In a road game that had let down written all over it, the Blazers went into Memphis and began an easy five game road test with a 93-79 victory over the Grizzlies.
There were times in the first half where an easy victory didn't seem possible. Greg Oden got in early foul trouble again, and the team was stagnant and turning the ball over. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol were working without much resistance. Roy and Aldridge kept Portland in the game with efficient scoring and it was tied at the half. It felt like a possible struggle, but then the third quarter came along.
The starting unit came alive in the second half. Oden picked up his swagger with a little help from his point guard duo, and the Blazers went on a commanding 14-1 run that sealed the deal.
For Memphis, Rudy Gay really struggled in this one. I thought he'd have a big night against us but 12 points and six turnovers in 40 minutes won't cut it. Zach Randolph also had an uncharacteristically bad night against Portland. Last year Z-Bo averaged 25.5 a game and tonight had only 11 points on 5-14 shooting.
On the flip side, Marc Gasol continues to prove he's a darn good player. He moves well at seven feet, his offensive game is refined and he's very adept at drawing contact, just like his brother. OJ Mayo is another good young player. He was okay tonight, nothing spectacular, with 17 points in 40 minutes.
I like what I saw and continue to see out of Steve Blake. Since the two point guard lineup started, Blake has been tremendous. He hit four more threes tonight including a dagger late in the game to put it out of reach for Memphis.
Oden also got into beast mode in the second half. He was slamming home dunks, taking alley-oops, doing a lot of aggressive things. Loved that.
Travis Outlaw had an off night, but this dunk made up for all of it . I reacted cheerfully when I saw those two points.
Overall it was good showing by the Blazers. Winning the first game on a road trip is always important. Next stop, Minnesota!