TRAIL BLAZERS 102, PELICANS 93: THE DRAMA YOU’VE BEEN CRAVING

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bobs

Watch this game from the outside. The up and coming Pelicans, featuring one of the league’s finest rising stars: possibly the third best player in basketball today, come into the Rose Garden, one of the hardest road games in the country, and get the Blazers on the ropes. AD is tearing stuff up. Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans are proving the support they were brought in to give. They’re defending the Blazer attack, one of the best offenses in the game, WITHOUT Omer Asik, their ace defensive center. “This is it!” Cries America, “The Pelicans are emerging! A new force in the West! Oh happy day!”

Then, in the fourth, they just get wrecked. Their offense stagnates. They go away from Davis and towards guardy penetrations. There’s no reliable shooting on the floor, besides Anderson, who can’t create. Anthony is barely touching the ball. Lopez is shutting them down at the rim. The Blazers start to get into their Motion. Is it the coach? Is it the personnel? Maybe they just aren’t ready to take on an UNSTOPPABLE FORCE like the Blazers. Not ready to beat the best of the West!

The Blazers were straight up villains tonight, dogging t all game and then swooping in to steal one when the scrappy upstart Pelicans lost their minds. They’re going back to their fancy camp on Lake Oswego tonight, where they will feast on caviar around an electric campfire. Snobs win. And we’re the snobs, guys! We’re rich! Hahaha! Get out of our way PEASANT PELICANS! You DELTA TRASH aren’t fit to lick the FINE BOOTS of the Portland Trail Blazers! Tell them, Nic, in your tasteful camel colored jacket! “Oui Oui! Zee Pelicans are Nosing com’pared to us! Oh hohohoho!”

WE DID IT, GUYS! We’re the establishment! Eat our guts, upstarts!

But yeah, for a lot of the game, the Blazers looked pretty bad. Aldridge was shook at hell by Davis, who lit him up on offense and put the fear of god into him on defense. Theoretically, Aldridge should be able to take Davis to the block. He’s his and strong, Davis is thinner and wiry But goddamn if Davis isn’t able to compensate for that with sheer athleticism and timing. Hence this thing…

…which is one of the kookiest basketball plays I have seen in a while. But LMA was able to feast on everyone else they sent at him. Ryan Anderson in particular, who was a pain in the ass cover until he chilled in the fourth, got his ear chewed off pretty good. He eneded with 22 on 18 shots and 9 rebounds, also known as “The LaMarcus Aldridge Special.”

You know who was NOT good in this game? Allen Crabbe! 3 points on 3 shots, two turnover and a WHOPPING -14 rating. He was a central fixture of the Pelicans’ second quarter run that put them in pole position for much of the game. He would get the ball at the wing, seemingly open, seemingly able to make three pointers, and he would make a big ol’ mess of a drive instead. What is the Deal, Crabman? Just take the shot, brother!

On the other side was Steve Blake, sporting a fucking +27 and DOMINATING the YOUNG Pelicans with his VETERAN wiles that ENCHANT the opposition. You guys see that hesitation move in the second?  That’s what REAL basketball looks like. I think these “Pelicans” could stand to learn a few lessons from “Professor” Steve Blake, who everyone acknowledges is very good at basketball and is always good at basketball and is never frustrating, ever! 7 assists off the bench, Steve is coming for you, Stockton!

Hey, look at this!

minnutes

That is a lot of minutes for LMA and Lillard and Matthews! Probably too many! I mean, Jimmy Butler played 45 in a 10+ point win, so it’s not THAT bad, but 35+ every night might take a toll! Oh well! Hey, now that the Blazers are the establishment, I think its time to rest dudes during national TV games, because that is what you do when you’re successful as hell like the Blazers are! I have NOTHING BUT CONTEMPT for paying customers in cities besides Portland!

Your Friend Damian Lillard did that “Struggle in the first half, light it up in the fourth” thing, AGAIN. I am tired of it. I do not find it exciting, I find it a middle finger to logic and reason. Please perform the way averages suggest you should, Dame. This is bullcrap.

Robin Lopez sunk two late free throws. I often meditate, like actually meditate, on mountains, on the particular threat of a rolling big man who can sink free throws, and I have decided that they are dangerous, dangerous men, because you can’t just sag off in high leverage and try to yank their arms off and make them earn it the way you can with Dwight or whomemver.

The Beginning of the Second Quarter Was All About Former Blazer Great Jeff Withey, a novel by The Universe, written on this night. He got wrecked in the post by Kaman, twice, committed three fouls, one on noted post up power player Joel Freeland, he dished out a B-/Kinda Sweet high/low pass. He was the Center of the Universe! Also, always good to see Luke Babbit out there, still ballin’ at the age of 35. Not getting a lot of minutes, but a reliable, veteran presence after his tempestuous career in Portland and Russia.

Wes scored a sill basket while he was falling down and trying to heave a shot at the rim to create an offensive rebound It was silly, but very fun. He also scored the tying basket.

Thank God the Blazers won tonight, because if they hadn’t, they would have been beheaded by The Queens of the Pacific Northwest and America’s  Finest Rock and Roll Band, who were COURTSIDE IN THE BUILDING TONIGHT:

When I saw S-K the Gawdesses were present, I totally lost track of the game so I could try to parse out some information about their viewing habits. Janet was clapping the most, clearly has the deepest investment in the team. I heard the fourth quarter surge came from Terry getting everyone in the huddle and playing the chorus of “Get Up.” “You’re right, Terry,” said Dame in the huddle, “We can’t disappoint Sleater-Kinney. They made all of our favorite records that we train to every day!”

