Another game against a favored opponent, another victory. Now is a good time to point out that Portland is the second hottest team in the league, only Boston has a longer streak going. DeceptivelyQuick was well in attendance for the latest improbable sans-LaMarcus victory. Because I'm lazy, I'll just throw my thoughts into bullets:
- No coincidence all this winning has coincided with James Jones finding his groove. He continues to shoot at a ridiculous clip, and that threat has allowed other guys (most notably Brandon Roy) to operate much more effectively. Veteran savvy, deep stroke, better than you think defense, James Jones is absolutely huge for this team. By the way, in an oddly recent pop-culture reference, the Rose Garden people play a sample from rapper Mike Jones "Mr. Jones" whenever James scores. I was pleased indeed.
- Outlaw continued his amazing play off the bench. I'm not sure I know a single basketball person that approves of all those awkward fadeaway jumpers he takes, but when they fall you just shut-up and cheer. Any team that has a guy scoring 19 a game off the bench (Outlaw has averaged about this over the winning streak) is trouble.
- I love when Pryzbilla gets his minutes, and he got 30 tonight. In a throw-back to the Damon Stoudamire days, the Blazers actually used him on offense. Joel's no Tim Duncan with the ball, but he has proven many times that he is a capable finisher around the hoop, especially coming off a pick n roll. I hope this will be a continued option, and not something happening only because LaMarcus is out. Love that they play Thriller whenever Joel scores, by the way.
- Roy. Roy. Roy.
- I've been as big a Jarrett Jack supporter as there is out there, so when his shortcomings became painfully obvious, well, that sucked for me. I was relieved to see him eventually find a role. That role is not pointguard. For stretches of this game, Jack ran the point. During these stretches, the arena would hold its collective breath and grit its teeth hoping for the best.
- I've noted the most important void left by Z-Bo's departure. In other chalupa-related news, when the team gets close to 100 the mascot is on the jumbotron starting a chalupa chant (seriously). I can't support this. Not only did it confuse the Japanese people sitting by me, its like talking about a no-hitter while its in progress. Yet another reason Blaze the Trailcat sucks, he/she/it is conducting himself/herself/itself in a manner that is conducive to chalupa-jinxing. We can't have that dammit. Stop this at once.