Monday, April 2, 2012

Bullcrap

What a f-cking bullsh-- game. I wanted a win for my birthday, and I thought the Blazers knew that. They started off brilliantly, had a 14 point lead and pissed it all away. Wes went off, had an awesome game and wasn't getting any calls. I respect him for going as long as he did without a technical, but he finally did get one and still the calls weren't happening. He even worked them back to a three point lead, and then Felton dribbles off his foot and we lose everything.

JJ Hickson decided defense and rebounding weren't going to be played by him tonight, and everyone else followed suit. I don't know if he and Aldrige can play together because he likes to showboat, and when the O if always run through L-Train, he doesn't do jackshit anywhere. That's total crap.

Felton was all right tonight, better than the other two point guards, but he had key mistakes when he made them. Total momentum killers.

And Hasheem Thabeet is a liability. He played all of ten seconds and did not do his job at all. He went in for one thing, to spell LA so LA didn't get a foul, and to get a rebound. He is 7'3" and he allowed a 6'7" guy to both get a rebound and score before he got his big ass boxing out. What the hell. I will take half his salary and do his job. Fundamentals.

And another thing. I didn't give props to Batum for coming out and playing last night. Well today he had great moments and again for some reason was streaky as hell. There were two tremendously horrific calls made on him that he should have bitched about, but didn't. He needs to.

One call on Wes was the same ridiculous way, that Wesley finally yelled about. He got his legs grabbed by Millsap and then Paul fell down and they called it a charge. Wesley should have had 2 points and a FT, and they called it a damn charge. Not only is that dangerous, but it's obvious. Also, on the steal in the final seconds by the Jazz, the dude ran out of bounds. I saw it live, I saw it on the replay and everyone in the garden saw it, how is that missed. That's atrocious, and if I knew how, I would contact the league.

Fuck the referees and fuck Utah. Fuck being 24 if my Blazers can't buy a victory. Happy Birthday to me. Not in the least.

TIMBER! Go the Wolves

I liked a lot of what I saw in this match-up. LA and Kevin Love didn't cross-match as they usually do, and it worked well in our favor. Last game Kevin Love had 42 and 10, but with LA on him they both had 26 and something. Not bad for LA to assert his defense and bother Kevin all night. And bother him he did. Love was getting pissed off a few times even losing his cool, once I was surprised they didn't T him up. Props to LA for not backing down from the burly, bearded little bitch.

Wesley "The Wesley" Matthews had himself a game, too. Took a few of those boys to school in his lunch pail. I imagine him before the tip-off shaking hands and telling everyone how much he would make them his sons. He's in no way, shape or form that arrogant, but he could have, and he'd have been right.

Flynn is working into the system nicely and had a few suh-weet dimes that a fan like me likes to see. Felton, I will admit, played very well in spans he normally struggles. Troubling is the fact that Nolan Smith is nowhere to be found these days, after starting a game in Felton's absence. I don't know if "Coach" is taking his first started game as signs of lackluster all-around play, or if he's spooked and wants to chill for a bit, but whatever the case, I think it should be opposite. I don't want a lasting mental toll on Nolan just because he seemingly got blasted in his first start. It was an off night on his first ever NBA start against a good opponent, and I really think this benching is going to have a worse impact if it continues, than the game initially would have.

Batum I feel never got on in this game because of some questionable (to be ├╝ber nice) calls. He couldn't find his Batum groove. He got some awesomeness going, for certain, including the game's biggest play, but if he can do that always, despite referee interference, that's when he'll just go apeshiz on ninjas.

Speaking of the game's biggest play. Batum comes from the other side of the floor to block a Ridnour jumpshot, from the side, as he's jumping across, using his off hand. The ball goes directly into Felton's hands and Batum continues running the floor with Felton in the middle and Matthews on the other wing. If I'm Felton I dish to Batum if he's open at all, but Felton dishes to an open Matthews who finishes anyway. Wheeze from Minnesota, electric screams from the fans, wonder in Nate's eyes. Beauty.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

OKC Goes Ham

Ok, seriously? You get your team together for a game, show some spirit and energy to make a late game surge to seal a close one and lead everyone to believe you're maturing into the coaching role that has been thrust upon you. Then you coach like tonight. Yikes, Kaleb. Not cool, my man.

Again, blame the inexperience of the coach for the loss tonight. Not much more to say. Down 18 at the half in large part due to ineffective use of the zone defense. This defensive scheme has worked in the recent past to disrupt another team's flow, but the score would suggest this is not the case in this particular matchup. So, halftime over, Kaleb changes that. The halftime adjustments are working, Blazers hit a 19-2 run to close a large gap to within 3. Holy donuts, that's impressive. But, we can't keep it up. The lead stretches to 9. Uh oh, it's slipping to double digits now. Yuck, 15. Timeout is called, all right good. Time to make some moves. But, what have we here? The moves made are...go back to zone? Seriously?

