Sigh. Feel sorry for our new coach. This game was not a total disaster btw. Started out as a total disaster, but then we mass-subbed in the third and all of a sudden the bench crew went nuts and made a real game of it. But I say sigh, because what we have is a pile of mediocrities, any one of whom can have a big game on any night (tonight it was Patterson and McLemore), but none of whom can be counted to do so. Makes Malone's job of selecting starters here close to impossible. So I'm going to add a poll for who we all would select. Of course that only further illustrates the problem, since there are literally so many candidates I don't have enough poll options for all of them. Anyway, select 4, any 4. Boxscore Stats: 20min 6pts (2-8, 1-4, 2-2) 3reb 1ast 0stl 0blk 0TO Salmons ( D ) -- well, some meanie obviously jammed the fork firmly back into John's back before tipoff, and I would imagine, although its so hard to tell with our up and down non-Cousins play, that this damaged his starting chances for the regular season in the process. In short, he looked like the same passionless washed up guy we have been seeing for the last few years as once again a lineup he was part of was just dead flat. Was missing all his normal shots, threes, little drives for pullups, and having minimal impact on the other end of the floor. We finally began to use his size in the post on a couple of third quarter switches where Lillard ended up guarding him, but even that was an airball as often as a conversion. Stats: 41min 27pts (11-18, 3-5, 2-2) 8reb 2ast 0stl 0blk 0TO Patterson ( B+ ) -- 27pts 8reb for Patrick Patterson = you just have to give him an A of some sort right? Well...wrong. He was leading us in scoring at halftime and I was wondering if I could bring myself to give him a B-. By the mid third his defensive and boarding deficiencies had gotten so grotesque it was in the Cs. But after we made the big swap out, taking out all our flat starters except PPat, from that point on the things he wasn't doing became much less noticeable than the things he continued to do. In fact PPat was just about the only guy IT would pass to at all in the third quarter, and he responded with a flurry. Watching him today I was struck by how much he's barely a PF at all. He's about as physical as a powder puff. Thin and narrow and if he bangs into somebody its pure accident. While his grade was falling he was totally non-competitive blocking guys off the board, on switches onto Lopez. He was actually stepping out of the way of Blazers driving the ball. It was like watching Spencer Hawes' long lost sibling and I was thinking of photoshopping up a pic of him in a tutu if that had continued. But on the other hand he's very mobile, and being skinny, he repeatedly slipped in between Blazers to get open looks and dunks along the baseline, to sneak in for offensive boards, where most of his effectiveness seemed to be on the glass whatever the numbers say etc. And the result was he did nothing you want a PF to do, and it was killing us when nobody else was doing it either. But especially when Chuck was in there to provide some physical presence and boardwork, PPat's shooting ability and mobility was on full display. He got hot, kept getting open, and we kept finding him, and the Blazers never did figure out what to do about it. So the grade went up and up and it had to be good. I still wouldn't hesitate to kick sand in his face at the beach though. Stats: 15min 0pts (0-5, 0-0, 0-0) 2reb 1ast 0stl 0blk 2TO Thompson ( D- ) -- oh lord, Boogie please stay healthy. Please PLEASE stay healthy. We rested Boogie tonight, and let JT start in his place, and JT was just flat bad. I've mentioned in the past his tendency to (sorry Jerry Reynolds, you are WRONG) better at PF than C, where he's not as strong as he looks. But this went beyond that. This was the erratic "off" Jason that crops up for no apparent reason from time to time. couldn't get anything going offensively against Lopez, wasn't on the boards. Got in quick foul trouble. Misses a flat F here because I think he was playing defense the way we drew it up, but the Blazers seemed to repeatedly take advantage of the way we were playing pick and rolls. Was gone for the last time by the mid 3rd in favor of a 6'6" center, and he should be embarrassed that that sentence ends "and not missed". Stats: 18min 10pts (4-9, 1-5, 1-1) 3reb 0ast 2stl 0blk 0TO Thornton ( C- ) -- scored 10pts in 18 minutes which is largely why the grade hovers at this level despite another uninspired effort. What's curious here is the degree to which shots were there for McLemore, because Thornton somehow remains uninvolved. Half his shots seemed spur of the moment, there was definitely no organized push. He got 10 pts basically just by being a talented scorer, but without any sort of sense of plan or purpose. And once his defensive issues fully manifested on the other side -- JTs foul trouble and our awful defense was largely due to the starting backcourt being completely unable to keep anybody out of the lane -- well, a C- is being a little generous. You again don't know, but he might well have lost the SG battle to