There is a simple process of determining what shots the Blazers should take. For example, this is a great shot attempt.
Any time he has an opportunity, Greg Oden should feel free to attempt that. It has a pretty good chance of going in.
Note a few things: his defender, Shaquille O'Neal, is outside the restricted circle having as much impact on the shot as the Ice Cream Vendor in the Alamo Dome. Which, for those keeping score at home, is in San Antonio, Texas, not Portland Oregon.
Second, the help defender A'mare Stoudemire is also spectating. Two other Phoenix defenders can easily see the power of Oden as they are just a few steps away.
In other words, this is a great shot attempt for Oden, LaMarcus Aldridge, or any other Blazer to attempt; an uncontested dunk.
Here is their second best shot;
As you can tell, Brandon Roy is off balance, going up on the reverse side of the rim, throwing up an awkward, just been fouled shot that still finds a way to tickle the twine.
In truth, though, it doesn't really matter if he made the shot or not. The important thing, as any Blazer fan can tell you, is that any shot taken by Roy is, by definition, a better shot than any shot that is not an uncontested dunk that is attempted by any other Blazer.
Roy has been on fire for the last few games. First he went back to back to back games with more than 30 points, including a career high 38 point outburst. In the fourth game he was merely great, scoring "only" 29 points. Of course, had he not sat out the entire fourth quarter, he probably could have crested the 30 point mark fairly easily.
So on a night when the Phoenix Suns came to town, Roy got ready to kick it up a few degrees.
One of those big scoring games saw the normally reliable, 90 percent free throw shooter Steve Blake almost single-handedly give the game away as he missed four out of five free throw attempts inside the last minute, allowing the Clippers to tie a game Portland had completely in hand and then surprise the Blazers in double overtime.
On this night, it was Roy's chance to ice the game. Leading by three with just under 10 seconds left, he stepped to the line for a pair of free throws. He had every excuse to miss; he had played the entire second half, was all over the court defensively, was bringing the ball up the floor, and so forth. He was doing everything.
After the two recent shocking home losses, Portland fans were nervous. If Roy missed the first, everyone would have gotten that "here we go again" feeling, knowing Phoenix would somehow find a way to tie the game and then win in overtime.
The final box score tells you all you need to know. In the picture above, Roy had 50 points. For those who don't follow Portland, his jersey number is seven.
Roy does it all. On a night he poured in the second highest total in Blazers history, scoring more than even Geoff Petrie or Clyde "the Glide" Drexler ever did, he still managed to pick up six assists and five rebounds. Even more impressive, he turned the ball over exactly zero times. None. Nada. Zip.
There were some other fine performances. Travis Outlaw exploded for eight points in 2:23 to close the third quarter, completely changing the momentum of the game. With his drives, jumpers, and variety of scores he kept Phoenix from being able to double and triple team Roy.
LaMarcus Aldridge, facing his nemesis Stoudemire, scored 16 points on just 12 shots. Steve Blake added 22 points, providing a fourth scorer.
But this night, and this season, was all about Roy. He is the unquestioned leader of this team. Coach McMillan is on record as saying he goes to Roy when he needs to find out how the team is feeling. Roy provides that connection. He also identifies what needs to be done.
A couple days ago he was interviewed on the Jim Rome show. He made a point of saying the Blazers are a young talented team, but they need to become a young, TOUGH and talented team.
He discussed how that toughness is shown by playing hard-nosed defense night in and night out. He mentioned the length of guys like Oden, Aldridge, and Nicolas Batum and how they needed to keep their feet moving in order to keep their man in front of them.
On this night, when the Blazers gave up 56.9 percent shooting (and a ridiculous, must be a mis-print 66.7 percent from beyond the arc), when the game was on the line he made a point of getting in the face of his young charges. Lo and behold, a Blazer team that seemingly could not get back to back stops all night long suddenly went on a mission, outscoring the Suns 9-2 over the last 2:56.
If they can turn on the defense like that when the game is on the line even on a night where they give up 119 for the game, they will make a lot more noise than people currently think they will come playoff time.
And if Roy has to keep putting up 38 or 52 points to get a few votes for the All-Star game, that will be an embarrassment for NBA fans. What "knowledgeable" fan would vote Manu Ginobli and his less than double figures games played ahead of Roy as an All-Star?
Pathetic. Shame on you, fans. Get a clue, do the right thing, and put this guy among the top vote-getters.
I think Roy suffers a bit in that regard because he is too fundamental and not flashy enough. I think he had one dunk tonight, and that on a break-away. On the Blazers post-game show on 95.5 The Game, Coach McMillan referred to his game as a "quiet 52".
Sadly, I knew what he meant.
At one point, I nudged my wife and said, "He is one point away from his career high." The guy on the other side looked at the scoreboard, gasped, and said, "Feels like he only has about 20."
He had 37.
He just is so smooth, he scores within the offense, he doesn't force the action, he keeps his team-mates involved...holy smoke, I think I have a man-crush.
But I do love his game. Every night he is worth the price of admission. On Tuesday, Portland retired Terry Porter's jersey. Tonight, they retired Brandon Roy's. If he keeps going like this, No. 7 will be in the rafters in about 10 years. It also will have an excellent shot at the Hall of Fame.
Whether he makes the Hall or not, he will provide Portland fans with some incredible memories in the meantime. Brandon Roy, former Rookie of the Year, last year's NBA All-Star, and this year's Most Improved. Think about it.