Portland 112, Miami 106

I actually was offered tickets to this game and turned them down because I so dislike watching Shaquille O' Neal play. He is a walking offensive foul. I get so sick of seeing him initiate contact with an immobile player, move them, and get the call it just isn't fun to watch. So instead of seeing it live I elected to watch it on TNT.

Now we can add dirty to that offensive foul reasoning.

49 seconds into the game he made his patented bowl someone over move. Przybilla took the charge, went sprawling, and wonder of wonders...they called the offensive foul! But O Neal wasn't done with the play. Somewhat off balance, he deliberately moved the basketball in line with Joel's head and laid all his weight on it, driving Przybilla's head into the floor. It was a dirty, dirty play with no place in basketball. It was a play that should have earned O Neal a huge fine and long suspension.

When you deliberately try to injure another player, take away his livelihood...and possibly worse, considering O Neal's weight and the delicate nature of heads...that is inexcusable and nigh on unforgivable. I have seen O Neal throw elbows and fore-arms before and have oft thought he was a fairly dirty player but this was about as bad an incident as I have seen.

Because he is Shaquille, however, he did not even get a technical. What a joke, and a bad one. He is one of the few players I think would be well served to have someone take his legs out from under him when he is doing one of his dunks, land him on his head and end his career. It would make the NBA a more enjoyable league to watch.

Meanwhile, Roy broke out of his slump and had a brilliant game with 25 points on 7 for 15 from the field...but a confidence-boosting 11-13 from the line...and 6 assists and 5 boards. In other words, he was back to his all-around game and reasonable shooting. He also overcame recent free throw woes nicely.

Aldridge continued his steady season, thought he had just 14 points...then again, when you only get 12 shots and don't get to the line, it is hard to score much more. He could actually learn a bit from Outlaw.

Outlaw is not as good a player as Aldridge. He is not as good a shooter, though his rebounding has improved, and at times he has bizarre lapses on defense. However, he is also capable of tough, on-the-ball, harassing defense and sky-walking, game-changing spectacular blocks from off the ball. In this game he got up 17 shots AND got to the line 5 times. In other words, he made sure to get enough shots to contribute. More on this in the Milwaukie game. Aldridge needs to demand the ball. He needs to get in position, demand the ball, and make his move. Portland needs him to score consistently while continuing to rebound and have an impact defensively if they are to live up to their potential. And this is the year he has to do it because next season will be acclimating themselves to Oden.

He did have a statement. In the closing minute of the game Wade drove the lane and tried a layup which Aldridge spiked it so hard it bounced over a guy and into the crowd. It was a fun block that definitely sent a message.

Overall, this was a game where all the Blazers contributed. They shot well, got key stops when they had to, withstood a huge run that erased a comfortable lead, had their prime-time guys of Roy and Aldridge have good games and got help from key role players, particularly Outlaw, Jack, and Jones...who went 4-6 from three point land, and at key times.

That is their formula for success. Hopefully it continues.

And O Neal breaks his leg.

No comments: