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.

 

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.

BUCKS 95, BLAZERS 88: MEANING AND MEANINGLESSNESS

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What happened in the Hawks Game? Blazers lost? Atlanta executed at will? Blazers looked out of sorts and missed a ton of shots? Okay, great.

 

I watched the game on mute tonight, so I could just be alone with my thoughts. I meditated on the horrors of life and basketball.

 

The Blazers really go just openly allow two pointers. They see the machine for what it is. They exploit it for gain at the cost of their souls. If a soul even exists. Maybe we are just alone in our bodies.

 

Aldridge shoots and scores.Again. He misses, again. Life is a menagerie of meaninglessness. We truly are dust, nothingness.

 

In the Blackness, a light, when Giannis strips Aldridge and a crappy two man game. The world is wire, and the only good wire can do is occasionally generate electricity. Giannis breaks apart another play, hammers down an alley-oop on the other end. For a second, I feel a spark of something like life. I am disturbed by this pleasure, for I know that, eventually, it must be balanced by pain.

 

Meyers knocks John Henson down and throws up a shot that rims in. A moment of immense absurdity, yet it is as natural as the blooming of the day lily. Why does the lily bloom? To live? But it has no mind. Perhaps we have no minds?

 

I propose that if we were cut at the stem, and placed in a vase, for the loved one of some big plant with a different consciousness than we, that it would not be a tragedy, but a show of power on the part of the big plant. I do not want to believe that power is the driving force of the universe, but here I am, watching sports.

 

The Blazer have fallen behind early. If they are destroyed today by the Bucks, it will be a victory for youth and beauty. SHakespeare, the poet, playwright, and scam artist, would have you and I believe that this is the movement of nature, and the only good thing that can happen.

 

A Lillard two pointer, the effort of a drive to the rim, is countered by a Knight three pointer, created with a mere flick of the wrist. Can you not see that effort is fuitile?

 

An impressive shuttle pass to Henson becomes foul shots. A flower, turned the sludge, and we reward and celebrate it. Basketball is, like life, a perverse excersise. that rewards no thing in particular, not morality or aesthetics. It rewards only strength. We should regards all sport as pornography and keep it away from our children.

 

I will not celebrate basketball, or life. I will celebrate only silence.

 

A turnaound jumper from Kris Middelton slides into the rim. The Blazers are down ten points. They have come back from larger deficits, and lost with bigger leads. The future is not mine for the telling. I look into my basketball ball, made from glass, etched with runes, and I call upon a power that does not exist. I ask the ball, “Ball, what will happen in this, or any game?”

 

It replies “I will dell you, but I can only tell lies.”

 

“B-b-b-b-but, I thought…”

 

“Haha! Ball doesn’t lie!? Hahaha! What an absurd article of faith has been installed in you! It disgusts me, I am ONLY a teller of tales, a weaver of lies! The only truth is silence!”

 

I weep.

 

Matthews slips underneath the rim. 27-15 Bucks.

 

SECOND QUARTER:

 

Giannis makes a move on Dorrell Wright and takes a foul. The only thing that contains the young man is limits in his mind. When the wall comes down, he will breaks bodies, minds, spirits, sex drives with a bere blinking of his eyes. The whole sport, NAY, the whole world will be at his mercy. We will submit and serve. Giannis will be the only thing close to a “God.”

 

An airball from Steve Blake. He submitted to his illusion of control instead of passing and letting some other person try to feel themselves into thinking they could manifest a destiny for themselves.

 

When a players shoots a ball, he is making a contract with his hands, a contract that says “I have given my life to making you do as I command, you will fulfill my orders.” What he, or she, as it may be, does not realize, is that the world, the external world, does not respect this contract, and will seek to void it at any cost. When this happens, the player assumes his hands have violated their deal, and punishes them, my making them work harder later, or by cutting them with razorblades. What an absurd dance, the tango between hand and basketball player!

 

A Lillard bobble forces hm to post up on a fast break. His enemies swarm. He struggles, and misses his shot. Lillard is a man in a maze, who knows he can get out, but at every turn, there is more maze.

