Your dad beat the Suns today, in a blowout. He had lost to the Suns a lot lately, but the team has been fractured by poor play in close games, internal strife, and madness.
“That’s what happens,” you dad says on the way home. “That’s what happens when you can’t keep it together.”
You want to tell your dad that those close games have so much to do with luck, that the Suns were a fun and interesting team who were running a fascinating plan before they were too unstable to continue.
“You need to have five positions, son.” He says to you. “The guard, the forward, the center, the coach. Anything less and the system will break.”
Dad is really feeling himself tonight. He was scoring left and right. The Suns were DOA, toast, Kaputt. He made it to that playoffs You are glad he won, but you wish he could just shut up on these rides home.
“And it IS about a system, son. Say that back to me.”
“Dad, this is absurd.”
A silence. It extends. You feel the chill in his heart, creeping into your own.
“…It’s about a system.”
“You’re goddamn right. A system. Purge the chaos and all that’s left is order, and you can build a castle on the order, and use the castle to crush your enemies.”
You don’t mention the fact that everyone else has a castle, and one of the knights is gone, and there is a sense of building, creeping dread around the castle, a faint whiff of disease in the villages, a feel that the black death is here and we are all just sitting and waiting for it to come. I might be soon and it might be quick, or it might be far away and slow and extracting and doomed.
Your dad arrives at the house. Can your family really afford this house?
(James FIlmore wrote this recap.)
In this game, in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, the most prolific Denver scorer, Randy Foye, was resting on the bench.Nuggets TV announcers talked about how nice a game Foye was having. Accordingly, TV cameras cut to Foye’s face. Alongside Foye, a Denver player (I think it was Joffrey Lauvergne, I cannot say for certain, white guys look alike to me) yawned hugely. Not a regular yawn. A disjointed-jaw, Orcs-with-anger-issues yawn.
The Blazers won this game. Do Denver players who weren’t traded at the deadline feel kinda unwanted? I would.
Both teams played as if this were a meaningless All-Star game, with alley-oop passes to guys who weren’t expecting alley-oop passes. And, in a sense, it is a meaningless All-Star game; the result means nothing, and the players are skilled. They are crazy good, better at what they do than all but a teensy percentage of human beings. You and I should be so lucky to have such talent, in any field of human endeavor. The players in this game, however, are not quite so good as NBA All-Stars, so those alley-oops went sailing into the photography row.
Which is fine. I hate the All-Star game anyways.
Some Blazers “played” as if this game mattered. I think I’ve figured out what makes Damian Lillard very effective at basketballing. Several times tonight, he corralled rebounds with his fingertips. Like he had suction cups on the end of his digits, like some kind of spooky alien creature. This is not normal. Not for humans. Go to the nice OSU Marine Science aquarium in Newport and see appendages for which this is normal.
So his creepy-alien ballhandling skills give him an edge. He’s not the fastest, or the shiftiest. He can make moves you shouldn’t be able to make while holding onto the ball at the same time. This is why he’s had some crazy rebounding games, despite being dwarf-sized by NBA standards (or behemoth-sized by normal standards.) His ballhandling is just that good.
Another good player is LaMarcus Aldridge, who should be sitting out the rest of this season. He might be the best player Portland has ever had, I dunno. Walton had a short career, Drexler was eclipsed by His Giant Shithead Airness, Sabonis was hurt before he came here. I don’t care about these “who’s best” things, I’m just wondering. Aldridge with one-and-a-half hands is stunning. Even in meaningless games where my soul screams “shut him down, I don’t want him hurt” he can make moves to free himself for a jumper that are pure loveliness, and everyone just wants to watch those moves. Unless you hate the human body and the best it can do; I’m not gonna criticize you if that’s the case, humans are kinda goofy-looking.
Do you remember the Foye/Roy thing? If not, forget I mentioned it. If so, forget I mentioned it.
Will Barton had a nice sneaky inbounds play. You go, Will.
The magical gnomes that deliver entirely-legal streaming of NBA games to my computer were, again, off point tonight, focusing on NCAA games during the first half of this contest. So I listened to even-more-legal radio streaming for two quarters. Brian Wheeler, Blazers play-by-play man, sounded as bored as Joffrey Lauvergne (or whichever white guy), and that’s amazing. Wheeler generally screams bloody murder, as if his head is about to spontaneously explode, and that’s what fans and ownership like about him. He was quite sedate, even reserved, during the first half of tonight’s game.
I suddenly like Brian Wheeler a lot more.
