TRAIL BLAZERS 108- SPURS 95: SUGARCUBE

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The sun rises on a Dojo in the mountains. The Master is sweeping the porch. A wandering challenger approaches from the desert.

 

“I wish to challenge this dojo for their sign.”

 

This challenger is known throughout the country for his strength and cunning. The Master is worried. He brings his students into the hall.

 

“This man is here to challenge us for our sign. Who will accept his challenge?”

 

The dojo’s star pupil rises.

 

“I will take him, and preserve the honor of our school, master.”

 

The challenger gets a screwed up look on his face.

 

“Oh, sorry, did you think you would be fighting me? No, no, you’re going to be fighting Jim. I am very tired, from a fight I was in yesterday. He is a slower hiker than me. He will be here in a second.”

 

Jim enters the Dojo. He is not nearly as strong as the wanderer, but he does have a sort of scrappy charm.

 

“Alright, who am I fightin!?”

 

The dojo’s star pupil looked around at his cohorts, expecting someone else to take up the challenge in his stead.

 

“Uhh, me I guess.”

 

The two martial artists lock in combat. Though he lacked the wander’s raw physical gifts, he was clearly descended from his school. A smart fighter, with a keen sense of strategy. The star pupil was feeling challenged. But when he started to push himself a little bit, it was no contest. He overpowered the challenger and took him down with sweeping kick.

 

“I have won! This is a great victory for our dojo. Let us celebrate.”

 

The wandering challenger, standing with crossed arms, shrug his shoulders.

 

“I mean, you beat him, not me. I am kind of the big guy here. See all these signs I have collects from other dojos? I am a bad man.”

 

“I WOULD have fought you, you know.”

 

“Yeah, but you didn’t.”

 

“Well, I will. Let’s go”

 

“Ohh, owwww” The wandering challenger grabbed his leg. “Sorry, I can’t. Need my rest. I have a lot more dojos to challenge this year, you know.”

 

“Will you be back,then? So I can fight you?”

 

“Uhh, no, I don’t think so. How about this. My dojo is in the desert, How about you come over on Friday and we can fight then. I swear I’ll fight you there, unless I have, like a REAL injury or strain or something. Then, if you beat me, it will be a great honor for your school. Not like when you beat Jim, here. I mean, good fight, I guess, Jim’s pretty good, but, let’s be honest, he’s not,” he pointed to himself with two thumbs, “this guy.”

 

“So, I have to travel, ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE COUNTRY to test my strength against yours, even though you’re standing RIGHT THERE, not inured or anything.”

 

“Uh huh, yeah.”

 

“That’s not how this usually works.”

 

“Yes it is.”

 

“It kind of seems like your forfeited this fight to me.”

 

“I guess that’s what the ‘Official record’ will say but I think everyone knows that I didn’t lose here today, that Jim lost, and Jim is like a completely different guy than me.”

 

The star pupil was befuddled. He looked at the wandering challenger artist to see if he betrayed a trace of irony. He did not.

 

“Well,” said the wandering challenger. “This was fun. We’re going to leave now. Do you guys know where we can get something good to eat or…”

 

“Uhh, there’s a pizza place at the bottom of the mountain?”

 

“Excellent. Jim here loves za. Hey, Jim, want some Za’ for your effort tonight!?”

 

“Oh boy, do I!”

 

“Alright buddy, let’s hit the road!”

 

STRAY THOUGHTS:

 

-Congrats to Kyle Anderson, who had his first good NBA Game, 15 points on 7 shots. Ground Blake into dust in the post. You will probably torture the Blazers forever! Hooray!

 

-Boris had 9 assists, that guy is a real rascal.

 

-Goddamn, Batum REALLY sucked from three tonight! I wish he would get better. Maybe the All-Star break will clear his head, whenever that is.

 

-Robin broke his hand, which stinks. They will either start Kaman or Freeland in his place. Freeland is a better idea, I think, so Kaman can shore up the bench unit. Either Robinson or Leonard will get minutes too, which should be an adventure, at least.


-Becky Hammond deserves more respect than this.

TRAIL BLAZERS 95, PACERS 85- JESUS, ETC.

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(This recap is highly interactive. Just keep reading until you’ve decided that you read a comprehensive enough recap, then you can move on with your day.)

The Blazers won.

The Blazers played the Pacers even until the second, when the Steve Blake/Chris Kaman bench unit took a lead that the team never surrendered.

The Blazers played the Pacers even until the second, when the Steve Blake/Chris Kaman bench unit took a lead that the team never surrendered. The starters built on that lead even more, even flirting with a thirty point lead as halftime approached. The lead shrunk by the end of the game, but the Blazer still won.

The Blazers played the Pacers even until the second, when the Steve Blake/Chris Kaman bench unit took a lead that the team never surrendered. The starters built on that lead even more, even flirting with a thirty point lead as halftime approached. The Blazers weren’t able to maintain and build on the lead and really put the Pacers away at the end of the third. The Pacers came out in the fourth and clawed their way back into the game, but Batum hit a three with three or so minutes left that took the contest out of reasonable contention.