 

In a way, we are all in the maze. What waits for us at the end? I submit: death, and only darkness.

 

Lillard collects a rebound. His legs spread as he rises for a dunk. Then, he tells me to go to a used car dealership. I will not relent to his demands. I will reject used cars and new cars, for they take my feet from the earth, and the feeling of the ground on your feat is the only way to truly collect knowledge.

 

The Blazers have begun to even the contest. Wes Matthews makes a three pointer, and the score is separated at four. The Bucks are committing a lot of turnovers in the paint. They are still like a baby faun, the sons of their totem, clumsy and ill-coordinated. They must find the source of stability to succeed. But then, will ther loose their essential fawnness, and turn into a hissing, spitting deer, like the Blazers? Would it be worth it?

Is success a curse? An addiction? Winning makes only a demand for more winning. Give it up, and see how free you become. A Blazer team that lost all of its games would not charge for tickets. I would regard this as a fair trade-off.

 

The half is over. The Blazers have closed the considerable first quarter gap. 45-42 Bucks.

 

THIRD QUARTER:

 

Thomas Robinson starts. Meyers, Robinson, Robinson, Meyers. What does it matter? Terry flips switches and the light is still blue. He keeps flipping in the hopes that it will be yellow, or red, or, for christsakes, purple. But it’s always blue. The blue light cascades over his face, unceasing, a symbol of his sadness, his struggle, the whole hole he can’t climb out of. When will you be satisfied, Terry?

 

Robinson blocks Giannis at the rim. He will be the first to go when the barriers come down. He will have one eye and do The Greek King’s bidding personally. “Thomas! Bring me grapes!” “Thomas, bring me a knife, to peel the grapes!” “Thomas! Bring me a bowl for these grape skins!”

 

Giannis does a windmill on the fast break. It is the only moment of life, of joy, of light, in this or any game. Life is a game, the most joyless of all games. It is like Monotonousply.

 

Batum’s shot rims out. It was all the way in, then all the way out. I propose that nothing exists. Or I have proposed it, I ought to say. But in this nothingness, there is a ghost. The ghost has chosen to torment Nic Batum for crimes committed in past lives. Batum was once Napoleon. He was once a general in the Norman conquest. What I am trying to say is, he was always French, and always cursed.

 

OJ Mayo is shooting foul shots. The Blazers lost ground, then made it up again. They have been in striking distance for a long time. Unfortunately, there is no six point strike one can make. The only way to get six points on a single possession is to get a four point play that makes the other team so mad they get two technicals. Mayo hits a three to take the Bucks up seven.

 

The Blazers surrender a three pointer. They are tired, broken men. They will soon see the absurdity of their task and disband, leaving the Rose Garden, now profaned with a name from an arbitrary construct, empty, except when the Globetrotters are in town. Bucks 76, Blazers 65.

 

FOURTH QUARTER:

This is a special time. The Fourth Quarter. But if it’s so special, why does it look like every other second in our lives? FOr instance: OJ Mayo hit a three pointer not five minutes ago, and he hits yet another one. What if every basketball quarter is the same? What if every 12 minutes of our lives are the same?

 

The Blazers are forcing shots. They sense destiny taking the game out of their hands, and they decide that wrestling her is the only way to get it back. But they under estimate her power.

 

Jared Dudley hits a three to make it 87-69; the light gets smaller. The Blazers reach out to touch the light. It hits the front of the rim. They are tired, so tired. Another shot rims out. A strip. Twenty point deficit. Wes makes a stepback three pointer. Valiant, but a shot borne from struggle. Climbing the mountain by cutting off your hand, welding a chain to it, and throwing it higher up the mountain.

 

Lillard takes another very long three pointer when the team is down, heaving in vain to get the guys back on the train. It’s like water, the harder you grab, the less you collect.


Starters don’t get pulled. I weep, for conceding is the only rational thing a person can do.

CAVALIERS 99, BLAZERS 94: AGE OF CONSENT

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ONE: I don’t have a lot to say about this game. The Blazers lost, Kyrie was absurd, what are you gonna do. Frankly, I think the teams has been riding high on the hog for a while and they deserved to be punished, by fate and by time.

