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Duke put on an imposing defensive display against Portland, limiting the
Pilots to three first half baskets and winning 84-43. You might say c'mon, that's Portland,
but they're not an awful team. Actually, they're pretty good. It's
just that Duke's defense hit a different level.
Luol Deng said after the game that it started in the Michigan State game, and
if it keeps up like this, it's going to be a fun year. The offense is
still not where everyone wants it to be, but at this point, it's more a question
of shots going in than And to an extent, that's a question of health
and repetition: Redick and Ewing have been off, and until they are healthy and
practiced, they'll likely be off., at least somewhat.
And in another bit of not-so-good-news, Shelden Williams twisted his ankle in
practice and tweaked it again against Portland, and played limited minutes (14)
But overall, the defense has to give anyone hope.. And the offense shot
49%, so it's not exactly a nightmare. Redick shot 4-13, and Ewing was 2-6,
but otherwise, everyone except Randolph was at 50% or better, and he was
4-9. So that criticism, at least as far as shooting goes, should be
qualified. Well add foul shots to it: 69% is not vintage.
Passing is another story. There were some wonderful passes in this
game. The no-look by Sean Dockery was impressive; the leading pass by Deng
was classic; and Melchionni's no-look was also very cool.
Back to the defense: Duke blocked 14 shots (what is the single game
record at Duke?), had 12 steals, forced 19 total turnovers, won the rebounding
battle 43-35, and held Portland to .242 from the floor. Tired legs probably
helped them to a .600 from the free throw line.
To an extent, we think the comments about offense are a chimera - a healthy
Redick and Ewing will cure a lot of it - but even if it is a major bugaboo, the
defense will outweigh a lot of it. This is the most fun defensive stretch
we have seen in a while. May it continue.