M16 simply because Ben is dependable, even when he sucks. There is a plan and a function, and if he misses his shots or dribbles it off his toes at least you know the play is coming. Thornton on the other hand has just looked terribly uncomfortable and wandering around in a fog. I fear the concept of an organized offense where you can't just freelance up your own shot whenever you feel like it has left him unhinged. Sure am glad we're paying MT $8.4mil though instead of that other guy $11mil. Stats: 20min 4pts (1-8, 1-2, 1-2) 1reb 6ast 2stl 0blk 1TO Vasquez ( C- ) -- and here is maybe what you get when you put an offensively limited PG in a starting lineup tonight with nobody to pass to. He was setting people up solidly, but that was rarely enough to convince the snoozing starters to actually put it in the hoop. Meanwhile his own offense consisted mostly of slow drives ending in missed floater after missed floater. We even tried to use his size and post him on Lillard in the third, but that didn't work either. Finally hit a standstill three, but that would be his only hit on the night as Lillard started toasting him/us in the third, and we lost his 20minutes on the floor by 15pts. There's not a doubt in my mind he's the better PG to stick next to Cousins, because he'll feed Cousins rather than himself. But with no Cousins to feed, even IT at his most selfish was providing energy and a push that Grevis did not. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Bench Stats: 34min 6pts (3-5, 0-0, 0-1) 11reb 1ast 0stl 0blk 1TO Hayes ( B ) -- this was the sort of game that would make you respect the things that Chuck brings to the table. JT was just checked entirely out mentally, and PPat was squealing everytime anybody touched him, or would have if he ever allowed such a brutal invasion of his personal space to take place. And then there was Chuck. Chuck wasn't great, but he was just solid, and yes he did occasionally get physical under the glass. That thump you just heard was PPat fainting at the thought. In any case, Chuck provided almost all of the interior resistance we offered and provided solid boardwork amongst the trees (although its worth noting here that the height of the Blazers' bigs is all for show, as none of them are much on the glass). It wasn't until the final stretch run that we finally paid for having to use a 6'6" "big" man as Chuck wasn't able to close the lane, and Lopez suddenly picked up his boardwork and was able to tip several things over Chuck's head. With 3 minutes to play IT even mysteriously decided it was time to give Chuck a goto pass in the post. That went well. But for most of the night Chuck was basically it for us inside, and in subtle fashion was one of the reasons for our big run and the close game in the 4th. Stats: 30min 23pts (10-16, 3-7, 0-0) 4reb 1ast 0stl 0blk 1TO McLemore ( A- ) -- was a bit reminscient of the two big games/halves he had in summer league. Did not have much impact in the first half, but when he returned as part of our mass substitution in the mid 3rd he quickly teamed with PPat and IT to bring us roaring back. The interesting thing here, and really through most of his preseason, has been the consistency of what he does and doesn't do. To whatever degree he has a chance to beat out Thornton for the SG spot its not because he has been brilliant, although tonight he had a brilliant streak, but because he's been dependable. When he returned to the game and got red hot it was a spot up 3ptr, a spot up 2ptr, and a dunk on the break. Then another spot up 3ptr, and another dunk on the break. When he went through a cool spell in the early 4th it was a series of missed spot up shots. When he got hot again it was on another open court breakaway and yes several sneaks along the baseline. I'm not sure he even tried to dribble it more than 3 times on any one play, which is a good thing given that our center has a better handle than he does. And so yeah he got hot, and therein comes this grade, but there continues to be this sense even when he's not hot that he's playing the game in a reliable fashion that you can predict and build around. He shoots, and he runs. That's it. At one point here he was shooting the ball far too much, almost every time down the floor, but he's so far from a ballhandler that you have full control over that -- i.e. just don't pass it to him -- and so there seems little danger of it becoming disruptive. In any case, he did not excel at anything else but shooting/scoring here, but he blew up in a big way in the second half until he was cooled late, whether it be due to teammates taking those shots, or Nicholas Batum suddenly appearing to guard him down the stretch. Throw in some athletic help running the floor and once or twice on the boards, and despite some more defensive misadventures (he can't guard PGs laterally) this was a real strong night. Maybe even the one that got him the starting SG spot, we'll see. P.S. One interesting little note: the combination of both what he does well (rise up high with a quick shooting motion) and not well (he has a SF's handle not a guard's) seems to be leading him to being a guy who