I hate writing recaps of games featuring the Utah Jazz. I hate watching games featuring the Utah Jazz. I hate the undeniable fact the Utah Jazz exist on this Earth. My hate for the Jazz isn’t even darkly enjoyable, like my hate for the Lakers, where the hate is a noble stance against evil. I hate the Jazz because their mere presence in the NBA, and anywhere, drains a tangible amount of joy out of my life. Back when they were good, I hated them because their excellence opposed every reason that the NBA in the 90s was so cool. Their stars had no charisma, or cool sneakers. Their uniforms sucked. Their fans were lame. Their playing style could be characterized as unrelenting efficiency (not the cool sense of efficiency but the analyzing data for the best deal on printer paper kind of efficiency). They didn’t even get into any cool fights. That they managed to play in back to back Finals and keep some other cooler and more exciting teams out of those Finals is the blemish on an otherwise perfect era of basketball. I thought that their steep descent into irrelevance would make them more palatable, but no, I still hate them. I might even hate them more now because they’re just so horrible to watch. I wish I could forego writing a recap and just put up that steamroller video again, but this game was too “competitive” for that. Nonetheless, let’s make this quick.
The Blazers were asleep for the first quarter. I don’t know how much I’m exaggerating because they actually might have been asleep. Nicolas Batum was out there in pajamas with the little droopy hat like Ebenezer Scrooge or something. Terry Stotts probably drugged everybody up on sedatives before the game because he knew that would be the only way to get his team to play against the Jazz. Rob Ford’s wife does the same thing to get into bed with her slob of a husband. I’m falling back on lazy Rob Ford jokes. This is what you’ve done to me, Utah Jazz. Enes Kanter preys on sleepwalkers and the first quarter ended 22-22.
The Blazers gained something of a foothold in the second quarter, which is to say that they woke up and realized that they have feet and that said feet can touch down somewhere. Against the Jazz, that’s all it takes, the knowledge of one’s own feet. Write that one down. Anyway, so Thomas Robinson swatted some shots, the Blazers offense hit some shots, and Portland took a 49-45 lead into half. Don’t be fooled by the 4-point lead and relative success in comparison to the first quarter. This was an ugly game, like watching a Wisconsin intrasquad scrimmage as interpreted by zombies — zombies that set screens but don’t know how to shoot or make back cuts. Any neutral viewers who stayed through halftime deserve a hug or a free t-shirt or the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The third quarter began and so did LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 6 of the Blazers’ first 8 points in the second half. Aldridge would finish with a team-high 24 points and allegedly heard “M-V-P” chants in a road arena for the first time in his career. How he heard one person’s chants among the 18 people scattered about the arena is anyone’s guess. The rest of the Blazers also pitched in, to the scoring not the chanting, and Portland led 77-64 going to the fourth.
Truthfully, I started watching half-court bounce pass videos on YouTube (inspired after a long bounce pass from Mo Williams) and didn’t pay much attention for the first half of the fourth quarter. I don’t feel bad about it. When I did look back up though, Enes Kanter and Gordon Hayward and some magically younger version of Richard Jefferson were whittling away at the Portland lead. After a Trey Burke jumper and a Wes Matthews turnover, Gordon Hayward scored to cut the lead to deficit to 7 with about three and a half minutes left. Two minutes later, two Hayward free throws cut it to 5 with a minute and a half left. Then on the Blazers’ following possession, with the shot clock ticking down, Batum canned a three from about 8 parsecs, quickly followed by a Kanter miss and another three, this time from Damian Lillard, to put the Blazers up 11 with 38 seconds remaining. So ended the Utah Jazz’s ugly, joy-draining moment in my life, and let’s not speak of them again for a quite a while.