TRAIL BLAZERS @ TIMBERWOLVES PREVIEW: YOUR DREAMS ARE DEAD

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The Blazers, now fucked, play the Wolves Saturday. How fucked are the Timberwolves?

Last season, the Wolves were scheduled to play the Spurs in Mexico City, where presumably some fans dig Ricky Rubio. (Or J.J. Barea.) Then the building caught fire. A generator shorted out and the arena filled with smoke. Center Nikola Pekovic, whose resemblance to a “Superman II” villain is well known, actually sat on the sidelines during the hubbub and sang “I Believe I Can Fly” softly to himself. I’m not making this up.

How cursed? Years ago, team executive Bob Stein wondered if the Target Center was built on an ancient burial ground, and this joke has taken on mythic/memetic proportions to fans. Why cursed? Well, burial grounds are never not a possibility anywhere in America (believe it or not, others were here first) but there are less supernatural explanations.

First off, the team’s owner, Glen Taylor, by most accounts an honest fellow so far as sports owners go, is something of a terrible HR man. He’s hired a string of GMs without much of a clue (remember KAAAAAHN) and coaches without much chance (either not yet ready or way past the point of caring.)

There’s another, deeper problem, one that makes it hard for the team to draw/retain free agents. Basketball in Minnesota takes a back seat to hockey. Actually, it’s lower down than that. The order of Sport Importance in Minnesota reads, approximately, thus. High School hockey. Fishing. College hockey. The NFL Vikings. The MLB Twins. The NHL hockey team. Ice fishing. Hunting. Curling (which is like shuffleboard, but on ice.) The NFL Packers. And, then, at the end, basketball.

In Portland, you see basketball hoops over garages. In Minnesota, it’s far more common to see backyard ice rinks. You put up some boards, squirt a hose on your lawn, and you have a hockey rink from November to March. It often feels as though the handful of local basketball fans are all from somewhere else. (Many Minnesotans are from Chicago, which means I can never wear anything Blazer-related in public. One of Chicago’s nastiest street gangs adopted Blazer gear during the early 2000s, and if you wear Blazer stuff, people assume you are From Chicago and also “A Thug.”)

So the limited local tradition and decades of woeful luck have created a rather masochistic tendency among Wolves supporters; you can see it in this video where Minnesotans burn a Kevin Love jersey. Timberwolves enthusiasts are so used to agony that they think “we deserve it.” This seems unnecessarily downbeat, yet in some ways it’s preferable to the “WE CONTINUE TO RISE SHUT UP HATERS,” aggressive groupthink moronity prevalent among certain fan “communities” (I name no names.)

This season they’ve had the accustomed portion of woes (Pekovic and Rubio, both big contract extendees, have been injured, a lot), some good news (Andrew Wiggins has progressed all year and looks destined for ROY), some OK news (intriguing moments from youngsters Zach LaVine and Gorgui Dieng, supposed bust Shabazz Muhammed having a mini-breakout season) and more bad news (Muhammed getting injured, Love-trade-haul Anthony Bennett looking like an actual bust.)

You can’t blame Wolves die-hards, then, for being excited about the deal of Thaddeus Young for Kevin Garnett. It was probably a bad deal, since Young should have brought more in return, but it’s thrilled the typically moribund Target Center crowd; ticket sales have shot up 5000 a game since. (Even at half the number, that would be well over $100K per game for the team, so maybe there was method to the trade madness.)

The dream now is that Garnett will inspire the young players (does this ever, ever work) and stick around to become the owner, something he says he wants to do. (Jeff Allen gives a good take on this in “Rolling Stone,” a quality magazine for many things except information about music.) The fans are hoping this might change their fortunes, and hey – let’s wish them well.

I’m going to this game, which I was excited about after Garnett’s return and now really don’t care, as Wes Matthews is done for the year and that means the Blazers are, too. However I’m going with someone who’s never seen an NBA game live, so I get the honor of introducing them to how dull most NBA games are live. It’s one of those illusion-breaking moments everyone experiences for the first time only once. I feel like I get to pop a cherry. (Fortunately there’s one close by.)

TRAIL BLAZERS 94, MAVERICKS 75

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Wes Matthews tore his Achilles. He went down with a non contact injury, it looked like an Achilles, it was one. This is certainly the worst thing that can happen to a player in a contract year. Achilles aren’t something pro athletes typically recover completely from completely. But Wes is deterministic even for an athlete, a professional grinder who lives to press any advantage he can sniff out. Every Blazer fan will certainly be rooting for him.

