Live-blog of Portland TrailBlazers and Houston Rockets

I live-blogged this game.  It was pretty enjoyable for me, so I will see how it is received before I determine whether I continue in this format.  Your feedback is much appreciated.


Ok, this game is apparently not yet over…


Carl Landry absolutely destroyed the Blazers inside in the 4th quarter tonight, but don’t be fooled by the numbers. Most of the points came inside off the catch. That’s great, but I wanted to see if he could actually post up on Aldridge and score on him by making his own move. In this entire game, I only saw that happen once. So while Carl played great, I am a bit discouraged by how it happened.


Carl scores again inside off the catch, 14 points now in the quarter. He has been killing the Blazers laying around near the basket.


Aldridge short on turnaround against Landry.


Ariza just took a jumper going to his right…and airballed it. Again, the ability to shoot going to the strong hand is what separates the elite.


Aaron Brooks crosses back between the legs for the 3. That’s his only move going right for the jumpshot – he has to cross back over to create the space. Bayless, on the other hand, can go straight up with it right off the dribble without space.


“That’s 5 turnovers from Aaron tonight – he’s trying to do a little too much” <== If you saw Steve Blake guarding you, you too would probably be overextending…


It feels really weird seeing Howard matched up with either of Landry or Scola. It’s like thinking to yourself “if we had this guy instead of this guy in 2005/2007 we probably advance”


LOL. Juwon Howard just made a running floater. I kid you not.


Doesn’t Blake’s form and release remind you of Jeff Hornacek?


Batum is so egregiously unskilled, bless his heart….


Chuck Hayes just made a beautiful spin move, taking one dribble to his right and then spinning left – this guy is skilled.


AB just came off a screen in the corner to shoot a 3. I have seen this play run a few times. It’s unfortunate, because I think this is something we could have seen more of with a healthy Tracy McGrady facilitating up top. But of course, it wasn’t to be.


Hayes has completely shut down Aldridge this quarter, stripping the ball away as Lamarcus goes up with his move.


Battier hit a hook over Bayless. Shane is actually a pretty good post-up player. He can hit the jump hook with either hand, something few wings can do. I would say that Shane is a much better post-up threat than is Ariza.


Chuck Hayes just blew past his man off the dribble and laid it in. I don’t know why we give Chuck so much grief for his offense. People make it sound like he is Kelvin Cato. He’s not – he’s actually pretty skilled as an offensive player. He has decent moves, decent footwork, somewhat of a hookshot, can dribble. His problem is that he’s 6’6 and has no athleticism and so he can’t get his shot off, and also has zero shooting touch. But it’s not like this guy is completely unskilled like the jokes make it seem.


Bayless just hit a jumper going to his right. Very impressive. Most point guards can’t do that.


Another thing I just noticed right now that Aaron is doing which he didn’t last year is the under-handed scoop layup from far away. He would try to float it up overhand last year and usually get blocked, but the underhanded scoop lets him take off from much further and avoid the shotblocker.


Why do teams guard Luis Scola’s left hand? I don’t quite get it. Do they not scout?


Bayless just did an incredible job staying in front of Aaron. And Bill Worell sounds pissed about the offense right now…


Just as I say that, Webster flies through the air and slams in the miss. Still, I have a very difficult time getting excited over guards who can’t do it off the dribble. It’s a dimension of the game that’s an absolute necessity in today’s game because defensive strategies are able to deny so many elements – you have to be multifaceted as a player; you can’t just have one dimension. I wonder how a guy like Hersey Hawkins would fare in today’s NBA.


I have to say, and I apologize to Blazers fans, but I am thoroughly unimpressed by Martell Webster thus far. I had thought he had atleast some ability to put the ball on the floor, similar to Chase, at least as a slasher, but it seems as if he can’t really do much except spot up…


Landry just made a jump hook deep on Aldridge and then was able to keep him in check on the other end. He was able to get free by faking left first, something he wasn’t doing earlier in the year. I don’t think Carl can shoot straight over the top of Aldridge – the length bothers him too much. He needs to get Lamarcus to bite on the initial fake to buy himself enough time. Let’s see what happens.


Trevor Ariza with a “Delonte West” step-back jumper out of the post-up; very impressive.


If it was 1999, and you closed your eyes and tried to imagine what a power forward in 2010 would look like, isn’t the image of Lamarcus Aldridge immediately conjured?


Kyle Lowry out with a sprained knee. Great, we just lost our second best player. And yes, Kyle Lowry is the second best player on this basketball team.


Matt Bullard is also live-blogging this game apparently….


Shane just drove in with a clear path to the basket and got called for the charge. It was incredibly awkward. It’s almost like he is slapping at the ball when he dribbles, rather than dribbling. Battier probably has the worst skillset in the league out of any starting wing player. To his credit though, he plays within himself and knows his limitations, unlike Ariza, and that’s why he impacts winning so much more.


