Friday, December 21, 2007

Tickling the twine for ten

If you weren't at the Rose Garden tonight, you missed out on one heck of a show. Strong fourth quarters have become a hallmark of this team during the current ten-game winning streak, and tonight was no exception.

Down by seven going into the final frame, the "white unit," lead by Travis Outlaw and James Jones, rattled off a 16 straight points to take control of the game and give the Blazers their first lead since the first half. The Nuggets countered, knotting the score at 94-94 with a minute and a half to play, but Brandon Roy's block of Carmelo Anthony's close-in attempt gave the Blazers just enough momentum to escape with a 99-96 win. Easily one of the best games this season.

The Highlights

  • Brandon Roy: Despite struggling from the field, Roy found ways to get to the free throw line while also playing tough defense. And as previously stated, the block with just 30 seconds left in the game gave the Blazers a boost right when they needed it.

  • The "white unit": The Portland bench outscored Denver's 39-10. Travis Outlaw (12 points), James Jones (14 points) and Channing Frye (8 points) all gave Nate McMillan solid minutes, especially at the start of the fourth quarter. Outlaw's block of Linas Kleiza's desperation three-pointer sealed the win for the Trail Blazers.

  • LaMarcus Aldridge: In his second game back from injury, Aldridge scored 18 points, grabbed eight rebounds (four offensive) and dished out a career-high five assists. Don't sleep on the big man's passing ability.

  • Martell Webster: Hitting numerous big shots at various times in the second half allowed the Blazers to stay within reach. Without Webster's timely shooting, this game is a loss.

  • Fastbreak defense: The Blazers held the Nuggets to just ten fastbreak points. That's good against any team, but especially impressive considering tonight's competition.

  • The crowd: A legitimate sellout crowd of 20,644 had the Rose Garden rocking, especially in the fourth quarter. It's hard to tell at this point if the team is feeding off the crowd in the late stages of the game or if the crowd is feeding off the team.

    The Lowlights

  • Points in the paint: Despite having a much bigger lineup, the Blazers were outscored 42-22 in the key. You can get by doing that when you're shooting a high percentage (as the Blazers currently are), but once those outside shots stop dropping, Nate McMillan will have to find a way to get his team more easy buckets down low.

  • First half effort: Nate McMillan said numerous times during the post-game that his team thought that they could "just flip a switch" when they needed to. It turns out that they did, but a young team like the Blazers needs to play hard and with purpose from start to finish.

    What the Blazers had to say ...

    Nate McMillan:

    “Fortunately, though, we started playing aggressively in the second half, especially in that stretch in the fourth quarter. This time I thought our second unit once again bailed us out. We can’t continue to go into games even with this steak feeling so good about yourself that you think you just flip a switch and turn it on and off. This is a rhythm thing. You can lose it really easily. So you can’t let up and we don’t have the ability to just flip switches and expect wins.”

    “The key plays down the stretch of course were game-changers. The block by Brandon on Anthony was spectacular. Not only was it clean but he also recovered the ball. Just before that we had Brandon on Iverson and Travis on Anthony then we switched it. We just wanted to be bigger than they were. Our crowd was the best crowd we’ve had since I’ve been here. It was the loudest. It helps makes the Rose Garden the special place we want it to be. If we keep winning like this the fans will keep coming and the players will feed off that.”

    Travis Outlaw:

    (About slow getting started in the game): “The coach looked at me and said, ‘you gotta play.’ The players said the same. I be trying to play in the first half but I don’t try to rush it. Its an unbelievable feeling. I’ve never been a part of something like this (the winning streak). We’re enjoying every minute of it.”

    What the Nuggets had to say ...

    George Karl:

    (About the Trail Blazers) “They are very confident. They’ve grown together very quickly. They have very good composure for close games and close situations. They also have the ability to explode on you with the three ball. They are always dangerous and can hit three or four threes on you in any situation. They have a combination…there guards are heady guys like Blake and Jack. They have a lot of pieces. They have there cohesiveness faster than a young team usually does.”

    Carmelo Anthony:

    “They are a tough team…they’ve won 10 in a row. It’s hard to say they are creeping up on teams. They are a hot team and they are playing well right now. Everything they throw up is going in and they are playing together right now. They are playing extremely well. Before the game George came up to me and AI and told us to get that third person involved, but it was kind of hard out there tonight. I tried and AI tried. We came out here and played hard. In the fourth quarter Outlaw got hot. He got it started and everybody started hitting shots. When you’ve got five guys on the court who are making shots it’s kind of hard to do anything. They are the hottest team in the NBA right now.”

    So that's ten wins in a row. They'll got for number eleven on Christmas Day against the Sonics at the Rose Garden. Could there be a better way to celebrate than to watch a Blazer victory? I doubt it.

    jamesjonesin said...

    Who needs to but ill say it again 10 IN A ROW!! Lol who would have thought. It is really out of nowhere that this young blazer team comes out of nowhere and is uniting together to become one. Every player is making his teamate better out there. James Jones and Travis Outlaw stepping up were the missing links. Looking at the upcoming schedule another number comes to mind before going to boston but hey, im not going to say it. Lets wait and see. RIP CITY

    Colin said...

    Good stuff. I found this after the game, thought it was interesting to hear from Camby, even if it was before the fact. He has some nice things to say about the blazers.

    Colin said...

    uh. oops. I just saw that your previous post was about that. nevermind...

    BlazerRed said...

    Winning the game is great. Having the opposing coach and superstar prop the team is awesome! Casey, you're one step closer, with this job change, to getting what you really want...a chance to tryout for SG on the Blazers...come on, admit it!

    Rickster1 said...

    Nice blog. Its good getting the comments from the coaches and players. I used to avoid the Blazer page because it always had annoying boxes to close and there wasnt any good info (I read MBs blog but I just go directly to it). Now I keep up with new postings. Keep it up Casey.

    FYI...there is a difference between "there" and "their". I dont know if you typed it or just cut and pasted.

    GiangioTheGlide said...

    I'm a italian fan, from Monterotondo near Rome. Go Blazers for the 11!!!

    JohnGHolland said...

    This has been an amazing stretch for the boys. I'll be parked in front of the tube on Christmas day drinking egg nog and cheering on my team as we dismantle the K.D. and his cohorts and hit 11 straight W's. GO Blazers!

    hg said...

    great blog.
    I hadn't read a full discription of the game. I was at my Friday night bowling league with no T.V

    sounds like it was a great game.
    wished I could have seen it.

    Looking forward to Christmas.

    I read in Oregonlive that miles participated in a full practice with the team. Does that mean he will get to play soon. I've read a lot of pro and con about him; but nevertheless, I would like to see him totally recovered and try to float the the rim again


    David said...

    Hi Casey! Congrats on the new job!

    Could you do us all a favor and tell Mike Barrett to update the RSS feed on his blog?

    Many thanks! Keep up the good work!

    Dave aka david1978pdx

    Ed said...

    I really enjoyed the insight about the "Secret to the Blazer's success" in the Sunday Oregonian.
    Nate McMillan has changed his style to encorage the players to have a lot more freedom to make mistakes without reprisal. If they are shotting hot,they can take a high risk shot without concern. Timeouts are more layed back and positive. Since the change we have not lost a game. Coach McMillan is surely the best coach in the NBA.

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