The Blazers, coming off a loss to the Bulls and a weird, schedule fueled loss to the Timberwolves, played the Pacers even until the second, when the Steve Blake/Chris Kaman bench unit took a lead that the team never surrendered. The starters built on that lead even more, even flirting with a thirty point lead as halftime approached. The Blazers weren’t able to maintain and build on the lead and really put the Pacers away at the end of the third, which was annoying, because this was their fourth game in five, and they could have used the rest the Pacers were trying to give them. The Pacers came out in the fourth and clawed their way back into the game, but Batum hit a three with three or so minutes left that took the contest out of reasonable contention, but even after that he fouled Stuckey on a fast break and extended the length of the game for no apparent or good reason.

The Blazers, coming off a loss to the Bulls and a weird, schedule fueled loss to the Timberwolves, played the Pacers even until the second, when the Steve Blake/Chris Kaman bench unit took a lead that the team never surrendered. Blake was SCORCHING, and Chris Kaman did some worn in the post. The starters built on that lead even more, even flirting with a thirty point lead as halftime approached. The Blazers weren’t able to maintain and build on the lead and really put the Pacers away at the end of the third, which was annoying, because this was their fourth game in five, and they could have used the rest the Pacers were trying to give them. The Pacers came out in the fourth and clawed their way back into the game. This Pacers run featured a play where Allen Crabbe was tying his shoes during the inbounds. If the Pacers were halfway competent on offense, the Blazers might have been in trouble. Batum hit a three with three or so minutes left that took the contest out of reasonable contention. But even after that he fouled Stuckey on a fast break and extended the length of the game for no apparent or good reason.

The Blazers, coming off a loss to the Bulls and a weird, schedule fueled loss to the Timberwolves, played the Pacers even until the second. The bench unit, led by Steve Blake and Chris Kaman, came out ON FIRE. Blake was SCORCHING, and Chris Kaman did some work in the post, including a really nice pump fake that got Roy Hibbert out of his shorts. The starters built on that lead even more, even flirting with a thirty point lead as halftime approached. During this run, Robin Lopez ALSO pump faked Hibbert out of his shorts, with a move that looked eerily like Kaman’s.

The Blazers weren’t able to maintain and build on the lead and really put the Pacers away at the end of the third, which was annoying, because this was their fourth game in five, and they could have used the rest the Pacers were trying to give them. Extremely stagnant Blazers offense allowed the Pacers claw their way back into the game in the fourth. This Pacers run featured a play where Allen Crabbe was tying his shoes during the inbounds; the ref didn’t give him the courtesy of not waiting for him to finish, handing the ball to the inbounder, who gave the ball to Crabbe’s cover behind the three point line. Kaman noticed this and aggressively closed out on the open shooter. Somehow, this was the second weirdest play involving a shoe in the NBA on the day. The Pacers shot a ton of airballs. If they were halfway competent on offense, the Blazers might have been in trouble. but Batum hit a three with three or so minutes left that took the contest out of reasonable contention. But even after that he fouled Stuckey on a fast break and extended the length of the game for no apparent or good reason. It was a moment that had America tapping things with their fingers, impatient for this thing to end when, really, they should have been allowed to turn out a quarter ago, when the Blazers should have thrown a manhole over the Pacers. Remember when these games were totally amazing last year? What a difference several months make!

For any more detailed recap, please consult ESPN’s play-by-play chart.

STRAY NOTE:

Because Joe insulted Wilco, one of my favorite bands, during the game, I have taken it upon myself to designate a Wilco song for every player on the Blazers. I don’t like this exercise any more than you do, but a debt must be paid. I command you listen to literally every song, or I will come to your house and make use though the use of TheWilcoMobile, an Unnofical, fanmade semitruck  have wired with massive speakers and an old iPod touch loaded with Wilco FLACs.

LAMARCUS ALDRIDGE: Spiders (Kidsmoke) Maybe not the BEST Wilco song, but clearly the centerpiece of the concert, a sprawling 11 minute beast.

WILL BARTON: I’m a Wheel. Kinetic, short, weird, fun, but also a little slight.

NIC BATUM: Uhh, Outta Mind (Outta Sight). Some other French player is Outta Sight (Outta Mind). Probably Boris. There are no “French-seeming” Wilco songs. This is horrible, I’m sorry, but t had to happen

STEVE BLAKE: What is the most dad rock-y Wilco song? Passenger Side? Nahh, Hate it Here Hate is Here is so dad-rocky that there’s a scene in Boyhood where his dad explains Hate it Here to his son.

VICTOR CLAVER: Dash 7, because I don’t think I’ve even heard Dash 7.

ALLEN CRABBE: Hesitating Beauty because his shot release is a little slow. I am already phoning this in, I am phoning in a phone in, a phone next to a phone, maybe even next to a third phone.

JOEL FREELAND: Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key. Billy Bragg sings this song and Wilco plays the backup parts. Billy Brag is British. This isn’t goddamn rocket science.

CHRIS KAMAN: Kingpin, because it has a pedal steel. Also because Kaman sort of resembles a casino owner. Just stick a 10-Gallon hat on him, boom.

MEYERS LEONARD: Company in my Back, because it’s not very good. Maybe one of the late period Wilco songs I don’t listen to, hardly have any frame of reference for. Look, that band went down the tank when Tweedy decided he was done shuffling his bandmates around. He got old, man, he god old and sentimental and started keeping everyone around like they were family. He also stopped abusing pills, which I guess is good. You don’t care, why are you still reading this?