 

I will try to address the rest of the game outside of the context of Wes’s injury. Even without the pall events cast over the contest, this game was a weird, slow grinding bummer. The Blazers came out really, really flat. There were tons of turnovers on both sides. Aldridge was hitting a lot of shots. The sludge was syncing up with my mood in a really weird way. I took a really long bike ride before the game and I was tired. In the third quarter, the Blazers took the lead. I was cooking ravioli when it happened. The Mavs didn’t look great.

 

I remember one set of possessions. Batum and Lopez were trying to run a pick and roll above the break. It didn’t take. Lopez wasn’t able to screen his man off. On the possession, Lopez set a fast, hard pick and got called for a moving screen.


Blech, what a terrible event.

TRAIL BLAZERS 98 CLIPPERS 93: (OT): MAP

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Washington Wizards v/s Orlando Magic February 4, 2011

First thing: 90% of this game was terrible. It featured a thousand foul shots, a brief period of hacking, a nightmarish Lillard performance, a Bad-Lamarcus game for the ages (As opposed to a “Bad LaMarcus game”) and a bunch of Austin Rivers. It was not an enjoyable mesh. Whenever theres a game between two Western Conference teams, the people on Twitter wiggle around and say “Oh man this should be a series.” This should not be a series. It was be a bad series. I would not want to watch that series. Well, I would, but I would not be happy about it.

 

Second: Yo, the Blazers 100% should have lost. I often say this, because these close game drive me absolutely crazy. But, THIS TIME, I really, mean it! If it weren’t for a cosmic skip in DeAndre Jordan’s brain the Blazers would have lost! There were two legs and two hands away from losing, but DeAndre’s brain went  to “what is bone marrow made of?” when it should have been thinking “Dunk right now, with your whole body, both halves of it.”

 

Aldridge wasn’t very good tonight. With Griffin out, he got matched up with Jordan. This was good for the Blazers in the abstract, because the goal should have been to draw Deandre away from the Basket, open the rim, move the ball, get to the rim. But in the first half, Aldridge execute the second part of the equation. He took shots with a hand in his face. He was better in the second half, doing some driving and posting and stuff, but he really mucked up ball movement tonight. More weakside passes! Get that pumpkin flying!

 

Also, Big Baby guarded the shit out of him when he got the chance. Davis, wither by design or chance, employed the Chuck Hayes defense: be so heavy LMA can’t move you, and make your hands active that so he loses ground if he tries. If linemen ever start playing basketball as a matter of course, Lamarcus’s career will be over.

 

The Blazers’ bench let a Hedo/Big Baby pick and roll work. They should have lost the game, right there, and disbanded the Blazers. “Everyone plays for the Hops now. You will play baseball as a punishment for letting Hedo and Glen Davis do that to you.”

 

Reddick was really good tonight. The Blazers kept losing him around pindown screens. DeAndre, in particular, was setting some REALLY nice ones. Afflalo and Wes were both getting window-bugged. Mark Jackson, on the ESPN broadcast, was blaming Lopez for the number of uncontested two pointers he got in the game. This is not strictly true. It’s more a matter of scheme. Lopez’s role in the defense is to drop back into the paint. The Blazers concede or softly contest long twos as a matter of course. Tonight, Reddick and Paul, who was magnificent, took advantage. If the game was normal, it would have worked.

 

Lillard was very bad. He got blocked by Spencer Hawes, and it was not the worst play he tried in the game. That was the flurry of desperate heaves at the end of regulation, when Deandre was getting hacked. If he was 35, it would have been the sad final gasps of a Hall of Fame Career, the burning bus on the side of a road. “Don’t look, Children. That was once a majestic bus, a beloved bus.” But he’s only 24, so it was just him forcing it. God bless him for hitting the boards instead. I didn’t think Lillard had 18 boards in him.

 

The Blazers started overtime with a small lineup. The Clippers responded by putting matching up with Austin Rivers. The Blazers wept and rejoiced, because Austin Rivers is very bad. In the third, the Clippers set him a massive two man screen and all Rivers could do is dribble to the foul line and pass out. He is not a very good NBA player, and his dad is he coach and GM and he went to Duke. There is so much to dislike about him that he has become an obscene work of art.

