This is the 3rd and final meeting between the Trailblazers and the Kings this season. The two teams met twice in January with each team winning on the others home court. In the Blazer’s game just prior to their first meeting against the Kings, Marcus Camby was injured and had to undergo surgery to repair a partial medial meniscus tear in his left knee So, Portland was forced to go with Joel Pryzbilla who himself had just returned from offseason knee surgery and Dante Cunningham a 6-8 forward as their centers. To add to Portland’s woes they were without Brandon Roy who also had knee problems.
In the first meeting which ended 94-90, it was the dreaded 19 turnovers and 69% shooting from the FT line that cost the Kings a home court victory. The Kings won the battle of the boards 45-42 and 10-9 on the offensive glass in spite of DeMarcus going 2-11 for 5 pts with only 4 rebounds in almost 25 minutes.
In the 2nd meeting the Kings shot 50% from the field and outscored Portland by 4 made baskets on 10 fewer attempts. The Kings shot 5-9 for 55.6% from 3 and outscored Portland by 7 at the foul line shooting 15-20 for 75% for the 15pt victory 96-81. The Kings won the rebound battle 44-39 but were outrebounded on the offensive glass 18-16. Carl Landry was the 2nd leading scorer with 16 behind Tyreke’s 26, and Carl was tied with DeMarcus with 8 to lead the team in rebounds. The Kings scored 31 points off of Portland’s 19 turnovers. In the fourth quarter, the Kings held the Trail Blazers to .273 from the field. Samuel Dalembert played 10 of his 15 minutes in the fourth and had three of his four blocks in the quarter.
In spite of their lack of depth at the center position, Portland went on to a 7-4 record by the trade deadline. Even so, it was still surprising that Portland acquires Gerald Wallace from Charlotte in exchange for Joel Przybilla, Dante Cunningham, Sean Marks, two future first round picks and cash. With Greg Oden out for the season and Camby yet to return from his knee surgery, Portland was forced to play LaMarcus Aldridge 50 minutes at Center in Portland 107-106 win over the Nuggets the day after the trade deadline.
But with Camby expected to returns on the 27th against Atlanta, the Blazers evidentially felt that they could afford to drop to one Center. It’s hard to believe that Portland thinks that they can go far in the playoffs with only one center. And, what will be the long term effects of giving up two 1st round picks (NOH’s 2011 pick and Portland’s 2013 pick) and acquiring Wallace’s contract, have on the Blazers future.
By adding Wallace, Portland now has over $72M in guaranteed contracts for next season. Roy, who has been out since Dec 15 with his knees problems, is owed $15M next season and almost $70M over the next 4 years. And, they have Wesley Matthews who they had to pay $32.5M to lure him away from Utah. Now they add Wallace who’s owed $21M over the next 2 years when they already have Aldridge and Nicolas Bantum at the forwards, who are owed a combined $14.5M next season. Add another almost $13M for Camby next year and the Blazers have nearly $59M committed to 6 players. And that doesn’t include the $8.8M qualifying offer that they need to make to retain Oden or the $1.1M QO that they need to retain Patty Mills. I’m not sure what their overall plan is but obviously they’re not afraid of the new CBA.
But for now, Marcus Camby made his return to the court Sunday night after missing the last 16 games. According to Nate McMillan, Camby will start though he will be limited to 20 minutes, or as close to 20 minutes as possible. As for Brandon Roy, who’s been back about a week from his knee surgery, McMillan said he will be restricted to 15 minutes for Sunday’s game and going into next week, "we need to try and keep his minutes limited."
In the two home games since Wallace joined the team and Camby returned, the Trail Blazers lost 90-83 to Atlanta and 103-87 to Houston. In the Atlanta game, Camby was 0-2 and 0 pts with 6 rebs, Wallace was 4-12 and 9 pts and 5 rebs, and Roy was 3-9 for 6 pts and 1 reb. Portland shot 39% from the field and 19% from beyond the arc. In the Houston game, Camby was 0-2 and 1 pts with 7 rebs, Wallace was 5-11 for 14 pts and 10 rebs, and Roy was 2-7 for 4 pts and 3 rebs.
-- Portland coach Nate McMillan, after back-to-back losses to Atlanta and Houston.
"This was a repeat of last game. I don't know where our swagger or spirit is. We look like we're not having fun. There's no connection out on that floor. I don't recognize that team, what we did tonight and in our last game."
In an effort to bolster their depth at center, Portland signed 10-year NBA veteran Jarron Collins to a 10-day contract. He appeared in 23 games this season for the Clippers, posting averages of 0.7 points, 0.7 rebounds and 6.8 minutes.
While Portland is limiting the minutes of Camby and Roy, they are weakened both offensively and defensively and the Kings need to take advantage of the situation while they can. The Kings should control the boards leading to 2nd chance points on the offensive end, and the defensive rebounds should lead to fast break points. Houston doubled Aldridge immediately after he put the ball on the floor and forced him to give up the ball. Aldridge ended up shooting 5-11 for 14 pts but did have 5 assists. The Rockets also attacked the rim which led to a 52-26 advantage in Points in the Paint.
Portland is still a great defensive team, and maybe even better now with Wallace. But, DeMarcus even in a slump is better than anyone Portland can put in at the Center position. Portland is always going to slow the game down, so we can’t afford to have our bigs turning the ball over driving to the basket or taking outside jumpers because every position is critical when we play at Portland’s Pace.
The Kings need to take a page out of the Trailblazers play book and put all their efforts into defense. We need to let the guards create off penetration and allow our bigs to score off the offensive rebounds and inside feeds from the guards. The Bigs need to leave the 20 ft jumpers to the wings and guards and get good low post position so you only need one dribble to get into the paint. I think PW will try to defend Aldridge without doubling, but if that doesn’t work let’s hope that T & T know their rotations. I wish this game were a sell out too, but let’s hope the enthusiasm from Monday carries over. Kings Win.