*What’s up, everybody? Hope you’re doing good tonight…it’ll be interesting to see what happens tonight, as the Wolves face the hottest team in the NBA, the Trail Blazers. I’m just hopng the Wolves can avoid a blowout, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
*Brandon Roy (remember him?) leads the Blazers in scoring this season, as he averages 19.2 PPG…he also leads the team in assists, averaging 5.6 per game.
*Meanwhile, LaMarcus Aldridge is averaging 18.2 PPG and 7.2 RPG.
*Portland went 13-2 in December, and saw their 13-game winning streak come to an end against Utah on New Year’s Eve. The Wolves and Blazers last met on December 28, when Portland beat the Wolves at Target Center, 109-98.
*Uhh…how did a huge crack form at center court?
*All right, Hanny..I think you’ve made enough witty comments about the Wolves using the word, "gap." "The Wolves will need to repair the gaps in their scoring"..ugh!
*No way…PA’s on the pregame show? Sweet…he’s always been one of my favorite local sports minds.
*Well, even though PA’s completely right about Wittman’s previous rotations hurting Brew’s development, he’ll probably get thrown off the pregame show for having the nerve to criticize the coaching staff.
*All right, looks like we’re finally ready to go…Click "Read More" to continue…
*Christ, Michael Doleac’s in the starting lineup?
*Gomsey continues to solidify himself as a solid offensive weapon for this team, as the mid-range jumper continues to look good. Meanwhile, Doleac gets rejected, and was reminiscent of Mark Madsen on that possession.
*For the love of god, get Doleac out of the game…Telfair’s pass to Doleac goes through his legs, out of bounds.
*Folks, those are the plays the Wolves don’t make…they don’t make the hustle plays. And that’s concerning, because that suggests poor effort by the Wolves.
*One guy who you can always count on to hustle, though, is Corey Brewer. Nice steal, nice job drawing the foul.
*QUIT GIVING THE BALL TO DOLEAC!
*Al’s jumper has been of interest to me, as I think it’s the major barrier he faces on the offensive end–at times, the jumper has looked pretty solid, but that last shot was off-balance and awkward.
*Webster has five for the Blazers, with Aldridge adding four. Meanwhile, Big Al leads the Wolves with six.
*Even though he missed the shot, Big Al was still reminded me of KG on that possession when held the ball away from the defender with one hand.
*Great play by Bassy to shake off Roy’s defense.
*Pretty promising that the Wolves have already made three trips to the line tonight…the ability to draw fouls and get to the charity stripe is another thing that must improve before they can start winning with any regularity.
*That’s a very bad foul by Rashad, and it illustrates why the Wolves’ opponents typically make frequent trips to the free throw line…sloppy fouls, playing defense with the hands rather than the feet. Obviously, this team still has progress to make in learning to play defense without fouling.
*Another basket in transition for the Blazers…and another example of the Wolves not getting back on defense. It’s a problem that’s plagued this team throughout the season.
*And with that, the quarter comes to an end. Some good things happened for the Wolves when they got the ball to Jefferson, but as usual, the Wolves gave their opponent ample opportunity at the free throw line, and there were more breakdowns in the transition defense.
*My opinion’s been changing on Gerald Green…he has a LONG way to go still, but he’s been shooting the ball quite well in the past few weeks.
*Kudos to Craig for finding his way to the free throw line…because evening the "free throw battle" is a major key to this game, and to the rest of the season for the Wolves.
*That James Jones three-pointer was the definition of cold-blooded. And it’s yet another example of teams taking advantage of our sluggish transition defense.
*The Wolves are looking amateurish on defense…another easy basket for the Blazers, as they extend their lead to 14.
*Haha…does Hanny even know what is implied by Jason Williams’ nickname "White Chocolate?" Anyways, another breakdown of the Wolves’ interior defense frees Aldridge for the layup.
*Ah…Peterson stole the words right out of my mouth. I want to see Shimmy mix things up on the interior a little more, rather than consistently parking himself on the perimeter.
*Rashad had acres of open space in front of him, after making that pump fake…rather than drive, though, he opted to step back and take the three. And I’m not a big fan of his decision.
*It’s been good to see Bassy get a few trips to the line tonight, as he’s drawn fouls on a few of his fast breaks. Too often, he’s gotten absolutely manhandled when he’s tried to finish a drive, but tonight, he’s done a decent job of putting his body into the defender’s when elevating.
*A bit of a flop by Rashad on that last possesion, in my professional opinion.
*It’s no accident Lamarcus Aldridge leads all scorers with 14….the Wolves’ interior defense has been brutal.
*A rare sweet-looking jumper from Corey Brewer. Nice!