 

Lillard was half an inch away from dunking on Austin. I would have died from drowning in tears of joy.

 

Batum was good again tonight! Hooray! THREE lobs in overtime, saved Lillard from a field-goaless game, hit a game tying three pointer, playin’ nice and Batummy. He is the Blazers’ most unconventional and interesting player when he is healthy and engaged.

 

Blazers hacked Jordan i the fourth. I generally do not think hacking works. (50% foul shooter = 1 point per possession = a successful offensive possession. Also your opponent gets to set ther defense, and that’s no good.) But, Deandre is not normal bad at shooting foul shots; he is very, very bad at shooting foul shots, so he is a special case.  It didn’t close the gap in the moment, because they didn’t score on Lillard’s weird terrible heaves. But it did keep them from scoring for two or so minutes, so it worked defensively.

 

Hedo made one of the worst gambles I have seen in my life on that Batum three pointer.

 

What should you do when you commit a backcourt violation? Could you jump in the air and flick it back over the halfcourt line? Basketball announcers talking about football is the nadir of sports dialogue. I am not one of these anti-Chris Paul fanatics, but I got a giggle out of him going into the film room at halftime and asking to see a travel he got called for/didn’t think he committed. Jumping around and screaming at Deandre for, in fairness, a mistake that cost them the game, was also very silly. If I were Mark Jackson, I would have not mentioned that Chris Paul and Deandre Jordan knew all my sets in the playoffs. The mechanical camera above the hoop is really cute. Blazers got some really bad spacing on some horns sets late in the game. Small lineup in overtime. Curious to see when that does or doesn’t happen.


I give this game a C+.

TRAIL BLAZERS 110, KINGS 99- BREEDING

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Sunday afternoon at three o’clock is a terrible time to have a basketball game. It is a time reserved for:

 

-Napping

-Late Brunching

-Cuddlin’ with your lover

-Movie watching

-Attending an outdoor performance of a play by Williams Shakespeare

-Day hiking, if you’re an “Active”

-Doing something for your child

-Watching baseball

-Church.

 

All of these activities are relaxing/connecting. Basketball at its best is anxiety inducing. It takes you into a hall of your own perception. It makes you into a horrible golem. You shouldn’t have watched this game, if you did. I only did because the aggressive gnome ESPN sends to people’s houses to beat them up if they don’t do their work still hasn’t been told that we are not TrueHoop affiliated any more. When I was on vacation, they attacked my family in my absence. Do not believe ESPN when they tell you they got rid of the gnomes. They are tormenting human beings, and they are too scared talk on the record about it.

 

Everyone who went to this game should have been at church.

 

This was a stand issue win. The Blazers went wire-to-wire, but they didn’t dominate. DeMarcus Cousins didn’t play. I wish he had because he is one of the league’s most charismatic and entertaining players. Also because, as the season goes on, my death wish is getting bigger and bigger and I would have enjoyed watching him grind the Blazers into hummus.

 

The Blazers lost major ground on their lead twice, when they were fielding an all-bench unit. I don’t like the all-bench unit, because the Blazers’ bench players are not good enough to constitute using one. Throwing the ball into Affly on the post isn’t create space for a shot. Why is Kamandroid doing all this posting up? And why cant he catch a perfectly adequate post entry pass? Who, besides Affly and maybe Geenius if he’s in, (Geenius should play more) playing defense here, exactly? Oscar Meyers: why is he so enigmatic?

 

Aldro three watch: he took two and made none. Ben McLemore had a new haircut. I hope he is feeling good about his decision. Robintron UNLEASHED a FEROCIOUS post up spin move on Mclemore in the first quarter. I think we have learned that the

 

The Bow and Arrow is dead. It did not catch on on the bench, so it could not feed. Wesselmeyer is just doing it real quick like. He is struggling to remember. He thought it was his celebration child, but he put it out on the porch and it’s freezing and he is feeling a guilt but it’s not really a child, it’s a celebration, and he should let it go.

 

Lillardoor pops his wrist at the end of the game. It wasnt even that close.

 

Derrick Williams slipped past the Blazers in transition four times. I counted. I didn’t count anything else that happened in this game. He did most of his running on the bench only unit, which is comprised of four slow dudes and Affly, who is not fast.

