The 324 Report (11/30/16 v. Indiana)

Summary of the match: The Blazers made quick work of Indiana, leading wire-to-wire in a 131-109 victory against a Pacers team missing some kind of important players like, for example, Paul George. The Blazers scored more against Indiana in the first half (73) than the God Clippers scored in an entire game (70) at Indiana last week. Sup, Doc Rivers.

How great was Moe Harkless?: Quite great. Moe matched his Blazer career-high with 23 points (9-14, 3-6) in 29 minutes. He really didn’t have much to do on the defensive end (Thad Young isn’t what you might call “active”) so Moe was able to get out in transition a bit and get good looks from deep. It also resulted in him somehow going a whole game without a defensive rebound. In the postgame interview that I was half listening to on the drive home until it inexplicably cutout to some random nationally syndicated talk show, Terry Stotts mentioned how much Hark worked on his three-point shot over the offseason and how opponents scouting reports haven’t really accounted for it yet. Once they do, it will actually open up more of his game, especially his quick first step going by defenders closing on his shot. This is your daily reminder that Neil Olshey got Hark in exchange for a protected second round pick (protected through pick 55).

Was Evan Turner butt?: Not. At. All. His shift in the second quarter was his best as a Blazer. He hit his first five shots and had several highlight worthy assists, including a no-look backdoor pass to Allen Crabbe that had ET celebrating with the Blazer bench while the game was still in progress (not advisable). He had his obligatory terrible closeout that resulted in a 4-point play by one of Indiana’s crappy non-Oregon guards (I really don’t care which). But his overall line (13-6-4 on 5-7, 1-1) was his best performance as a Blazer. Somehow, even in a 22-point win where he played well, he still managed a -2.

Other observations:

  • Dame was on full Coast Mode for the entire game and still somehow managed a pretty dominant overall performance (28-5-10-4 on 11-18 shooting). His defense was also impactful. The Blazers reportedly spent the last two days of practice focusing entirely on defense (they are the worst defensive team in the league, after all) and going through some pretty frank film sessions. Lillard’s help defense was pretty obviously brought up because he had a season-high four steals and several other disruptive plays and deflections. He’s still bad on defense, but at least not destructive.
  • Really nice all-around game from Mason Plumlee (16-9-6 on 8-14), even though PA announcer Mark Mason once referred to him as Miles. Confession: after Portland traded for him last offseason, I thought we had acquired Miles Plumlee until the first preseason game.
  • Meyers Leonard didn’t shoot it all that well (3-9, 2-7) but it was encouraging that he actually kept shooting despite missing some pretty ugly shots. Meyers is a great shooter for his size. But when he’s not hitting, it kind of gets into his head. In fact, anytime he’s not doing one thing well, it gets into his head. He’s a delicate flower in that sense. But he needs to keep shooting in order to be at all relevant on this team, even when he’s not hitting. Tonight was a good step.
  • Exclusively an 8-man rotation from Portland tonight. No wildly experimental Jake Layman, Noah Vonleh, or Shabazz Napier runs.
  • Pretty solid night for Oregon Legend and Ryan Appleby Nemesis (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knQW0OYIIcI) Aaron Brooks (16 points on 6-10, 3-5 shooting, and he’s really only in there to shoot). He also drew an amazing offensive foul on Evan Turner where Brooks undercut ET on a fast break and fell to the ground (https://twitter.com/danecarbaugh/status/804188572165160960). Ernie Kent taught him well.
  • Indiana on a Wednesday night in November really tests the mettle of a season ticket holder, although we did get free shirts tonight for some reason.
  • Oregon Legend Joe Young scored at a rate of 24 pts/36 mins in his three minutes of play. Two Oregon guards doing work, as expected. #GuardU
  • The Pacers really are an entire team of players who we’ve all thought of as “probably the best player on a bad team” (Thad Young, Jeff Teague, Monta Ellis, Al Jefferson, Rodney Stuckey).
  • Glen Robinson III has developed into a really nice rotation player, while the rest of the much more highly-touted players from that Michigan Final Four team are about two minutes from being out of the league. Hey, Trey Burke. Yo, Nick Stauskas. Mitch McGary, dog. Tim Hardaway, Jr., my homie.
  • It will never not be funny that Indiana ditched Frank Vogel because his teams didn’t score enough points, and then turned around and hired Nate McMillan, the architect of the slowest and least prolific Blazer offenses of all-time. Larry Bird might not be good at his job.

Whoopty do, what does it all mean, Basil?: This game was over long before halftime. Indiana got behind early and showed very little interest in trying to get back in it. They were full-on quitting near the end of the third before Nate (I’m assuming) lit into them between the third and fourth quarters because they held Portland without a field goal for the first 6:30 of the fourth quarter. That said, the Pacers aren’t particularly good and even less so without Paul George. It’s not exactly encouraging that the Blazers had two days off, focused exclusively on defense to the point where you’d expect some sort of outlier performance, and still gave up 58 points in the first half. But frankly, they’re not in a position to be picky at the moment. If they’re going to get a playoff spot, they’re going to need to bank a bunch of wins against bad teams. This was one of those. Good enough.

Next home game: 12/3/16 v. LeBron, Wade, Bosh, and the Miami Heat oh wait

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