WHY ARE THE BLAZERS TERRIBLE NOW: A BRIEF INQUIRY INTO THE NATURE OF RECENT GAMES?
Did the Blazers win tonight? Can you look at yourself in the mirror, with only yourself to look at, and say, “The Blazer won tonight, they won the basketball game. I regard that as a win, what I watched was the act of winning, of success, not the Blazers getting the game controlled around them falling into HEINOUS isolation basketball, which they stink at, and eventually winning be default because Trey Burke farted out like ten possessions in a row and the Blazers managed to attack the basket and succeed against Rudy ‘THE FIELD WITCH’ Gobert.” Run on sentences!
What are the reasons for this recent strip of uninspired play? What has sunk the Blazers into an emotional bog, the sort that would qualify that horrible game as a win to pump your fist about? I will investigate:
ONE: AFFLALO IS WORSE THAN WES. Aaron Afflalo is a DOWNGRADE on Wes Matthews and it’s SINKING EVERYTHING!
TWO: ACTUALLY ARRON ISN’T WORSE THAN WES, PER SE, WELL, HE IS A LITTLE, BUT HE DOESN’T FIT NEARLY AS WELL. Wing post ups and isolations, these were not the currency of the Blazers until recently, when they lost Wes.
THREE: ACTUALLY, THE GODS CURSED THE TEAM BECAUSE AFFLALO WROTE THAT THING FOR THE PLAYER’S TRIBUNE WHERE HE SAID THE BLAZERS WERE GOING TO COMPETE FOR A TITLE. Jeter is the devil and courting his favor has consequences.
FOUR: WILL BARTON! You don’t just trade a dude with that spiritual energy and expect to get by. It says so, in the Bible, which is My Antonia By Willa Cather.
FIVE: JOHN KITZHABER. Look, guys. John was a man in love, and you spit in his face. I didn’t, I am a lifelong Washington resident, but you did. You should have accepted his light corruption, because he did it in the name of love. But now, Cupid herself* has looked upon this action and decided you basketball team must suffer for your crimes against love. Congratulations, you impertinent Oregonians. We never would have done this where I’M from!
SIX: EVERYONE IS EITHER INJURED OR THEY’VE PLAYED LIKE A BILLION MINUTES AND THEIR BODIES ARE NOW OPENLY REJECTING BASKETBALL. THis seems more likely than anything. Lillard was good tonight, but other nights, oy vey, he is looking like he could use a blow. Someday, every team will do this, like the Spurs do, and you’ll think about these games like fun off-games, where funny players do weird stuff against each other. Hopefully, teams institute good natured rotations with rest, so they have sort of similarly disabled lineups. It would be really fun!
SEVEN: LUCK. Why not. Fate is out there, pulling levers we cannot see. We should accept these movements with open hearts.
EIGHT: ORDER. The NBA is fundamentally of nature, and nature is fundamentally of order. Or perhaps order is of nature, or our perception of order is of nature. I am not a philosopher, it’s just killing the Blazers right now.
*all gods are women at this website
God bless the Blazers’ first half effort. Scrapping and shooting their way to a modest lead over the Warriors at halftime, it was enough to bring your family to tears. My son, Angus, he pulled my sweater and he said “Daddy, are the Blazers going to win the big one this year?”
I didn’t have the heart to tell him. Abnormal shooting. All this energy pouring out on the floor. The Warriors looking lackadaisical, almost disengaged. It couldn’t last. But I wanted Angus to have some hope, some joy. SO I said.
“Sure, son. The Blazers are gonna win the big one.”
Suffice to say, when the second half rolled around and the Warriors turned into a fucking basketball phalanx that was made of smoke and fire in equal measure, things got hairy in my household. Angus bit his nails. Then, he cried. Then he looked at me, straight in my eyes and he yelled, so loud the whole neighborhood could hear:
“YOU LIED TO ME, DADDY! THE BLAZERS WON’T WIN THE BIG ONE, THIS OR ANY YEAR!”
Then he stormed to his room.
When his mother walked in to check on him, he had carved a Warriors logo into the wall and torn his Raymond Felton jersey in half (It was on sale, I am not a wealthy man!).
I feel I have made a huge mistake.
This week the Rip Citizens look at the Blazers’ losing streak and nightmarish east coast swing. They then turn to the playoff picture in the west, Steve Nash’s retirement, the length of the NBA season, and some unlikely Blazer celebrity appearances.
This episode sponsored by AwesomeBlazerShirts.com. Shirts worth stealing from your roommate.
