CLIPPERS 100 BLAZERS 94: YOUR MIND IS A SPINNING RIFLE

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WHY DID THE BLAZERS LOSE?

Man it has been a while, huh? The Blazers lost to the Clippers, who are pretty good, by not a lot of points, after losing a tiny little fourth quarter lead. Why did it happen!? Who can we blame!? Where is the smoking gun?

ONE: THEY CAN’T DO IT EVERY TIME!

You can’t win every close game! I know, for a while it was starting to get eerie, a cold witchfinger poking out of the TV every time Lillard would drill late shots, a feeling that destiny and majik were aligning, signs in the stars, the Blazers were fueled by destiny, nothing could stop them late, but C’MON, that shit ain’t real! Okay, it might be a little real, but it’s not like 100% real, it’s a fallible kind of real that is also maybe not real. It’s alchemy.

ONE AND A HALF: ANOTHER THING ABOUT THE CLOSE GAME THING

They DID look tight and apprehensive in the 4th, so it wasn’t just bad luck. Clippers were on a swarm that was tightening things up

TWO: KAMAN COULDN’T KEEP UP WITH JORDAN IN THE FIRST HALF

Kaman was good in the second half, but Jordan beat him down the floor, avoided box outs and ran circles around him in the first. Lopez probably would have prevented that.

THREE: LILLARD STUNK FOR THREE QUARTERS

Look, this fourth quarter stuff is amazing, and Lillard was great in tonight’s fourth quarter but sometimes he is not, like, pressing very hard in the first part of a game and sometimes it’s not good. Paul played him really well tonight, the Clippers used traps and really zeroed in on him, daring Aldridge to win on his own. Also…

FOUR: THE GAME WAS PHYSICALLY CALLED, AND THAT WAS BETTER FOR THE CLIPPERS

I hate complaining about refs. HATE IT. I think it sounds silly and Portland’s media complex, top down, does it non-stop. Unless there is some high grade, Inherent Vice conspiracy shit, where the Lakers are involved and mysterious sixth players start appearing, it just reads as whining. The Refs are TRYING THEIR BEST!

So, instead of talking about calls that could have gone to the Blazers, I will say that at one notable play that was instructive for how the game was called both ways was Paul obviously getting fouled on the break in the third, and the no call was befuddling. The CLippers did a better job of exploiting this environment than the Blazers, especially regarding how tight Paul was able to call Lillard.

You could say “OH JEEZUS WHY DID REFGOD STINK US DOWN” or you could say “The Blazers need to learn how to roll with a more physical game, or the Grizzlies will annihilate them.” Or do both! Expeirence everything!

FIVE: WES WAS TERRIBLE!

3-13, eight points, Wes sucked, it happens, who cares. This was probably the most abnormal bad thing that happened to the Blazers tonight. Wes is normally the team’s efficiency linchpin, and he couldn’t buy one tonight. Batum was also not very good, but there have been a lot of games where that has happened this year.

Here is my opinion about Batum being bad this year: he was really good this summer, and he is probably not actually terrible now, and an All-Star week off could do him some real good.

SIX: THEY DID NOT LOSe BECAUSE OF ALDRIDGE

He scored 37 points on 28 shots and boarded a bunch. He was REALLY good in the post. A particularly impressive spin move against Jordan in the first.

SEVEN: JAMAL!!!!!!

Since he stunk on the Blazers and left for the Clippers, Jamal has lived to light the Blazers’ nuthair on fire. He scored 25 (On 23 shots which is “not horrible”) tonight and lifted the Clippers’ terrible-ass bench (He was their only bench player who scored) into a mediocre enough place they they were able to keep afloat when Paul was off the floor.

That is every reason I can conjure. Some players had terrible shooting nights, the game was a slog that favored the Clippers, you can’t win them all, who cares, next game. (thoughts on meyers tomorrow.)

PRS RADIO: THE RIP CITIZENS #36 – THE SWEET SPOT

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We’re back at it after a long holiday break, only to find the Blazers right where we want them. The Blazers have only lost to 2 teams since our last episode, and we spend a good amount of time discussing one of those teams – the Atlanta Hawks. Also, we reflect on Neil Olshey’s tenure as GM after his new promotion and ponder about the potential return of Jermaine O’Neal.

Then, we analyze the brilliant new S.P.U.R.S. cartoon and what sort of comic the Blazers should appear in, and then jump around in time for some new Chilly’s Picks.

All that, plus Mike Rice’s shaving strike, the beauty of the Spurs triple OT game, and a few name ideas for an Atlanta Hawks podcast.

TRAIL BLAZERS 106 LAKERS 94: FIELDS AND FLOWERS

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(Hello! Since this was a Sunday game, tonight’s recap will be a visual depiction of the game prepared by the author during the contest. He would see something happen, draw it, then watch again until something else happened. He noticed and drew a lot of things, but missed many others. The drawings are presented in chronological order. This week, the players are all depicted as plants.)

1-1

(Ronnie Price, a Tulip, is wearing a mask because Thomas Robinson hit him in the face.)

