Jake's Take 11/02/10: Remembering Maurice Lucas
Jake LeRoy [@JakesTake34]
Bucks vs. Blazers
Full disclosure: I have to plead relatively youthful ignorance when it comes to the recently deceased Maurice Lucas. I wasn't even a glint in my parents' eyes during his peak and wasn't nearly aware enough of my surroundings to appreciate his twilight years. Prior to Monday, my knowledge of Lucas extended no further than his great career as a Marquette Warrior and the integral role he played in Portland's 1977 championship run.
The recent outpouring of stories that have flooded the Internet have shed a shining light on a player that I now wish I could've seen play in person. He couldn't have been more my kind of player. He worked his butt off like few others, defended his teammates with a commendable intensity, and respected the game of basketball the way it should be respected. Those three qualities aren't shared by nearly enough of his modern-day NBA descendants. Hopefully his passing will do for this generation's players what it has done for me.
After dominating at the JV level at Marquette, Lucas was promoted to the varsity squad, where he continued to thrive. He averaged 15.7 points and 10.7 boards in his two years at that level, leading the Warriors to the NCAA championship game in 1974 before falling to NC State.
Lucas went pro after Marquette's championship run, spending two years in the ABA before joining the Trailblazers in Portland. He made an instant impact on the Blazers, averaging 19 points and 10.3 boards in his three full seasons in the Pacific Northwest. Lucas was the leading scorer on Portland's 1977 championship squad and offered a bodyguard service to Bill Walton throughout his tenure. He continued to put up solid numbers through various other stops throughout his career, finally hanging them up in 1988.
Statistics hardly make the man, though, and don't do Lucas nearly enough justice. I'll leave the stories about Lucas to those who were around during his heyday and have a better knowledge of who he was as a player and as a person.
- Former Trailblazers head coach Dr. Jack Ramsay says goodbye to "The Intimidator."
- Peter Vecsey details the relationships Lucas had with his teammates.
- Numerous Marquette connections way in on Lucas' impact on the program.
- Zach Lowe of Sports Illustrated explains why Lucas was more than just an enforcer.
- Jason Quick from The Oregonian offers a look at Lucas the player, and Lucas the coach.
Another interesting tidbit of information I picked up is that Lucas was often called by a shortened version of his last name. No, not his first name; his last name. He was so well-respected that people broke from the conventional rules of society in bestowing his nickname upon him. It has inspired me to go all Kobe and request that everyone now refer to me as "Lee" or "Roy." It's no "Black Mamba," but I prefer Lucas' style.
Also, The Big Red Head so respected Lucas that he named his Laker-playing son after him. That has to be the ultimate honor. You know you're doing something right if someone who knows you well starts naming children after you.
It feels right that the Bucks and Blazers are playing each other just two days after Lucas' passing. No two cities can appreciate his talents more so than Milwaukee and Portland, the two locations where his skills were most often on display. I can guarantee both cities wish they had more time to appreciate those talents. I know I wish I could've seen him play.
- I've got a good feeling about tonight's game. Let me tell you why. No. 1, we got a stash of new pens at work. It's scary how bad I needed a good pen, and these pens did not disappoint. I felt like an 18th Century poet writing the greatest sonnets ever, dipping my dove feather in ink as I penned these great pieces of literature. My penmanship can best be described as chicken scratch, but with these new pens, I felt like a professional calligrapher. No. 2, the right lane on the Hoan Bridge going southbound reopened today, shaving what felt like at least five minutes off my commute home from work. If life has taught me anything, it's that just like celebrities die in three, good things also happen in three. New pens, constructionless bridge, Bucks win. That's a sound theory if there ever was one.
- Carlos Delfino looks like a new player this year. He's always carried himself with a certain sense of bravado, but it's at a new level this year. He's aggressive, but not too aggressive, taking what the defense gives him and capitalizing. This past summer at the World Championships appear to have done wonders for both his game and his confidence.
- I don't think there are two big men in the NBA with higher release points than Marcus Camby and LaMarcus Aldridge. They both stand 6-foot-11 but release the ball at least eight feet off the ground, making their shots nearly impossible to block. A defender's only chance is to get a hand in the face and hope neither can see the hoop. Somewhere Bill Cartwright is smiling and nodding in approval.
- It's gotten to the point where I don't think opponents have even the remotest chance of getting a shot off if Andrew Bogut is in the vicinity. He may get called for a cheap foul on occasion, but he generally does a great job of denying shots while avoiding contact. Eventually opponents are going to learn to just stop trying altogether.
- I have to admit that I could not believe the contract that former Golden Eagle Wes Matthews received from Portland in the offseason. His statistical output certainly didn't warrant the contract, but his work ethic and defensive prowess helped the cause. He definitely earned every bit of his salary tonight, carrying the Blazers through the second quarter and finishing with 18 points. He had the quickest trigger finger I've ever seen him have, putting up 11 shots in his first 13 minutes of action.
Closing It Down
It's hard to win basketball games if you aren't hitting shots, and the Bucks weren't hitting shots in the second and third quarters. They hit just 6-of-18 in the second frame, and followed that up with a 5-for-21 effort in the third, for a combined 11-of-39. Milwaukee got a few good looks that it wasn't able to convert, and Portland's defense simply didn't allow much more. Those two quarters pretty much did the Bucks in as they were never able to recover. Credit has to be given to the Blazer defense. The Blazers were third in the NBA in points allowed per game last year and they looked every bit as deserving of that distinction tonight.
Delfino had a great start to the game with 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the first frame. He was unable to shake free for much else the rest of the game, finishing with just three more points on an equal amount of shot attempts. Unfortunately, Delfino was the only source of efficient offense. Corey Maggette pitched in with 16 points thanks to his customary mini-vacations at the free throw line, but he struggled from the field, going just 4-of-12.
The only thing the Bucks can do at this point is put this game behind them and concentrate on tomorrow night's tilt in Boston. The Celtics have looked as good as ever so far this season, including a 23-point trashing of the Pistons in Detroit Tuesday night. Milwaukee is going to have to show up with the kind of intensity that allowed it to take two of four from the Celts last year. If not, we could have a repeat of tonight.
Note: These are the views of the 6th Fan Blogger. Thoughts and opinions expressed in this articles are not necessarily the views of the Milwaukee Bucks.