I don’t know about you, but seeing a Jazz team coached by anyone other than Jerry Sloan in front of a half empty Energy Solutions Arena just felt…weird. Regardless, the Blazers leave Utah victorious, winning 98-87. I will keep this recap simple and plain because the game was never really in jeopardy and because I have a day job.
First and foremost, give a hand to Gerald Wallace. The man does not have two speeds. He moves at full speed at all times and wreaks havoc on both ends of the floor for 48 minutes. 29 points on 10-18 shooting, 4-6 from three point range, to go along with 8 rebounds and an assist and steal.
Nicolas Batum continued his stellar play as of late by contributing 21 points on 9-13 shooting. Batum came out looking for his offense early, slashing and cutting to the rim and finishing at the rim with relative ease. It was another example of how important he is to this team when he is used as more than a corner three point threat on offense.
It seems as if all Brandon Roy needs to do to play inspired basketball now a days is Have a Talk with Jason Quick. Roy came out aggressive looking for his shot and made his first 4-5 shots, including two pterodactyl screaming “and-1”conversions. Just to state the obvious one more time—this team needs Brandon Roy in the playoffs. If Roy plays a passive, decoy role settling only for jump shots, the Blazers don’t stand a chance. Roy needs to continue to penetrate, even at half speed, to keep defenses honest and off of Blazer shooters.
Speaking of Trailblazers that need to show up in the Playoffs, Lamarcus Aldridge, stop it. I know it’s the second game against a non-playoff team, but Aldridge has been almost invisible the last two games—finishing with 12 points on 6-19 shooting. It is ok to shrug off Lamarcus’ production tailing off a little in anticipation of the playoffs, but it doesn’t do any good when he still plays 43 minutes a game. I get the feeling he will play a little more aggressively tomorrow against potential playoff opponent Los Angeles.
Wesley Matthews had a solid night tonight, getting most of his points from the free throw line and three point opportunities. It is always great to see Wes’ shot looking smooth and the three point goggles raised.
Andre Miller and Rudy Fernandez both played forgettable games. Consider the dead horse beaten, but Rudy needs to find his jump shot and fast. 0-4 for 0 points and 0-3 from three, yeesh. Miller shot a less embarrassing 1-9, but contributed 12 assists and never needed to be called on for his shot making, which is generally a good thing.
Now, the Blazers travel back to Portland to take on the Lakers in a pivotal game that will determine just how quickly they will see each other again.