1-2

(Chris Kaman, a Cactus, hits a little hook shot.)

1-3

(LaMarcus Aldridge, this particular tree, hits a jump shot.)

1-4

(Ed Davis bats a ball out of bounds. This drawing of a man pulling a weed is meant to evoke it.)

1-5

(Nic Batum, a grapevine, is posting up on a trellis. He passes to Damian Lillard, a mystical light blue flower, who misses the three pointer.)

1-6

(Mythical blue flower Lillard goes misses a well contested shot at the rim.)

1-7

(Lamarcus pump fakes (see the falling leaves, indicating jerky movement) and misses the shot.)

1-8

(Carlos Boozer, a giant screaming cactus, hits a foul line jumper.)

1-9

(Grapevine Nic Batum drops a long two into the rim, a bucket of grapes.)

1-10

(Jeremy Lin, a little bush that vaguely resembles his hair, run around a screaming cactus pick, and sinks a jump shot.)

SECOND QUARTER

2-1

(Nick Young, a multi colored dandelion, takes a shot by setting the ball onto two seeds and floating it to the rim.)

2-2

(CJ, a little tiny baby tree, stands at the foul line.)

2-3

(Screaming cactus drives to the rim, powered by magic and hubris.)

2-4

(Jordan Hill, a bunch of sedums wearing a headband, ruses out from the other sedum vines and drops the ball into the rim.)

2-5

(Robin Lopez, a mighty tree, wears a suit on the bench.)

2-6

(Lillard pops up for a corner three)

2-7

(Grapevine Batum tips a rebound to Damian Lillard)

2-8

(Steve Blake hits a three pointer, symbolized by his three pedaled flower.)

THIRD QUARTER

3-1

(Kaman gets blocked, hurts the shot-blocker’s hands with his cactus thorns.)

3-2

(Wayne Ellington, an apple, makes a three pointer.)

3-3

(Cactus Kaman stands in the middle of the eternal desert, taking foul shots.)

3-4

(Grapevine Batum alley-oop to Mythical Flower Lillard)

3-5

(Wayne Applellington Dances)

3-6

(Cactus Kaman pops the ball when he grabs a rebound.)

3-7

 

(The Blazers are having a dry streak, where no points grow. See the water in the valley escape. Then, all of a sudden, BOOM! Lamarcus Aldridge tree grows from the desert and hits a jump shot!)

3-8

(Dorell Wright misses a push-y half court shot.)

FOURTH QUARTER

4-1

(Nick Young the Multicoloured dandelion gets fouled, and hs seeds fly into the wind.)

4-2

(Meyers Leonard, a weird pink tree, makes a three pointer.)

4-3

(Nick Young scores over Kaman. This is a picture of Chris Kaman Cactus sneezing. The idea is that some of Multicolored Dandelion Nick Young’s seeds got in his nose, and then he sneezed.)

4-4

(Lillard surprises Tariq Black by pulling up for a three pointer.)

4-5

(Cactus Boozer buying beard dye at the Wallgreen’s.)

4-6

(Grapeine Batum makes a three pointer. Here he is, looking at three  bottles of made from his grapes.)

4-7

(Wes Matthews, a potted canna, hits a turnaround bank shot.)

4-8

(Lillard gets fouled and starts drilling jumpers.)

4-9

(Mystical flower Lillard drills a billion shots, destroys the entire city of Los Angeles, and says “No Tears for the Dead,” because he does not care.)

BLAZERS VS. LAKERS PREVIEW: WHAT COLOR IS BLOOD

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(James Filmore wrote this.)

A moral question for Blazers fans (and Kings fans, and _____ fans): is it right to still hate the Lakers, now that they’re down?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: Yes, but channel your hatred into “dismissive contempt” for now.

The Lakers are many things. They represent the entertaining “Showtime” era which introduced many fans to enjoying basketball for the first time. They are an eternal media favorite. They have the most loyal fanbase (so far as it goes) of any team in Los Angeles, a city that also represents many things.

“Los Angeles dislocates my values; it makes me ashamed of not being all the things I’m not and don’t ordinarily care to be,” wrote the young critic Pauline Kael. Los Angeles has pimped itself for decades, in one of the best branding campaigns ever, as a freewheeling fun-in-the-sun laid-back paradise. There are conceivably positive aspects to Los Angeles (it hasn’t, yet, fallen into the ocean, although this may not be a plus); a “laid-back” attitude isn’t one of them. “Laid-back” is, in truth, a source of competitive LA bragging rights. (“Bob may have the bigger yacht, but he’s not as laid-back as me.”)

The most galling aspect of Los Angeles isn’t the traffic, the borderline slave-labor economic structure, the constant competitiveness. It’s the vast and bizarrely over-the-top defensiveness of many residents. If you criticize the city, it’s because you don’t live there. If you explain that you have lived there, and it’s a shitpit, then you are told you are just jealous that you didn’t stay there. My favorite humblebrag (and I’ve heard it more than once) is that “the rest of the world only knows about our problems because everything is filmed here.”

