Friday, December 28, 2007

Portland vs Minnesota: 12 in a row and vanity issues

Portland 109, Minnesota 98 (boxscore)

Twelve in a row.

There's a cliche about how winning ugly is better than losing pretty. In fact, the ability of a team to win games while playing terrible is often cited as undeniable proof of a team's legitimate competence. During the early parts of the streak, Portland was winning pretty. The recent games have been a little ugly, and as expected, we smiled and reaffirmed to each other that this was another sign of our team reaching new heights.

The Blazers adopted both styles tonight, and the outcome was yet another win. After picking up two quick fouls in the first quarter, McMillan sat Roy the rest of the half. In just nine first half minutes, Roy had 7 points, 2 assists, and one steal. Once Roy and his perpetual control of the game was sidelined, things got very ugly in a hurry. I actually fell asleep at some point. Much of the crowd was apparently engaged in a similar activity, as the only real cheering came when 2007 Playmate of the Year and Oregon native Sara Underwood was shown on the jumbotron. Mercifully, with 3 minutes left in the half Rashad McCants attempted to dunk on LaMarcus Aldridge, resulting in an emphatic block and McCants on the floor. The loud thud most have woke the crowd, who subsequently slapped their hands together repeatedly in a clapping motion. Portland then drained three after three and ended up with a halftime lead. McMillan decided to let Roy play in the second half, and cheerable basketball was restored.

It was an odd move for McMillan to bench Roy all half with two fouls. Roy has well known savvy, he can play in foul trouble. There was no blow-out occuring, in fact Portland trailed at times. I like to think that the decision came from Nate recognizing an opportunity to let the team practice operating without their Everything. With opposing defenses focusing more and more on Roy, it seems like a good thing to have figured out. And while they did trail at times, it was never scary. If things got bad enough, I think we would have seen an earlier Roy appearance. Or maybe Nate was punishing Roy for picking up foolish fouls early. Or maybe he truly didn't want to risk Roy picking up an early third foul. Interpretation is fun.

Update: Just caught that in post-game Nate said something about pulling Roy so that the Blazers would definitely have him when they needed him. But my theory is more fun, so I'll go with that.

Now if only the Nuggets would lose a game to someone other than the Blazers, Portland could actually be sitting on the top of the Northwest Division. Oh, and former Blazer pointguard of the future Bassy was in the building. If you are one of the few who is still intrigued by the guy, read what I wrote here and let me know what you think.

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