TRAIL BLAZERS 130, NUGGETS 113: BONE TO PICK

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bmaster

I didn’t think the Blazers were going to win this game, or I thought they would have to grind to do it. Back to back in Denver? That’s a guillotine schedule loss, man. I had accepted it in my heart. I was ready to grind out a recap that said something to the degree of “Yeah, shitty game, but there were circumstances behind that shitty game and it’s basically acceptable.”

But Ladies and Gentlemen, THAT’S WHY THE GAMES DON’T TAKE PLACE IN MY HEAD. The Blazers cruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuushed the Nuggets, who looked like absolute garbage on defense. Like in the Cleveland game the Blazers weren’t really the compelling happening on the court. The Nuggets seems actively to be in open rebellion against covering three point shooters and protecting the rim in the first half. A lot of times, I credit good or bad shooting games to regressive forces. And the Blazers did get lucky but oh man the Nuggets were under the table rigging the wheel in their favor all night.

Look at the halftime box score:

box score

Sixty percent from three! Lopez had 15 points! ALDRIDGE HAD 6 BLOCKS. Oh man, those poor Nuggets, taking it to the rim, over and over, and getting blocked all night, triggering fast breaks for the likes of Robin Lopez and Allen Crabbe. THEY WERE SO BAD.

At halftime, the Nuggets got boo’d, because they were terrible.

Was this a good win for the Blazers? I guess? I mean, the Nuggets were terrible, but they CRUSHED them. Here is a question. Look at this empty soda can:

670px-Disguise-Your-Beer-Can-With-a-Soda-Can-Step-1

Now, I want you to think about me, a six-foot two adult man, picking up that empty soda can, and crushing it on my forehead. Is that cool? Is that good? I saw Damien from Fucked Up do it at a concert once, and I thought it was cool then. But I could see why someone would just think it was silly.

What I am getting at is the Nuggets were an empty, shitty soda can tonight, and the Blazers crushed them on their foreheads, and I don’t know if we, as a Blazer viewing public, should think it was cool.

In the third, the Nuggets went on a 15-0 run, and narrowed the lead to, like 20 or a high 18 or something. For a second, there was a feeling of “This could get close” but then Damian drilled three straight triples and completely ended the game as a competitive contest. He had 27 on 16 shots, went 5-6 fre three and had nine assists. He was very productive.

Lamarcus had 12 points. That guy has a lot of trouble scoring on JJ Hickson. Blazers should have resigned him just to keep him from playing against LMA.

The Blazers gave up a lot of points. Ty Lawson had 32 on 17 shots! They need to defend better if they’re going to REALLY CONTEND. A title team would have won this game 130-89! PATHETIC EFFORT, FIRE STOTTS.

Mike Rice alluded to the presence of Vampires in the ROse Garden and then didn’t explain himself. I am worried for my family now. Will my daughter become a vampire thrall just because I wanted her to experience some hot NBA action? Vector needs to address my concerns, sooner rather than later.

Barton threw down a tremendous alley-oop dunk at the end of the game. There is no video of it, so watch The Beast Masterbator tear up The Chris Gethard Show instead. Nets next.

TRAIL BLAZERS 102, HORNETS 100: FEEL LIKE MAKING COPPER

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tina

The end of that game was so silly I‘m not convinced it wasn’t bad for basketball. I can imagine Naismith, from his throne in Muscular Christianity heaven, looking down on his creation and yelling “Oh my God, Blazers and Hornets, what is this hooey!? You think this is a game!? Well, it is a game, I suppose, but do you think my creation is a JOKE!? Why are you turning basketball into a SKIT, like the sort one performs around a CAMPFIRE!?”

I refuse to write something as myopic as “Lillard almost lost this game for the Blazers twice in 16 seconds,” because a win or a loss is a cumulative thing that happens in the course of 170 some-odd possessions. So, in lieu of that PARTICULAR sentence I will write: “Happenings directly related to Lillard’s performance in high leverage situations at the end of the game almost lost this game for the Blazers twice in less than 16 seconds.” The second was Lillard getting absolutely BLOWN UP by Neal on that drive. Thankfully, the winds and waves of time and space managed to keep the ball on Neal’s fingers juuuuust long enough to spare the Dr. Nasmith an overtime period. The first was taking a shot instead of running the clock down for no particular reason. He was getting roughed up a little, and I suppose he thought if he took a shot it would have somehow reminded the refs that he was trying to get fouled at that particular moment?

Anyway, the Blazers had a comeback win, which is great, if you’re into those kinds of things. I just see basketball as a bunch of unconnected possessions, each it’s own puzzle, arbitrarily strung together by time. You could play the game out of order and I would have had the exact same emotional response. I apply the same logic to novels and relationships. But I SUPPOSE if you’re into the pedantry of trying to assign MEANING to this deeply, deeply silly game, I will thresh that wheat for you.

Comebacks are either adjustment based or luck based or both, and honestly, they’re almost always both. The Blazers took a hot-as-hell shooting performance from the Hornets in the first quarter, particularly from Lance, who cooled considerably by the end of the game. They were also not shooting well. Wes in particular was not shooting well, but there wasn’t any reason behind it aside from natural regression (And Kidd-Gilchrist) waving its hand in Wes’s face. Generally when this happens, the Blazers roll the dice with Batum, but since they couldn’t tonight, they they just kinda stunk and fell behind.