DAMIAN LILLARD: Shot in the Arm. I don’t seriously have to tell you why, right.

ROBIN LOPEZ: Which (X) is (Y) stuff drives me crazy, why am I doubling down on this? (A voice, far away, maybe in the deepest parts of my mind yells “BECAUSE YOU HAVE NO WHERE ELSE TO GO!”) Uhh, Via Chicago, I guess. Who cares. Give me my fucking money, Buzzfeed.

WES MATTHEWS: Poor Places, because it gets better year to year. What a dumb sentence. I hate you, Corbin.

CJ MCCOLLUM: Pot Kettle Black? I saw WIlco play that once, and I have seen CJ play once, I think?

THOMAS ROBINSON: God, just two more and I can be done with this garbage forever. Walken, because he’s a fun novelty with a pretty good solo by Pat, totally without consequence but also sort of charming.

DORRELL WRIGHT: Hell is Chrome, because his stint with the Blazers has been like a weird, clean Hell.

 

There we go, done with that forever. Here is the playlist. Click on it or don’t. Don’t. Spotify is a racket, don’t give them money.

 

TRAIL BLAZERS @ PACERS PREVIEW 2: THE MUSIC MAN

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Hello.  My name is Terence Goober.  I live in Indiana.  I am an idiot, and I am here to explain to you why the Pacers, in my idiotic opinion, can beat your team (the Blazers, duh) tomorrow.

First, I should say a word.  I do not pretend to be representative of Indiana Pacers fans.  My idiocy is merely my own.  It is simply what allows me to say, for example, that the Pacers are the best team in the Eastern Conference, and entirely disregard numbers and facts and other true data.

Granted, we have not looked like our near-championship-contending selves since January last season.  And we do not have Paul George.  I am willing to admit this aspect of reality.

I am also willing to admit that we do not have George Hill, who seems to have been put away in cryogenic stasis sometime in October ostensibly because of knee and quad problems.  We also do not have Ian Mahinmi, our very capable backup center, who is out six to eight weeks with a “torn left plantar fascia,” which I guess is part of the foot-part of the body.

But because I am an idiot, I can conclude these are only temporary setbacks—who needs a fascia anyway? Mahinmi’ll be back in a week—and appeal to the intangible elements of the core of a well-constructed roster.

I can, for example, say that the defensive spirit which has characterized this team historically is thriving.   This season, I know, it only rated 12th according to ESPN, just ahead of the Sixers.  But that doesn’t matter to me.  What matters, because I am an idiot, is the irrelevant statistic that we were rated number one in defensive efficiency the last two seasons in a row.  This allows me to ignore how every semi-efficient offense manhandles us, and how Lavoy Allen doesn’t appear to know what timezone he is in, let alone who to guard.

As this shows, though facts that matter can be ignored, other facts can be marshalled into service to make an idiotic case that suits my dumb preferences.  Offensively, our offensive efficiency is 28th in the NBA, just above the trainwreck that is Detroit and Philly.  But I can appeal to other numbers that do not at all make it seem that individually, the team’s members are not performing so horribly.

David West, for example, scores to the tune of 11.6 points a game, and averages 6 rebounds and 2.8 assists.  This is, individually, pretty solid, and only confirms me in my idiotically held biases.  Yesterday, against the Raptors, he scored 12, had 5 assists, and a remarkable 7 rebounds.  This makes me feel good inside, and allows me to ignore how these figures should really be, like, the third or fourth best on the team, and not the pinnacle of performance.

I can also point out how we have Roy Hibbert, and that he is 7’2.  I can focus on this, too, and not the fact that for almost a year now he has not been playing like an All Star, averaging only a mediocre 11.6 points and 7.2 rebounds.  I’ll can also just ignore the fact that in the last game against the Raptors, he scored 6, had 5 useless fouls, and somehow managed to grab only 2 rebounds in almost 29 minutes of play—something I would have thought rather impossible, had I not seen him in the playoffs last year.

Similarly,  I can note that our greatest scoring has come from strange players just going off randomly every once and a while—and believe that this is not at all a sign that we entirely lack any predictable offensive strategy, and is really a sign of our depth.  I am thrilled that Rodney Stuckey is our highest average scorer, with 12.8 points a game, and that Solomon Hill is our fourth highest, with 11.1 points and 5 rebounds.  This is as it should be.

 

Then there is C.J. Miles, averaging 9.1 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists.  He scored 30 against the Clippers and was instantly hailed as a “big time asset” by the Indiana Star.  I thoroughly concur in this judgment.  It is surely not idiotic—even though, in the last game, against the Raptors, Miles only scored 5 points.

So much for our offense, which I idiotically describe as “withering,” not understanding that the term could very well apply reflexively.  There is one more reaI advantage we have.  It is that we are playing this game at home.  Now, if I were not an idiot, I would not be so certain this is an advantage, because—echoing a pattern from the playoffs last year—nearly all our stats are worse in the Fieldhouse. Our 7.8 three-pointers while away becomes 6.8 at home; away our free throw percentage is 76.9%, at home it is 68%.   At home, we average less assists (20.5 at home becomes 18.8) and, crucially, less points (95.7 becomes 91.3).  But I am an idiot, so this does not matter to me.  I believe home team advantage will have a big part to play in our win!