 

TWO: This is the second game in a row where the Blazers were just pylons for the Cavs, a more fascinating, troubled, and psychodramatic team , to play out their neurosis on. Irving was wrecking, inside, outside, USA, Love was terrible, it balanced out to a game that was significantly closer than it should have been. The Cavs enigma stares everyone who looks at it deep in their eyes and makes them question everything about themselves.

 

THREE: Cold the Blazers have defended him better?

ohh

Man, Irving missed himself a handful of midrangers. The Blazers could not keep him from shooting, and making threes. They are normally very good at this. But tonight, Kyrie decided he did not give a shit about if someone was chasing him off the long or not, and he shot over his defenders anyway.

I suppose, in a perfect world, the most perfect of worlds, basketball wouldn’t exist because we would all be in a constant state of communal bliss, our bodies all melted into one pile of flesh and fluids. But in a less ideal world than that but a more ideal world than the world where we live, the Blazers would have a wing defender who could REALLY shut a dude’s water off. They tried a few looks at Irving tonight. Batum has done a good job with point guards in the past, but he and his giant cast we not master of their domain as they have been in the past.

 

FOUR: Aldridge was really, really good again. He gave it to Love and Mozgov in the post got fouled a lot, and was basically ideal Aldridge. I guess he did miss a three. You’ll get there someday, buddy.

 

FIVE: I have a brief collection of thoughts about the final play:

  1. The building cult of Lillard drives me nuts. Primarily because I am easily annoyed. For instance, I am also annoyed by the little girl who my bike almost fell on today. Why were you standing there, little girl, my bike is standing there. I did not get into the racket to get religion, I am not searching for sports Christ. I just want something orderly and interesting. Also I am beginning to suspect that maybe are gearing into Lillard in high leverage and shutting him down while other player, who are also basically reliable, languish and wait. Letting one player dominate your late game offense because he has a mystic aura is a bad idea.
  2. This being said, that was a tremendous play to get him in the corner.
  3. Lillard had a terrible take off that tremendous play. He probably should have pump faked and taken a steady shot instead of fading to avoid Dellavedova’s wild-as-shit block attempt. But it’s not systemic or a real problem or anything. He just struck out, so to speak.

TRAIL BLAZERS 103 WIZARDS 96: MOXIE

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(JAMES FILLMORE wrote tonight recap! Thank you James!)

There are known knowns, things we know that we know. Like the age of the Earth or the tide tables or the fact that LaMarcus Aldridge is a cool guy who tries very hard and plays very well.

There are known unknowns, things we know we don’t know. What effect would LaMarcus sitting out for a month or two (probably two, that’s probably what the doctors said, that’s probably why he’s playing) have on the Blazers’ playoff hopes? They’d certainly lose home-court advantage, although that’s not really a huge deal. Nor, really, is seeding. Teams hoping to advance in the playoffs by facing this team in this round instead of that team in that round don’t go anywhere. Could the Blazers miss the playoffs? Possible, not probable. They’d have to fall behind Phoenix and Oklahoma City, and Phoenix has a tough schedule remaining.

There are unknown unknowns, things we don’t know that we don’t know. This is a dumb concept and it doesn’t apply to you or me. Most of us expect the unexpected. Those who don’t are insecurely trying to prove how in control they are. Such people are sometimes harmless, sometimes dangerous, but always late for everything.

There are unknown knowns, things we know but don’t want to know that we know. Such as the fact that playing through injury in sports is almost always a terrible, terrible idea. Pretty much the only times you should play through injury are when there are a few games left in a championship series, or if you’re planning on retiring.

Aldridge’s attempt to play through injury is stirringly unselfish. It’s like in the movie “Spartacus” where the Romans ask which one of the defeated slaves is Spartacus and they each stand up and shout “I’m Spartacus!” Very stirring unselfishness. The Romans killed ‘em all anyways.