If you enjoy the show, please subscribe to us in iTunes (or whatever podcast platform you use) and leave us a rating & review if you feel so inclined!
(Recap by J-Ames Filmore)
The magical, friendly gnomes who usually deliver entirely-legal streams of NBA games to my broke-dick, long-suffering, still-alive computer were off point tonight. Usually I can choose between home and away streams; tonight I just got the Memphis local feed. Apparently most Americans are watching college players not good enough to declare for the NBA. Well, I suppose gambling is fun, or otherwise people wouldn’t engage in it.
Missing the Blazers commentary does not exactly qualify as a hardship; I think that defines a “first world problem.” Life’s mysterious glory loses little of its luster when you can’t hear Mike Rice repurpose intestinal blockage through his vocal chords. And the Memphis TV announcers were largely savvier than Kyle Hightower of the Associated Press, whose recap of Portland’s defeat by Orlando on Friday included the phrase “head-scratching trend” to describe the Blazers’ losing streak.
You scratch your head when you have lice; lice are irritating. Nobody scratches their head when they’re confused, and nobody should be confused about why this season is swirling down the toilet bowl for Portland. They lost their best defender, their best offensive player is muddling through with one-and-a-half hands. Nic Batum has some weird injury stuff and I have no shorthand to describe his role. Not “glue guy,” that’s lazy shit writing. “French guy” is accurate but lacks precision.
Batum and LMA left this game, the one you’re reading about right now, fairly early due to They Shouldn’t Be Playing At All, The Season Is Over, and didn’t return. The Memphis announcers correctly, unlike Mr. Hightower, identified Portland’s struggles being due to “a desperate team losing players by the minute.”
They also made some ish-y comments. “Jeff Green came tonight to play basketball,” alright, I can live with that, it’s enthusiasm, although I suspect every other professional athlete on the court also came to play basketball. “The last nine points were scored by the brother from another mother.” I have no idea what that meant. It probably referred to Pau Gasol, who at that point had scored three points in a row, not nine, and whom has a famous NBA brother, not from another mother. OK, I get it; yes, Memphis fans, Pau was underrated for a long time. Nobody underrates him anymore.
And at one point the aforementioned Jeff Green was referred to as “Uncle Jeff Green.” Woah. No way. If this is the actual nickname Grizzlies fans have for Jeff Green, a good player and fabulous acquisition for that team, then something is horribly, horribly wrong. Nobody south of the Mason-Dixon line, and nobody above it, for that matter, is allowed to call an African-American male “uncle” unless he’s actually a parent’s sibling. You just can’t do that.
With 2:47 to go, Zach Randolph, another good player, hit a three, the Blazers called timeout, and the Memphis arena DJ put on “Whoomp! (There It Is.)” I didn’t think I could dislike fans of any sports team, fans are people after all, but “Whoomp” and the “Uncle Jeff” comment make me intensely dislike Grizzlies fans. I should probably stop watching sports.
Do you need to read my take on how the Blazer players did? They were alright. Lillard, a mesmerizing work in progress, eschewed his hero-ball “shoot desperately from under a huge pile of Orcs” tendency, that’s nice. Dorell Wright showed gumption and dumbness, he’s probably underused. I’m not sure Coach Stotts has any clue what to do with his bench, such as it is, but I cannot say, I have never been an NBA coach.
My favorite moment of the contest came near the end; Portland was done, everyone knew it, and yet the refs called Randolph for an offensive foul against Myers Leonard. Randolph glowered at Leonard. Leonard stuck one hand up and entwined it in the net’s webbing, glowering back. A bit nervously, sure, since one is an established NBA star and the other is just finally putting his game together. But, hey — you take moments of growth when you can get them. Kudos, Leonard, kudos. You hang onto that net, Uncle Myers.
This game is happened on the Friday of March Madness, at four in the afternoon, while Oregon was playing. I think its safe to say that you didn’t watch it. As a matter of fact, no one watched it. I am the only person who watched it. Here is what happened, since you probably don’t know:
The Blazers were wearing uniforms made of potato sacks, in deference to the idea of communal sacrifice. Stotts was dressed like a Dickensian man of capital, with a bowler and a little eyeglass. He barked at the players and chewed on a cigar, in a kind of concept play of the industrial revolution.
The Orlando Magic were playing a remix of the underground zones in Super Mario Brothers. Then the sound operator fell asleep into his microphone. For the next two hours, the entire stadium was flooded with the up-close sound of his snoring and a tacky remix of a video game song. It quickly became a nightmare and all but the most avant garde Magic fans left at halftime.