I can also be confident that we are coming up against the Blazers at the right time.  Last time, we seemed to throw them for a loop: they even crashed their flying Ford car.  But now, even though I know that the losses they have suffered are actually pretty mitigated by circumstances—the loss against the Bulls, and against Memphis were against two of the very best teams in the NBA, and the loss against Minnesota was basically a schedule-loss—I can believe that this means there is something inherently wrong with the Blazers going on lately, and that we won’t get slowly beaten by their second and third string players.

Of course, in the end, nothing really can prevent me from acknowledging our 7 game losing streak.  But, looked at idiotically, I can be positive!  We lost each of those games by less than 15 points!  This is one of the great things about being an idiot: you can be happy when you want to be, by failing to understand or grapple with the actual state of reality and the true conditions of our existence in the world!

But even idiocy has its limits.  With slightly more use of the powers of self-deception, I could also say that we are going to beat the Blazers because we are fierce competitors this year despite all our setbacks.  I could say that we will win against your team because we have something to prove: that losing isn’t an option, even when it is in our interest!  I could say that Vogel is changing our starting rotations to get off to better starts as he said, and not at all to make winning more difficult; I could say that we are resting our players, not giving them unnecessary time on the injury list.  I could say that we will win precisely to show we aren’t in the middle of a huge tanking operation that desperately needs to happen, and which renders my confident fandom especially idiotic this year!

But that would border on being delusional, and I am only an idiot, not insane.

TRAIL BLAZERS @ PACERS PREVIEW: LIFESTYLES OF THE INSANE

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Remember Roy Hibbert? Sure ya do! The Blazers tried to get him in 2012, but Hibbert elected to remain in Indiana, saying, and I quote, “I appreciate the Blazers’ kind offer, but I’ve decided to stay with the Pacers, because Oregon generally and Portland specifically are places for total lamewad losers and I hate them.”

T’was heady days. Around that time Nicolas Batum, he of the “you can’t lose him because of his potential” moniker, was almost got by Minnesota, and in the ensuing carnage Portland ended up with one James Edward Hickson, inexplicably known as “J.J.”, playing most of their minutes at center. Many fans loved Hickson for his Grit And Moxie, but he went away, and Portland signed Robin Byron (“R.R.”) Lopez instead.

How’s it all worked out? Well, for one year Hibbert looked terrible, but since then he’s been pretty good. Lopez helped Portland to the playoffs last year. These things, however, are mere ephemera, shadows cast on the cave’s wall. You want the real analysis, who’s better, damn it, and I aim to avoid giving it to you.

 

BASKETBALL STUFF (to be read in a Stephen Hawking voice computer tone): From the 2012-2013 season on, Hibbert has a PER of 15.4, Lopez 18.0. Hibbert’s VORP is 3.6, Lopez’s is 5.3. They rebound almost identically. Hibbert is worse at offense (duh) and Lopez at defense (double duh.) I won’t cite their respective True Shooting Percentages because c’mon, that’s the dumbest stat ever, it lists Brent Barry as the greatest player of all time. ADVANTAGE: Lopez, up until now, because Lopez has cost a shitload less money. That may change.

 

WIERD INTERNET THINGS YOU FIND ABOUT THEM: Lopez is into comic books (pass), loves the terrible filmed-in-Oregon 80’s movie “The Goonies” (fail), and did theater in college (A+.) But you knew those things (except maybe the theater stuff.) Trying to lazily find out weird stuff about Roy Hibbert, I came upon this terrifying-looking link: “What did Roy Hibbert say? – NazNet Community”. Shaking with fear for the sanctity of my browser history (jesus, “NazNet”), but determined to Uncover Truth, I clicked it. It turned out to be some harmless North Dakota Nazarene Christians discussing a mild gay slur Hibbert used at one point, and – guess what – most found it a stupid thing for an adult to say. Having spent some time in both North Dakota and among hardcore Bible believers, let me say for the record that I was pretty shocked how basically nice that group was. I didn’t poke around their site for long as I have books to read about evolution and how fracking shale oil is dooming life on Earth, but damn it all, they seemed harmless. ADVANTAGE: College theater over gay slur, no-brainer.

 

MEDIA APPEARANCES: Lopez is in this car commercial which is pretty funny. Hibbert appeared on “Parks And Recreation” as window dressing for the doomed “Entertainment 720” franchise, which was either hilarious or irritating based on your tolerance level for Ben Schwartz, who specializes in playing annoying twerps. (It’s okay if you found it both hilarious and irritating, or if you’ve never seen “Parks And Recreation” because you’re under 40.) ADVANTAGE: Lopez.

 

So Lopez is better. Except I think Hibbert is better. But Hibbert costs a lot more. Except next year Lopez will cost more too. The Blazers and Pacers play tonight. The game is played in the Bankers’ Life Fieldhouse, which was once called the Conseco Fieldhouse, but skeezy financial services company Conseco went the way of most such skeezy companies. Bankers’ Life sounds better, don’t you agree?

BULLS 115 BLAZERS 106- THEATER ON THE ICY SHORES OF STEVE BLAKE MICHIGAN

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I like a lot of things about the Blazers’ bench this year; the ascent of Allen Crabbe, Joel

Freeland continuing to defiantly get minutes, general competence. But more than anything, I like

that Steve Blake is kind of like the Scrappy Doo version of Chris Kaman. This works in terms of

physical characteristics, and also because Steve Blake is just super scrappy. It’s pretty wonderful.

