Blazers vs Lakers Thoughts and Recap
Ahh the collective euphoria of a Blazers over Lakers win at the Rose Garden. I spent a few moments after the win trying to describe the feeling, the shared positivity in the air after a game like tonight, to a non-basketball fan friend of mine. There are papers and entire chapters of psychology books devoted to this group phenomenon that covers things like sports events and religious ceremonies. The Blazers are not just our big time professional sports team (now joined by the MLS Timbers and a rapidly growing fan-base of their own) but our representation to the rest of the country; which is why character is so important. They share in and/or at times provide our highs and lows.
Tomorrow there will be continued positivity in on the street, in warehouses, shops and offices as fans talk about good plays, hustle, and team chemistry, while at the same time they razz their co-worker who is a California transplant and had the audacity to wear Lakers colors on game day. Perhaps the best part of the game came after the final horn sounded. Gerald Wallace, being interviewed after his superb game of 31 points on 13-19 shooting along with 5 boards and couple of steals, said that he was still waiting for everyone to get their legs, to get to 100%. This team could be scary good.
LaMarcus Aldridge put in 28 points of his own, with a mix of jumpers, many of which were wide open, turn-arounds and a few hard drives to the basket. He also grabbed 10 big boards to lead the team in rebounds on a night where, for the first time this season the Blazers were out-rebounded. A good portion of Aldridge’s jumpers came from Raymond Felton, who persevered through a rough shooting night to get 10 assists and 4 rebounds of his own, while helping to push the pace of the game.
The two-guard spot was very well balanced against the Lakers with Wes Matthews and Jamal Crawford sharing minutes and getting 16 and 17 points respectively. Wes helped Wallace and Aldridge to keep the team even with the Lakers through their hot-shooting first half (60%) and Jamal Crawford score his points in bunches throughout the second as that Laker shooting percent fell back to earth thanks to a few missed shots and some at-times stifling defense. While the team didn’t shoot a ton of threes by any means, they did convert 5 of them for 42%, a key that I and others had honed in on for the game.
Kurt Thomas, Craig Smith and Marcus Camby didn’t have any flashy numbers, though they accounted for 4 of the team’s 7 blocks. They did however fill up the middle and help space the floor out so that the guards and our long and quick forwards could patrol the lanes on defense and slash through them on offense, helping the team to 46 points in the paint and 11 on the fast break. This was an excellent team game and showcased the potential of our 2011-2012 squad. The Blazers have got to watch out now. They are receiving national attention and face the Phoenix Suns Friday night, an obvious trap game against a team that is down and led by an aging star. Hopefully they have learned from the Clippers defeat and will continue to take it to a lesser opponent.
It’s hard not to get too excited and at the same time not to worry too much that something bad could happen; such is the constant mix of fear and unfettered hope of a Trailblazers fan. I and others will caution you to not get too excited, that it’s still in early in the season, while we quietly envision play-off victories and the mania that truly grips this city during deeper playoff runs (those of us that remember). But hold on to your hats, preferably adorned with Blazer logos, this team looks good right now, and Gerald Wallace assures us, we still have room to improve.