In the second half, the Blazers shot better and the Hornets shot worse, which is just what happens in every game and happened in a particularly extreme way tonight. But they also made some adjustments to get back in it. Zone defense made an appearance, as did Joel Freeland. Robin Lopez’s not great post defense against the 5 elite post-up big men in the NBA is not generally a big deal. He’s great at many other aspects of defense, and post scoring is not a high efficiency option in the modern NBA. But when he’s getting busted on a matchup, Ol’ Bulldog Joel and his gigantic muscle wall body that doesn’t bite on fakes is a good option.

Lance Stephenson, his team down two with 34 seconds remaining, in complete defiance of anything resembling basketball logic, isolated against Wes and lost the ball out of bounds, but f he hadn’t, it probably would have been a shot clock violation. Then, after the game, in an display of all-time non-self awareness, he complained about the end of game offense going through Jefferson too much.

Alan Crabbe started, was not great. What did Dorrell do to you, Terry? Does Dorrell have an agent? Is he mad? Or is she mad? Women can be agents. PJ Hairston got Steve Blake on a hilarious flop, a Veteran-style flop from a rookie. Flopping is the best, I wish the Blazers had more flopping options. They gotta stop signing all of these serious dudes. Batum’s absence was felt in ball movement more than anything.

Terry called a timeout on the last possession of the half. The team came out and scored a bucket on a high screen and roll between Lillard and Aldridge. They needed a timeout for that? I guess they’re like fingernails; you have them, might as well use them.

I think my PERSONAL perception of this game was warped by watching Kings-Mavs earlier in the night, which was weirdly similar. 20-point lead, wiped out, Mavs win. Of course, the Blazers inched towards their result, and the Mavs heaped massive runs onto the Kings.

Blazers play in Denver altitude on a back-to-back tomorrow, which is not fair. If you have emotions invested in the Blazers, just write this one off.

Here is a drawing of Steve Clifford protesting a call:

steve

TRAIL BLAZERS 116, NUGGETS 100: DIFFERENT TRAINS

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burgers

(Hello! Tonight’s recap will be a visual depiction of tonight’s game, prepared by the author during the contest. He wold see something happen, draw it, then watch again until something else happened. He noticed and drew a lot of things, but missed some others, such as Blake’s flagrant foul on Kenneth Faried, which he trusts was stark and humorless as it’s perpetrator. The drawings are presented in chronological order.)

FIRST QUARTER

Picture01

(The Author is always annoyed by Sunday evening games, because he prefers to watch Bob’s Burgers, his favorite television program. Here is Tina asking him about why he is skipping warm heated laughs for a dumb basketball game.)

Picture02

(Kenneth Faried, the Manimal, dunking an alley oop pass from Wilson Chandler.)

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(Nic Batum for three.)

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(Faried, depicted here and for the rest of the evening as a brick, beats Robin Lopez at the rim. Robin is getting hit in the jaw by BrickFaried, not fun.)

Picture05

(Former Blazer JJ Hickson checks in.)

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(Terry calls for play #1.)

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(Chris Kaman shooting Hickson’s layup attempt with his big ol’ shotgun.)

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(Steve Blake enters the game for Damian Lillard. He was good tonight, except for when he mauled Faried.)

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(Javale and his long arms with the putback!)

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(Ty Lawson, with a burst of speed, steals the inbounds pass and lays it in.)

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(Chris Kaman powers through snakes grabbing his arms for the And-1)

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(Steve Blake drains a corner three with a second left on the shot clock)

SECOND QUARTER

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(Danillo takes foul shots.)

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(Mozgov gets fouled by Thomas Robinson. This is the worst drawing, and that is really saying something.)

Picture14

(Barton gets his fadeaway blocked.)

Picture15

(TV Commercial)

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(Steve Blake travels.(on a train))

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(Wes Dances behind the line for a stepback 3)

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(LMA Makes a turnaround jumper on Faried)

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(Wes Matthews powers through his opponents and grabs the Offensive rebound. Depicted here metaphorically butting jungle vines with a machete.)

Picture20

(Lillard turns the corner on the pick and roll and dishes it to Aldridge for the long 2. Lillard was not great tonight, but that’s okay.)

Picture21

(Batum, depicted here in a Beret misses the Baguette at the rim. In the bubble he was orginally saying “I should have used a basketball instead.)

Picture22

(Timofey Mozgov, depicted here as a gigantic brick wall, boxes out three Blazers for an offensive rebound and slams the outback home.)

Picture23

(Ty Lawson gets fouled right before the end of the 2nd quarter. Okay, maybe this is actually the worst drawing.)

Picture24

(Wes Matthews beats the buzzer at the half. The buzzer is saying “Please stop.”)

THIRD QUARTER

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(An Aldridge shot hits backiron to start the quarter.)

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(Wilson Chandler, a bird once again, sinks a transition two pointer.)

Picture27

(Lopez, depicted as a DragonBird with an Afro, blocks BrickFaried at the rim.)

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(WallMozgov Misses a point blank layup on the pick and roll.)

Picture29

(Wilson Chandler, depicted as a bird for no particular reason, fouls LMA across the tummy.)

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(Aaron Afflalo fouls Wes Matthews while Wes tries to leverage post position.)