Also, you know how sea turtles naturally migrate back to their birthplace no matter what? That’s

like Steve Blake with Portland. He’s been a Blazer three different times! You say coincidence, I

say destiny. Plus, he kinda looks like a sea turtle. Like if there was a “which NBA player looks

most like a sea turtle” event during all-star weekend, which I don’t know why there isn’t already,

I’d like to think Steve would take home the turtle-shaped hardware pretty easily. PLUS HIS

COLLEGE TEAM’S NICKNAME WAS THE TERRAPINS! (FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO

DON’T KNOW, THE TERRAPIN IS A SMALLER SPECIES OF TURTLE WHICH LIVES IN

FRESH OR BLACKISH WATER NO I DIDN’T CONSULT WIKIPEDIA THAT’S JUST A

THING THAT I KNOW MAN BACK OFF.)

Anyway, a basketball game happened tonight!

The last time the Blazers played the Bulls, I was in attendance and experienced the

changes to the artist formerly known as the Rose Garden for the first time. Allen Crabbe dunked

all over Tony Snell’s soul, hometown hero Mike Dunleavy Jr. laid out Damian Lillard for no

reason, and I caught a t-shirt out of a gun. It was just lovely. Early on, tonight’s matchup looked

as though it was similarly destined to be a rout, as while I was eating yakisoba at my friendly

neighborhood yakisoba establishment LaMarcus Aldridge went for 21 first quarter points. It was

magnificent. The yakisoba, that is. I’d imagine LaMarcus was pretty good too though, cuz that’s

a lot of points. The Ghost of Tyrus Thomas left the building immediately after I returned to

discover that the Blazers were indeed playing basketball, however, and LMA went on to score

only 14 more points.

After they went on a run to start the second quarter, the Bulls were pretty much

perpetually up eight points for the rest of the game. This coincided with me discovering that

ESPN was also televising tonight’s contest. I enjoy Mike Rice’s commentary as much as the next

guy, but if the Blazers are playing on another channel I’m probably gonna watch it there. Tonight

Mike Tirico and Hubie Brown (aka the same tandem who announced Game 6 last year) were on

the mic. Hubie is awesome. I love Hubie. Every time I listen to Hubie talk, I learn something

really insightful and interesting about basketball. Whereas every time I listen to Mike Rice talk, I

have no idea what he’s saying.

Derrick Rose looked suspiciously like Derrick Rose tonight, which is a frightening

thought for the Leastern Conference (ha! leastern conference! classic!), but despite his season-

high 31, he was slightly outshined by Damian Lillard (35, 6, and 5 on 13/21 shooting and 7/11

from three). Unfortunately, other than Damian and LaMarcus’ twin 35 point nights, the Blazers

totally played like shit. Wesley had a pedestrian evening, Nic continued to play like Tayshaun

Prince with better court vision, and Kaman and Lopez didn’t really do much of anything. Steve

Blake was the lone bright spot beyond Dame and LMA. That generally isn’t a winning formula.

The Blazers played poorly for the second consecutive game, but it’s nothing to get

worried about. It was unfortunate to waste such awesome lines from Dame and LMA, but it was

a road game against a quality opponent. You usually lose those anyway.

So yeah. Let’s go play Indiana! They aren’t very good! ALLEN CRABBE CAREER

HIGH GOING DOWN TOMORROW IN INDIANAPOLIS YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST

WRITE IT DOWN TELL THE PEOPLE.

Various asides:

-Bulls stars E’Twaun Moore and Joakim Noah both sat out tonight.

-I’m patiently waiting for Michael Holton and the InFocus MondoPad to get their own spinoff

show (featuring Mike Rice as the wacky neighbor).

-Spencer Hawes is averaging 6 and 4 for the Clippers while Chris Kaman is putting up 10 and 6 /

resurrecting his career.

-Victor Claver is wearing a suit so often that I’m starting to just think of him as an assistant

coach.

PRS RADIO: THE RIP CITIZENS – BASKETBALL FOR BEGINNERS

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The Blazers have won 9 of 11 since our last show. It seems the less we talk the more they win, so we’ll keep this brief. We recap our recent hot streak and the moments that stood out, break down the play of Nic Batum and whether his knee is an issue, and discuss if NBA rivalries are still relevant.

We also introduce a new segment called “Barely a Fan” in which our friend Sean (who has a minimal grasp on the NBA) breaks down the Blazers/Pistons game.

All that, plus who we’d want to be in a commercial with, favorite player matchups, Victor Claver’s future, and the current success of small market teams.

BLAZERS AT BULLS PREVIEW: CHATTING!

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(Good afternoon. I spoke, over email, or I emailed over email, with RJ Casey, the proprietor of Yeti Press, a comics publisher based out of Chicago, about tonight’s Bulls/Blazers game. These are the fruits of that labor.)

CORBIN: Hey sorry I took forever I went to buy protein powder. I can’t drive, so I had to walk. We, me and you, are doing an email chain to talk about this Blazers/Bulls game before it happens, no? What are you feelings? Search the deepest part of your soul, RJ, and tell me of your Bulls.

