Nets 106, Blazers 101

I mentioned in my preview the Blazers have problems with penetrating guards. Truer words have seldom been spoken. All night Kidd created offense for the Nets with drives and kicks, Jefferson and Wright got into the lane seemingly at will, and even when the initial shot was missed the Nets got tip-ins or offensive rebounds for extra possessions.

Meanwhile, Aldridge was having a rough night and the Blazers were struggling to create offense. When Frye scored at the 5:18 mark of the quarter Portland trailed 13-8. That is how hard it was for Portland to score early on. After 8 minutes they were scoring just 1 point per minute (their next score was at the 4:41 mark)

Fortunately, Roy came to the rescue and dropped in 13 points over the course of that 4:41 and finished the quarter with 15 . Impossibly, after scoring 8 points in almost 8 minutes, Portland tallied a whopping 18 in the next 4. Portland led after 1 quarter 26-19 and the Rose Garden was rocking.

The second quarter was more of a struggle. When Roy went to the bench the Blazers struggled to score. They got a few points from Jack, Przybilla, and Aldridge finally broke through to score his first points of the game at the 3:14 mark. Meanwhile, New Jersey was getting balanced contributions from their entire line-up. Wright, Jefferson, Boone, Nachbar, Kidd, Williams and Collins all scored at least 2 points as Kidd continued to cause problems with his penetration. By the half it was only 48-45.

Portland got a huge quarter from Frye as he tallied 8, Webster added 7, and Aldridge shook off his 4 point first half to add 6 more. Portland took it to New Jersey early, building an 11 point lead at 73-62 before letting New Jersey go on a bit of a run to close within 5 as Nachbar tallied his 10th point with a dunk at the tail end of the third.

And in the 4th Nachbar ran wild, looking unstoppable as he scored another 13. Jefferson did not stop scoring all night and New jersey put together a 31 point quarter. 8 of those came after an Aldridge dunk at 2:04 gave Portland a 101-98 lead. Then Portland played prevent offense. They started running down the clock. This led to rushed, bad shots, offensive fouls, and no points in the last 2 minutes. Meanwhile, Nachbar drained a 3, Kidd was fouled on a fastbreak, made the bucket and 2 free throws, then in crunch time the Blazers elected to play defense instead of foul. With 9 seconds left Nachbar shot a corner three and missed.

And Kidd grabbed the offensive board, essentially sealing the game. He made both free throws and New Jersey had scored the final 8 points to steal a 104-101 win.

It sounds odd in a game where Portland scored 101 points and shot 54% to say they struggled on offense, but that is exactly what happened. When they found something they did not work they did not stay with it. Aldridge was content to get pushed beyond his comfort zone with his back to the basket and not once in the first half did Portland get him his beloved top of the key elbow jumper. Roy had 21 first half points and ended with 25. Webster was "on" all night and got no shots for long stretches.

It was a game Portland should have won and didn't. They are a young team and it has shown ever since the Denver game. Hopefully they are able to turn it around soon. Meanwhile, it was an entertaining game and showed the potential Portland has.

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