Let’s consider that statement. First: how many TV shows or movies set in Los Angeles actually depict the city’s problems? Very, very few. Compare that to shows or movies set, I dunno, anywhere else on Earth. Outside of the locations in Bond pictures, no region in the world has received better PR from fictional visual media than Southern California.

Second: “everything is filmed here.” No, many things aren’t, but that doesn’t matter. What’s mindblowing about that boast is how it actually claims the brain-sucking dreck portraying Los Angeles, in the most shallow and self-absorbed of lights, as a beacon of civic pride. It’s saying “I am better than you because I live where Hannah Montana and Baywatch are set.” This is the highest conceivable level of declaring yourself to be an idiot.

That self-absorption, idiocy, defensiveness, are personified quite well in the saga of one Kobe Bryant. Bryant won several championships playing with the greatest talent in the NBA, Shaquille O’Neal, and immediately, petulantly demanded more credit and more limelight. O’Neal, having quite a good time winning basketball games and recording bad rap albums and making bad movies (he was in one decent movie, “Blue Chips,” before he left the Magic), always seemed perplexed by Kobe’s mania. O’Neal was actually living his California dream; Bryant never could.

Which is what made Bryant the true hero to Lakers fans. Kobe’s incessant self-promotion, his need for attention, his essential emptiness, probably touched a chord with Los Angeles residents, and with fans nationwide who dreamed of LA as their fantasy relocation destination (which teenagers often did and still do.) Shaq, with his quiet wit, could come off as aloof. Kobe smiled; oh yes, did he smile. That smile radiated pure malicious glee. It’s what LA defenders and LA wannabes truly dream of; not laid-back bliss, but vengeful triumph. Proving to everyone who ever slighted you that you have what they don’t. Like the smiles of animals trained by movie handlers, it’s aggressive and fearful; you see it on the faces of talent-contest participants told “you’re going to Hollywood!”

Last October, the calm, responsible ESPN reporter Henry Abbott published a withering profile of Kobe. Abbott did not refer to Bryant’s sexual-assault charges (Bryant settled) or stories told by the likes of NBA journeyman Paul Shirley (about how Bryant enjoyed humiliating 10-day contract players in practice.) Abbott kept the piece strictly to things his sources told him, describing an egomaniac incapable of playing with anyone else and a toxic presence overall whom the Lakers are desperately eager to see retire.

Abbott’s article caused a firestorm of Twitter twits savaging this baldfaced (and true) character assault, many from fans, many from Los Angeles residents; my favorite came from the man named “Flea,” who is a bass player in a horrible Los Angeles band that once was fashionable. If Abbott accomplishes nothing else in his life from this point forward, he managed to make the Red Hot Chili Peppers hate him, and that is something to be proud of.

Kobe is a pathetic turd. And not one we have any need to feel compassion towards. Los Angeles is a terrible place, and we should have compassion for its struggling residents, but not the ones who defend it hysterically; they, like Bryant, don’t want your compassion. They demand your adulation; they can’t inhabit their fantasy without it. “Los Angeles drained us all, as it always does,” wrote MST3K’s Kevin Murphy, “like some sort of huge, hairless ape you pay twenty bucks to wrestle and it simply sits on your head until you submit.”

Are there good people in Los Angeles? Sure. Tom Petty. (ED NOTE: I do not like Tom Petty.) There are always good people anywhere. There were good people in old Dixie, too (a reasonable Southern California comp, just as hypersensitive about its fabulousness) and they probably drank as much booze as Tom Petty smokes weed. Is the whole reality of Los Angeles a crime against all human decency? You bet your ass. Is it going to exist in its current form, forever? No. The South will fall again, eventually.

So, yes: hate the Lakers. But in moderation. Don’t stake your well-being on whether your team beats that one, or beats the Clippers. It matters much more to fans of those teams than it does to you, and this is how it should be.

 

TRAIL BLAZERS 103, MAGIC 92: RAY OF LIGHT

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Lordy, that was an irritating game.

FIRST: The Blazers were up twenty points and looked poised to smoosh the Magic, like so many bananas into the feet of Sex Weirdos at a Musa Party. The Magic scored 13 points and looked every possible type of out of sorts. Here is a picture:

1

 

(Via ESPN)

If you connect their made shots, it looks like a little lightning bolt. That is not a big enough shape to indicate scoring success. Ideally, when you connect your made shots it looks like a gigantic D. Which is weird, because you can only make the D by playing good O. Then again, best defense/good offense, you guys probably know that expression. I won’t belabor this. The Magic looked terrible until…

SECOND: …they didn’t. They outscored the Blazers 28-13 and closed the gap considerably. The Blazers had trouble guarding the rim. They fouled a lot. Chris Kaman, in particular, fouled a lot. Luke Ridnour, The Blazer That Never Was, hit a really, really long three pointer.