 

Hey, buddy, you want a Pizza? Stick the pizza in the oven and shove it in yr family’s face. They need to eat and you need to feed the, you are the patriarch. Buy it with money Reject the charity of others. Charity makes you weak and soft, like bread. If you get too much help from a neighbor you will be eaten, by a beast or an enemy.

 

The Blazers scored 20 points in 6 minutes at the end of the 2nd quarter. It was hard to notice, because that particular point of the game was an insane slog that no one liked. This whole game was a slog. Slawg slog slug. What if basketball were played in eighths instead of quarters? Sixteenths? Two minnutes intervals? One minnute intervals? 48 minnute long intervals, 48 opprotunities for buzzah beaters.

 

Meyers and LMA went for the same rebound, then they were like “Hey, alright!” because they’re such good friends. Everyone is good friends. We are all good friends.

 

Darren Collision was also not playing in this game, because he was having hip surgery. I was buying a new bed today and they said you can get hip damage from sleeping on your side. Lopez dribbled five times in transition. He did not go full Horford and just take it to the rim, because he is a coward, a yellow belly, a shame-based man.

 

This game barely happened. I swear I saw Lopez dribble on the baseline, and they didn’t call it out of bounds. I think even the refs were kinda like “Hey let’s get out of here, so we can enjoy the Sacramento sun.”

 

I will bet that NBA refs have a lot of opinons about what the best duty-free stores are.

 

Casspi got flat tired by Wes on the fast break, and they called a clear path foul. I don’t think I have ever seen that before, but it is technically right, I think. Flat tires are no joke, man. I saw one get get his achillies torn when someone flat tired him in middle school. They both work at the Target in Hazel Dell now.

 

My favorite play of the game was Wes’s Block on McCallum. First, it was totally unnecessary, the Blazers had already won. Second, it was earthy, and woody and floral, like a quince. I would make a mean pie out of about ten of those blocks.

 

PRS RADIO: THE RIP CITIZENS #40 – AFFLALO YOU INTO THE DARK

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Back after a long All-Star break, we break down the crazy trade deadline and how the Blazers are preparing themselves for the playoffs (i.e. Arron Afflalo is a bonafide closer). We also discuss how a longer break changes the season, look ahead to a difficult schedule, and say goodbye to Will Barton, T-Rob, and Claver.

Then, we decide who we’d want to announce our All-Star event, add a former Blazer to the coaching staff, and hearken back to our 10 yr old greatness.

All that, plus gifts we’d give to the new Blazers, octopus cake, and a Conan O’Brian/Will Ferrell broadcast team.

TRAIL BLAZERS 115, THUNDER 112: FORGET ABOUT IT

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The first thing you could say about this game: a lot of things happened! So many incidents, events. A lot of things happened! It was like a Song of Ice and Fire book, all condensed into two and a half hours.

You’d would think, or I would think, I thought, the Thunder would probably come out a little flat, because, you know, two overtimes and an airplane ride last night.  What did not occur to me when making this estimation was that Russell Westbrook is a human battery. He took the team, broken and beaten, and he reached out with his hand, and he fused with their bodies, as you would in a Cronenberg film, and gave them heaping servings of his life force and drove them like a horrible tank.

 

Westbrook was an absolute terror in the first half. He was also a terror in the second half, but he was an ABSOLUTE terror in the first half. The Blazers were deploying a really really terrible scheme against him in the first, not packing the paint enough and letting Lillard get beat off the dribble and the pick. Westbrook was living large at Rim Mansion, the mansion at the rim of the hoop, where the basketball goes in.

 

In contrast, the Blazers could NOT make shots at the rim. For instance: there was a fast break in the second quarter. Lillard shot the ball high to get it over Ibaka and missed. Then, Lopez grabbed the rebound, and missed a second time. Then Aldridge grabbed that rebound, went up, and was emphatically blocked by Ibaka. The ball sailed to the other end of the court and became a fast break attempt for the Thunder.

 

Oh, the Thunder, who, once again, should have been tired, ran all over the Blazers in the first half. By all rights, the Blazers 100% should have lost this game.

 

In the third quarter, the Blazers game out in a more aggressive, paint cloggy/Westbrook stoppy defense. It worked, for a while, and the team brought the score to within six.

 

But then, the saloon door swung open and Mitch McGary, a bottle of whisky in one hand, a cigar in his mouth, an old timey poro in the other hand, walked on in and started railing on the Blazers.

