The 324 Report (11/13/16 v. Denver)

Quick background: I have Blazers season tickets in section 324. These entries will be made following home games I attend (pretty much all of them because I have no life). At its best, the analysis here will be snarky. At its most mediocre, it will be bad and irrational. At its worst, it will be profound (my attempts at profundity generally fail). There will be two recurring features, followed by random observations. Away we go…

Summary of the match: The Blazers won 112-105 in a game in which they trailed by as many as 17 in the first half before outscoring Denver by 21 in the third quarter to wrestle away control of a game that they really would have had to try pretty hard to lose. Trying hard was actually kind of the problem for most of the first half before Terry Stotts decided to waste one of his allotted motivational speeches for the year on a random Sunday night in November (https://twitter.com/jwquick/status/798027322221703168). In the end,the “low energy” of the Blazers was not as much of a liability as the Nuggets’ lack of “stamina” in a game that all who attended will forget quickly.

How great was Mo Harkless?: Very great. He showed his basketball savvy early in the game by committing two fouls in the first three minutes to save his legs for more crucial minutes. He hit two of his four 3-point attempts, which is really all they can ask from him. Portland’s most effective set that isn’t a Dame Lillard iso continues to be getting a smaller guard switched onto Hark and him getting into the paint, sealing the defender behind him, receiving the ball, and dropping it in the rim. His final stat line (17 pts, 6 rebs, 2 blks, on 6-11 (2-4) in 32 mins) is an A-level performance from him.

Was Evan Turner butt?: Yeah, pretty much. Turner came into the game as the worst +/- player in the entire league (-104) with the two worst single game +/- numbers in the league this season. Tonight’s stat line doesn’t jump out at you as a butt stat line (14-5-5-2 in 29 mins), but he was 5-17 (0-3) from the floor. It took him 12 shots in the first half to get 8 points. And many of those are terrible shots, not in the flow of the offense, where he just barrels into traffic and throws it at the rim, which itself is unsightly because he shoots like I did in third grade when I didn’t have the arm strength to shoot it from above my head. His results are very similar to mine also. He is often confused on defense, which results in many an inquest with Stotts about where he was supposed to be. In fairness, Turner did have a couple of nice backdoor passes in the second half, so it wasn’t his most butt performance of the year, but was still firmly in the category of butt.

Other observations:

  • Dame Lillard didn’t have his best shooting night (7-18), but Denver isn’t a great matchup necessarily for him due to some big guards and frontcourt length on Denver’s starting 5. He did get to the line 15 times.
  • It’s a miracle Meyers Leonard didn’t foul out.
  • Biggest individual player cheer came when Jake Layman entered in the second quarter. The second round pick will be in the rotation as long as Al-Farouq Aminu is sidelined.
  • Noah Vonleh somehow managed to post a -15 in 5 mins of play. Constantly out of position and unaware of anything happening around him, Vonleh is playing his way to a permanent spot on the bench.
  • Jamal Murray was out-of-control a lot, but he’ll be an elite two-guard someday. Maybe not as quick as he would have been had he gone to Oregon instead of Kentucky like most recruitniks thought he would, but it’ll still happen.
  • Emmanuel Mudiay better learn how to shoot or he’ll have a hard ceiling in this league.
  • Tri-Met wasn’t sending anything into City Center from the arena after the game so I had to walk back to my car instead of taking the Max like I usually do. Evidently, it was due to protests happening in response to some world or political event or something that happened last week. Haven’t been tracking that sort of thing too much so someone will need to fill me in.

Whoopty do, what does it all mean, Basil?: “Any division win is a good win” is what I’m supposed to say except that divisions are completely irrelevant in the NBA, unless you’re one of those franchises without a Natty and want to hang “Division Champion” banners. If you were to schedule out the matchup with Denver before the season, you’d probably have Portland going 4-0 or 3-1. They’re now 2-0 against Denver, so they stay on pace. Ultimately, Denver is perhaps the least meaningful franchise in the league so beating them doesn’t evoke any real emotion. And aside from the massive swing from their lead to ours, this game was sort of a slog. What I’m saying is I spent a lot of time on my phone checking the fantasy results of the Seattle-New England game.

Next home game: Chicago on 11/15/16.

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