Oh, well. It’s a thumb, not a knee, right? They can reattach thumbs. I can scream annoyingly about how LaMarcus Aldridge at 75% or 80% or whatever%, hopped up on so many painkillers he finds old reruns of “CHiPs” thrilling, is notnotNOT going to help the Blazers win a title, it is a foolhardy decision, I can scream until my neighbors call the cops out of concern for my well-being, which would take about eight straight days of screaming and a small arsenal of gunfire. The decision is Aldridge’s to make. The Blazers employ him, they do not own him, and they can’t make him get surgery if he doesn’t want to have it.

(Coach Stotts could tell Aldridge he will not play until he is fully healed, but that is putting Logic before Dreamweaving Hope, and who wants that?)

 

So here’s yer recap, Dreamweaving Hope edition:

 

How was Aldridge? Well, one-handed, to be honest. He played with a lot of adrenaline or moxie or Drive/Energy* for the first quarter. After that he looked tentative when dribbling (can only trust one hand) and finishing around the rim (one hand.) This version of Aldridge helps the Blazers. Again, this version of Aldridge does not make the Blazers a contender to advance in the playoffs. Again, not my call.

Additional examples of smart/dumb things. Lillard’s outside shooting was pretty terrible. So he did a very smart thing and started looking to either drive inside or pass. With less than 20 seconds to go and the Blazers up three, Lillard ended up with an offensive rebound. He sat there, dribbling, waiting for a foul. John Wall, doing a very dumb thing, did not instantly foul Lillard. It took around ten seconds for Wall to foul Lillard, and the game was essentially over. Maybe Wall was so dazzled by Aldridge’s display of stirring unselfishness he forgot that clocks measure the passage of time and this is part of the NBA rulebook.

Allen Crabbe, missing lately, started the game and went missing thereafter. I don’t know if he’s hurt or doing something wrong that’s hard for a casual viewer to notice or if he farts constantly when he plays. He was replaced by Will Barton. I will grant you, Will Barton is a lot of fun to watch. He plays like barely-controlled mayhem. I would pay money to see a Godzilla movie made with Barton inside the rubber monster suit. At one point announcer Mike Barrett wondered out loud if Barton “stumbled over his own feet.” The answer to Barrett’s wondering is, yes, that is what Barton did. He also dives for balls and such. He’s fun. I don’t know if he should ever get serious minutes for a good NBA team, but he’s fun.

At another point Barrett stated, vis-a-vis what was happening on the game we were watching, “Robinson from 15.” You can guess how that went.

Kaman seems more lost every game, after such a nice start. Largely I suspect this is because Kaman started the season as the only player scoring off the bench and it took opponents a few weeks to realize “um, double Kaman in the post.” He doesn’t really have a sense of where to pass when he’s doubled, because he hasn’t played enough with the starters to have their system down and the bench has no system anyone can discern. I wonder if this happens everywhere Kaman plays. He still rebounds OK.

Myers hit two threes and was fouled taking another (hitting the free throws)! Yay Myers!

Matthews is also playing through injury, and it also shows. His best shot of the night, a crucial late three, was almost a set shot. (That’s a shot without jumping, for those of you unaware of archaic basketball terminology; congratulations, you have spent your life learning more useful historical things. I hope.) Matthews has a banged-up knee and banged-up ribs. Unlike torn goddamn thumb ligaments, these do not require surgery to heal; they will merely heal a lot more slowly with repeated irritation.

Do you want me to mention the Wizards? “Nene” fouled Myers on that three and fouled out of the game. Wall is good, prone to mistakes, I typed this yesterday. Bradley Beal looks a lot better than most NBA players who’d still be in college if they stayed in college; he’s also kind of a tweener, size wise, never a good thing to be. He should do alright. Former Blazer Martell Webster played. Former Blazer Andre Miller played, not bad for an aging guy, and got head-faked by another aging guy, Steve Blake. Movement fakes in sports are like magic, because making people guess wrong is how magic works. See? “Wizards.”