Despite that blockheadedness, I feel like the team got some good, albeit streaky playing time. Flynn needs to keep his head up and learn to pass. Nolan needs to also do that because tonight he was not the guard he knows how to be. His first ever start, so it makes sense, but come on. Also, good on JJ for being on, but some passing could be good too.

Mostly, we just need to box out and rebound, and play some defense. And I hate floppers, but we were playing Derek "Flop like a" Fish-er, so taking a few more charges this game could have helped. Adjusting the defense to Westbrook was a necessity  that was apparently never addressed. Hard to believe seeing how poor of a shooter he is when defended well, and he went yard tonight. Scoring 10 straight from the same exact spot SCREAMS a change to me but, despite a timeout late, he kept it going. Which just feeds his already over-confident ego and turns him into an even bigger sack of douche, but if we're not gonna guard him of course he'll feel like he's a badass. To be clear, you put Batum or Matthews on him like glue, the only badass thing you'll see is their stellar defense. He'll start bitching more than Lewis Black.

Anyway, props tonight to Hickson and Matthews. Matthews because he had an off-ish shooting night and still had 17, 6 and 4 without a TO and played 34 minutes, as he always does. Baller.

Nolan, sir, you're the low brow with Crawful tonight. Embrace your role and own it, my man. Crawford, yeesh. Sure some fouls weren't called (except on you), but you were so off that even I wasn't calling for many of them. It's their job and you're a jumpshooter, so they should be all over it, but you weren't all over your job either. 2 points on 1 for 7, 2TO...

Barely Better than the Bay Area

Felton went off tonight, not shooting a high percentage but getting a season high in points and some assists nonetheless. That's a good change of pace. If he could play at that level but consistently, just imagine what a point guard he could be. Numbers didn't wow me, but he had some leadership qualities he hasn't proven to possess lately, and that was nice to see.

Glad to see Steph Curry wasn't on the floor, because that guy goes off like a wet towel on a rack. Almost impossible to guard completely. Matthews could of course, but I'm glad he didn't have to.

One dude I've never heard of, Jenkins, had himself a ball though. Not cool, guys. And former draft pick/draft day trade Brandon Rush was hitting some outside jumpers. I wanted that guy on our team so badly that the immediate trade was sad, and every time he plays us I'm reminded why. not every game he plays, though. He's pretty not so good at times.

Defense all around was all right, but obviously when a guy whose previous career high is 15 gets 27, some adjustments were certainly missed. Squeaked it out, but not by much.

Shout out to LA, who had 9 rebounds, the final few points and the final defense on the hot-handed Jenkins' buzzer-beater attempt. Props, sir.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Losing at the Lakerfront

We kept it close the entire game, even tying the score a few times. This was a feat in and of itself, seeing as we were in LA, had an interim coach on his fifth game on the second of a back-to-back and a few guys who hadn't really played much with the team. They played like Goonies, never saying "die", and that is certainly commendable.

We had great games from the guys, too. The game started out looking like Los Angeles was about to take us to a clinic and smoke us like a jay behind the bleachers, but the second quarter we really took off, coming from eleven behind and ending the half only down 5 with momentum. L-Train had 29 points and 9 boards, 2 assists and 2 steals, and was hitting some shots early and late. He kept us around in the beginning, going the first half with only two misses. He had something like 21 in the first half, most of that coming in the second quarter run.

The story to me, though, was my main man Matthews. He had 16, which is solid, first off. But, he took a card out of former Blazer guard Ruben Patterson's pocket and became the Kobe Stopper. The only difference was Wesley never called himself that, he just did it. Shobe started off with a hot hand. He was hitting outside shots and Bynum was inside doing what everyone expected him to do from day one. But, after Kobe's "electrifying" 5 of 6 start, Matthews decided to recalibrate, or take the reins from Batum, and locked the ninja down. Kobe finished the game going 0-11 and 18 points.

Hickson too, did well. He had 14 for the bench, although his defense was, as always, suspect.

The game just boiled down to two problems for the boys. [Offensive] Rebounding and inexperience from a coaching standpoint. Lakers out rebounded the Blazers by 24, including 18-6 offensively. About 6 of those for the Lakers came on one possession too, which has got to be just disheartening for an already exhausted Blasers' team. Play solid defense for 24 seconds, miss a board, miss another board after solid defense, and it goes on and ends with a Lakers' three-pointer.

As for coaching, I can't really blame Kaleb at this point. I did, in the rise and fall of emotions last night, but I kind of have to rescind that. Because yes, he coached areas poorly, substitutions late in the third were a big problem, but is that all on him? He didn't promote himself, and he can only do his best in the new position. Objectively, I can watch and say, "No, Crawesome is off, so you need to put this guy in late instead" or think that a certain match-up isn't working, but at the end of the day, I'm on my couch in my underwear with an apple fritter, and he's courtside.

I enjoyed the game for the most part, and as many times as I palmed my face for a missed call (it is Los Angeles, after all. And has Ron Artest ever dribbled by someone without hooking?) or a missed rebound, my boys played very well. They played better than the refs for 3 quarters, and played with enough heart to warrant I compliment from the Lakers announcers. Which is saying a ton, actually, because those guys were having a hard time recognizing anything Blazers besides Kurt Thomas being 39 and LaMarcus being an All-Star. In all seriousness, those guys were talking out of their asses more than Jim Carrey's early movies (with such gems as "When only 1 defender is guarding Kobe, he doesn't have to worry about a second defender guarding him," saying McRoberts was having one hell of a game despite going 1 for 3 with two points all game, and falling in love with the term "Splash" (it means scoring, apparently.)

Anyway, off game of the night: Jamal Crawford. 3-14. He had ten points but he'd dribble himself around wasting time and then take a wild 3pointer from deep space nine. Also, Felton had some late game non-heroics by dribbling for 18 seconds (with 40 to go, down 6), deciding to mae a move resulting in him being baseline, four feet from the hoop on his offside and throwing up a left-handed...lay-up attempt, I guess, that he airballed. Then he didn't foul for 13 seconds. Nice.

On game. Wesley. What a champ. I'm glad we have him for 4 years more. Hopefully this overhaul/rebuild ends before ditching him and Batum.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Better Than the Grizzly Men

Inviting another Western conference opponent into the Garden, after falling to Milwaukie already was a game I was somewhat anxious to watch. Seeing the big guys a bit out of synch and knowing the close game struggles, I expected a close game and hoped for a result countering the statistics.

And we got it. A lot in part to the active defense played by Wesley, Nicolas, and the big dudes down low. Man I love blocked shots. Blocked shots are the donuts of the stat sheet. Three pointers are great, steals, all those, but when I see blocked shots...guuuuuuuud. Hold them under 100, 93 tonight compared to 116 to the Bucks. Held them 25 points or under per quarter, like their goal was, and outscored them 31 to 24 in the final 12 minutes, coming from a third quarter deficit to win outright. Uh, that's some good ball.

Also keeping us up, perfect from the line. Not perfect like Memphis' announcers said "Jamal Crawford NEVER misses." at 91.5%. We were 100%, 25 for 25. Which I believe is a season record as the last I can remember is 24 in the Detroit/Milwaukie game. That game had 41-41 FT made, Pistons with 24, Bucks with 17. Wild.

Back to us now. 40% from threeland. Batum and Wesley were both 4-8. I love the way Wesley is shooting the three ball these days. My two favorite Blazers now that MC is gone, holler. And the Lukey "BB" Babbitt, living up to the BB (Buzzer Beater) moniker at the end of the first. Could be better than 40, but 40 is way better than the season. We were plus-21 from threeland, hitting 10-25 at some crucial moments in the game.

So Batum was the Batum-shaka-laka for sure tonight. The definite #2 punch behind LA, which worked tonight because LA was off, in my opinion. Batum hit it hard early, went down with 3 foulds, then got right back on when necessary, getting crucial steals, playing Gay rough (don't read that like you want to) and just being the man. If I could give two, I'd give Wesley the next one, because tonight he was all over scrapping like a bum looking for Coke cans to recycle for booze money. Smothering at times, getting a lot of contact despite it being an overall loosely called game, he played like the Dreaded Pirate Roberts his name suggests. Good on you, Wesley.

I'll tell you who wasn't on my good list tonight. LA. Man, this guy has to step up tomorrow or we might just be dead in the water like that guy from Mystic River. He's the number one punch, obviously, but he played like he did two years ago. He had 4 TO and only once did he make a move to the rim, everything was distance fades from 18. And he wasn't hitting them. I think he shot 50% for 16 points. Not atrocious, but he never looked comfortable, showcased by lack of aggressiveness. He did take my suggestion early on, making a brilliant pass out of a double for a nailed three-pointer, but later he lost it. I guess he gets all flustered and forgets the basics. The thing is, All-Stars can't afford that in the NBA. The one time tonight he turned in, he lost the ball, and if it weren't for some heroics by a tandem Crawford and Batum, the game would've been a 1 point spread with less than a minute and a huge Memphis momentum shift.