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(LMA Hits a jumper over BrickFaried, who fell down and fell asleep whole he took it.)

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(Randy Foye, depicted here as a giant floating head with psychic powers, sinks a three pointer)

Picture33

(Chris Kaman blows up the rim with a foulline jumper.)

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(Steve Blake holding up a sign that says “Corner three”)

Picture35

(Giant Psychic Randy Foye head has a splitting headache when he airballs a jumper.)

FOURTH QUARTER

Picture36

(Chris Kaman fouls Javale on the arms at the hoop.)

Picture37

(Joel Freeland, depicted as a British flag, dunks the ball!)

Picture38

(CJ, wide open as if in a meadow, drills a three)

Picture39

(Chris Kaman blocks JJ Hickson at the rim.)

Picture40

(Faried blocks Batum’s baguette at the rim, eats it all up.)

Picture41

(Gallo tries a classic magic Gallo circus layup, but it doesn’t go. The wand is broken.)

Picture42

(BrickFaried tears the rim off the backboard.)

Picture43

(Wes draws the foul in transition.)

Picture44

(Lamarcus with the smooth jumper. Here is Carlos Santana, congratulating him.)

Picture45

 (Wes blocks Lawson at the rim, then retrieves his own blocked shot)

Picture46

(Lillard breaks out of his cold shooting night and hits an off the dribble three. The cold shooting right is depicted as an iceberg, trapping Lillard.)

Picture47

Meyers, drawn here to be a haystack in a jersey, passes to Barton, who drills the three. Blazers win!)

CLIPPERS 106 TRAIL BLAZERS 102 – YOU DISSOLVE

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olderwoman

Down four with 1:19 to go in the game, Batum fouled Deandre Jordan while navigating around him on a pick and roll play. Deandre, an apocalyptically terrible free throw shooter, went to the line and missed both shots. After Deandre missed the shots, Lillard made a quick two off an out of time out set play. This was the last bit of good end of game clock manipulation the Blazers managed for the rest of the game. Down two with 39 seconds left, Aldridge fouled Chris Paul on purpose, even though there was plenty of time for a good possession. THEN, they lolligagged on fouling Jamal Crawford to try and milk one more out.

Win expectancy wise, this is of little consequence. After Chris Paul spent the last five minutes slipping pocket knives into the Blazers’ guts, it took a monumental outburst from Lillard to bring the team close. But, you now, it’s a little annoying that mismanagement issues made it so they didn’t even have a clean shot at it.

The Blazers were, at one point, absolutely dominating this game. They scored 38 points in the first quarter and managed to extend their lead in the second even after a crummy stint from the bench. The motion was a-movin’, threes a sinkin’; Robin Lopez was the proud owner of a 17 points in a half statline! It’s amazing, what this ball movement bullcrap can do for you!

But then, in the third, Robin Lopez scored two points. This wasn’t his fault, really. The Clippers tightened the screws* defensively and the Blazers tightened up with them. Ball movement was scarce. Aldridge was looking for one-on-ones 20 feet from the basket. The bench came back again and was awful again and the starters couldn’t patch the hole. The Blazers lost their not insubstantial lead and got beat by Reddick and Crawford and Paul making tough shots.

A close loss to a western playoff team is, like, what happens, you know? That third quarter where the Blazers looked like they were gravel being pushed out of a toothpaste tube was concerning, though.

PANCAKES!

This game started at 12:30 because of the Clippers’ ongoing war with their own stadium contract. That is, in this part of the world, solidly in the breakfastime. IN TRIBUTE, the “stray notes” portion of today’s recap will be accompanied by pictures of God’s Own Pancakes.

Multigrain Spicy Pancakes photo pancake.jpg

*SPICY PANCAKES! HOT STUFF COMING THROUGH THIS BLOG! Hey, I don’t EVER want to be the kind of writer or person who makes a bunch of dry, burnable hay about how well the referees performed in a game, because whenever I hear it I roll my eyes so hard I can see the top part of my own brain. But maaaayyyybbee part of the reason the Blazers were having so much trouble in the third is that the Clippers were getting a little handsy and not getting the whistle. And, hey, that’s fine! The point of playing the game is to have fun, and if you think fouling is fun, you should do that, and then the refs, who are supposed to be keeping order, should maybe call those fouls, so you don’t get undue advantage! It’s just. Hey. Guys. 26 fouls for the Blazers and 19 for the Clippers when the Clippers’ coach recently went out of his way to complain that his team wasn’t committing enough fouls after their last game? Sorry, I hate sounding like a complainer.

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EGG PANCAKES, a dairy free concoction, because there was no MOTHER’s MILK on this play a DOUBLE TEAM SHOVE from Clippers wildmen CHRIS PAUL and BLAKE GRIFFIN on STEVE BLAKE!

When I watched this in real time, I wondered if Chris Paul knew something we didn’t about the ref who was watching him, and he was able to perfectly angle his shove and use his body to block the ref’s frame of vision on Blake’s little shove to create the most perfect double fouls for an open shot anyone has ever seen. No one appreciates Chris Paul enough, this guy is out here doing catcher framing shit on his offensive fouls! First Ballot Hall of Famer.