THIRD: The Magic and the Blazers traded leads. The Magic were playing very hard. They got a lot of offensive rebound and loose balls and stuff. This should not matter. As a superior team, The Blazers should snuff them out without mercy. There was a lid on the rim, or vasaline in the ring, or something.

FOURTH: The Blazers and Magic traded leads for five minutes, then the Blazers went on a run and won. Why can’t they lose one of these games where they suck for 15 minutes, so my children, my beautiful, stupid children, can stop watching Blazer games and thinking that actions have no consequences?!

I know why the Blazers didn’t just end the game early so everyone could get some rest before the trip to LA. There IS another team there, and they are trying to win. They aren’t, like, floating hams who have no control over their limbs. Still, my primitive mind craves efficient domination. Why won’t they just give it to me!?

Lamarcus had 6 rebounds. Without Lopez’s box out artistry, he is not as good at rebounding. The Magic had a lot of offensive rebounds. He also scored 25 points on 22 shots, which isn’t efficient enough.

2

Look at those mid-range misses! Look at them! At least one of them, I think that little X above the key there, was a shot that bricked out after Wes bent spacetime to grab an offensive rebound. It was such a bad shot to be at the top of the option list.

Today I was reading a basketball Twitter fight, you know, like a loser would, about contested 3’s vs. open twos. I have two and a half minds about the topic:

  1. Math makes a lot of very good, objective, points, and if you are interested in the question “How does basketball work and how can you win more at it” I think midrange shots are probably generally not a winning play.
  2. This fact depresses me, because it might suggest that basketball is speeding to a strategic convergence, and that could make the game hard to watch in ten years. James Harden is the player trotted out to prove this point. I like watching Harden, personally, but I would be annoyed if the whole league played like James Harden in 15 years.

2.5. At the very least, I think the midrange two as a top option from any player that is shooting less than 50% on them is certainly a bad idea, and it kills me that the Blazers go to it so readily. Then again, the Blazers have a shit-hot offense, so maybe someone knows something I don’t.

Every time LaMarcus hits a three, which he did tonight, I clutch a rosary with a little Buddah on it and I pray to any god that will listen that he will just start doing it all the time. I have given up on him also regularly playing center: he is probably not good enough at blocking shots or moving on pick and rolls to really stick on the pivot, you win.

LaMarcus was awesome in the post tonight, though. Good job in the post, man. Down and ups and shit. Fly stuff.

Nic Vucivic had a career high tonight. His last career-high was against the Heat, during one of those games where they simply didn’t have a viable center. He achieved his new career high under similar conditions. The Blazers announcing career celebrated this fact by anointing him an All-Star. It was concerning.

Nic Batum went for 7/4/10/4 Blk tonight. He has not been good this season, but at least it is curdling into something fascinating. Three of the blocks were in the first quarter, including one that vaguely resembled a run of the mill rim protection block. Can Batum play center?

Damian was okay, Wes was good. Taken together, they balanced out into “Slightly Average guard performance.” Wes had a nice stepback to shut the door on the Magic. You get it by now.

Meyers, for the THIRD straight game, played actual minutes and didn’t light his own leg on fire. His three point shot reminds me of Luke Babbit’s. He sets, it’s slow, and his arms make a gigantic diamond. He did the post-game interview. MY REVIEW: Pretty good. Coplete sentences, said cursory nice things about his opponents’ effort that were probably 85% true.

At the end of the game Meyers had the ball, all alone. There was juuuuuust more than one possession left. He could have waited, and appeared as a true gentleman, or he could have windmilled that shit and stared at the Magic bench like “This is what you get for putting in an honest effort, never come back here, ever, or I will stick an explosive potato in your tailpipe.”

Sorry I wrote about midrange shooting, I know it’s boring. Lakers tomorrow.

MAGIC PREVIEW: DARK FORCES

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(This post is not actually by Corbin Smith, it is by James Filmore. Corbin can’t remember the admin password, frankly. He is a shameful and disgusting creature. Enjoy!)

NBA mascots are stupid. “Of course they are,” you say, (ED NOTE: I certainly DO NOT SAY THIS! HAIL SCHRUNK!) “they’re meant to entertain small children.” Which is what makes them stupid. Why on Earth would you take a small child to an NBA game? Unless you and your kid are on the lam, any babysitter is cheaper than an NBA ticket. If a kid’s too young to be interested in sports, do not take them to a major professional sporting event. (If the kid’s too young to wield brass knuckles, do not take them to an NFL game.) Maybe mascots make sense for less expensive sports, like minor-league baseball/hockey or the CBA.

