Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Portland vs Toronto: No jinxes here

That was cute when I thought this obscure blog mentioning that the Blazers were the hottest team in the league would jinx the game. By my tally the Blazers TV crew referenced this joyous little distiction about 3,897 times, and I took a break to get some cereal. I would think they have considerably more jinx juice than I. In any event, none of this matters tonight:

Portland 101, Toronto 96 (boxscore)

Nine in a row.

A flu-symptoms fighting Brandon Roy had it going all night, contributing his usual all around excellence to the degree of 25 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists. This city knows how much this guy means to the team, as evident from the "MVP" chants as he was shooting free-throws in the fourth quarter. How long has it been since Portland fans did such a chant? Clyde Drexler?

With the schedule Portland has played, the record they have, and the way Roy has played, he deserves to be an All-Star. It has nearly zero chance of happening this season, but thats fine. We know, and the rest of the league is still learning.

LaMarcus was back after a five game break, and didn't look all that rusty. He didn't have the impact we've grown accustomed to this season, but contributed a quiet 15 and 7.

Much of the game the Raptors had the Blazers infamous zone defense downgraded from The Octopus to The Seamonkey. Only after a fourth quarter surge did Portland finally take the lead. That international collection of shooters Toronto has must have been excited to hear they'd have a zone defense to shoot over and spread out all night. That Calderon, he's a cold man.

The game was made more difficult largely because Portland's usual gangbusting second unit wasn't shooting quite as hot. Toronto has their own nice zone defense, but Portland's two big bench guns-Outlaw and Jones- didn't resemble their offensive selves we've seen during much of the streak. Despite Outlaw's cold night (4-12 from the field), he got some critical buckets in the closing minutes, which speaks volumes to his growth as a player. James stepped up and iced the game from the line. Both played good defense and made big intangible plays throughout the game, especially Outlaw down the stretch.

This is getting scary. What a team.

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