Chris Kaman scooped up a CJ McCollumn miss at the rim and dropped it back in. Then he pulled a flower out from behind his ear and handed it to a five year old girl in the front row. Everyone clapped, because the Magic scored on the other end.
The refs went to look at the replay review in Secaucus and it played an episode of “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” instead. They stood there for twenty two minutes, watching a whole episode of Kimmy and Titus’s adventures.
Ben Gordon played. He is in the NBA.
Mike Rice said “This team will eat pudding during a game” because the camera picked up Andrew Nicholson eating pudding. This always drives me crazy, this horrible confirmation bias thing he does, saying “He’ll do that” right after someone does something, no matter how unlikely it was. Just because Nicholson was eating ONE PUDDING doesn’t mean he always eats pudding!
Luke Ridnour bit himself after missing a shot, ran his finger over the cut, and scored five points and forced a turnover in twenty seconds. Once the taste of his own blood would get him twenty, thirty points. But now, he can hardly make himself walk up a flight of stairs on that kind of blood. He would need to find a new fuel. But where!? WHERE!?
Kyle O’Quinn and Victor Olidipo ran a pick and pop. O’Quinn’s shot his the back iron. He pumped his fist and yelled “ALRIGHT, I HIT THE BACKIRON! I CAN THROW THE BALL FAR AS HELL!”
The broadcast suggested you go see Madonna at the Rose Garden on the Rebel Heart Tour. She hasn’t been to Portland since the Borderline tour! I was there! I grabbed her jean vest and ironed all of my Cub Scout patches to it.
Lamarcus Aldridge posted up on a dude, took three dribbles, went into the lane, and laid it in without contest. A French painting wept.
The Blazers let the Magic score 58 points in one half. In fairness, everyone on the Magic was given an extra inch of height before the game, and had it taken away at the half. Height makes you good at basketball, so it was a real problem!
When the second half started the Blazers were down two points. They got in a huddle. “Hey guys,” said the leader, “We need to get it together and make business happen. We are in a business here, we need to make that point money.” Everyone said “Wow leader (I think it was Thomas Robinson??? We are inspired. Let’s go out there and make business!”
So they made business and they were up, when a magicman got fouled. He missed the first shot and also missed the second. Oladipo was stalled at the rim by Lopez. A machine fired up in the distance. It was a point factory, and it had a shipment for the Blazers. THey opened the box. It had a bunch of points But would it be enough!?
Meyers came into the game and grabbed the ball and started barking at it, like a lion. A mighty lion’s bark. He said “You don’t like me but you will respect me and you will do what I say!”
Chris Kaman was injured when he went bowling at halftime and had to miss the rest of the game.
LaMarcus became the Blazers all time leading rebounder. He beat Clyde Drexler, which made the accomplishment seems somehow less important, seeing Drexler was a guard. This is really, more than anything, a testament to the Blazers’ habitual problems with big men.
Alexy Shved played. He scored 7 points. He’s on the Magic. He was waived by the Sixers and signed with the Magic. You didn’t watch this game, you could never prove me wrong.
One of the refs sprained his ankle. The trainer looked at him and he had to leave the game. He was replaced by the alternate.
The Magic went ahead in the fourth quarter because they tried really hard. Everyone was really happy. The Blazer announcers said “Well it’s okay because I think the Magic deserve this because they’re trying too hard. I congratulate them, and their fans, and the entire state of Florida.
Terry got mad about turnovers and started eating whole turnovers on the sideline. “IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT,” he yelled at the team, “DO YOU WANT YOUR FRIEND TERRY TO BE A TURNOVER FATTY!”
Then, Lamarcus made a long two pointer. Then, the Magic made two points. This cycle rolled down the street to its inevitable home, an open manhole. The Blazers were devoured by the king of crocodiles who is a Florida resident and a registered voter (Republican.).
“The last time a rookie had back to back triple-doubles was in 1997. Antoine Walker.”
Barring an extraordinary collapse, I’m not sure I really care about whether or not the Blazers win or lose anymore. Look at this:
What are wins and losses In this climate? You would probably prefer to play Dallas, but they’re the sixth seed. San Antonio? SAN ANTONI-NO! Clippers seems beatable but they also seems like a horrible unbeatable puzzle. It’s a morass! There are no good answers! Even Golden State has to be side-eyeing OKC and praying that Durant stay a million miles away from the bay. It’s best to let fate do it’s work and just enjoy these games on their own terms.