I actually often enjoy mascots. They tend to be gifted athletes and many are very good at comic pantomime. The last NBA game I saw, when the Blazers were in Minnesota, had a halftime mascot mockery of All-Star weekend’s Skills Challenge, featuring visiting mascots from other teams (“Blaze” was not invited) (ED NOTE: Because he stinks! UP WITH SCHRUNK!). The mascots all sabotaged each other. I found it quite amusing. The two people next to me, an adult male and a boy of about nine, were less amused. The adult was trying to get the boy to watch the mascot show; the boy was not into that kids’ stuff. The boy had spent the entire first half asking perfectly sensible questions about NBA rules he did not understand (“why was that a foul? Why is he only shooting one free throw?”) which the adult found tiresome and did not answer (“just watch the game.”) Clearly, the adult hoped for halftime to enrapture the boy and stop his questions. It didn’t work; they left. Why were these tickets purchased? I don’t know. Perhaps they were on the lam. I half felt like answering the boy’s questions myself but that’s dangerous territory; you might be messing with someone’s Childrearing Philosophy and people get testy about this.

Since there is not much to say about the Orlando Magic (they are named after a theme park; they draft superstar players who flee) I thought I’d take a look at NBA mascots, and have a bit of a showdown. Not a mascot athleticism/entertainment value showdown (the Phoenix gorilla always wins, just for its feud with Barkley, something Robin Lopez has been doing with the Toronto Raptor “Stripes.” God bless RoLo.) No. Just which creatures would defeat which other creatures in a deathmatch.

We can immediately rule out Miami’s “Burnie” and Washington’s “G-Wiz,” both amorphous fuzzy non-entities resembling the “Philly Phanatic.” These are genetic engineering accidents and would not survive the first few hours of cell division in a petri dish. Your remaining mascots are divided into birds/bees (a pelican, a hornet, a hawk), bears (Utah, Memphis, Houston), hooved quadripeds (a bison in Oklahoma, horses in Dallas and Detroit), canids (dog in Cleveland, wolf in Minnesota, coyote in San Antonio) and big cats (“Blaze,” the Kings lion “Slamson,” a cat thing in Indiana called “Boomer.”) Cleveland and Dallas have humans to partner with (subjugate?) the animals; “Sir C.C,” a musketeer, and “Mavs Man,” more humanoid than human, really, a person shape made up of basketballs, whom I think will end up at some point threatening Doctor Who. Boston has an actual person with an actual face running around in green leprechaun garb, and Orlando has “Stuff The Magic Dragon.”

Bird and bees are almost extinct now. Canids are much more adaptable to changing conditions than cats, because they are smarter than cats (although cats are prettier.) Out with the cats. Same goes for horses and the bison. Elegant and dumb. Horses can be trained to give humans amazing loyalty, which shows how dumb they are. Gorillas and bears aren’t loyal to humans but don’t always attack them on sight either, a foolish decision on their part. Along these lines I’ll give the coyote an edge over the wolf/dog. Coyotes don’t like people and they eat dogs; unlike wolves, they can live anywhere. Among the humanoids, “Sir C.C.” and “Mavs Man” lose out to “Lucky The Leprechaun,” who possesses the true courage only alcohol can provide.

So our Final Four contains a coyote, a velociraptor, a dragon, and a leprechaun. Seeding becomes all-important here. Modern people-ish things would get eaten by dinosaurs (I saw the film) and are ever-so-slightly more cunning/cruel than coyotes, but small mammals like coyotes beat dinosaurs in the past. Dragons can just wear people out by going on forever, as “Game Of Thrones” readers or trapped “Hobbit” moviegoers can attest; a dinosaur would eat the Magic mascot because anything named after “Puff The Magic Dragon” is too stoned for a fight.

My instinct is betting on the coyote, as coyote stories are among the oldest and wisest we have. Dinosaurs are awesome killing machines and humans are smarter awesome killing machines, yet they both kind of did themselves in by the end. (Besides, cut “Lucky” off from his supply of Jameson and he’s screwed; this deathmatch allows for no power-ups.) Probably a real-life survivor like the coyote would beat a mythical Tolkein/tokin’ creature like “Stuff,” but I’m going to go with sentiment here.

Let’s anoint “Stuff The Magic Dragon” the winner. I always liked that song as a child, and Orlando fans need something to be happy about. Here’s your ubiquitous video of “Stuff” doing mascot antics. (I like his extendable nose mucus.) And one of Lopez shoving “Stuff,” because there’s only one Robin Lopez and he’s a fun guy.

 

TRAIL BLAZERS 99, HEAT 83: DEAD COWBOY

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There were two special things about this game:

 

ONE: It was, experientially, totally perfect. There was a rough first half that made you worry and fret, sweat through the five sweaters you were wearing because it is very cold, and your family cannot generate enough Heat for your body in the pile you are all sitting in. Everyone sweat and the pile became wet and salty, like a swamp where the members of your family are trees and the puddly of sweat you are all sitting in is the water in the swamp, and your dog, who is also in the pile, is a swamp crocodile.

 

Wes Matthews was looking shooting poorly and either looking a little flat-footed or like he was playing hurt or whatever, or I filled that in because I knew he was playing a little hurt so I imposed that on him. Lillard also had a scare when someone kind of ran into his leg and he fell down. Apparently he was gutting it out in the second half, but he played well and I haven’t heard anything about this become an actual injury, so I guess that’s good that he was tough. I don’t think toughness is the MOST important positive quality, I would probably go with kindness or honesty, but it is A positive quality.

