One of the rare games I get to fully watch living in Australia and there were certainly some positives. Firstly, Miller started. I don’t have much agaisnt Blake but Miller is a much better floor leader than Blake. If Roy doesn’t like it or can’t play well without the ball in his hands, he’s not as good as we all thinks he is. Secondly, Bayless. I agree with the Blake setup for the final quarter, he’d hit two big shots and would keep the defense honest but Bayless went out instead of Miller and proved his worth. He did something I’ve never seen Webster do, pump fake. Thridly, Pryzbilla. Pryz is a very solid center and an excellent back-up to Oden and this is another game that highlights how important big men are to Portland. He was +27 and the Kings only took control of the game when he was out in the late 2nd and 3rd quarters. Defensively he (and Oden) do so much for the Blazers and it doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. Whilst Oden is a much better shot blocker and presence in the paint, Pryz brings energy and hustle which I often think the Blazers lack. Finally, Roy and LA. They both had insane games and carried the Blazers when they needed it. 25/5/10 for Roy and 25/9/5 for LA. When the rest of the team isn’t firing these two need to step up and they did tonight. If the Blazers could stay healthy and work out the chemistry issues this game was the type of Blazer game you should see every night but much better.
So what didn’t I like. The bench. I know the Blazers are injured and bench scorers like Outlaw and Rudy are not there but they need to play more consistently. I know when Pryz goes out it’s a small lineup on the floor but you’ve got to make up with hustle and energy. Look at Houston and Pheonix. Undersized but they win through sheer determination and hustle (and good point guards). That’s what I think is missing from the Blazers. They don’t want it enough. In the 4th you saw it. With Pryz and Bayless you saw it. But on the whole the Blazers team need to learn to want it. I hope it doesn’t take multiple early round exits for them to learn this and I’m sure players like Oden and Outlaw will come out of injury hungry but as a team they need to want to win. And finally, Webster. At the beginning of the year he showed some great explosiveness and great driving dunks. I’ve seen barely any of that since then. He made one tonight and had a few other big shots but too often he settles for the jumpshot and doesn’t rebound as well as he could with his hops. He needs to pump fake and drive more. I know we have a lot of drivers in Roy, Bayless and Miller but honestly if he wants to stay on this team he needs to become consistent at both ends of the floor. Outlaw is a more consistent offensive threat whilst Batum is a far better defender. We’ve seen Webster play great defense and offense but we’ve never seen him string it together more consecutive games.
Overall was an exciting game to watch and a well-deserved win for Portland. This is only the 2nd time I’ve seen Evans play and damn has he got game.