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.

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