Game 16: Blazers 122, Bulls 98

Busta BucketCorrespondent INovember 24, 2009

CHICAGO - JANUARY 12: Kirk Hinrich #12 of the Chicago Bulls defends against Jerryd Bayless #4 of the Portland Trail Blazers on January 12, 2009 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The Trail  Blazers defeated the Bulls 109-95. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agreees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Well now that was a pleasant victory. Portland shot lights out at home and our bigs were dominant against a physically inferior Chicago Bulls team.

I had an afternoon push to attend the game, and I must say, the first row of section 331 is a solid value for Blazer tickets.

The Blazers looked good in person, but have they really made strides?

The Good

First things first, this game was absolutely won by our front line. I had a feeling LaMarcus would go for 20 & 10 and Oden would shut down Noah. Both things happened, plus Greg exploded offensively with 24 points and 12 rebounds.

One thing that did surprise me was the somewhat modest play of Derrick Rose. I thought he'd come in and torch Steve Blake. It was John Salmons and Luol Deng who ended up doing most of the scoring with outside jumpers. I guess that's the advantage of having Greg Oden. Rose won't drive as much and the over-sized wings for Chicago preferred to stay on the perimeter. Besides the great numbers, Oden is affecting games on every level.

I was also more than thrilled to see Dante Cunningham get 14 minutes of playing time last night. He started out a little hesitant, but once he got going, his defense, size, ability to rebound, that little jumper, everything looked good. He is our back-up power forward, but does Nate know that yet? Hopefully.

The Bad

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There really wasn't much bad for the Blazers in this contest. It did seem like Salmons and Deng were able to shoot at will, but I think it was size mismatches more than defense. I remember one ill-advised jumper by Salmons where Roy was all over him. But John still canned it.

I watched the game with a UConn graduate and he remembers Salmons never, ever being shy about shooting. So be it.

Psychologically, it could have been bad for Greg when he was dunked on by Joakim Noah , but this is a different Greg Oden. He reacted by immediately calling for the ball on the other end of the floor. He took it right to Noah and scored. I liked the nastiness; Greg was a bad man last night. Ohio State got the best of Florida in that exchange.

Lastly, nothing bad about this particiular game, but the Bulls are not very good. We play two more bad teams on this early season cupcake schedule.

I still need to see this Blazer team play well consistently against top tier opponents. Saturday at Utah is a good start.

The Ugly

More specifically, Noah cannot hang with G.O., period. Greg finished the game with 24 points on 7-8 shooting, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks. Noah? 7 points and 8 rebounds.

I'm already tired of the national frenzy to anoint Noah the next great center. I've even heard a delusional Chicago writer is saying Noah should have been the number one pick in the 2007 NBA draft. Don't be silly Chi, you saw what happened last night, Noah will never be able to play with legit strength on the interior.

Box Score

Ben's Media Row Report

Last but not least, Greg's interview on NBA TV: