Blazers 98, Wizards 92: Free the young guys!

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Highest Plus/Minus: Andray Blatche (+8 in 20:56)
Lowest Plus/Minus: Antonio Daniels (-14 in 20:08)
Best Five Man Unit: Antonio Daniels, Nick Young, Dominic McGuire, Antawn Jamison, Andray Blatche (+6 for first 3:06 of fourth quarter)
Worst Five Man Unit: Antonio Daniels, Nick Young, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, JaVale McGee (-6 for a 2:07 stretch in the second quarter).

Four Factors:

Team Pace Off Eff eFG% FT/FG OREB% TO%
Portland 83 118.1 51.9% 23.4 32.4 14.5
Washington 83 110.8 54.1% 17.8 25.7 14.5

On the whole, there's not too much to be upset about with this one.  Portland's a very good team.  To anyone who suggests the Blazers were tired because they were on a second game of a back to back, remind them kindly that the Wizards were too.  Sure, the Wizards' game against the Nets was over by the fourth quarter, but the second-game excuse applies to both teams.  The truth is that the Wizards played a very good team close, and that's that. 

Still, I'm a little annoyed about the substitution patterns down the stretch.  With the possible exception of JaVale McGee, all our young guys had really solid games.  Dee Brown was excellent, pushing the ball and avoiding the turnovers that have plagued him in the past.  Andray Blatche had a really good game offensively, giving Greg Oden problems with his face-up game.  Nick Young had 11 points and a very solid five rebounds.  Dominic McGuire played outstanding defense on Travis Outlaw and was a factor on the glass. All played big roles in keeping us close.

So naturally, some of them would have been on the floor in a close game down the stretch, right?  Not if you're Ed Tapscott. 

Young, Blatche, Brown and McGuire did not see any action in the last five and a half minutes of the game.  While Antonio Daniels was being ignored offensively by the Portland defense and struggling to guard Steve Blake, Dee Brown was out of the game.  While DeShawn Stevenson and Caron Butler took turns being abused by Brandon Roy, Dominic McGuire sat.  While Darius Songaila was grabbing all but one rebound in 18 minutes, Andray Blatche was sitting despite carving Greg Oden up.  And while Stevenson was bricking free throws, Nick Young was not being used. 

I'm not saying all of those guys should have played every minute of the game.  But when Greg Oden is abusing the weaker JaVale McGee on screen and rolls, wouldn't going back to Blatche, who was playing well, worth a try?  With Brandon Roy abusing our defense, Dominic McGuire might have been a nice person to try on him.  And how Dee Brown gets no minutes beyond the early stages of the third quarter while Antonio Daniels limps around to a -14 night is beyond me. 

None of that should take away from what was mostly a pretty good performance, but in a close game, those little botches matter.  The young guys were the people who played a big role in keeping us close.  Completly ignoring them down the stretch in light of that is not smart.

Other observations:

  • Our offensive proficiency is back.  Our offensive efficiencies under Tapscott: 124, 98.9 (Orlando), 114, 124 and 110.1.  With the exception of Orlando, all four of those efficiencies place us in the top five among team efficiency averages.  Three of them are significantly higher than the best team's average.  Credit Tapscott for encouraging everyone to move the ball
  • I really don't get why DeShawn Stevenson plays so much.  He obviously isn't a stopper anymore, and when he isn't shooting well, what exactly is he doing?  Nick Young and Dominic McGuire need more of DeShawn's minutes
  • It seems Blatche has his best games against lumbering centers that are ill-equipped to guard him.  That's why I don't get why he only played so little.
  • We did a slightly better job of getting to the free throw line, but that still needs to pick up.  Butler, once again, is the main culprit here.
  • Antawn started off really well in the post, abusing LaMarcus Aldridge for three easy hoops.  But instead of continuing to go inside, he drifted to the perimeter and launched a bunch of long jumpers.  I don't get why he didn't stick with what was working
  • Brandon Roy is really awesome.  Portland started the fourth with a weird lineup that didn't have any of their three big guns in, but once Roy checked back in, the game was over.  He's really a special player, and I see why people say his numbers don't do him justice.  I will say that I'm not sure what all the fuss about LaMarcus Aldridge is about.  He's alright, but he's not Rasheed Wallace good.
  • Portland's got too many guys who need minutes.  It'd make things easier for them if they consolidated their rotation through a trade.  Antawn Jamison is available...

 

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