First thing: 90% of this game was terrible. It featured a thousand foul shots, a brief period of hacking, a nightmarish Lillard performance, a Bad-Lamarcus game for the ages (As opposed to a “Bad LaMarcus game”) and a bunch of Austin Rivers. It was not an enjoyable mesh. Whenever theres a game between two Western Conference teams, the people on Twitter wiggle around and say “Oh man this should be a series.” This should not be a series. It was be a bad series. I would not want to watch that series. Well, I would, but I would not be happy about it.
Second: Yo, the Blazers 100% should have lost. I often say this, because these close game drive me absolutely crazy. But, THIS TIME, I really, mean it! If it weren’t for a cosmic skip in DeAndre Jordan’s brain the Blazers would have lost! There were two legs and two hands away from losing, but DeAndre’s brain went to “what is bone marrow made of?” when it should have been thinking “Dunk right now, with your whole body, both halves of it.”
Aldridge wasn’t very good tonight. With Griffin out, he got matched up with Jordan. This was good for the Blazers in the abstract, because the goal should have been to draw Deandre away from the Basket, open the rim, move the ball, get to the rim. But in the first half, Aldridge execute the second part of the equation. He took shots with a hand in his face. He was better in the second half, doing some driving and posting and stuff, but he really mucked up ball movement tonight. More weakside passes! Get that pumpkin flying!
Also, Big Baby guarded the shit out of him when he got the chance. Davis, wither by design or chance, employed the Chuck Hayes defense: be so heavy LMA can’t move you, and make your hands active that so he loses ground if he tries. If linemen ever start playing basketball as a matter of course, Lamarcus’s career will be over.
The Blazers’ bench let a Hedo/Big Baby pick and roll work. They should have lost the game, right there, and disbanded the Blazers. “Everyone plays for the Hops now. You will play baseball as a punishment for letting Hedo and Glen Davis do that to you.”
Reddick was really good tonight. The Blazers kept losing him around pindown screens. DeAndre, in particular, was setting some REALLY nice ones. Afflalo and Wes were both getting window-bugged. Mark Jackson, on the ESPN broadcast, was blaming Lopez for the number of uncontested two pointers he got in the game. This is not strictly true. It’s more a matter of scheme. Lopez’s role in the defense is to drop back into the paint. The Blazers concede or softly contest long twos as a matter of course. Tonight, Reddick and Paul, who was magnificent, took advantage. If the game was normal, it would have worked.
Lillard was very bad. He got blocked by Spencer Hawes, and it was not the worst play he tried in the game. That was the flurry of desperate heaves at the end of regulation, when Deandre was getting hacked. If he was 35, it would have been the sad final gasps of a Hall of Fame Career, the burning bus on the side of a road. “Don’t look, Children. That was once a majestic bus, a beloved bus.” But he’s only 24, so it was just him forcing it. God bless him for hitting the boards instead. I didn’t think Lillard had 18 boards in him.
The Blazers started overtime with a small lineup. The Clippers responded by putting matching up with Austin Rivers. The Blazers wept and rejoiced, because Austin Rivers is very bad. In the third, the Clippers set him a massive two man screen and all Rivers could do is dribble to the foul line and pass out. He is not a very good NBA player, and his dad is he coach and GM and he went to Duke. There is so much to dislike about him that he has become an obscene work of art.
Lillard was half an inch away from dunking on Austin. I would have died from drowning in tears of joy.
Batum was good again tonight! Hooray! THREE lobs in overtime, saved Lillard from a field-goaless game, hit a game tying three pointer, playin’ nice and Batummy. He is the Blazers’ most unconventional and interesting player when he is healthy and engaged.
Blazers hacked Jordan i the fourth. I generally do not think hacking works. (50% foul shooter = 1 point per possession = a successful offensive possession. Also your opponent gets to set ther defense, and that’s no good.) But, Deandre is not normal bad at shooting foul shots; he is very, very bad at shooting foul shots, so he is a special case. It didn’t close the gap in the moment, because they didn’t score on Lillard’s weird terrible heaves. But it did keep them from scoring for two or so minutes, so it worked defensively.
Hedo made one of the worst gambles I have seen in my life on that Batum three pointer.
What should you do when you commit a backcourt violation? Could you jump in the air and flick it back over the halfcourt line? Basketball announcers talking about football is the nadir of sports dialogue. I am not one of these anti-Chris Paul fanatics, but I got a giggle out of him going into the film room at halftime and asking to see a travel he got called for/didn’t think he committed. Jumping around and screaming at Deandre for, in fairness, a mistake that cost them the game, was also very silly. If I were Mark Jackson, I would have not mentioned that Chris Paul and Deandre Jordan knew all my sets in the playoffs. The mechanical camera above the hoop is really cute. Blazers got some really bad spacing on some horns sets late in the game. Small lineup in overtime. Curious to see when that does or doesn’t happen.
I give this game a C+.