RJ: The Bulls ARE my soul. I look at the Bulls as a mirror to my life’s progression and benchmarks. In elementary school, when I was full of promise and sunniness, I had the ineffable ’90s Bulls. As I entered middle school, the legends bailed and I was left with a cicada shell of Ron Harper. This of course coincides with all the terribleness of junior high and really hits rock bottom with the signing of Ron Mercer overlapping with me getting my shoes peed on in gym class. As I entered high school, the “Baby Bulls” were still in their infancy with Captain Kirk leading the way. Just about junior year in high school I started looking girls in the eyes and gaining confidence. This was about the time Ben Gordon was hitting actual field goals and Andres Nocioni was looking like he bathed in chum. I was in college when the Bulls selected Rose and the push yourself with no regards to the inevitable setbacks mentality has informed my adult life. I might as well have that picture of Luol Deng in the hospital bed dripping spinal fluid framed in my apartment.

But this year – this year we have Pau.
I’m nervous about this game though. The Bulls are coming off looking pretty good against the Nets, but they were looking pretty good against the Nets. Your Blazers are going to be the in bounce back mindset. The “we gotta win this one if we want to look at ourselves as contenders” mentality. That’s always scary for the opposing team.
CORBIN:”My” Blazers? Do I like the Blazers? I can’t tell anymore. I have begun to resent their consistency like the way a rebellious teenager resents a good, caring parent who always wins at home and usually makes quick work of inferior opponents. I suppose they do need to whoop on the “Good” Eastern Conference team to keep pace with the other marauding T-Rexes that are playing in the West, marching up and down human roads, ripping off heads, sipping blood like tea. They did just take a dumb schedule loss to the wolves so I guess they could come out a little more jacked than usual.

Who is on the Bulls again? I don’t watch them because I am still bitter about 91′. “But Corbin, you were three at the time,” say the haters who doubt my deep Blazermania. Mirotic? He’s like a stretch four? Kirk Heinrich isn’t still around, right?I don’t know if my son can handle his horrible visage again.
RJ: Kirk Hinrich IS still around, playing serious minutes, and preparing for his next roll as the United Center’s own Marley’s ghost. He’s even got the rec specs/mouth guard look going which adds to his whole weirdo heel aura. As of a few weeks ago, Mirotic was the only rookie with a few double-doubles on his resume. I’m hoping he turns out as charming as he seems. We rely on the hydra of Rose, Noah, Butler, and Gasol. When you cut off one of it’s heads, Taj Gibson tomahawk dunks out of the open wound. Keep in mind that this hydra is often injured and plays like 46 minutes a game.

We also have Mike DunTHREEvy, Aaron Brooks, Little Dougie McDermott, and some real ugly guys who barely get any minutes coming off the bench. Those are the best type of bench players.
Do you think Noah and Lopez trade hair tips or hitchhike to moe. concerts together?
CORBIN: /shudder “Double-Double.” Hickson flashbacks. I need to drink a sip of tea. That’s a unit, the size of a single sip of tea, I keep in a sip sized container. It’s extremely wasteful.

You know I don’t think a moe. concert is Robin’s scene. More of a power pop guy. Has certainly listened to a They Might be Giants record in his life. I think you get Robin at a moe. show, he enjoys it for a while, then the pipes come out, room is choked in that sweet smoke, he says “Oh, hey, pot, alright, cool. Hey, no thanks, but man you guys do what you have to do!” Then he leaves before the second set. Noah, on the other hand, he probably bring his own bong-os, which is a bong that is also bongos.
Is it safe to say The Bulls haven’t stormed out of the gate? Is there a sense that this is a major thing, they were overprojected, or that they’re just rounding into shape?
Also, what is being investing in an East team like? Less terrifying but ALSO a little less exciting, or what? Do these games mean anything? Does any basketball game mean anything? Does anything mean anything?
RJ: Can I see a blueprint for these “bong-os,” please? You better get a design patent on that before I take it to Shark Tank.

The Bulls have been doing well. I feel like they’ve been overlooked a bit so far this season due to the Hollywood Cavs in the same division and the Bulls never able to play the same lineup in back to back games. I always expected Butler to be a Tony Allen Lite, but he racking up over 20 points a game. Pau’s looking revitalized after grabbing a lifeboat and leaving the sinking shit ship in LA. It all depends on Rose’s crumbly, little ligaments though.
The state of the East notwithstanding, I want to see the Bulls win every single game because Tom Thibodeau wants to win every single game. He’s the anti-Pop because every game is the fiery apocalypse. If Thibodeau was in the fable The Tortoise and the Hare, he’d be the hare, but get to the end of the race, rush back while screaming himself hoarse, pick up the tortoise, and then carry him back to a foot in front of the finish line contracting plantar fasciitis on the way. I’m really not sure if that analogy works at all, but Thibs is out of his mind.
CORBIN:
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Once, a told Thibs that he could have all of the success in the world if she submitted to her curse. The majik lives deep in his blood and drives him to go harder 100% of the time. Here is a picture of the witch:
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RJ: “We should have never, ever let Michael Jordan play for the Wizards.” – Kanye West

TIMBERWOLVES 90, TRAIL BLAZERS 82- DROP OUT OF LIFE

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If you read someone, anyone, making a big deal out of this loss, you should rip their tooth out and show it to them. You should say, “This is your tooth, I have taken it from you. This is a big deal. That loss was not a big deal. That loss was absolutely nothing. It didn’t even happen.” When he rolls on the floor in front of you, blood pouring out of his mouth, he will understand so many things all at once. He will, first off, understand true pain and the nature of true pain. This transcendent experience will take him to other places, giving him a deeper respect for life, a deeper love for his family, an understanding of the interconnection of all people. He will understand what a cruel and impulsive person you are, and if he read this article first, he will understand the persuasive sway I have over people. He will come to respect and fear me. If he sees me walking down the street, he will run into an alley and mute his breath out of fear that I will see him and unleash my fury, or my influence over the people of the internet, on him once more. And understand this, reader, doer of my bidding: I will unleash on him like a nightmare hurricane if given even half a chance. I will make all of Portland metro fear me, respect me. “Fear is the only true respect.” -Ghandi. Not the one you’re thinking off, I am talking about Donald “The Tank” Ghandi, the beloved pro wrestler. Here is his signature move:

Anyway this was the schedule-lossyest schedule loss of all time. The Blazers are one of the best rebounding teams in the league; they gave up 20 offensive rebounds. They sleptwalked through the first half and almost caught up in the second because the Wolves aren’t good at executing. They shot 28% from three, which is either the providence of luck or the product of tired-ass legs, depending on how much you cling to cause and effect relationships in sports. It’s probably both.

My only bone to pick is that the Blazers didn’t lose this game faster. They were down 20-ish in the third, and the Wolves couldn’t put them away. The Blazers play so many minutes, they needed a rest. Why couldn’t those young men do them a favor and gently send them to sleep?

Hey, why were the starters even playing? Back to back in Minnesota, who are terrible let’s see what the bench’s fresh legs can do! Here are the benefits of sitting two or three starters:

  1. Rest! It works!
  2. Bench players get some run! Let’s see what they can do when they’re not living in fear of the hook! Maybe it will help them be better!
  3. It would be more fun to watch than a slog-ass game like the one I just watched!

WHAT ARE THE DOWNSIDES?

  1. Wahh someone paid to see…

I ROUNDLY REJECT THE RIGHTS OF CONSUMERS. MONEY MEANS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Anyway. schedule loss, who cares, if someone was paying me to freak out about it and say it indicated some deep flaw in the Blazers’ mettle or construction or whatever I would do that but they aren’t so I won’t. Onto whatever the next game is. Chicago, I think. God I hope Chicago gets beat something nasty.

(Also, several members of the Blazers wore “I Can’t Breathe” shirts in honor of Eric Gardner, who died while being subjected to an illegal chokehold for selling loose cigarettes by a New York Police Department officer in broad daylight on camera. The officer was not even indicted and made to stand trial, which is a travesty of justice. I encourage you to read about the shit-ass way American police officers treat people of color in every part of the country. Thanks.)

TRAIL BLAZERS 98 PISTONS 86- YOUR LADY

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I was about something in my post game bath. The reader of this entry PROBABLY watched the game I am recapping tonight. They AT LEAST watched the end. But since the beginning was on during West Coast work hours, there’s a PRETTY GOOD CHANCE you didn’t watch this game and you are coming to me, a writer you trust, for a snapshop of tonight’s events, a feelings of the emotional texture of the event.

As a mercy for this reader, I will write two (2) recaps tonight. One is the truth and one is a lie, and the reader can pick the one that they prefer to believe.

RECAP ONE: BLAZERS CLIMB MOUNTAIN, SPIRIT IN THE EYES OF THE GODS

It was a cold night in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Snow fell outside the stadium. Cars were trapped. Everyone was stuck, and the Pistons organization knew it. But there was a basketball game to be played, so they kept quiet and tossed the ball. Andre Drummond, “The Beast from Mount Vernon,” ripped the tip out of his hands, flew across the court on wings made from pure leg power and ramma-jammed so hard the whole building shook. THe snow on top of the building avalanched and buried everyone even deeper in the stadium. A miracle would be needed to save everyone. But there was a game to play, so they kept playing. The Blazers fought back. All kinds of lineups, all kinds of shots. At one point, Sotts and Stan Van Gundy were at a strategic stalemate, so they just met in the center of the court and played chess with each other to determine who would be allowed the next open shot. A level of competitive intensity I have never seen in my life.

Then, end of the game. Blazers down, 123-121. Lillard gets the ball at half courts, They pass it to everyone. The Pistons almost gets like 4 steals. It goes back to Lillard. One second left. Three guys draped all over him. He fades. It sinks. All of a sudden, a blast of hot air leaves the stadium. The snow melts. Everyone’s car is freed. They all stand up and applaud, because Lillard has freed them from this icy nightmare prison with his hot, hot shooting. A weary nation is inspired. We get our shit together. We end war. We feel compassions for out fellow man. ll because of one game, that you missed. Thankfully, I recapped it for you.

RECAP TWO: UGH, HORRIBLE.

Let’s talk about the broadcast for a second. It was weird. The cameras were set funny, so the entire court was slightly washed out. Entirely too bright, not even kind of natural. The lavalier microphones in the studio were broken so when they were going to the halftime show, it sounded like they were recording the sound with a  condenser microphone in an airplane hangar. Mike Barrett complimented himself on reading a promo early. Disconcerting setting.

