Dorell Wright had 3, 4, and 2 tonight. One probably can’t recall the 4 rebounds. One of the assists was a between the legs dish on a fast break that was pretty hot stuff, but the other was totally forgettable. The three points were a game winning corner three he drilled after a lovely one-arm-slung jump pass on the baseline by Damian Lillard. (Dorell claims it was his first game winner since high school.) It came after DeMarcus Cousins hit two free throws to put the Kings up by two after Wes Matthews fouled him on a Kings fast break, created when Damian Lillard got his pocket picked by Ray “Gun” McCallum
THis was not an ideal game for the Blazers, at all. McCallum, a rookie guard who has a career 8.8 PER absolutely lit up Damian and the Blazers all night, 23 points on 15 shots, 8 assists, absolutely not one turnover, and three steals. Real American Hero DeMarcus Cousins also did damage to the tune of 30/12/2/3 steals. In four meetings with the Blazers this year, DeMarcus scored 130 points (34+34+32+30).
In the first and third quarters, the Blazers actively conceded long twos to Cousins and he cashed in, going 5/9 from the space above the top of the key. The strategy was a brazen concession to the Blazer’s problems protecting big men at the rim that backfired against Cousins tonight. I am absolutely for laxing your defense in long two territory, but the brazenness of allowing Cousins these shots tonight was a little unseemly. It’s not like he’s 2010 Blake Griffin — he has a clean stroke, makes about 40%. They’re so scared of big men rushing the rim that they give them an attractive open shot and hope they take it.
They have a little trouble guarding pick and roll guards and big men who cares, that probably won’t be a problem in the playoffs. Sorry, excuse me? They’ll probably play the who? Rockets? James who and Dwight what? Oh geez, that could be bad.
Pretty much everyone on the Blazers had their customary performance tonight: LaMarcus with a throwback 22 and 8 (not all throwbacks are ideal), Lopez with 13 and 9, Matthews with a good-but-not-breathtaking 19. Batum had 11 and 6 assists, but only one rebound in deference to the regression Gods after his sinfully abnormal rebounding March. One hates to be the cranksterman after a win, but the Kings are a crummy team playing without two starters on a road back-to-back; why isn’t everyone feasting on the Kings’ tired corpse and getting some cheap stats?
Lillard had 19 and 10 assists, but he had five turnovers and played that aforementioned shitty defense against McCallum. Lillard’s defense has improved on dribble drives this year, but if you set a pick on him he still just kind of runs into it and lets the guard go flying towards the helping big. That was a very pretty sling pass to Wright, though.
-Three of McCallum’s points were on a double-covered fadeaway three at the buzzer that nearly killed my dog.
-Earl Watson was a +14 tonight. Trade Mo Williams and Damian–and shit, let’s dump Wes too, because Earl is the Blazers’ guard of the future. All intangibles! He increases their steal percentage! He is a handsome man!
-Reggie Evans had a busy night: sometimes in the third he attempted a foul line fadeaway shot that DID NOT go in the basket and was offensive to me and my two children and my dog, all of whom are named “Rufus.” He also got a turnover out of LaMarcus when he pulled the chair on him in the fourth.
-The Wes alley-oop play worked tonight. Does it work more than I perceive, it just looks so silly when it doesn’t work that I internalize that pain and think irrationally about the play?