 Chocolate-Chip-Pancakes-6

CHOCOLATE CHIP PANCAKES for JAMMAL CRAWFORD, who, like this tasty, tasty, and also horrible for you and your health – a bad breakfast for establishing a day’s worth of nutritional eating – treat, vacillates WILDLY between absolutely KILLING his team and stabbing them with needles of pure dopamine! On any given FGA, I have no idea if he’s going to shoot the Clippers into a dumpster or take the team on his mighty back and take them to rainbow mine!

 And, hey, JJ Reddick! We get it, players progress to their means after a string of bad games! You didn’t need to shove it in our faces so aggressively! We understand, the spheres of the universe move in curves dictated by the fabric of the universe! Geeze!

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CRAPPY, BURNT ASS PANCAKES! Don’t EVER say you think the bench might be good, because it might not be, and you can never be wrong! Steve Blake was a -12, a botcher of pocket passes, a thrower up of hands, and a succumber to pressure, and a scorer of absolutely no points during his 19 minutes! And CJ. CJ, you poor, sweet baby. During the third quarter, he was in a pick and roll with Aldridge, a feasible pop threat. The defense decided to blitz the play anyways, a pretty risky proposition when Lamarcus Aldridge would be left wide the fuck open, and CJ couldn’t pass out of it. He should probably learn how to do that if he wants to be a good NBA gurard who dribbles a basketball!

MAVERICKS 87, TRAIL BLAZERS 108: OCEAN CHORUS

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change

Led Zeppelin rocks. Anna Karenina is a monumental work. Keats wrote terrific poems. This was the Trail Blazers’ best performance of the year so far. Certainly someone could say all of these statements are subjective in nature, and should not be marked with the word accessories of objective certainty such as “Is” “Wrote” “Was” and “Rocks.” But why would someone quibble with statements like this, that come so close to objective truth that the difference is trivial? I will tell you why, right now: pedantry. If you think this wasn’t the Blazers’ best performance of the year so far, you are a pedant and a liar and intellectually dishonest.

A person might say, or a pedant might say, that the previous game, wherein the Blazers stomped the Cavs, was AS GOOD OF a performance. But c’mon: that game had very little to do with the Blazers. The Cavs could have played against sentient pylon golems that were programmed to be replacement level NBA players and they would have probably still shot themselves in the foot. As a matter of fact, they did, the next night.

But the Mavs have been pretty good thus far, were playing on long rest, and played the Blazers even in the first half. But in the third, the Blazers got on that 2013-14 wave and surfed a whole torrent of ball movement threes and rim attempts right into the Mavs’ sweet beach house and left them stranded at sea while Wes drank all of their soda. The Blazers were a particularly vindictive wave.

THINGS OF NOTE:

-CHRIS KAMAN, known in poems read by people from the future as the KAMANDOZER, went SIX FOR SIX for TWELVE BIG ONES. No misses for this guy, on perfection? And you guys see him really stick it to Brendan Wright under the Basket? That’s the kind of strength you can only get from an animal when you take it’s life with a gun and drink all of it’s blood in a dark, scary ritual!

-CJ McCollum, hit three threes tonight and was looking pretty good out there. This is good, because there were reasons to be scared he might be terrible, and this is a little tiny data point in what hopefully becomes a beautiful trend of competence. But then again, it’s one game, it’s three made shots, and being a maniac and saying things like “CJ is the solution to the bench” is premature at this juncture.

Here is a tangent. Even when people are smart about numbers, or aware about numbers, and say things like “Hey, small sample size but…” and then they say the thing, they’re betraying the very premise of recognizing how big a sample size needs to be to begin reliably referencing a dataset. There is a way of figuring out how big data sets needs to be to be reliable and usable; Russell Carlton, currently of Baseball Prospectus, figured it out in baseball back when people called him Pizza Cutter. If you’re reading this and this is in your skillset, please, for the love of god, do it, so I can wave your paper in everyone’s face constantly until they don’t like me anymore.

-Kind of a loosely called game, which was good for watchability for the viewer but not great for the Blazers. Tyson likes to get vertical from time to time.

-Batum went for 8/9/9, an achievement we call the “Triple not quite DOUBLE, per se, but really very close to being double, and if you just squint a bit, it can appear that way. Look, the Triple double is such an arbitrary thing! Quit being a weirdo!”

-The Game begun with Chandler and Dirk hard doubling Aldridge in the mid post which seemed unadvisable. I guess part of it is that Chandler is so swift that it’s not that risky for the Mavs to send him 8 feet away from the rim and recover when he frequently recovers 15 feet from the rim.

-Lillard was converting at the rim, a good sign, abs-injury-wise.

-Dirk was shooting skyhooks. I knew he worked on it this summer but it was still viscerally shocking. At least they didn’t go in, I would have had to explain some New World Order shit to my kids.

-In the third, Will Barton had the ball with five seconds on the clock, executed a perfect pick and roll, and Kaman make a shot at the rim with a second left on the clock. Then, next play, he has the ball and tries to pass out of the pick and roll and turns it over very, very badly.

What would an 80 minute games where only Barton was allowed to initiate offense look like? Would any two possessions look the same? If we stretched it out to a three day long game, where everyone had infinite stamina, how many new types of plays we had never seen before would we see? A yearlong game? A decadelong game? Would it even be basketball anymore after three years, will it have mutated into a different game as it filters through Barton’s being?

-If you didn’t watch this game, you missed a very important play where Aminu poked the ball out of Lillard’s hands when he was going for a rebound and it went in the basket. At least I think I saw that.