This game was very bad. The Pistons are bad, but the Blazers didn’t take advantage and absolutely rake them, so it was just a bad team and another team kind of ineffectually coasting on through.

Lamarcus had 21 on 23 shots. He was so, so bad in the first half. Thankfully, Chris Kaman stepped up to cover for him because if he didn’t the Blazers might have lost to the Pistons. Don’t they understand that counts for like five losses in the West? Look at this shit:

spacesuit

Slip up once out here, you wind up dead as hell. You think Dallas won’t put a knife in you!? They’ve already forfeited the right to challenge Golden State, that train has LEFT THE STATION forever. If they lose three games against the East this year, they will take the title away and award it to Memphis. Then, the Blazers will have to beat them in a seven game series on top of a mountain to take it back. It’s right there in the CBA, read it. I’ve read it. It’s interesting as hell.

The Blazers comfortably led for most of the game because the Pistons are bad. In the 4th Quarter, Van Gundy rode the bench and they made a good stab at stealing the game. It didn’t work, Batum made a three and Wes made a three and it was out of reach.

There were so many goddamn jump hooks in this game. Kaman, LMA, Monroe, Josh Smith, Drummond. They were all taking these swinging sump hooks in the lane all night. I think Lopez even took one. It is the TWENTY TENS and dudes are out here tossing up jump hooks like it’s just okay. Makes me sick.

Kaman took a one legged fadeaway:

The experience of watching this game can be simulated by playing this video on a giant tv, strapping yourself into a chair, and paying two children to hold your eyelids open for two hours. The Blazers played a totally average game against a shitty opponent who played shittily and won. If they have played better they could have banked some minutes for their fourth game in five nights on Saturday, but they didn’t.

There was a point in this thing where I thought, you thought, we all thought, “Christ, just rest everyone and see what happens, this is boring.” Would you rather see a C- win that looks like every other win, or a crazy Blazers flameout where Joel Freeland punches through the wall of his own ability and comes out the other side a broken and scarred and stronger man? The Pistons could have been the canvas to paint this masterpiece! BUT IT WAS TAKEN FROM US, BY TERRY! Ohhhhh Terry, why do you torment good people like this, Terry!? 

WHICH ONE WAS THE REAL RECAP? It doesn’t matter, reality is what you make of it. That’s what postmodernisim is.You live in it every day. Read Foucault, he explains it. But only in the French versions.

TRAIL BLAZERS 103 – KNICKS 99: I LEFT WITH A COAT HANGER

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The silver lining of being a traitor to the Pacific Northwest and living in New York now is that I was at this game, in section 226, which not coincidentally was named the Foxwoods Lucky Section. Despite Foxwoods being a casino, the latin word for “ornate money fountain,” we didn’t win anything. They put us up on the big screen, we cheered, and nothing else happened. Maybe this is how gifts are given here in this ruthless city: “Hey, this casino has decided to honor you as the the lucky section and your gift is that you have not yet died and are also at a Knicks game which you paid too much money to attend.” Rudy Giuliani is probably behind this.

The Knicks’ perfectly thorough dysfunction at every level of the franchise makes them the most entertaining show to experience through the common methods of television and Twitter and blogs––they are a television show and they are perfect at being a television show. But the barrier of the television screen creates the sense that the Knicks don’t really exist, like we’re watching a stereotyped and streamlined version of something we’ve collectively imagined. But guys, let me tell you, the television show has got nothing on the Knicks as live theater. And truly, the darkness in the arena and respectful silence early in the game creates a very formal and theatrical atmosphere. When Samuel Dalembert simultaneously performs a behind-the-back crossover at midcourt yet also gets called for an 8-second violation, it truly feels like a performance, a dramatic expression of Knicks, filled with historical weight and emotion.

The theater also extends to the crowd experience. There really was a woman in an Amare Stoudemire jersey in front of me who turned around and asked, in that sort of New York accent, “Really?” when she discovered she was sitting in front of Blazer fans. Someone directly behind me was asleep through most of the first quarter. There was a guy a few rows behind us who shouted instructions at various Knicks players during every possession (ex: “Yo, Melo! Hit em with that jab step! Jab step, Melo! Now post him up!”). There were also the bizarre “celebrity row” segments during timeouts, which were depressingly weird. Spike Lee was not in attendance so the in-game reporter had to hype up Monica Seles and some low cast member from SNL. What I’m trying to say is, the Knicks are more Knicks than even I could imagine.

If we evaluate this performance of theater as a basketball game, it was not a particularly good one. The Blazers shooters never really got going. LaMarcus did his LaMarcus thing but never entered the higher plane of LaMarcus in which his robotic perfection becomes like watching a Buddhist monk silently paint flawless circles. On the other side, we got some Carmelo isos, some JR Smith buckets (a dude in front of me said he saw JR at the club last night and I couldn’t tell if he was joking. BLESS YOU, KNICKS!), some questionable Jason Smith-heavy possessions, but nothing too ground breaking. But we shouldn’t be evaluating the merit Death of a Salesman by the sales techniques on display or evaluating Jersey Boys by whatever they do in Jersey Boys (sing? do drugs? idk).

Lastly, shouts to the dude in Foxwoods Lucky Section 226 who loudly and derisively called Steve Blake “white boy!” when Blake hit an important shot late in the second half.