 

Why did McGary have a career game? I don’t know. No one knows. It was written in the stars. That is the only explaination for that real life, honest to God Dream Shake in the first half. He drove, he took passes from Westbrook and laid it in, he made some really beautiful passes of his own. You see a dude like McGary and you expect some grinder sandwich, but in reality he is this soft-hands Boris Diaw type. I gasped and fell off my bed (I watched this game in a bed.) when he tossed up one of those hook shots; his wrist action was perfect, like something out of a Degas painting.

 

At one point, Westbrook and McGary had themselves a big ol’ chest bump and a shared “YEAH! YEAH!” Are these men kindred spirits?

 

The Blazers came back within six again in the third, and lost that lead as well. A change needed to be made, for the sake of victory.

 

Sometime after Lopez ate an Ibaka pump-fake whole and allowed him to drive right at the rim and dunk, Stotts took him out of the game for good. He wasn’t getting it done at the rim tonight and if the Thunder were playing small, Afflalo would make more sense as a matchup.

 

The game ended with Lillard/Matthews/Afflalo/Batum/Aldridge. I would be interested to see how often this, or something like this, happens in subsequent games. Afflalo is the best Blazers bench player since, well, Nic Batum. He might be the best wing on the team, from a whole-career perspective. It might not be a optimal to nestle him on the bench in end of game situations.

 

In the fourth quarter, Westbrook’s legs finally gave out. He stopped attacking the rim, where he had been mutilating the Blazers all night, and started missing long two pointers instead. See, look, it actually happened, it’s documented:

shotchartwestbrook

The Blazers took the lead in the fourth behind shots by Afflalo and Aldridge, both of whom were very good tonight. The game seemed over after Westbrook overshot an attempt at the rim, Thunder, down one, less than a possession remaining. Afflalo made two foul shots, Thunder down three, no time outs. Westbrook has the ball. He is streaking towards the basket. The Blazers decide to foul. Wes lunges at Russell, who predicts the contact, and, more impressive than anything he did with points, rebounds, or whatever, was the first player to ever get a shooting foul called behind the three point line when the other team is trying to intentionally foul.

 

If the universe had a defined order. the player to get this call would have been Chris Paul, who tries to milk this cow CONSTANTLY and NEVER gets the call. I could see him in front of his television, cursing god and the heavens, tears shed, another man got the gift I have been seeking my whole life.

 

Then, Paul would have missed the first shot, like Westbrook did. Fate, PUNISHING Chris Paul for his greed! Instead, fate punished Westbrook for no reason in particular. He makes the next two (probably should have tried to miss the last one.), intentional foul shots, Westbrook gets a giant fucking dent in his face, Thunder can’t get it in, Blazers win.

 

STRAY THOUGHTS:

 

-Meyers’s three point shot looks like Luke Babbit’s.

 

-Dion Waiters is riding that slow train to China, man. He takes some irredeemably bad shots out there. Also he plays a lot of minutes. The Thunder are hilarious.

 

JAZZ 92, TRAIL BLAZERS 76: MONOMANIA

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This is the first Blazer game I have watched in three weeks. I have been pursuing a rest cure in Pensacola, Florida and my doctors insisted that I tear myself away from the Blazers to avoid in the moment stress. When I left, they said to me, “Corbin. You need to ease your way back in. Maybe watch half a game. Maybe a third of a game. Can you tell the Blazers to do something to make you more comfortable?”

 

Apparently the Blazers didn’t get my letters because I am sitting here in front of my computer, coughing and shaking and crying, three weeks of work towards improving my health, destroyed by the team’s heinous performance against the Utah Jazz. The only thing keeping me from coughing my throat raw is a modest cup of Throat Coat I have prepared. I am going to need to go back after I am finished writing this recap. My flight is already booked. I will never watch the Blazers again.

 

The Jazz won this game with a “College Upset” strategy. They played slow and deliberate to reduce possessions and decreased the chance that a more talented team would cash in on those possessions, they made a lot of three pointers, dug for turnovers, and their insanely gifted center absolutely swallowed their opponent alive in the second half. That fourth thing might not be a routine feature of college upsets, I don’t watch a lot of college basketball.