-I drew a picture of Meyers’s three:

meyers

-Clippers next. They have not played well yet, fyi.

BLAZERS 101, CAVS 82: WISHING WELL

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oldmanspace

Yeesh, what a cruddy game. The Blazers won, and that was cool, I guess. But the Cavs were looking like they were falling down the stairs out there. It was like they were losing AT the Blazers and the audience, as if the were mad about something an conspired to turn in a shitty, unwatchable effort just to get back at the city of Portland for some unperceived slight.

The focus of this particular blog isn’t the Cavs, so I won’t talk about their role in this travesty too extensively. But here are some facts: the team shot 36%, Lebron had 11 points, Irving and Waiters had 17 points on 28 shots. Lebron looked disengaged by the end. Tristan Thompson scooped up a rebound, went up to dunk it and got blocked by Chris “Iron Curtain” Kaman. This performance was such an open assault on Blazer fans that they weren’t even allowed to roll around in their customary multi layered Kevin Love resentment because he was the best player the Cavs had, 22 points and 10 boards.

The Cavs were so shitty in this game that in an interview after the game, Lebron talked about building a car from scratch. Lebron started holding forth to reporters about esoteric rich dude stuff.This is the official course of action confused and stressed out rich dudes.

I am not one of these people who thinks that consumers have inalienable rights and bad customer service is an actual sin or any shit like that.  But, everyone who went to the game should receive a free ice cream cone, courtesy of the Cleveland Cavaliers. And one of the nice ice creams. An olive oil joint from that Salt and Straw they got in the building, with a note of SINCERE apology attached. (They can photocopy everyone’s signatures.)

You know it wasn’t ALWAYS this bad. The Cavs started 9 for 9 and it seemed like neither team could reasonable guard the other and we were headed for a shootout. But then the benches came in, (Why is Cleveland playing bench only units, exactly, is Matthew Dellavedova’s development the team’s top priority or something?) and everything screeched to a horrible halt until the second half, when the Blazers pulled away a little, then the Cavs made up ground, then the Blazers REALLY pulled away.

You have to commend the Blazers for jumping on this particular sack of free potatoes, I suppose. Damian finally looked good, creating off drives and drilling five threes, ended the game with 27 on 13 shots and 7 assists and no turnovers. He was exhibiting some visible discomfort w/r/t his abdominal injury. we will see if that develops into something shittier than it currently is.

Wes was also good, 22 points, working smaller guards in the post and all that. He also guarded Lebron on a night when Lebron had 11 points, but I absolutely refuse to write that Lebron having 11 points had all that much do with Wes Matthews. Batum continues to not score all that much, but he did notch five assists and grab nine boards, so he persists in his habit of filling gaps and not doing all that much else. LMA only had four rebounds, but what do I care in a blowout win, you know?

Robin Lopez had 19 points. You might think, “Well, yeah, Cleveland, no rim protection, probably cleaned up down there.” But you would be wrong! Here is a chart!

lopez

For some reason, all night, Robin kept getting passes off penetration and making that little push shot in the 8-10 feet from the rim range. Over and over. Why did the Blazers keep going to this? Was it a point of emphasis in Lopez’s training in the summer, and when he got into camp he said, “Listen, guys. I have MASTERED the 7-10 foot push shot and I think it needs to get slid up the option chart a little bit” and everyone said “Nahh” at first, but then they got into practice and said “Hey, this thing is pretty good, I think we have a new skyhook on our hands here” and we’ll see it all year? Or was just just a quirk in the way Cleveland defends? Are offense neutral centers gong to be pumping the Cavs with one handed push shots all year? Is Omer Asik going to drop 30 big ones on the Cavs? How will the Cavs defend Omer Asik tonight, Jalen? Well, says Jalen, I think they are going to have to cover that one handed push shot. Defensive centers have been killing them with it all year. What about you, Doug? Well, Sage, I think turnovers are a problem. Okay, Coach Doug!

Anyway. Hopefully the Blazers win every game for the rest of the year but if they keep doing it like that, everyone is going to stop watching basketball altogether.

TRAIL BLAZERS VS. CAVS PREVIEW: HOT DOG

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hotdog

Can I be totally honest with you? I haven’t even started writing this preview and I am already exhausted by how precious it is. But there is an angle with the Cavs just sitting here, waiting to be exploited and I guess I have to be the one to do it. I’m not happy that this is my calling. I thought I would be a great teacher, a lover of women, a man who conquered mountains. Instead, I am writing this:

THE CURRENT INCARNATION OF THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS IS BASICALLY ANALOGOUS TO LED ZEPPELIN.

There it is. We’re committed now, I’m committed and you’re committed. Someone had to write it. Let’s break it down:

LEBRON JAMES: Jimmy Page. Deft but powerful. Has done some great work before this, but stands to break his reputation wide open with this project. A little older than everyone else in the band. Plays with the double necked guitar of passing and scoring. In this analogy, Nike is his muse the way Satan was Jimmy Page’s.

KYRIE IRVING: Robert Plant. Great, but no one is REALLY here for Robert Plant. Better than Roger Daltrey (Mike Conley. Gasol is Entwistle, Tony is Keith Moon, ZBo is Townshend.) but not as good as James Brown (Chris Paul. Blake is Bootsy Collins and everyone else is JB’s of no particular consequence.). He gets it done, sometimes with unbelievable flair. But sometimes he plays silly endless harmonica solos.

