I made the three-hour trip from Seattle to Portland for the second time of the season to watch the Blazers take on the Clippers.
Heading into the game, I predicted a blow-out. However, the Clips showed up. Zach Randolph returned to the city he called home for a number of seasons, and every time he touched the rock he was booed.
Since I was a Sonics fan when Randolph was playing Portland, I hated him for a different reason than most of the people who live in Portland. I despised that fat slug. He got into trouble off the court, and was just a lazy player all around. This is the reason he's playing for his third team in three years.
Randolph proved when it comes down to it, he can ball. He put up 38 points, while Baron Davis had 27, and the shocking 3-pointer to send the game to the first overtime.
When OT began, Brandon Roy was absolutely lights out. However, if it weren't for Steve Blake missing four free throws, there wouldn't have been overtime at all. Blake had only missed two free throws all season, so missing four in a row is unacceptable.
With the exception of Roy and Aldridge, the Blazers played one of their worst games of the year. The stats may not fully show it, but a lot of guys played pretty bad on Friday the 12th.
Especially Greg Oden, who by now should be adjusted to playing in the NBA. Every time he got the ball in the paint, he was timid, and would either put up something weak, turn the ball over, or pass. Oden is seven feet tall, and judging by the way he dominated at Ohio State, I don't think he's even coming close to meeting expectations.
Oden had 15 points and 15 boards against the Clippers and was 6-10 from the field, but he played 42 minutes. Typically, he plays more like 25 minutes and gets a little less than this. For the majority of the time that Oden was in the game, it was like he wasn't even on the floor.
Periodically, fans would yell for coach Nate McMillan to put Joel Przybilla back in the game. Right now, I think that Przybilla should be the starting center for the Blazers.
While Przybilla's nine points and five boards in 16 minutes aren't 15 and 15 like Oden put up, his presence in the paint is that of a developed NBA big-man. Or at least have him and Oden split time until Oden starts to become consistent (or gets sent to the D-League).
Both Oden and Przybilla are averaging about eight points and eight or nine rebounds a game. If the Blazers want to be considered a contender, this has to change.
I want to mention again how I think Roy should be a serious contender for MVP. The All-Star voting has started, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him be named the starting Western Conference point guard.
Roy was named Western Conference Player of the Week after the Blazers' successful road trip on the East Coast. He really carried Portland through the Clippers game, which it seems like everyone else on the team underestimated.
A heart breaking one-point loss to the Orlando Magic at home ended the Blazers' perfect season at home, and started a three-game skid. The second loss was to division rival, Utah, who I still think has the edge to win the division. Then another tough loss to the Clippers puts the Blazers two games behind the Nuggets and even with the Jazz in the Northwest.
It will be interesting to watch the progress of Oden throughout the season. Don't be shocked if Przybilla starts getting more minutes, and possibly starts.
Next up for the Blazers is the Kings, who they've already beat twice this season, followed by the Suns who now have Jason Richardson. A playoff team would have no trouble beating the Kings, who just fired their coach, and I expect a good one in the Suns game.
Portland dropped all the way from No. 2 in the conference to No 7. This is the spot I ultimately expect them to finish the year at. Hot streaks will come, but I think we'll see something similar to last season, hopefully with a post-season.