Anyway, this was a nice win to have to bring "Coach" back to .500, and to have a bit of momentum on the flight to LA. Hopefully we don't celebrate too hard, because it was just Memphis, 5th seed and we now have to hit LAL, 3rd seed, and a much bigger rival. Minus the theatrics of Derek Flopper, but still a heavy hitter nonetheless. Knock on some wood tonight, all you readers.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Buck Puns Stop Here

Losing to the Bucks is like peeing your pants at school in that I can't believe it happened to me. I never thought I would see a Bucks team so consistent in passing, but I also never thought I'd see Raymond Felton have a decent game, and here we stand.

This game was overcome with rookie mistakes, and I'm not talking about a Nolan Smith turnover. Also, holding hands with the newbies, or rather, from the hands of the newbies (to cross-pollinate the metaphor), was a night devoid of any bench scoring whatsoever. 0-20 was the last number I heard on bench field goals, and 1 point during that time on a 1 for 2 trip to the stripe by second in the league Jamal Crawford. Happy birthday it was not.

Besides that though, like I said, the game was dominated by the rookies, particularly rookie referee "Sir" Alan Thomas and Interim "Head Coach" Kaleb Canales.

There was a stretch during this game that one referee was having himself a field day of atrocities, including a run of charges rung up on the home team, all calls going against the hometeam and a 5 minutes discussion with Joel Przybilla about how a jump ball should occur. Why a rookie ref is instructing a veteran big man where to put his feet, how to stand and how to knit a sweater when the only necessary steps are whistle-toss is an explanation I hope to see very soon from this particular referee.

Why he is named 'Sir' is a question for his parents, though I wouldn't be shocked to learn they're from South Carolina and wanted to add some royalty to their bloodline. I suppose that is how you start the regal progeny,  by naming them so. I guess they couldn't wait for Alan to underwhelm them by never reaching the low potential he was aimed for in the first place, and figured they'd start early. It used to be people earned titles from dignitaries, but perhaps the new age is one of bestowing titles at birth so people don't have to do something as difficult as say, working for them.

But even he couldn't control the entire game, with his no-calling, no-calling, TECHNICAL pattern he had going. Kaleb Canales had himself a third game for the memories, if the memories were my demential grandmother's. Kaleb really showcased his lack of experience with poor substitutions, ineptitude of pace and complete and utter nothingness on the sideline. It takes more than standing, clapping and yelling "C" and nodding to be a coach in today's NBA. As a former video intern I suppose a sideline view may distort his perception a bit, but I hope in reviewing the tape of tonight's game he realizes the disaster he induced with his [non] command of the game.

It was actually around bench mishap 14 that I remembered why Whoopi Goldberg got a chance to coach in Eddie. I really should get myself into the stands with a whiteboard, because for sure tonight's game would have fared better for the home team. I'm not saying I'm more experienced running an NBA squad, but I am saying I could do more on my first game than Canales did with his third. I don't need to watch any game tape to know how to fix his mistakes. When you don't have anyone to inbound, you have to realize either your practice sessions are a curb-stomping away from American History X, or the subs you have in there aren't making up the group of guys you want on the floor at the same time. Going more than seven minutes of game time without scoring a point, without a timeout or a substitution? I mean, come on. I don't even go that long in NBA Live without a line-up change, and I score 200 points in 20 minutes.

His woeful coaching job was only amplified by the piss-poor shooting done by players 6-12 of the team. A lot can be said in chemistry; there was none, and lack of practice; I can't speak for that, but all in all, they plain didn't play professional basketball. The first quarter was fine, the pace was up tempo, the crowd in the game, the ball movement proficient. Come the second quarter and then...any time after that, and any momentum or cohesiveness was kaput. Back to the drawing board, Kaleb. Go at it old school like in the video room if you need to, just don't forget that it is time for an interim, not an intern.


Balls Out Blazer: Matthews. Dude had some passes that needed to make it and did, and got his shooter's touch back these past three games, including going 4-4 to start from behind the arc. Also, he scrapped and got some great defensive plays.

Could have been better: LaMarcus. Definitely needed some passing from this dude. Did a tremendous job on offensive rebounds, and I know "coach" probably called a kabillion plays too many to him, but sometimes you have to shoulder the on-floor play more than say, someone that just got promoted last week. I can't blame you for the play, did well, just more passing in some of these situations. One play in particular was an NBA Jam dream where LA was one-on-two and Wesley Matthews was wide open for a three, but LA faded for a short-rimmed miss. Wes would've set the net on fire, L-Train. Nest time.

Horriawful: The bench. Not much more can be said than the statistics. I don't even want to boxscore them it was so bad. Let's just say, I hope Babbitt is like Sampson, because he was sure looking like it tonight. Crawesome did too much cake and ice cream and not enough wishing and Nolan Smith was duped, not Duke.

See you next game, 'Zers.

Focker, out.