* — Energy beats Drive. The Iowa Energy of the NBADL beat the Grand Rapids Drive tonight, 111-95. I learned this from the super-lame NBATV sportsticker, which also told me that Kobe has an injury (oh fuck god fuck shit NO) and that the Knicks are 0-11 without Melo, a fascinatingly relevant statistic since the Knicks are then 8-26 with Melo. The NBATV halftime show featured one segment where a commentator’s lapel mike didn’t work. And Mike Fratello, looking these days like Chekhov after he retired from space travel and devoted his existence to vodka. All of this is still preferable to Mice Rice, who came out of one commercial break telling Mike Barrett that he saw Cirque du Soleil. And enjoyed Cirque du Soleil. Because nobody has ever shared that devastatingly razor-sharp insight with anyone else ever before. These are the co-workers that make you quit your job.

TRAIL BLAZERS VS. WIZARDS PREVIEW: WIZARDS OF THE COAST

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(This preview as, once again, written by James Fillmore, a frequent contributor to this website. And, once, again, I was befuddled by the operation of WordPress, so I could not post it underneath his name. No updates in that class at the library yet. I cannot say if these analogies make sense, I am not into fake “Magic,” only the real power of true majiks.)

The Wizards are in town tonight, “town” describing a large Oregon city, “in” describing in. They will try to extend Portland’s suffering via a game this evening. (“Portland” being the Blazers and their fans, not Portland in its entirety. There are hipsters in Portland, no doubt, who don’t care about the Blazers. Also perfectly normal Portland residents who don’t care about the Blazers. Normal people are outside my effective range.)

As you may be aware the Blazers are so injured they are suiting up an inflatable man-sized balloon with little remote-controlled fans inside which hoverblow the dirigible one way or the other. It doesn’t move fast and can’t shoot or rebound but it can fill space in a pinch. It wears jersey number 25 and frightens weak-willed children.

I’m not sure what to say about the Wizards. John Wall is good and has a strange surname. Many English-language surnames seem to have a logic behind them. “Smith” means somebody back in your line was a blacksmith. “Johnson” means somebody back in your line was a son of a John. I don’t know what “Wall” indicates. Was some ancestor of John Wall a shapeshifter who could disguise himself as a wall? This would be useful if local lords were running amuck killing and raping peasants one day; that day would be a good day to look like a wall. It might have been useful to the ancestor of John Wall who was kidnapped from Africa, except her/his name was probably not “Wall.” I’m guessing “Wall” used to be “Wallmasonson” and got shortened somewhere along the way to prevent confusion.

Are there other Wizards players besides John Wall? Sure, if you want to get all “everyone deserves mention before succumbing to the realm of death” about it. I don’t care about their basketball skills as right now the Sixers or Timberwolves would be flogged in public for losing to Portland. So, instead, let’s ask: what supernaturally-gifted figures do these “Wizards” resemble?

John Wall: Dumbledore. Sets up everything, learned much since his youth, amazingly powerful, still prone to mistakes.

Andre Miller: Merlin. Ancient, sagish, not above a dirty trick or two. Tried establishing a reign of righteousness and truth (King Arthur, the Blazers) but failed. Knows the future. (Andre Miller’s future is he will retire a very rich man.)

Paul Pierce: Gandalf. Has won great victories against evil in the past (the Lakers); evil is never vanquished forever, so he keeps returning from the dead.

Marcin Gortat: Miracle Max. White, funny accent, whines a lot, gets the job done.

Kris Humphries: God. Briefly enamored with Lucifer, had a bit of a falling-out.

Martell Webster: Rincewind (“Discworld” books by Terry Pratchett.). An incompetent boob who always manages to stumble his way into lucky outcomes; perhaps wiser than other wizards who try way too hard.

Nene Hilario: Wizard of Oz. Once tried to convince everyone he was a dominant force (the singly-monikered “Nene”), hype now revealed as so much smoke, but still pretty crafty.

Bradley Beal: Neo. Will he fulfill his talented potential or fail disappointingly? Aren’t you curious to know? You may never know (like audiences walking out of the last “Matrix” movie.)

Glen Rice: _____ Jedi (unnamed/unknown character in next “Star Wars” films). Supposedly magical spawn of overrated original, should not exist. (Waived recently, but I’m keeping the joke. I hate J.J. Abrams.)

