The Portland Trail Blazers, on the second of a back-to-back, beat the Memphis Grizzlies handily at the Rose Garden, running away with the 97-84 victory.
Elliot Williams, Luke Babbitt, Chris Johnson and Nolan Smith entered the game with roughly four minutes remaining in the fourth to close out the victory. After the Rose Garden crowd gave LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, and Marcus Camby a resounding applause – and directly before stupidly chanting for disgusting tacos – the “scrub” lineup barely managed to avoid letting the lead slip away. Nolan had a near air-ball three, Elliot ran around aimlessly on a few consecutive possessions, and Luke Babbitt was, well, Luke Babbitt.
I’m usually the first to argue that Nate should rest his big minute guys, Camby and Aldridge especially, and use the depth on the bench a little bit more, but tonight showed perhaps for the first time for many of us, the vast ineptitude of the “scrub” unit. They’re not ready, and even the maturest-rookie-on-the-planet Nolan Smith seemed more clueless than Felton at the veggie market.
Despite my rather abrupt and thoroughly disappointing disillusionment regarding the state of the oft-adored rookies and D-League standouts, the Blazers played the most Blazer-ish game of the year. Starting out rocky with several turnovers, the Grizzlies looked to stun the Blazers into sloppy play, and for a moment there, it seemed to work. But Aldridge scored 14 in the first quarter alone and the rest of the team seemed to calm down a bit and after the third quarter, really had the game in hand.
Marcus Camby notched over 20 rebounds for the 43 time of his career with a total of 22 on the night, and he swatted five shots for good measure. After going down with a groin injury last night, I’m glad he was able to a) play, and b) be productive.
The affect Camby has upon the Blazers’ defense cannot be overstated. Without him, the Blazers are aimless on the D-glass and the pressure is too much for Aldridge alone to bare, as we saw during the most recent (and disastrous) road trip. According to 82games.com, Camby is grabbing 70% of the Blazers’ rebounds and is averaging 2.9 blocks per 48 minutes, a solid amount for any center, much less an inexpensive and aging one. What’s more, the Blazers are 8 and 3 when Camby starts, so basically, when this guy plays, the Blazers are more likely to do well. So here’s a Chinese New Year toast to the health of Marcus Camby. *Clink Clink*
Aldridge and Batum played well, the latter seeming to get his groove back after his worst game of the season last night amid personal issues. Wesley Matthews continues to struggle from
everywhere the three point line, but managed to get himself some free throw opportunities by taking Tony Allen and Co. to the basket and drawing a few cheap fouls. Wallace still has a boo boo on his finger, and Felton still manages to turn the ball over like a maniac, and it drives me crazy. How ironic.
Tomorrow the Blazers take on the Golden State Warriors – a team complete with Mr. Baby Face and Awesome, Steph Curry – to complete the third game of their first back-to-back-to-back. Predictions on that game, considering Nate McMillan’s minute management of his rotation players?
Sophia Brugato | Twitter: @sophiabiabia | Sophia.Brugato@PinwheelEmpire.com
P.S. – I don’t normally do this, but I feel it is my duty to help support Portland music. So here, go vote for my old friend Anthony Anderson for best up and coming artist. His direct site is here, he’s definitly worth a listen, and if you hate it, can you vote for him just because we all love Portland ?
P.P.S. – I apologize on behalf of the staff here at PWE for the stagnant nature of the recaps as of late. Two of our beloved volunteer gerbils have moved across the country, and one is in another country all together. I personally have been swamped with the most ridiculous school schedule of my life (22 credits including two (ONE-TWO) full on research projects). So on top of being a single mom, and trying to keep jerky , creepy, conservatives out of women’s uteri, I’ve been neglecting my sports blogging duties. I hope you accept my apology and adopt an air of understanding. If not, well, whatever, go watch the Lakers or something.