Kyle Lowry is apparently injured in the lockerroom…


Pretty interesting to hear Astros general manager Ed Wade, being interviewed right now, saying that he and Daryl Morey swap notes and take from each other.


Landry just blocked by Aldridge on consecutive attempts.


Chase Budinger is a lot more skilled than is Rudy Fernandez. Pretty surprised that I’m saying that. Rudy doesn’t look nearly as fluid dribbling the ball.


Excellent, Landry and Aldridge now matched up.


As I say that, Lowry throws it up off the glass with his left hand. Interesting to compare our two point guards’ approaches. Lowry almost wants to draw the contact, whereas Brooks wants to avoid it at all costs.


One thing I have noticed from Aaron which he didn’t do last year is that on his layups, rather than just going straight up with it, he takes off earlier, extending his arm fully, and then putting english on the release to avoid the shot-blocker. Come to think of it, this might be why I don’t remember seeing him get blocked nearly as much as he did last year. He’s definitely changed up his approach because that was one of his biggest problems last season.


10:02 in the second, Howard meets Aaron Brooks on the fast-break. Did anyone else hold their breath and have a “Juwon Howard ends Derek Anderson’s career” moment?


Aaron Brooks is Steve Blake’s worst nightmare.


Ok, those of you following me live right now, pay special close attention to the flow of this group the Rockets have on the floor right now – Andersen, Budinger, Landry, Lowry, and Brooks. This quintet is by far the team’s highest rated offensive unit.


Doesn’t Steve Blake look more like he belongs in a physics lab somewhere rather than on a basketball court?


Aldridge with a beautiful jump hook right over Carl. Unfortunately, he isn’t guarding Landry on the other hand, so I won’t get to assess that unless there’s a change.


Ariza called for his second travel of the game on a post move to the hoop. He’s looked a lot more fluid with his moves tonight, but you can see it’s not all there for him. Trevor always tries to go at full-speed when making his moves. He doesn’t seem to realize that the elites just have a natural rhythm to their moves and use evasion more than pure speed.


The reason Aldridge and Bosh are so dangerous against Chuck Hayes is that they don’t need to gain ground and get closer to the basket. They can turn-around from anywhere inside the free-throw line, so Chuck’s leveraging tactics can’t bother them.


Scola vs. Howard is a very interesting matchup that I had completely overlooked until I just now saw Luis go to work with the right hand. It’s basically a battle between the guy who Rockets fans appreciate as their first dependable starting power forward since Charles Barkley against….the guy who made Rockets fans proclaim nightly that they hadn’t had a dependable starting power forward since Charles Barkley…


Ariza on fire to start this one out. Ironically, the last time the Blazers were in Houston, Trevor had his biggest night of the year, the same game as featured on Assessing Ariza Part 1


Bill just described Andre Miller as a “veteran” which took me by surprise. As he’s the same age as Francis, I sometimes forget these guys are 30+ now and no longer franchise savior 23 year olds…


Aldridge with turn-around fadeaway. Other than Bosh, I haven’t seen another power forward in the league with that kind of range on his post-up fadeaways. Very difficult to cover.


Ariza just made what might have been the first crossover I have seen him pull-off against tight pressure all season.


Oh wow, I had not realized that Bayless was starting next to Miller. I am really looking forward to seeing Lowry/Brooks against Bayless/Miller.


It would be awesome if I could have this automatically synced with the actual time during the game so I could describe plays without needing to provide reference


I can’t remember the last time I was this anxious to get a game underway – really wishing Roy was in uniform for the debut of live-blog. Oh well, will have to make do with the hand we’ve been dealt.


With 1 hour and 15 minutes to go, I just had a horrible thought – what if my internet goes out in the middle of this?


A reader suggests we take a closer look at style with both teams playing undersized. The Rockets have an offensive rating of 106.8, the Blazers 110.7. Offensive rating is an estimate of points scored per 100 possessions. Of course, the latter figure does not reflect the abilities of the Blazers’ current lineup.


Another match-up to pay close attention will be that of Brooks and Bayless. I claimed earlier in the year that due to some of his physical tools, Bayless was the more intriguing prospect. With his size, he can pull-up off the dribble against his defender without needing to create space – that’s a pretty huge advantage for a point guard to possess. We’ll see how that matchup plays out tonight.


A reader suggested we take a closer look at the Aldridge/Scola matchup, so that could be something to watch. However, when I had made my ‘Landry thesis’ earlier in the year (the one that he subsequently tore to shreds), it was guys like Aldridge who I had in mind when I claimed Carl struggled against long-armed defenders. I will definitely be watching to see how Landry chooses to attack LA tonight.


By the way, to respond to a question from one reader – comments have not been disabled. They can be accessed by clicking on the post title. There are still some more changes I need to make as I did not like the old look, so please bare with me right now as I realize things are not exactly discussion-friendly at the moment.


I will be live blogging tonight’s game, starting in less than two hours. I have never tried this before, so let’s see how this turns out. Should be fun.

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