 

Gobert, in his first game as Utah’s sole Young Center Of The Future, was a game warping beast. He netted a pair of fouls in the first quarter: one on Lopez, who caught the ball on a pick and roll and did excellent work pump faking and being patient with his attempt, the second on Aldridge, who caught the ball in the corner, drew Gobert out of the paint and drew a foul on a mid range attempt. But when he came back in the third, he was a smotherer: five blocks in total and keeping the Blazers paranoid in the paint. In the third, Lopez caught the ball deep, point blank attempt, but Gobert’s mere standing presence forced him to take an awkward scoop layup attempt that hardly drew rim. Lamarcus tried to shoot a hook shot over him. It got stuffed really, really hard.

 

Lamarcus was, like really bad in this game. His jumper, which never ever gets blocked, got tagged by both Gobert and Booker in this game. Utah was running a clever double against him on the block. Guarding him with Booker, Gobert moves over, LMA can’t shoot over that, but he can’t pass out to the weakside, either, since Rudy’s arms are gigantic. So he passes to the covered shooter, Rudy rotates back to his man real quick, there’s not enough time to repost LMA, average shot gets created. Also, this happened.

 

Also bad, Damian Lillard. Shot okay, 19 points on 15 shots. But his five-turnover-to-two-assists were killer. Most were the most elementary sort: pick and roll, Lillard gets his drive shut off, he tries to pass to the big man, the Jazz are ready, they get an arm in, they get out on the break. He did have a dunk in garbage time. Rudy Gobert understand when it is time to contest.

 

The wings were also not good. No one was good. Lopez was okay in the first half, because Gobert are the part of his brain that denies fear. The Blazers shot 4-22 from three. That is really unlucky. But there were also bad in ways that were not unlucky. Their bad play made it a loss, their bad luck made it a blowout, so to speak.

 

Wes got CROSSED by Joe Ingles. It was so bad the announcers were like “Oh man Wes slipped” like I can’t see what the hell is happening in front of me. CCNNW’s Propaganda machine, on the churn. Batum had a good steal and got drowned by Hayward on the fast break. This is just not his season, man.

 

Exum started, because the Jazz think he is the future. He probably is the future. Certainly, the outline he draws resembles the future more than the painting Trey Burke has finished resembles the future. He has long arms and he can dribble and pass and he is very young. If he can just figure out shooting and penetrating, he can probably get a stew going out there. His attempts at drives are so strange; he probes so much that the defense is never convinced that he is going to drive, and then he doesn’t drive, and he confirms their suspicion, and then later in the game, when the defense is now COMPLETELY convinced that he will not drive he continues to not drive.

 

Trey Burke killed the Blazers as much as you possibly can when you don’t make a single three pointer and have more shots than points. He made a lot of shots in middle range, where Blazer defenders traditionally slag off, because, you know, they’re not very valuable.

 

CJ was pretty bad. Arron will be eating his minnutes soon. I cannot wait to have a good backup wing, I am crying in ecstasy. How long has it been? Meyers was also not very good, even his practice three that the Jazz didn’t auto-goaltend rimmed out. But he did have a nice defensive rotation in the second quarter. Meyers, Kaman, Blake and CJ are all hovering around a -20 rating tonight. They were getting outclassed by Jazz luminaries like Rodney Hood and Baby Milsap.

 

When the Blazers were starting to completely lose the game in the fourth, Kaman took a face up jumper from 12 or so feet. It was a very bad shot.

 

Steve Blake had a new number in deference to Jerome Kersey, who was my mother’s favorite player and is missed in Portland. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.


Everyone in Utah has better haircuts than everyone in Portland. Gordon Hayward has a very worked out haircut. I suspect that he would not normally invest in a cool haircut, but he is engaged to a young woman who is in beauty school, and she likely has taken it on herself to use him as a modeling head. Steve Blake also had hair tonight, which was thin, like a baby’s hair. Paul Allen wears tiny little hats that look very silly on his head, and even sillier because he is a rich person who slouches.

TRAIL BLAZERS @ JAZZ PREVIEW: ALL AFFLALO GEES

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Hey! New Blazers! I know nothing about Arron Afflalo or Wendell Gee (sorry, brain fart, old REM song in my head, it’s Alonzo Gee.) Joe Freeman of “The Oregonian” says Afflalo is “noted for his tenacious wing defense and long-range shooting,” good basketball or fighter pilot things, while being “regarded around the NBA as a good teammate and a tenacious worker, which should mesh perfectly with the Blazers’ tight-knit culture.”

