Basketball Prospectus: Unfiltered Everything Else is Fluff.

November 28, 2008

Live Blog: Portland vs. New Orleans

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 11:24 pm

Hello from the Rose Garden, where the Portland Trail Blazers host the New Orleans Hornets tonight in a matchup of two Western Conference contenders. Besides taking in a great matchup, I’ve got two things I’m keeping an eye on tonight which might be column topics in the near future: Greg Oden’s terrible plus-minus thus far and Chris Paul’s defense.

Locally, those topics are surely overshadowed by tomorrow’s Civil War between Oregon and Oregon State. As I type, the Blazers’ video screen is picking out fans on both sides. For the record, because Washington and Oregon are bitter rivals, I’m definitely cheering for the Beavers to make an improbable run for the Rose Bowl. Enough football. I’ll settle in for some hoops and offer updates each quarter or so.

Portland 31, New Orleans 26 (end first quarter): Raise your hand if you thought coming into the season that the Blazers would boast the league’s second-best offense this deep into the season. Put it down; no you didn’t. Well, maybe Blazers homers. Tonight has done nothing to change that. Portland hit 65.0 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from three-point range in the first quarter.

When Steve Blake is hitting from downtown as he has tonight, not to mention playing some more-than-acceptable defense on Chris Paul, I start to wonder if maybe the Blazers already have the complement to Brandon Roy that they need.

Portland 51, New Orleans 46 (halftime): For the third time in as many games as I’ve attended at the Rose Garden this season, it’s been back and forth. The Blazers led the majority of the first half, but a late run gave the Hornets a one-point edge before a Nicolas Batum three offered the final halftime margin in favor of the home team.

The perimeter trio of Batum, Steve Blake and Brandon Roy has powered the Blazers, combining for 32 points and nine assists. Batum has really had a great game at both ends of the floor, scoring 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting and knocking down a pair of triples. With Martell Webster due back before long, Nate McMillan is going to have a tough time divvying up minutes at the three spot.

On the New Orleans side, Chris Paul got it going in the second quarter and the Hornets got an enormous lift from James Posey, who had 10 points off the bench. New Orleans is going to need more stops to win this game, something that has been a recurring theme this season.

Portland 77, New Orleans 69 (end third quarter): When David West hit a jumper to put the Hornets up 69-65, the visitors briefly succeeded in quieting the Rose Garden. Things changed quickly, as the Blazers started locking down on defense. The Hornets did not score the rest of the quarter as Portland finished on a 12-0 run to take an eight-point lead to the fourth. When the Blazers get stops, they are a very good team.

I made a note to watch Chris Paul’s interactions with Byron Scott after Bill Simmons’ column earlier this week. During the third quarter, Paul went up to Scott during free throws, the exact setting Simmons described except initiated by the player. He seemed upset, but not at Scott. I think Simmons misread this one. I recall thinking the first time I saw Paul play in person as a rookie that he plays angry with a chip on his shoulder all the time. It’s not necessarily directed at his teammates or coach; that’s just how he is.

Portland 101, New Orleans 86 (final): An impressive seventh consecutive win at the Rose Garden for the Blazers. This game was pretty much even except for Portland’s run at the end of the third and start of the fourth, which I believe reached 20-2 all told. The Blazers got enough stops in that stretch to win the game.

At the end, Portland had the luxury of putting the ball in the hands of Brandon Roy when the team’s offense briefly stagnated. Roy isolated at the top of the key in a 1-4 flat set and the Hornets had no answer. Chris Paul has had consecutive triple-doubles, but tonight Roy out-Pauled the man himself, finishing with 25 points, 10 assists and six boards. (Paul settled for 16, six and six.)

The Hornets got a strong night from Peja Stojakovic offensively (21 points), but the Blazers contained Paul and no one else hurt them. David West was very quiet in finishing with 10 points and three rebounds.

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress