind absolutely amazing nights from Roy and Aldridge, Joel on the glass, and timely scoring from Jerryd Bayless. Although it was far from a drubbing, the game should not have been as close as it was. I give Coach Nate all the credit in the world for making halftime adjustments, but we really need to start out games by working Aldridge in the post. We did this to start the 2nd half, and their 11 point lead was evaporated in less than a few minutes, making it a competitive again. By visiting the plethora of Blazer message boards, the fan opinion on Aldridge really differs between All-Star or elite forward. Personally, I believe he can and will be the top power forward in 2-3 years once Dirk, Duncan, and KG all start to decline. He possesses every move in the post from the fade away to the up and under. It is true he needs to work on his face up game, but this kid is a scoring machine and not many players have the skill to defend against his offensive repertoire. Outside of his 25 points and 5 assists, I was most impressed with his 8 2nd half rebounds. We were getting out played and out worked in the 1st half and I noticed he only had 1 board through 2 quarters. Whatever got into him in the 2nd half, we need more of that. With his length and athleticism, 8-10 boards a night should be a walk in the park
Brandon looked like he was back tonight. He shot 50% from the field (10-20), handed out 10 assists, pulled down 5 rebounds, and scored 25 points. With our record being not so illustrious this season, he'll have to put up these type of numbers to be recognized as an All-Star for the 3rd consecutive season. I really don't buy the fact that Roy plays his best when he is out there with Blake as he looked extremely comfortable with both Andre and Jerryd playing alongside of him. If we want to make a serious push for the playoffs, we need to Roy and LaMarcus to be our Shaq and Kobe. Regardless of whether they are as talented as those two, the Blazers need those two to take the majority of the shots, lead by example, and make others around them better.
Outside of our dynamic duo, each and every game looks like it will hinder on two things. Joel Przybilla being able to stay on the court and getting a consistent 15 points a night from one player as our 3rd scoring option. When the Thrilla was on the court, his +/- was +27, +15 higher than any other Trail Blazer. It was no coincidence when Joel got hampered by 3 fouls in the first two quarters, the Kings were able to score at will in the paint and extend their lead. Without Greg and even Pendergraph, our interior defense becomes very spotty without him on the floor, so he could be the most valuable Trail Blazer.
"Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, Jerryd was freed at last." A lot of people, including myself, have been hoping for Bayless to get significant playing time with all of these injuries and it happened last night when he tallied a season-high 24 minutes and played nearly the entire 4th quarter. Huge kudos must be given to Coach McMillan for sticking with Jerryd through his rough 1st half which saw him get posted up twice by Ime Udoka and send an outlet pass into the 5th row of center court, way above the outstretched hand of Steve Blake. Coach believed in Jerryd and he delivered with some timely, timely buckets down the stretch. With the game close and the shot clock winding down, Jerryd got the ball on a few occasions and just let instinct take over as he darted to the hoop. He didn't make the bucket, but got to the foul line, which is something this team needs from players other than Brandon. Bayless is a scoring point guard, but that is perfectly fine, because Roy loves to handle the ball. Also, with Rudy and Travis out, we desperately need a consistent 3rd scorer, so if he is able to get us 15 a night, it would really help soften up the defense on Roy and LA.
Box Score

No comments:

Post a Comment