Tight-knit usually refers to families, and as we know no family is all that tight-knit. Some families basically tolerate each other’s strangeness, some have knitting holes the size of assless chaps. You can see this in your family, or mine, or the plethora of family-dynamic dramatic substitutes we enjoy in entertainment (like workplace shows, or movies where griping superheroes reluctantly unite to save the universe from misplaced magic baubles.)

I have a weakness for advice columns. They’re all pretty much about dysfunctional mayhem. Inheritance fights, wedding ceremony fights, new-spouse/ex-spouse fights, childrearing philosophy fights, the works. What makes them delightful is how the writers almost always frame “I hate this person and want them shipped to Mars” sentiments in aggrieved moralistic tones.

A week ago today, Carolyn Hax printed one of my favorites. A woman planning to become a parent was considering a “sperm picking party,” where “close friends and family would come over, drink a bunch of wine, and narrow us down to the winner.” She told her mother, who “immediately said she didn’t want to be invited,” then “backpedaled and said she wanted to be there,” waffling which the writer found “disconcerting and hurtful.”

This must be the kind of letter advice columnists make burnt offerings for. Using artificial insemination is fine, if you have the resources. Having friends/family assist you in the decision is fine. Throwing a “sperm picking party” with booze is a bit kooky. Inviting your mom to participate, hey, I wouldn’t, but maybe it’s a very freewheeling relationship. Getting bent out of shape because your mom REALLY DOESN’T WANT TO GET PICKLED AND TALK SPERM yet says she will if you want her to — priceless. I want to be related to these people!

I suppose sports trades are much the same way; everyone has their own opinions on how to go about it, and gets easily annoyed if others disagree. When, really, trading for a player is like picking sperm; past faces are no guarantee of future results. Exquisitely lovely Liv Tyler was sired by Steven Tyler, the rock singer who can be said to possess a rather, um, distinctive set of features. (I demand DNA evidence on this parenthood; I’m a birth truther.)

Besides, how cute do you want your kid to be? Beautiful women are often objectified and overly handsome men are often those doing the objectification. Nicer-looking than average is ideal. (Think Neil Patrick Harris. Who wouldn’t want him for a kid?) So too in a sports trade; the perfect can be enemy of the good, as Kevin Love might currently attest.

Arron Afflalo seems to fit the bill; not too tall, not too flashy, good with kids (really; he does good charity things with kids), hardworking without being a workaholic, keeps his violent addiction to PCP-hopped Belgian Tripels under modest control. Did Neil Olshey pick the right DNA? We’ll see in nine weeks or so. I kinda feel for sports GMs. Fans tend to think of them as saviours or satans, vacillating between the extremes fairly quickly. Imagine if you cast the deciding vote at a Sperm Picking Party. Every time the kid gets its homework done on time, you’re a rock star. Every time the kid does something aggravating, it’s Your Fault The HellSpawn exists.

Well. Assuming airplanes still work, Afflalo should be in Salt Lake tonight for proud Blazer fans to coo over. (Wendell/Alonzo risks being left in a basket outside the arena, poor waif.) The Jazz apparently decided Enes Kanter was a HellSpawn, and traded him to Oklahoma City for Kendrick Perkins. This means nothing except that Oklahoma City was dumping Perkins because they got Brook Lopez. Yep, Robin’s brother.

You can see the rivalry already, can’t you? It will probably be over-hyped and boring, but here’s how I picture it panning out. Every time the Blazers and Thunder play, there will be one moment, after the ref’s whistle blows, when nothing can separate the two brothers and nothing can bring them together. Each will cradle the other’s head in his hands, like Fredo and Michael in “Godfather II,” whispering, “I loved you — you broke my heart. You broke my heart!” And they will circle around in a slow dance of pure anguish too mesmerizingly tragic for outsiders to dare interrupt, until the TV timeout. Never go against the family.

PRS RADIO: THE RIP CITIZENS #39 – THE ALL-STAR SPECIAL

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This episode marks two years since we started the show, and what a better way to shamelessly celebrate ourselves than celebrate All-Stars? We start with a quick recap of the Blazers mid-season finale games, then check in with Corbin Smith (on location in NYC!) to report on the atmosphere in the city.

Then we review each event and its participants, make some predictions, and throw around a few All-Star memories.

All that, plus Chilly Willy returns to give us his All-Star picks and select musicians he’d put in each event this weekend.