Basketball is back?
*sees Steph Curry and Lebron James dueled in the primetime opener*
Yup, basketball is back.
Today’s page is about a regular season game from 2006 between the Sacramento Kings and the Portland Trail Blazers. The Kings are a fringe playoff team hovering around .500 late in the season. They are led by Mike Bibby, Brad Miller, and Metta World Peace. The Blazers are a BAD team. At 20-50 coming into this game, the only thing they are looking forward to is the draft lottery. The roster is devoid of talent, especially when it comes to the bench.
So what can the plus/minus tell us about this specific game? It was a relatively easy win for Sacramento. They had just one bad stretch in the game, coming out of halftime. But they were already up 17 points, so the damage was pretty minimal.
Metta World Peace had two stretches where he finished with a negative plus/minus, but he still finished +5 for the game. He was the worst on the team of anyone that played at least 20 minutes. Reserve guys like Francisco Garcia and Shareef Adbur-Rahim finished at a game best +21 and +23 respectively. That is because they had the pleasure of going against the Portland backups. Speaking of Portland, let’s see their chart.
There’s a lot of red on this chart, but there’s one specific section I’d like to zoom in on.
Late in the first quarter, Portland’s seven foot center dunks to give the Blazers the lead at 20-19. Sacramento responds by taking a timeout. With a 1 point lead and 2:24 left in the quarter, Portland subs in Juan Dixon, Travis Outlaw, and Brian Skinner to finish out the quarter. Unsurprisingly, this turns to be a horrible decision. The bench unit gives up a 10-0 run to the Kings, evaporating the slim lead and putting them behind for the rest of the game.
Right out of the timeout, the Blazers give up 2 points to Kenny Thomas. Following that, Darius Miles misses a jumper of his own and they allow another 2 pointer to Bibby for a quick 4 point swing. On the next offensive possession, Skinner gets called for an offensive foul on Bibby and turns the ball over. 10 seconds later, he commits a foul against Abdur-Rahim on the other end. Abdur-Rahim, of course, hits both his free throws. Juan Dixon misses the next shot for Portland. Travis Outlaw wrangles an offensive rebound, the sole positive play of the entire sequence, but Miles again misses on the 2nd chance. Sacramento scores on the next possession and then Dixon turns the ball over on a bad pass that gets stolen by Kenny Thomas. Thomas scores to end the quarter, capping a 10 point run and giving the Kings a 9 point lead.
This is efficiently bad. In just two and a half minutes, the bench unit went -10. They missed 3 shots, committed 2 turnovers, and fouled twice. The game was basically over after that. Portland never cut the deficit back to single digits after Garcia hit a 3 on the first play of the 2nd quarter. Outlaw and Skinner wouldn’t see the court again until the 4th quarter, with the game far out of hand already. Miles never returned.
For the game, Dixon finished with the worst plus/minus at -16. He did that in 12:47 minutes of playing time. Arguably, Skinner and Miles were worse. Skinner was -11 in 5:34 on the court. Miles was -8 and played just 4:26.
Overall, this game was pretty indicative of both teams’ season. Sacramento would surge enough to finish a few games over .500, making the playoffs as the 8th seed in the West. Even with a top 10 offense, they were thoroughly outclassed by the 63 win Spurs, losing in Round 1 4-2.
The Trail Blazers floundered the rest of the way, winning just one of their last 11 games. The 21-51 record gave them the best odds in the draft lottery, which was the goal of the season anyway. Unfortunately, they failed even at the lottery, missing out on all 3 of the top picks, falling to the 4th pick of the draft. Instead of accepting their fate at the draft, they traded up for the 2nd overall pick and the rights to LaMarcus Aldridge, a future face of the franchise. They weren’t satisfied there though, as they made another trade for the rights to the 7th overall pick in the draft, Brandon Roy. Aldridge and Roy would go on to form a great young core for the up and coming team. They are 2 of the 4 players in the 2006 Draft to be selected to both an All-Star Game and an All-NBA Team
Trivia Time: Who are the other two players from the 2006 NBA Draft to be selected for at least one All-Star Game and All-NBA Team? Comment you answers.
That’s all I have for this issue. I couldn’t find any footage of this specific game (very sadly, I wanted to witness that 2 minutes for real) so here are some highlights of a bad 2006 Portland team getting torched by Kobe Bryant for 50 points.
And that’s the story of Sacramento Kings at Portland Trail Blazers on March 29, 2006.
Keep Sports Fun.
Twitter - @ColinRingwood12