Thursday, January 8, 2009

Pistons Recap

Phew, we needed that one. It was hard fought, scrappy, and ugly as Goose's jumper. But a win’s a win, especially over a Detroit team that had won their last 7 games and 10 of 12. I am definitely satisfied with going .500 against the likes of: Boston, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Detroit.

The key to our win was defense. In the first half we were getting absolutely shredded by the Pistons, as we played some sort of soft, slow moving zone. Everyone was late rotating, and that combined with Detroit’s stellar jumpshooting put us in a hole early. But second half was a different story, we switched to a trapping man to man, and began our comeback. Bayless’ energy was key in the comeback along with key jumpers from Blake and Rudy, combined with Aldridge’s easy fast break dunks. All and all everyone contributed to help us come back and secure a win, much like the way we played against Boston.

I have a lot to say about each guy, so on to the individual performances.

LaMarcus Aldridge: LA carried us again tonight on some great shooting (11-21) from the field to total 26 points. He did a great job of getting easy fast break buckets in the 2nd half, and kept the defense honest by knocking down his jumper along with a few moves inside as well. A good game from LA.

Jerryd Bayless: This was Jerryd’s coming out party (sorry Mike, not like that). He played aggressive, but not too tight. You could almost see the weight being lifted off his shoulders as he made a few plays in a row and helped spark a Blazers run. What I really like about Bayless is his ability to get to the foul line, which besides Roy and occasionally Oden, we are missing. Bayless only played 17 minutes but shot more free throws (and made) then Outlaw, Batum, Oden, Rudy, and Blake combined. That is pretty staggering, but when you are primary a jumpshooter that’s what happens. I hope that Roy’s return doesn’t dry up Jerryd’s minutes, because he brings things to the table that we are definitely missing, such as getting to the free throw line, a quick and strong perimeter defender, and intensity that is unmatched by any other Blazer.

Steve Blake: Blake played a solid game and tried to at least somewhat take over Roy’s “creator” role. Blake had 10 points and 10 assists. You could tell his main focus was getting everyone else involved on offense rather then himself. He did a commendable job. His D however is a different story. Blake got burned all night, by the quicker and stronger backcourt of Detroit. To Blake’s credit though, not many people can hang with Stuckey and A.I. anyways.

Greg Oden: Greg was in foul trouble early and often as he struggled with the rotations in the zone. Usually Greg’s best games are ones where he stays out of early foul trouble and is able to get into a flow early in the game. Tonight was not one of those nights as he ended with 4 points and only 1 rebound in 13 mins.

Rudy Fernandez: Rudy hasn’t seized the starting 2 guard opportunity like I thought he would, but he does continue to contribute none the less. Rudy had a key rebound at the end of the game for us, which if we do not get, chances are we do not win that game. Also Rudy had multiple steals/blocks that started fastbreaks and helped us get some easy baskets. As he continues to try to find out how he can score on a regular basis in the NBA, it is good to see him contribute in other areas.

Joel Pryzbilla: Joel stepped up again tonight, with Oden in foul trouble and played a solid defensive game. Joel continues to be one of the most underrated players on our team, as he regularly steps in for the foul plagued Oden to help us secure wins. Keep up the good work Pryz, I appreciate you.

Travis Outlaw: The game winner. Outlaw definitely stepped up his game tonight and did a great job of hitting shots when we needed him to. However I am beginning to wonder if he will ever perform consistently. Usually as a player matures and spends more time in the league he becomes more consistent. This is Outlaw’s 5th year in the league, and he still cannot find that consistency. So I pose this question to you, can the Blazers win a championship relying on Travis Outlaw as their 6th or 7th man? Where other teams have the likes of James Posey, Lamar Odom, and Paul Milsaup?

Game Summary In One Sentence: Ugly early, gritty late, earned us a much needed win at home.

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