 

If you could put every positive quality on a slider, as if they were on a soundboard, and every quality would be on a similar scale, but the total goodness output was louder for the superior qualities, I think sliding kindness and love upward would make the speaker A LOT louder than the toughness slider, but the toughness slider would still increase the volume a little. Is you had two people and they were equally kind and honest, but one person was tougher than the other, I would probably say the second person was the superior person. These are the values that sport teach us, and why it is one of the better institutions.

 

Then, in the second half, the Blazer absolutely annihilated the Heat left and right and every concern about the first half was thoroughly diffused. Wes came out looking good and drilled shots, including one dancer behind the corner. Dorell Wright, my favorite Blazer, ever, hit an 8 out of 10 kooky shot to end the third. Kaman had a nice spin move.

 

Aldridge is not my favorite aesthetic player in the NBA by several miles. One time, Joe and I set his highlights to DJ Screw and Steve Reich, respectively, and I thought that accent made his tendency towards intentional movement seem more interesting, but it didn’t take me over the top and inspire me to paint him on the ceiling of a church or anything. But when he does that little driving hook, I think thats a nice, smooth-but-counter-intuitive move.  But ups to Lamarcus for impressing my exacting aesthetic standards. I only watch Criterion movies and read the finest poetry.

 

Hasan Whiteside played really well in this game and I don’t understand why he didn’t play more against the depleated-ass Blazers defensive front line. I suppose Birdman demnds respect, especially now that he removed his mohawk and is looking less like a basketball cartoon and more like a real life scary uncle. The first half of that sentence was a setup for the joke in the second half.

 

I learned that The Librarians, the show with Noah Wylie where he player a sexy adventuring Librarian who reads books and makes love to a beautiful man or woman in every episode, is shot in or around Portland. Good on the Oregon Film Commission for affording them the tax breaks to make that happen.

 

I keep thinking “Batum will be able to shoot again, it’s fine” and it keeps not happening. I refuse to give it up, though. I believe, or whatever.

 

Wade had a good night. Wes was wiggildy and everyone else was small, so he took advantage. I love watching Wade. I like that he is completely without honor and just a little tricky. He is getting worse with age, especially since he can’t shoot threes, but he’s not getting dumber or less skilled. It is a treat.

 

Wes dribbled into the paint and delivered a perfect, perfect as a drop of pure rain, pass to Allen Crabbe, who made a three pointer above the break. It is totally insane how much better at basketball he is.

 

TWO: The second special thing was Lillard wearing a headband. He told reporters it was because it was Throwback Thursday. I was disappointed, I hoped the headband was laced with healing runes he needed to ward off a witch’s curse.

MIAMI PREVIEW: SELF INTEREST

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(James Filmore wrote this. I (Corbin) couldn’t figure out how to post through the admit account. I am just a wreck.)

Let us now praise the rational self-interest of Chris Bosh.

Few Americans like their lives. A scandalous claim, to be sure, in the Best Of All Possible Countries In The History Of Anything Ever; true nonetheless. The vast majority of souls feel empty, often for very valid reasons, sometimes because of unrealistic expectations. Ah, yes, those expectations. Any magazine rack, bookshelf, or random sampling of webhits are plump with material proclaiming to sell The Secret of improving one’s self-satisfaction. Professionally & personally. You can be better, stronger; we have the technology; you can rebuild you. Romantic glory and creative fulfillment beckon, just over the crest of the next hill.

(If the Donner Party had crested just one more hill, they would have found their way down from the mountains. But they were beaten, their optimism destroyed, so they failed and lost and ate each other. This is an apt metaphor for everything.)

After LeBron left to go Save Cleveland and bolster his Good Guy media image, there was almost no reason for Chris Bosh to stay in Miami. The Rockets had traded competent, vastly overpaid backup Jeremy Lin to the Lakers, clearing up enough cap space to give Bosh a maximum free-agent’s salary. Everyone assumed Bosh would join an already dangerous team, lending his veteran experience to the occasionally undisciplined play of Houston’s youngish stars, and creating a new super-contender in the West.

But “almost no reason” is not the same as no reason at all. There was a very good reason for Bosh to stay in Miami. With LeBron gone, Bosh could make a ton of money in Miami. Ever-so-slightly-more than he would in Houston. Bosh stayed with the Heat, took the money, drew the permanent loathing of Rockets fans, and earned my respect.

Chris Bosh doesn’t have anything to prove. He has two NBA titles, or two more than many of the game’s all-time greats. Unlike some of the Heat’s bench warmers (here’s looking at you, Juwan), Bosh earned his rings. Was he the superstar he’d been in Toronto? No, and that’s a pain in the butt by itself. Bosh was the third fiddle, almost uncomplainingly so. He didn’t force shots or demand more “touches.” Bosh defended centers and PFs as needed, he banged for rebounds, he kept positioning himself to bail out the offense if options 1&2 (often, even options 3&4) broke down.