*What an insane shot by Jefferson…triple-teamed, and he still makes the shot look effortless. On another note, I guess I’d have to agree with Pete about the officiating…while I don’t have much sympathy for this team regarding the foul disparity that usually occurs in their games, it does seem like the borderline calls go against the Wolves 75% of the time.
*If that full-court shot by Jefferson had dropped, it would’ve been the play of the year. And man, it ALMOST dropped.
Halftime: Blazers 52, Wolves 42
*I’m in semi-agreement with PA about that McCants’ defensive play. While I do love the defensive agressiveness from Rashad, I also see that play as an example of McCants playing defense with his hands, and not his feet.
*Jefferson leads the Wolves with 11 points, while LaMArcus Aldridge leads Portland with 14…James Jones has 13 (and has shot 3-3 from beyond the arc), and Roy has 12 (although he’s shot 4-13 from the field, and 0-4 from three-point range). Portland’s shooting 46.5% from the field–the Wolves, meanwhile, are shooting just 40%.
*As Steve Blake showed us, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good…because that was a LUCKY three-point bomb.
*Portland just showed everyone why you keep playing until the whistle blows.
*The Wolves are finally inching their way back into this one…thanks largely to getting open looks on the perimeter and finally tightening up the interior defense.
*Haha, I remember when KG threw the ball into the stands and hit that guy…the dude that got hit, in my opinion, was trying to make his injury look a little more dramatic than it actually was. Needless to say, he got a pretty big booing on his way out of the arena.
*You’ve gotta love that sweet move by Big Al…this guy is in an elite class of big men, in terms of being able to navigate double and triple teams. I would like to see him pass out of some of these situations with high defensive pressure, though, as the attention he attracts opens up opportunities for others.
*Nice to see the power move by the big fella…if he powers his way towards the basket more often, he’ll get more opportunities at the free throw line.
*[Kevin Harlan voice] And Corey Brewer slams it home with AUTHORITY! [/Kevin Harlan voice]
*There’s another good example of what results when players defend with their hands, and don’t move their feet…Bassy picks up the cheap reach-in foul on Brandon Roy, as we head into a timeout.
*Does anyone else find Corey Brewer’s constant grimmace/smile really, really funny?
*How did Antoine Walker fall for the old "pump fake, and then lean into the defender" gag? Since ‘Toine’s a vet and all, I’m surprised Jarret Jack was able to use that move, and draw the Shimmy foul. Anyways, we’re heading to the fourth quarter with the Wolves down by 13…they looked like they’d get back into this game with improved interior defense and ample open looks, but Brandon Roy played much better towards the end of the third, and he helped the Blazers extend their lead.
*The Wolves were extremely fortunate the Blazers didn’t score on that possession…the interior defense was a mess, and the small lineup the Wolves are playing with certainly isn’t doing them any favors.
*Dang…how’d that happen? The Blazers got a three-on-one following a jump ball, and get sent to the free throw line again…I’ve continued to be disappointed with their transition defense tonight.
*Whelp, this one’s just about over. A 16-point game with nine minutes remaining.
*With 22 points and 10-21 shooting, Big Al’s one of the few Wolves who truly came to play tonight. It’s going to be an extremely tough road back for the Wolves, and the Blazers are a few baskets away from pounding the final nails into the coffin.
*It surprises me that the stats are so close on the "Hustle Board" (the team’s total steals, rebounds and blocks). Because Portland has displayed far more energy than the Wolves have tonight.
*The Wolves may be on life support, but Gerald Green is helping to keep this team alive in tonight’s game, as he drains the basket and picks up the foul.
*Well, that was the easiest offensive rebound Big Al’s had in a while…there were literally no Blazers in the paint as Gerald Green’s shot clanked off the rim.
*Pete hit the nail on the head…with no perimeter threat, the Wolves have been an easy team to defend against tonight (the loss of Gomes has certainly hurt). The Blazers have packed the interior on defense, and as a result, the offense has become stagnant.
*Typical Wolves. Al has three opportunities to close the gap to seven, and he fails on all three attempts. We have no one who’s proven they can come up big down the stretch…even Jefferson has failed in that regard.
*Down 13 with just over two minutes remaining, it’s safe to say that the Wolves have lost this one. Too bad, because I wouldn’t say that the Blazers really deserved to win this game.
*Unfortunately, though, defensive collapses on the interior plagued the Wolves, and too often, their transition defense was sluggish and allowed Portland to rack up easy baskets. Also, the complete lack of any offensive threat from the perimeter made the Wolves one-dimensional on the offensive end, and made them an easy team to defend against.
*Thanks to everyone who stopped by, tonight! Later.