In this vein, I just want to say this game was awesome, win or loss or fair or not fair be damned. It was the best Blazer game in months, maybe the best one all year, and it came completely out of no where. The lines are janky-fun: 34 and 12 for Aldridge, 24 for Deng, six blocks for Whiteside, 20 and 11 for Dragic and 32 of the Dwyane Wade-ist points possible for Dwyane Wade.
God, Wade was so awesome. We have spent too much time at the altar of Klay Thompson and his sweet shooting brothers. Wade’s janky dark arts are becoming more and more irrelevant in the strategic spectrum of NBA experience and I will miss them. Watch him slink into the lane and sink a bank shot over Lopez. Who else moves like that!? And with a little taunting wrist flip to boot! (Corbin kisses fingers and release them into the air) Bravo! Bravo! That’s real opera! You don’t get that from MOTION OFFENSE, SON! He also ended the first half with a burly, burly drive off a pick and roll and hit a game winner the Blazers could not respond to for reasons of ref malfeasance or rules arcana depending on your perspective.
All things considered this isn’t a bad loss. The Heat went 7-10 from three and Wade was about as good as a guard could reasonably be in the fourth. How often do you win a game when Udonis Haslem hits a three, you know? Fate was conspired against the Blazers on this night! I suppose the Blazers could have defended better.
There were some problems defending in transition, especially with Dragic. Speaking of which, Dragon scored on one of the niftiest little transition plays. The Heat outlet the ball to a big man (Haslem, I think) He holds the ball in the high post as if he is going to initiate half-court offense. Then, Dragic comes streaking up the floor, grabs the ball in a DHO action, turns out the high post thing was a fake, he takes at the rim.
The Blazers also had a ton of turnovers. Hey, stop that. The also didn’t hit free throws: I have this to say about that, who cares free throws are boring, making them is the cowards’ way of winning.
The bench was pretty good on aggregate. Maimi’s bench features Mr. Michael Beasley. These two sentences are independent facts that have nothing to do with each other.
Batum is clocking five assists a game this year. It’s pretty impressive that he has been terrible this year (Because he was injured) but still managed to rack up dimes regardless. Congrats to him for this abnormal consistency.
Birdman Dunked on Kaman and it was funny. Shoutout to all the birds Kaman killed to prove he was a man, Andersen avenged you today. Stop eating meat you savages.
Two cool moves from small forwards above the break tonight. Deng caught the ball above the break, did a VERY fast drive break and hit a three pointer. Batum, on the other side of the floor, caught the ball, did the world’s tiniest little shot fake, so small a butterfly was in union with its vibration, drew his defender, and dished to Lillard, who hit a three pointer.
Whiteside posted up on Lopez twice and scored both times. Easy to forget that he’s kind of vulnerable there when he is so good at every other kind of defense. I was watching Rudy Gobert a lot recently and I noticed that he is moveable in the post, but he is also athletic and long enough that he can block or frighten anyone who tries to toss the ball over him. Lopez is the former, but not the latter. Whiteside also iso’d on opes with 5 remaining on the clock and got an and-1. THis game feature pretty much everything you could ever want.
The Blazers shot well from the field, fueled by Aldridge’s abnormally efficient night, but Whiteside made rim-work very, very difficult.
Brief thesis: Meyer Leonard has it in him to become the JR Smith of big men. Meditate on this until the next game.
I won’t go overboard with words on this one, because I only have so many before death’s icy hand comes and takes me to a new life, a different life, one with less love and affection but a deeper understanding of truth.
In the first half, the Blazers were terrible because they were clearly very, very tired. They were losing dudes in transition and on simple pick and rolls. Shit just weren’t happening. Hard to be too confused about why; they has just played less than 24 hours previous, flown on a plane, slept in a bed that wasn’t their own, and then walked themselves out to the court against a team that was fresh and free and ready to be.
Then, in the second half, down twenty, they trotted out a stretch lineup and started to hit some threes. On the other end of the court, the sad-ass Wizards, who, much like the Raptors, have found themselves in a rut where they forgot how to execute, a brilliant synergistic team turned over to reveal cracks and dirt and worms that suck at basketball, were missing a gigantic pile of shots.
The Blazers never managed a lead, though, and in the last five or so minutes, Wall and Pierce and Beal managed to grab the grips and yank the game in their favor. Wall dove five rows into the crowd when the game was essentially decided. It was one of my favorite plays of the year, because he landed on a bunch human beings that were entirely too far away from the action to have expected it at all.