Friday, October 30, 2009

Brush It Off Big Fella'

I knew exactly what the locker room would look like tonight before stepping through the heavy double doors that separate the team's sanctuary from the outside world. There would be a crowd of reporters in a semi-circle watching Greg Oden get dressed, recorders, cameras and microphones at the ready. Dante Cunningham, who inhabits the locker next to Oden, would be pushed aside while trying to get dressed by people half his size and infinitely less athletic. Sure enough, that's exactly what I saw.

I had no interest in joining the scrum. I was pretty sure I knew what he was going to say, and I'm positive he didn't need another camera shoved in his face, so I stood on the opposite side of the locker room waiting for it all to unfold.

And I wasn't alone. As the media horde stood quietly around Oden, head hung as he slipped a suit jacket over his shoulders, Brandon Roy, Jerryd Bayless, Juwan Howard, Rudy Fernandez and Joel Przybilla were all watching as well. I don't know if they were curious about how he would react to the moment, what he would say or what the media would ask, but they briefly stopped their own postgame rituals to take it in. All eyes were once again on Oden, just as they were when he missed two free throws that could have tied the game with 4.6 seconds to play.

He said the things you would expect him to say, though I doubt his teammates would agree with his conclusions. He put the loss on himself, talking about need to "step up" in pressure situations. While the later statement might be true, the former is not. Missing those free throws didn't loose that game. Shooting 34.6 percent from the field as a team took care of that.

The Blazers had 20 more attempts but the same number of makes as the Nuggets. Portland had more rebounds, more assists, fewer turnovers, more second chance points and only four fewer points in the paint while holding Denver to nine fastbreak points, but none of that mattered, just as missing two free throws didn't really matter. If the Blazers shoot even 40 percent from the field, which would still be a lackluster performance, they win going away. Instead, they head off to Houston 1-1.


BRoyFTW said...

And I'd give the ball to Oden in the same situation again. I know he can knock down those free throws. Blazers should have made their shots instead of waiting for some miracle ending to happen as usual. Like Dwight Jaynes said, they'll get it eventually. Calm waters win or lose. This team needs time to mesh.

aneebaba said...

Yup, shake it off GO. These are growing pains. Next time, you'll sink'em. It's too long of a season to let this weigh on any player. That's the beauty of the season, most of the time, short gap between games, and you have to be ready for the next opponent - with Houston, they are going to fix the mistakes they made first game, so we have to be on our toes.


Oden is a project player. One year of college and one year in the pros. I have always felt he would not see his stride until his 3rd or 4th pro playing year. I'm giving him grace for the entire season as he's still got so much to learn.

Richard said...

Casey I don't know if there's anyway to get it thru to Greg it's not his fault we lost. That kid puts so much pressure on himself I don't think he cares we shot 30% or that BROY LMA and Dre all missed free throws just minutes before him. It's disappointing because he did so well this offseason and preseason that you hope this situation doesn't break his confidence and put him back a step.

No matter what Greg thinks, he was NOT the reason we lost this game. He WAS a major reason we even had a chance in this game. If it wasn't for Greg and Rudy we would have lost by 25. Hopefully he can take this in stride and come back next game a better player for it.

G.O.- Good luck brother, you did what you were supposed to do in that game, things just didn't bounce your way on the FT line. It's all good man, keep your head up and take your frustrations out on Houston, and Denver the next time you play em.