is very rarely going to appear at the FT line. The jumper is too quick to foul, and he can't create anything off the bounce so nobody ever fouls him there. In 5 preseason games he has taken a total of 5 FTs. Stats: 28min 15pts (5-17, 0-3, 5-7) 4reb 10ast 2stl 0blk 2TO Thomas ( B- ) -- complex and messy grade here. Note 1: I ain't buying 10 assists. I watched the game. Note 2: I'm not sure what happened with IT, but the first couple of games with Grevis out you got the distinct impression of him trying to consciously dial it back and play like he had teammates rather than it being a 1 on 1 tournament. It was an awkward fit at times, but he was also PGing. Then things took a turn, and he all of a sudden seems to be going on a complete selfishness spiral the last 3 games, and I'm not sure if that is his normal way of trying to compete for a job, or if the coaching staff is encouraging it in his role off the bench. Anyway, those notes are important because what we had here tonight was a guy who was largely ineffective before half, but then came on in the third, and despite being outrageously selfish at times, gave us a huge shot in the arm and completely changed the pace/tone of the game. Only Patterson rivals IT's schizophrenic grade tonight. At one point he had chucked up 11 shots in 13 minutes and even J.R. Smith was covering his face in embarrassment. And yet the pressure he put on the defense revived a moribund team in the 3rd and got us back into the game. In some ways it was the Iverson principle. Iverson was a chucker supreme, fugly, selfish, inefficient...but damn if it didn't put pressure on your defense trying to deal with it. And so IT was forcing up shot after shot, many of them quite bad shots I might add on his way to a 5-17, but in the process things opened up for teammates, then for Isaiah himself. And he did hit some guys every third possession or so, and in particular kept on dribbling around in circles and dumping it off to Patterson stepping into open spots. Moreover it wasn't just a gunning push, he also entered the game and did a much better job than the starters had at staying in front of Lillard, who reacted foolishly as young players do and seemed to want to overpower him or beat him off the dribble rather than just doing the obvious thing and shoot over him. In fact Lillard should really consider himself lucky that the refs bailed him out late in the game with a couple of very questionable fouls on IT. Eventually the selfish stuff caught up to us as IT made furtive attempts to hero things late, but the game wouldn't have been as close as it was if he hadn't have come in and done his thing. So definitely do not want this sort of chucking anywhere near our franchise center in the starting lineup. But it was undeniably effective in bringing us back tonight, ugly or not. Stats: 21min 5pts (1-5, 0-1, 3-4) 4reb 0ast 3stl 0blk 0TO Outlaw ( C+ ) -- I moved this grade around several times looking for the right fit. basically Outlaw was quietly non existent for much of his time out there on offense, missing both the spot shots he needs to hit, as well as the Outlaw special (aka crap) blow the assist and dribble to a convenient spot to brick a midrange jumper stuff. But in the second half was making some impact helping on defense...right up until the point Malone went all Keith Smart on us and started playing Outlaw at PF, where amazingly enough he proceeded to get overpowered in the post and on the glass. Imagine that. I continue to wonder what makes people look at a 6'9" 210lb guy and think he can play a position with the word "power" in it. This might be a C, I don't know. But it is Travis Outlaw afterall, and I thought he was starting to help as a roleplayer until his coach threw him out of position again, so its hard to place the blame there on him particularly. Stats: 14min 9pts (3-6, 2-5, 1-1) 0reb 2ast 1stl 0blk 0TO Fredette ( C+ ) -- the statline here is a bit suspect, with almost all of it coming in the final 2 minutes of the game. Did not even enter the game for the first time until the late 3rd, effectively making Ben a SF. Did ok v. Mo Williams on defense for a few minutes, but for 10 minutes was just kind of out there, the other guy while IT dribbled around in circles, and PPat and BenMac handled all the gunning duties. But the difference was that normally having Jimmer Fredette on the floor without having him shoot the ball is a net negative for you. He's pretty bad at all the dirty work stuff. And yet tonight, he was unexceptional. Something suddenly changed in the last 3 minutes or so though. Jimmer finally got a shot, and bricked a long three. But then all of a sudden all those shots that had been going to McClemore seemed to go to Jimmer and he started doing the Smart era gunner thing from all angles. Two threes dropped in, and suddenly a remarkably quiet outing had some numbers next to it, but it didn't feel important. In fact most of the grade has nothing to do with hitting a couple of semi-garbagetime threes, and more to do with him staying in front of Williams for the most part and not being a liability during that long stretch when he barely touched it.