Drew Gooden/Rasual Butler: Penn & Teller. One bigger, one shorter, been around forever, you kinda forget they’re still working.

DeJuan Blair: Nostradamus. TOTAL LIAR JUST MAKES SHIT UP

Otto Porter/Kevin Seraphin/Garrett Temple: Väinämöinen, the grand wizard of Kalevala. Probably significant, but who again?

Ted Leonsis: Bayaz, First of the Magi (“First Law” books by Joe Abercrombie.) Seemingly pleasant and full of pithy wisdom. In truth a conniving heartless motherfucker who uses people as playthings for his own vindictive ends.

It’s going to take some real “Houdini-esque” prestidigitation for the Blazers to “conjure” their way to a win here. Let’s hope they have some “tricks up their sleeves!”

CELTICS 90 TRAIL BLAZERS 89: OBLIVION

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The best thing I can say about that is that it was a basketball game, there was dribbling, passing, shooting, et cetera.

It was also close. If a game’s entertainment value is based on its leverage index, this was a great game. Both teams were FIGHTING and JOCKEYING for position! It was like an asthmatic horse race! This is not the case, of course. A game’s entertainment value is based on leverage, aesthetics, compel-ation. That is the quality of being compelling.

This was not a compelling match-up, because the Celtics are very bad, with many players who are psychedelic in their badness. I watched Kelly Olynyk square off against Meyers Leonard and I realized that they were the other’s doppelgonger, which is a doppelganger, but an opposite. The universe is in perfect balance and they both need to exist. When one dies, chaos reigns. They both have to go at the same time.

On the night when Aldridge’s protracted absence was announced, I was, for a second, oddly optimistic. Maybe this hole was an opportunity, I says to myself, the Blazers will take this blank canvas, these 20 empty possessions that would need to be filled, and they might find something interesting to do with them, and we will see NEW DIMENSIONS in the offense, new players who will be empowered to give their gifts, the motion offense, pushed to its limit.

This may still happen. Optimism is good. But it did not happen tonight. Tonight, without Aldridge the collective Blazers looked around, shrugged their shoulders, and said “Uhh I guess freelancing is going to have to do. The Celtics are bad, it will probably work” Shooting percentages bled. Lillard, 8-23, Wes 6-15, Batum 0-6. Team shot 37% from the field, also known as “The Bad Percentage, that is not high enough to win a lot of basketball games.”

There were injuries, there was rough play, there was a pace you could charitably call “Entirely too slow.” Batum, declared a one man war on determinism by following his best NBA game in nine months with a shitshow that ended with a wrist injury. At least there is a definition  to the problem now, a known malfeasance, instead of a vague idea of what might be wrong that leaves everyone confused and angry. Olynyk also got injured. Bass took a fucked up fall, he was going for a rebound above Kaman and he fell off him and his whole torso went SMACK on the hardwood. Kaman’s reaction to all this was a very cool turn around, walk away, I am a tough guy, watch this tough guy shit, here look, I have some chaw in my cheek, chew chew chew, gimmie the spitoon, Blake.

The Blazers probably should have gone to the rim more. What was Jared Sullinger going to do about it? The bench was not very good. No one was very good. Robinson was okay.

Meyers Leonard might be onto something with these three pointers.

At the end of the game, the Blazers were up 7 and then they stopped scoring. There was one possession that crawled on my mind like a bug. The ball was sailing out of bounds, and Robinson dove and shuttled it to Lillard. Lillard took a shot, it missed. Kaman Rebounded, it missed, someone else rebounded, or Kaman rebounded again, my memory is incomplete, and it massed again. Everyone was underneath the rim trying to get a layup, so when Bradley caught the ball, he had an open shot at a transition bucket, but it ran off his leg and out of bounds. In this moment, I was consumed by an aggressive deja vu, like I had seen this play once in my dreams. This slow, horrible game has invaded my mind, convinced me that it was somehow natural and good, planted a seed deep in my subconscious, so that when this fucking bullshit happened…

…it was like rose thorns growing in every part of my brain, like a thousand knives.