Bosh is probably playing strictly for pride and money now, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Athletic careers are short. Despite an excellent academic record, Bosh left early for the NBA, and so that’s his job for a few more years. And it’s not like he’s dogging it this season. He’s playing more minutes, averaging more free throws, rebounds, and points than any year since his first in Miami. That’s professionalism. If Bosh preferred money and stability to being third fiddle (again) in Houston, where he likely would take little credit for the team’s successes and undue blame for its failings . . . well, can you blame him?

I think my favorite thing about Chris Bosh staying in Miami is he didn’t spew stupid shit about it (again, excellent academic record, he’s no fool.) No “I want to retire a member of the Heat” phony promises. No “I’ve got mouths to feed” hyperbolic justification for his financial decision. In a nice interview with ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh, Bosh simply said “I benefit from it, the team will benefit from it,” both of which are true. He gets to make money, avoid uprooting his family, and see what the future holds.

These are practical considerations, not striving for the top of the mountain. That’s anathema to most sports narratives, or American narratives in general. Too often, we are led to believe that anything less than Ultimate Glory represents a kind of imaginative deficiency. There is something to be said for a life that’s Damn Fine Enough, and I for one like to think that some true iconoclasts out there are pursuing it. Good on you, Chris Bosh. All the best.

TRAIL BLAZERS 98 LAKERS 94: HAIL MARY

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PART ONE: WHERE I WAS TONIGHT, SPIRITUALLY AND IN MY OWN MIND:

I slept through the first half of this game, like the kind of sleep you get in a bed. I lied down for a second at about 6:45, face down, and I thought “I am sure I will get up before the game starts, so long as I don’t fall asleep or something stupid.” Then, an hour later, I emerged, feeling disproportionately refreshed. I thought “Oh, no, I have to watch and write about the Blazer game, but I am feeling like a million dollars from sleep, I may have slept a million years, with how good I am feeling.” I do not know why my body was crying out for sleep. I did a little more walking than I normally do today, and I had lunch with my Grandma, and I ate eggnog flavored frozen yogurt. Maybe the FroYo’s Christmas flavor tricked my body into thinking it was still a time of year when sleeping late is acceptable.  I opened my laptop and looked at what time it was. About  7:54. I did some rough math in my head. I figured the second quarter had just started, because I am not good at relating basketball games to time. In reality, the second quarter was coming to an end. I tried to gather what was happening in the game, still deep inside a haze of post sleep comfort.

 

PART TWO: WHAT HAPPENED IN THE FIRST HALF

My comfort was shattered when I turned on the television and looked at the score. I was immediate ripped from the bosom of beautiful sleep and thrown into the cold dumpster full of water that was this basketball. So far as I can tell, the Blazers and Lakers, the terrible, terrible Lakers, played even. I also gathered that Meyers had made two threes. “That’s weird,” I thought, “That’s not a thing that normally happens, on account of Meyers not being very good. This is an abnormal thing that happened when I wasn’t watching.”

 

PART THREE: WHY?

The Blazers are short “Every” frontcourt player, so I guess you can cut them a little slack for not abusing the sad-ass Lakers. Also, Kobe was sitting out, which probably makes the Lakers a better team because he has been apocalypticly terrible behind 20 field goals attempts a game. It at least makes them harder to scout, because their offense goes from “Kobe cutting himself and smearing the blood across his chest in an empty stadium” to “Some ball movement here and there.”

 

PART FOUR: SERIOUSLY, WHY!?

Also the Blazers kind of sucked in this game. Since he doesn’t shoot threes, Lamarcus Aldridge’s game is often an efficiency China set, where two or three misses can take him from “Solid game” to “Kind of crummy.” He went for 21 points on 20 shots, which is pretty bad. He was excellent in the fourth, though, so no one really cares. Wes was straight up bad, missing threes and post ups and any other kind of shot he could manage to miss. Kaman, Blake, and Robinson were all fartsy. At one point, Robinson intercept a pass to an open Blake in the corner, drove, hit someone in the face with his elbow, got a call from that, somehow, and made one of two from the line.

 

PART FIVE: MEYERS

Thankfully, Meyers was good. 12 points on five shots, three three pointers, 12 boards, including two one handed rebounds in the span of a minute, as if his problem this whole time was that he kept listening to the people who were telling him to use both hands or something, and the weirdest four point play I have seen in my entire life. I think Boozer fouled him in the belly. Not the stomach, the belly. He closed the game for the Blazers, because Kaman had been terrible. It was weird. Here is a picture of a tweet:

fuckyall

This is the game in synecdoche. The Blazers barely won, the looked unbeatable for a grand total of two minutes and Meyers was good out of nowhere for no reason except he was the only person to realize how bad the Lakers were and exploit it,

PART SIX: LILLARD

Lillard had 39 points and three point shot the team back into the game in the last few minutes. Drug the team’s injured and uninspired corpse around when they probably should have lost to a shitty team. Good on him.