KEVIN LOVE: John Bonham. Look, I know you Portland fans resent Kevin Love for all sort of reasons of varying legitimacy and it hurts to think about him as badass drummer who beat the skins like they killed his mother. But he is an excellent player who rebounds a lot, which is the basketball skill that has most in common with the aesthetics of drumming. John Bonham also lived in Lake Oswego when he was a teenager and they are also both white. It’s a perfect fit. I know you guys wish LaMarcus was John Bonham but he is more of a Neil Peart type.

JOHN PAUL JONES: There are plenty of nondescript dudes on the Cavs who could fulfill the JPJ role, aka “The least notable guy in the band.” JPJ is so nondescript in relation to the rest of the Cavs that his Wikipedia article’s first paragraph ends with the sentence “In 2014, Jones ranked first in The “20 Most Underrated Bass Guitarists” in Paste magazine.” Do you know about Matthew Dellavedova? No? He is the Cavs’ third guard right now, and he’s really good, but not particularly notable aside from that. He is John Paul Jones.

Well, there we go. It’s done. Someone wrote it, and it was me and I will regret it forever. But, you ask, how can Led Zeppelin be beat? They were one of the greatest rock bands of all time the wielders of a never ending wave of power that ripped your face off. Thankfully for the Blazers, the Cavs are in the Led Zeppelin I phase right now, not quite having coalesced into a murderous rock unit and still dicking around will boring ass blues riffs only dorks and dads like. In six months, they will pump out Black Dog every night and be completely unstoppable. If the Blazers still have that prog-rock teamwork thing working, they can probably pull a win out here.

The Cavs also have sub par rim protection personnel. There isn’t a music metaphor for that, defense only exists in sports and I am not here to stretch ideas to their absolute breaking points.

RECAP: WARRIORS 95, TRAIL BLAZERS 90: WHITE DOG

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tinalouise

Here is a story. A squirrel had a knot in his tree where he was storing a bunch of acorns. A dog climbed up the tree, stuck his nose in and ate the squirrel’s acorns. When the squirrel came back from running in front of a car he said “Hey. Where is my acorn stash?” Then he turned to the dog who said “I didn’t do it!” Then the dog took a shit in the yard and a fly, wearing a bib with a knife and fork printed on it, landed on the shit, rubbed his hands together and said “Oh boy! Dinner!”

What did that story have to do with tonight’s game, you ask? Well, both were very, very dumb.

The Blazers fell behind early because their offense kinda sucked, then they caught up, then they traded leads back and forth for the last quarter, then the ball hit Steve Blake in his ass and went out of bounds, then Klay Thompson hit a hard shot, like he had been all night, then they turned the ball over again and again and they lost. God, it was so dumb.

Here is a drawing of a dumb thing that happened. I refuse to share the video, because it was so dumb.

comic

If you can’t read that last caption on Robin there, it said “A silent dignity, unsullied by the jeers of the internet crowd. A man doing what he does best, who can take the slings and arrows of gawkers if it means his team will be SUCCESSFUL.” That is what it said.

Also, apparently everyone just FORGOT about this TASTY DUNK! YEAH, that’s what I call a dunk, SIR. A facefull of California bread and feed beef right in the face of Ol’ Kangaroo Slim! Andrew Bogut is going to have to take a despondent walk onto the Broadway Bridge and throw the ol’ boomerang at himself to get over that one! WATCH OUT WHEN ROBIN SLIM IS COMING DOWN THE LANE! Hey, BOGEY: try to not let them bury your casket ALL the way in the ground, so you can have a digging your ass out! Robin Lopez for local literacy!

Damian was pretty bad.11 points on 18 shots, only five assists. One made three on seven tries. A heap of misses at the rim. Scope the carnage, in chart form:

 damianchart

He was also bad in the first game. Maybe he will be good again. I have already given up hope, after two bad outings. Maybe the Sixers will take him, if the Blazers give them some picks. Why did you agree to be on the cover of that bad video game, Damian. Why.

Lamarcus was good. The Warriors didn’t have David Lee, so they went small for most of the game, using Draymond Green and Maux Speights to watch him.  He drew a lot of fouls in the first half, but retreated to the middle again in the second. He was hitting shots, though, so It worked until it didn’t.

There was a lot the Blazers could do about Klay Thompson making a lot of hard shots. The biggest mistake they made was that open corner three they gave up with :55 left, but Klay didn’t make it and they got beat on a well defended two point fadeaway instead, so whatever. So dumb. They did do alright on Curry who they have often had problems with because he is uniquely qualified to get a clean shot above the break while Lillard gets a facefull of Bogut torso. The Warriors didn’t go to it very often tonight, though.

Leandro Barbosa shredding? I don’t know man, it happens. Dumb game.

With 45 seconds or so left, the Blazers were up two. Lillard caught the inbounds from Batum and passed to aldridge, who was posted against Draymond about 20 feet from the hoop. He shot faked and dribbled, but he didn’t get any extra ground, so he passed it back to Lillard, who was above the key again, with Harrison Barnes switched onto him. Lillard had the ball above the key. Batum called for the ball on the left side of the key, then he posted up against Thompson. Aldridge had drifted behind the line, so Draymond ran off him and batted the ball away from Batum. Batum caught the ball again and threw a pass to Aldridge, time running out, Aldridge heaved a contested three (Excellent closeout by Draymond) that went airball. It was a very bad play for a possession that would have damn near sealed the game if it was cashed in.

