Friday, December 21, 2007

Portland vs Denver: 10

Portland 99, Denver 96 (boxscore)

10th straight win

And the Blazers keep winning. Maybe the most significant thing about the streak is that this team is starting to pull out victories even when they don't play their most beautiful basketball, and tonight things went far from perfectly. Carmelo and AI both had it going (34 points a piece). Denver's defense was keyed in on Roy to the point where it was getting ridiculous. There were extended periods of drought. On nights like tonight, they gut it out with toughness and show a knack for stepping up at the most critical moments. Watching this group become consistently timely is absolutely wonderful.

Roy and Aldridge contributed at a fairly steady pace. Roy had about three defenders on him at all times, so used Denver's enthusiasm against them in going 10-12 from the line. When points seemed to come few and far between, Martell always seemed to hit from outside (19 points, 4-8 from 3) to keep the Nuggets from running away.

Travis Outlaw used the end of this game to display exhibit #21378931296B of his growth this season. With Roy absolutely smothered, he became the go to offensive threat. And yes, he accompanied this with his usual collection of clutch rebounds and blocks, including the potential game-tying three.

By the way, I think its time we start recognizing Travis as a 6th Man of the Year candidate. Not that I think he deserves the award over the likes of Ginobili or Terry at this point, but I think he deserves mentioning. In the spirit of what I think the award represents, that is, the bench player that is of greatest asset to his team, he may be the leading candidate. Guys like Ginobili and Terry are more starters that happen to come off the bench, if that makes sense. They play starter minutes, they get starter fame, starter respect, starter money, Ginobili even plays in All-Star games. Do they fit the letter of 6th man? Definitely. The spirit? Not so sure.

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