Saturday, November 11, 2006

This team has me pretty excited

The one coffee shop I could find in Depoe Bay, Oregon—whale watching capitol of the world—doesn’t have wireless internet. Instead, customers can buy time on the one crappy computer. Needless to say, I spent two dollars to check a few things online for ten minutes, but I’m not willing to pay more so that I can blog. Thus, this is being written on Saturday afternoon, but won’t be published until sometime Sunday.

The Blazers game last night would have been the perfect one to watch, because there wasn’t much else going on. Alas, it wasn’t on TV anywhere in the country. Which means that I missed seeing another example of the team’s new calling card: toughness. Last year the consensus about Portland was that the players didn’t care. They gave up. They didn’t work hard. Teammates quit on each other. I don’t believe anyone is saying any of those things this year, as they improved to 4-2 on this young season, won their second straight game, and remained undefeated at home.

(Props again to the Hawks, who are also 4-2, and to Joe Johnson who is still playing really well. Also, it was nice for my fantasy teams that Josh Smith decided to show up finally.)

Even though I didn’t watch the game, I saw some of the highlights and a bit of the stat line, which makes me think I can comment on a few things, or more precisely, on a few players.

Zach Randolph is unreal. I know I’ve been saying it, and I know I’ve been quoting others who are saying it, but give me a break. One of my friends with insider needs to tell me what Hollinger said the other day, because I think Randolph is trying to have the best offensive season by an undersized power forward in history. I saw some clips of the game last night, and there were several offensive rebounds that he took out of the hands of multiple Hornets, one of which was after a free throw. This man is possessed. The big men are still hurt, Roy only played 12 minutes (with nothing to show for it stat-wise), and we’re never sure who else is going to show up. And Zach has carried this team to 4 wins. I know that it’s early, and the season is long, but a comment by my friend Ek reminded me of how special this team is already.
The Bulls are still a relatively young team, and have multiple new guys in the rotation, so I'm not surprised they're taking a little time to gel...
I agree, and don't fault them for taking a while to get it together. But in thinking about the Bulls, I can't help but compare the Blazers. We are still one of the youngest teams in the league, and there are a lot of injuries right now. And yet the team is playing really well together. Maybe McMillan is better than I thought. Oh wait; he missed Friday night’s game because of a death in the family. THEY DIDN’T EVEN HAVE THEIR COACH. So, to recap: the Blazers won Friday night after being down by 25 at the end of the first quarter. They’re only the second team in the shot clock era to do that. They did it with three of their five legitimate post players hurt, they’re star rookie still battling a foot injury, their head coach absent, and only one of two captains suited up. Who was the only person out there with a leadership title? Captain Zach Randolph, also one of the two legit posts, and the only player that the Hornets knew was going to get the ball every time down the floor. He responded by scoring his fewest points in three games, a measly 31, and grabbing 14 rebounds. MVP is a three-man battle right now (thanks to LeBron’s walk-off…) between Randolph, Johnson, and Dwyane Wade. Yes I am delusional. Moving on.

If Travis Outlaw keeps up his one-in-three performance, I’ll take it. In the third game of the season he scored 19 and had 18 rebounds, all while playing out of position. (He has said that he feels like a two who can play three, which is where Portland usually plays him. With the numerous frontcourt injuries, he’s been playing the four alongside Zach at five.) Oh yeah, and that performance was against Minnesota, who has a decent PF. In the sixth game of the season he did it again, scoring 18 and getting six rebounds and SIX BLOCKS. I didn’t see the game, so I’m not sure how those all played out, but in a game that sees your team down by 25 after one quarter, six blocked shots is going to help a lot at getting the fans back in and disrupting the other team’s offense. People who have seen the in-between games have said that he “looks lost” or “looks like he’s asleep.” I don’t want him to be lost or asleep for two thirds of the season, and I would much rather see him perform consistently, but if he plays a third of the season like that? I’ll look forward to what happens as he matures even more. The kid is only 22.

That last post about Ducks in the NFL was pretty lame, but I am still interested in posting all the Ducks in the NBA. And I think the upcoming post about Duck QBs and NFL winning percentages should be a bit more interesting. Speaking of which, when this gets published tomorrow I’ll know what happened, but I hope Oregon can pull off the upset in L.A. Dennis Dixon needs to have a good day running the offense.

Oh, and on Friday I bought a Randolph jersey for $22.50.

This team has me pretty excited.

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