TRAIL BLAZERS 102 RAPTORS 97 (OT) – SOFT

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From time to time, I like to watch cricket. You probably have an idea of what cricket is. If you don’t, here is a short explanation: it is British baseball, but they don’t have gloves, the pitcher has to bounce the ball, the bats are flat, and the batter has advantage instead of the pitcher. There are also some scoring things to explain, but they don’t matter in the context of what I am going to talk about today.

 

Sometimes, in cricket, they have replays. They have had these for a while, longer than baseball. Here is what happens on a cricket replay. Someone says “Hey, that is some bullcrap! That was a bad call, and it needs to be addressed!” Then the umpire says “Oh, shit, okay. It will get checked.” Then everyone stands around for like 10-30 seconds while someone who is a billion feet away from the field looks at a screen. Then, on the big screen on the grounds shows one of two messages: “Overturned” or “Sustained.” I don’t think those are the actual words.

 

A 15-30 second replay review is completely within the NBA’s power. Something fishy, or something that needs to get doubled checked? Just send word to Secaucus, they already have the tape at hand, the person in the booth makes the call, message on the screen, boom, we’re fucking out of here and on with the game.  But for some reason there is a feeling among American officials, refs, umps, that this takes away fro their authority, so they resist and oppose it, and the game suffers because of it.

 

The second someone videotaped a game with a digital camera, the die was cast. You can’t go back to the days when bad calls shaped games. The mind of the sports consumer demands order. You can only go forward. But there’s a better way to do this, and no one seems like they really give a shit.

 

Cricket can take six eight-hour-days to play, it start and stops by its very nature, but that sport’s powers that be still prioritized game flow when they were instituting replay. Why had the NBA, the world’s best basketball league, the arbiters of a sport that is about motion and flow (For lack of a better word. I feel ridiculous writing something this take-y) caved to the petty whims of their refs and not gone all the way? The end of that game was an absolute wreck. It doesn’t need to be like this. FIX IT, MR. SILVER, WE OF NBANATION DEMAND.

 

Anyway, the Blazer played a game. They sucked in the first half. They missed a TON of three point shots, which was half because, you know, fate, the whims of the universe, etc, etc. etc, and half because the Raptors were REALLY closing out.

 

Hey, I know the East is terrible, and losing to their teams is NORMALLY a deep and disgusting shame that you bring not only onto yourself but also the glorious institution of the Western conference, but the Raptors are good! They were hustling and shit. It was good. They were good. They probably should have won. I was sort of disappointed they didn’t, because there close come from behind wins are just so exhausting. Oh my God, climb the mountain, no game is out of reach for these guys, blah blah blah. What if I WANT to check out at the end of a game? Huh?

 

I have a beautiful daughter named Lavender. I wish to be a father to her, to listen to her speak about the spheres of the Earth, to share of my knowledge and to take from her, a youth with a transparent eye, a vision of her world that is no longer accessible to me. Like, if the Blazers would just get down 15 and start to give up, I could do that. But they just keep forcing me to glue my eyes to the television and away from my family, the only truly important thing. The Blazers are like drugs and simulacra and they are impurifying my mind and my soul night after night. I wish they would just lose or win comfortably so I could check out of this madness from time to time and experience a live in love and nature, which is the true purpose of being a human being.

simmons

GREAT. Exciting. I am thrilled. The magic guy is on your team now. Who is the mostclutchplayer it is dammm lurrard oaklandlillardtime thisguy is the clutchman buy insurance from him, consume buybuybuy do you want to be clutch it is better to be clutch than good.

 

In ten years you’re all going to mash away at your phones on Christmas Day in blind rages when someone suggests Lillard ISN’T clutch. You will have the fervor of the religious. You will drive to Bend to fight someone.

 

Poetry is dead in Portland, everyone is telling the stories now, stories about how Damian Lillard pulled the sword from the stone and chopped the head off a dragon, a bearded dragon who didn’t pay fair, and since then he could not be beat, he was infused with the powers of the skies and the Gods and he was unstoppable in narrow situations if you stabbed him twice he really access his true power and he rose from the grave and he killed his opponents and he held their heads in his hands and showed them to the world. It’s great. Everyone loves it. Clutchclutchclutchclutchcluth

 

Lillard missed that shot. But we have seen the wave of the future, we have seen how everyone’s heart is warped and broken and bleeding into their minds. Cynicism is dead. Some days, I wish Felton was back. He made me feel so much. Lillard and the cult he manages only let me feel happiness and hope. It disgusts me, fills me with syrup, the syrup pours from my mouth and onto pancakes, the pancakes rapidly multiply and fill the room with comfort and heat, but I want the cold but I can’t have it, I am trapped in heat and moisture and sweetness and I reject it. Also tickets are too expensive now.

 

Joel Freeland has done a REALLY good job filling in for Lopez. He blocked Lowry at the rim and then yelled at him and the rim defense has looked pretty good when he’s in there. I did not expect that his proficiency would be a thing with Lopez out. Maybe keep some of those extra minutes around when the man comes back. He also has TONS of suction cup sores on his body.


Also, trade every young person. WIN NOW.