There were a lot of things wrong, here. Lillard probably could have been more aggressive and attacked off the dribble. He had been terrible at the rim that night, which is probably why he didn’t. Aldridge and Batum both occupying the right side of the floor was a bad spacing arrangement, especially when you had Lillard, Blake, Matthews and Batum, all legitimate three point threats, on the floor at the same time, and mushing up in the corner like that didn’t utilize the space the give you at all. And why was Batum calling for the ball? Was he trying to cut and the pass got there too late, or did he really think he was going to beast on Klay with a sweet turnaround and was getting in a position to make it happen? Draymond being around to blow it up helped, of course, but what was the best case scenario shot to come out of that play? A. Batum turnaround or B. Lamarcus open three point shot, which I suppose I am always clamoring for, but I am maybe not CRAZY about it in a situation with that much leverage.

Fixating on this late game fart of a play isn’t meant to imply anything besides “Boy, that was a shitty play.”

ALSO OF NOTE: Lopez took a ton of shots, Wes and Terry got techs and Terry seemed especially pissed. Terry was wearing a purple tie I would describe as “Mishmashy.” Draymond Green is tremendous fun to watch on defense, because he runs around like a maniac and blows stuff up with his hands. The Blazers playing on Sunday night is dumb, because I want to watch Bob’s Burgers with the rest of Cool America.

TRAIL BLAZERS 106, THUNDER 89: NEGATIVE LOVE

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westbrook

Watch Westbrook get a fast break dunk to end the first half. Over and over. Rub your face in it. Let’s its horror fill your face, in your mouth and your nose and your pores. Every line of your face, caked with the Blazers ignoring Westbrook leaking out after a make and topping the giant, disgusting prune cake of a first half he had with a cherry, then spitting all over the cake and throwing it into the Blazers’ faces.

The widespread game plan for stopping Westbrook during this time when he is playing without Durant will be doubling down on packing the paint and making him take jump shots. The Blazers do this anyway: Lopez drops back to the rim on pick and rolls to protect the rim and get solid get contests, blah blah blah, you know already. The Thunder came into the game knowing this, and did something different. Instead of having him dribble penetrate into the broader defense, they set Westbrook right at Lillard, sticking him in the post and running him off baseline cuts for scores at the rim and foul shots (Westbrook took a lot of foul shots, and he earned most of them). And because he is bigger and faster than Lillard, it worked. He went on an insane rampage in the first half, setting a pace to break his own career high and fulfill the prophecy of every frustrated guy in a dress shirt standing around a water cooler and saying “With Durant out, Westbrook is gonna go wild, man.”

It didn’t help that the Blazers were not good in the first half. Lillard didn’t score, at all. Batum also didn’t score, but that was not as weird because it’s fairly characteristic. Aldridge and Matthews and Chris Kaman, in his first game in a Blazer smock, played pretty well, keeping Westbrook from personally running away with the game.

Thankfully, it was an unsustainable shittiness. Lillard and Batum shot better in the second half. Batum shifted onto Westbrook and cooled him enough that he didn’t manage his career high like everyone assumed he would after the first half. The Blazers evened the game up in the third, pulled away in the fourth and went on a run that induced garbage time minutes by the end of the game. A game that seemed like it was a clusterfuck in the beginning was actually 17 point win against a colossally understaffed opponent, it just didn’t really reveal itself until the end. Cleanse Westbrook’s shoddily defended fast break dunk from your mind. It’s over now, it never really existed. Batum serving up a tasty dish to LMA on the fast break was all that happened. The bad man is gone, he didn’t manage to personally tear the Blazers limb from limb as we feared.

 

RUNNING THOUGHTS:

LMA3ptr

-This shot was a LaMarcus Aldridge three he made while trailing on the fast break, assisted by Wesley Matthews. It was the only three he took, but oh man, it was a hell of a three. I will believe that LaMarcus is shooting threes on the regular when I see LaMarcus shooting threes on the regular. But my lil’ heart had itself a little giggle when I saw him drill a trailer like it was the most normal thing in the world.

-Kaman looks pretty good. He made a sweet postuppy turnaround in the first, a slick move he learned while observing a fish, fighting for its life at the end of his line. Steve Blake was good tonight. He also had a really sweet encouraging shoulder grab after Lillard made a difficult three pointer to haul himself out of his first half shitdrums. They do studies on these things, physical contact among basketball players is a good sign. Blake played with Steve Nash, the king of physical contact, and he’s bringing that touchy-feeliness to the Blazers. By the time these guys are in the playoffs, there’s gonna be a nightly hug line. Physical manifestations of connectins that run deeper than the ocean.  I am sure Kaman And Blake will reveal themselves as irritating or somehow incomplete and frustrating as time marches on, but right now I am just happy they are competent bench players.

-Playing rotation minutes tonight: Starters, Blake, Kaman, McColloumn. Wright and Freeland both played before Garbage time, but only 3-4 minutes. Is Terry going to keep this short rotation thing going?

-The Thunder started Steven Adams. They are moving away from Perkins. A nation of people rooting against the Thunder weep for this new found common sense.

-I missed some of the beginning of the third quarter because I was watching the end of the World Series. If I missed something really important during that time, please leave a message before. I know you expect better from your bloggers, and I subcame to the fast living sexual lifestyle of baseball’s erotic touch.