God, what a terrible play. Sullinger, on the floor, all but defeated, swarmed, the game is over, but he squeaks a pass out to Evan Turner, of all people. Evan Turner is a creeping basketball nightmare, a dead man walking on professional basketball courts.

I hope that Evan Turner plays in the NBA until he is 35, but he never gets a contract that is longer than a year or plays for a team that is above .500. Teams that are bad, like the Celtics, should say to themselves, “We are bad, we are so very bad. But we have all these possessions that have to be used, so we will sign Evan Turner, and he can use them, and something that resembles basketball can happen on the court, because he is out there making ‘it’ happen.”

What I DO NOT hope, is that in the court of this long, horrifying journey, he game winners the Blazers every year. That would be a nightmare.

Hey, that last possessions was TERRIBLE. Batum is the normal inbounder, and he was injured, so Blake had the ball and passed to Lillard, who was covered like honey by flies. Leonard was open under the basketball and Matthews had an okay shot on the wing. This is the second night in a row it got forced to Lillard in a high leverage situation. Is this the thing, now?

Lillard dunked on Tyler Zeller. Did that sentence excite you?

SUNS 118 BLAZER 113: UHH SURE DUDE

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ten ways to think about tonight’s game by corbin, phd:

ONE: The Blazers came back in the second half, they really never quit and gutted it out, and they took the lead, but it just wasn’t in The Cards for our boys tonight. Let me tell you about The Cards. They are ards that god plays with. They have all possible events on them GOd shuffles the cards and deals them and whatever comes up, that’s what happens. If God draws your card, you die. The only way to live forever is to sneak into God’s house and take your card out of the deck. But make sure nothing happens to it, because then you will die an ULTRA DEATH, a death that goes beyond death, to a darkness that is darker than the darkest known dark.

 

TWO: The Blazers came back in the second half, but they wouldn’t have had to do that if they didn’t play like actual shit in the first half. Kaman scored 14 points on 7-9 shooting, but he did a heinous job protecting the rim. They had approximately, uh, 10-15 live ball turnovers. The Suns were blowing up motion sets left and right and drilling three pointers and living at the rim.

 

THREE: The Blazers are so exciting, this excitement goes on forever. I am excited. Look at me, look at this excitement. Even if they lost, I am excited. Look at me, wife, I have a look of excitement that betrays an excitement that goes all the way to my depths.

 

FOUR: The Blazer are too overwhelming. They should just roll over from time to time, because this high wire act every game is exhausting and monotonous.

 

FIVE: Batum was tremendous and looked good. His wrist had good snap. Even if the Blazers lost, Batum showing signs of life was encouraging, especially since everyone is injured.

 

SIX:

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>Batum not trying to hear any positivity about his performance tonight. All he wanted to talk about was missing that free throw.</p>&mdash; Casey Holdahl (@CHold) <a href=”https://twitter.com/CHold/status/558126965425971201″>January 22, 2015</a></blockquote>

<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

 

I did bad. I tried my hardest, but I did bad, and now everything is my fault. I will lie in my bed tonight, and I will not sleep, because I will be trying to take my spirit back to my body in the moment, when I moved my wrist a millimeter in the wrong direction, and I missed the shot. It was a shameful thing, my most shameful moment. I will die thinking of this shot, it is the demon that torments me for all time.

 

SEVEN: If Steve Blake could throw an entry pass, we would all be cheering for the Blazers’ latest victory, lighting cigars, drinking expensive champagne, eating bananas to restore the potassium we need for all night sex, because HE, that, that MONSTER, broke the watch, the LILLARD TIME watch that had struck midnight so many times. He should be traded for a dog.

 

EIGHT: Whatever, who cares, this Lillard Time mythbrand is grating and every strike against it has become perversely enjoyable, because a world of nattering meme generators get quiet for five minutes.

 

NINE: Sports are a blinder the man drapes in front out our eyes. Turn off the TV and go marching in the damn streets, reclaim public spaces, burn all arenas to the ground and grow food on the ashes.


TEN: DO these games even count, when half the roster is injured? They’re just going to remove them from the overall win/loss total at the end of the year. It would be unfair otherwise.