Before we take this any further, I feel the need to be up front with you: Monta Ellis won this game on a buzzer beater and it was really horrible and if you saw it you probably would have cried or at least poured yourself a tall glass of merlot or who-the-hell-cares-just-as-long-as-there’s-alcohol-in-it and stared blankly at HGTV for the next three hours because imagining yourself as the middle aged woman complaining that the countertop in some Provençal manor might not be the optimal layout for all the entertaining that she loves to do because how else can you cheer yourself up after Monta takes a meaty bite out of your left ventricle? If like me, you were watching the game, then you already know. I’m not saying to lace up the Nike Cortezes and drink the rest of this jug of Kool Aid that may or may not be part cherry and part poison, but this loss, and the way it happened, hurts.
For at least the first three quarters, the game felt like it was being played in black-and-white. The Blazers weren’t playing in color. They weren’t #Turnt, or whatever. The open 3-pointers weren’t falling, LaMarcus Aldridge struggled to get his offense going, and the normally exquisite passing and movement of the offense just didn’t reach its usual pinnacle. By halftime, the only sources of excitement for Portland were Damian Lillard’s 19 points and Robin Lopez’s double-double. Lillard comes ready equipped for such grimier affairs with his individualist ability and cutthroat attitude, but I do wonder if Robin Lopez playing well isn’t a harbinger for more general failure elsewhere. After all, if Lopez, by far the least skilled offensive player on the floor in black and red, is getting his, then that means Wes Matthews and Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge probably are not getting theirs. Either they’re not being involved in the offense or, as was the case on Saturday, they’re missing shots and giving Lopez offensive rebounds. However, the fact that the Blazers trailed only by one or two possessions for most of that time felt like a positive. At some point, by the laws of mathematics, the misses would have to turn to makes and the Blazers would rally. Just like always.
Enter the third quarter, a place and time that has seen its share of rallies. The Blazers know where their bread receives its unholy galactic butter, and fed Aldridge early and often. It kinda sorta worked in the sense that Aldridge made some shots and got to the free throw line and passed well out of the double teams that Rick Carlisle sent his way, but Aldridge didn’t go that special thundercloud of jump shots that double as Apollo missions piloted by Aquaman because what is a LaMarcus Aldridge jump shooting zone if not a special thundercloud of Apollo missions piloted by Aquaman? Anyway, LaMarcus didn’t get quite there but the Blazers still hung around, and then Nicolas Batum made his Napoleon-returning-from-Elba move on the game, scoring 8 straight points capped by a strangely acrobatic 3-pointer that probably could have been an opportunity for a 4-point play, to give the Blazers a 74-73 lead. But once again, as they did all game, the Blazers failed to seize the true “turning point” moment and gave up 6 quick points and went to the fourth quarter back down 3.
It wasn’t until about 7 minutes to go in the fourth quarter when Damian Lillard got all Live-in-Technicolor on the game. A nice finish inside cut it to five and forced a Mavericks timeout. Then a midrange jumper to answer a bucket from Vince Carter, who is not really good anymore, but it’s still impressive that he’s out there at all so shoutout to you, Vince Carter. Then a few minutes later, Lillard canned back-to-back threes to tie the game, Carlisle called for another timeout, and Lillard unleashed his Thizz Face that instead of throwing away as Mac Dre might suggest, Dame Funk let shine for the people of the Moda Center and the viewers at home, thanks to the ever-watchful cameras of Comcast SportsNet NW.
Unfortunately, Dirk Nowitzki did some Dirk stuff after that which I could describe in more detail but I’m pretty sure “Dirk stuff” describes it perfectly so let’s just move on. THERE WERE LEG KICKS NEED I SAY MORE?
Down 6 inside of a minute to play after two Monta Ellis buckets that felt pretty daggerish back in that simpler time when we weren’t quite sure what the cold blade of a dagger sharply piercing through the weak points of our armor and into our backs felt like, Nico drilled a tough three from the corner to cut it to three. Then Ellis got himself caught in a trap on the sideline at mid-court and fumbled the ball out of bounds, turning it back to the Blazers. Lillard took a screen at the top, the Mavericks switched it leaving Dirk on Lillard as the seconds on the game clock ticked away, Lillard pump faked to get the big man in the air, double pumped and let fly a 3-pointer that cut through the net to tie the game with 1.9 seconds on the clock as I let out quite an excited yelp from my couch. After a replay review to see if Lillard’s right toe was on the line was determined inconclusive, Carlisle took one last timeout to draw up a final shot. The Mavericks quickly inbounded the ball to Ellis and sorry but this woman on House Hunters is about to decide if a seaview is worth investing a little more money for renovation and whatever is in this glass isn’t going to drink itself.