GAME 3, ROCKETS 121 – TRAIL BLAZERS 116 (OT): CRUMBS TO BRICKS

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What’s his name? Roy Williams? Yeah, Roy Williams I think. Whatever.

Time was silently un-illuminating off of the important LED clocks in overtime. The Rockets had the ball. James Harden had the ball. The game was tied. Then, Mo Williams stole the ball. Read that sentence with Havlicekian emphasis. Moods were high. Momentarily. Mo Williams fell down. Maybe he was pushed. Ok yeah probably there was something illegal about the physical contact between Mo and Jeremy Lin. In any case, Mo ended up lying down on the court while Lin collected the ball before it found North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams, who was now wide open on the left wing in a suit fit for the most genteel of district attorneys. Or maybe it was the other Roy Williams. Mr. Kelly Rowland. They look the same so what does it matter. One of the Roy Williamses – most likely the one who probably tells recruits that they’ll never make it in basketball AND LIFE unless they give all of their income to some shady mega-church, but possibly the one who thought Nelly “GOT A LITTLE TOO HANDSY I SAW THE WAY YOU LOOKED AT HIM” on the video shoot for “Dilemma” – lined up and hit the three-pointer to put the Rockets up by 3 with only a few seconds remaining. Ugh.

I guess we should have seen it coming. I guess you should have seen it coming. You’re the one who can predict the future, with your demonic board games and lazy susan filled with dead newts and the like. Not me. I’m an honest, innocent young man who believes in a just universe and the power of positivity and who listened to Ace Hood’s “Bugatti” at least like 5 or 6 times in the time before the game to get properly turnt. I made up my own dance. It was natural and beautiful and pure. It was in my living room. There were aimless fist pumps and motions like I was simultaneously rolling dice and winding the engine crank for an early 20th century automobile. I was turnt.

At what point does turning up go to far? Is turning up like bowling after two beers when you’re really good but then one more beer and you fall off of the bowling cliff? And what were we really turning up for? Was our turn up a celebration of the first two games that we were separated from, more than it was a turn up for this particular game? Does the motive of a turn up, whether conscious or subconscious, impact its effectiveness? Being ahead 2-0 in the series, was there a sense of desperation rooted in our recognition of mortality? Is it even possible to properly turn up if there is not recognition of the fleeting aspect of life?

These questions are for the philosophers to debate and I suspect we won’t find answers for quite some time, at least until game 4 on Sunday. In the meantime, however, I suppose we can only look at this game for what it was. Maybe there are no greater powers at work. Maybe the cold, chaotic world in which we live is not as mysterious as we hope.

If there were those greater forces governing the chaos and rewarding lives well led, then Damian Lillard would have received a better prize for his exemplary performance. 30 points on 16 shots. Pull-up three-pointers of the kind that don’t feel loaded with hubris, but just seem to be examples that some players (such as Lillard) should not be subjected to the same rules of shot selection as others. There was also his finishes at the rim, including a completely insane and perfect and divine and-1 on a wild, possibly blind, fling towards the rim while being knocked to the floor, at a weighty moment late in regulation. The kind of finish that Dwyane Wade will tell his grandchildren about and pass off as his own. Even on defense, an area of study that Lillard rarely ventures into beyond the most basic survey courses, he effectively applied some added effort in a key possession in overtime in which he found himself defending James Harden one-on-one in isolation. Not that any of it mattered. For his efforts, Lillard received some nice chants and maybe someone gave him a hug. Hugs are nice.

Harden, meanwhile, is hailed as the conquering hero despite scoring his 37 points on a Kobe-Bryant-“I-don’t-leave-any-shots-in-the-chamber-[even-when-I’m-Jesse-Ventura-in-Predator-with-that-giant-gun-and-the-ammo-backpack-and-I’m-spraying-shots-into-the-jungle-at-an-invisible-monster-until-I-have-no-more-bullets]” 35 shots.

LaMarcus Aldridge, as the cruel world cuts down the mightiest among us, was made to look less like a god and more like an imperfect human. His midrange game wasn’t a disaster, but without being fed the likes of Terrence Jones and Chandler Parsons, Aldridge could not bully Dwight Howard or Omer Asik on the block, and so he struggled to find those easier shots to build a scoring rhythm.

In fact, maybe the world isn’t chaos but worse, a chaos governed by the forces of darkness. Patrick Beverley scored the first 6 points of the game. He finished 4-6 (66.6%) from beyond the arc. He totaled 16 points. Also he played 42 minutes and 4+2 is 6. Patrick Beverley is evil, as we knew, but the depth of his evil is a terrifyingly empty abyss.

Oh yeah, Troy Daniels. That’s his name.

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