TRAIL BLAZERS 100 – KINGS 99: BOYFRIEND

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Dorell Wright had 3, 4, and 2 tonight. One probably can’t recall the 4 rebounds. One of the assists was a between the legs dish on a fast break that was pretty hot stuff, but the other was totally forgettable. The three points were a game winning corner three he drilled after a lovely one-arm-slung jump pass on the baseline by Damian Lillard. (Dorell claims it was his first game winner since high school.) It came after DeMarcus Cousins hit two free throws to put the Kings up by two after Wes Matthews fouled him on a Kings fast break, created when Damian Lillard got his pocket picked by Ray “Gun” McCallum

THis was not an ideal game for the Blazers, at all. McCallum, a rookie guard who has a career 8.8 PER absolutely lit up Damian and the Blazers all night, 23 points on 15 shots, 8 assists, absolutely not one turnover, and three steals. Real American Hero DeMarcus Cousins also did damage to the tune of 30/12/2/3 steals. In four meetings with the Blazers this year, DeMarcus scored 130 points (34+34+32+30).

In the first and third quarters, the Blazers actively conceded long twos to Cousins and he cashed in, going 5/9 from the space above the top of the key. The strategy was a brazen concession to the Blazer’s problems protecting big men at the rim that backfired against Cousins tonight. I am absolutely for laxing your defense in long two territory, but the brazenness of allowing Cousins these shots tonight was a little unseemly. It’s not like he’s 2010 Blake Griffin — he has a clean stroke, makes about 40%. They’re so scared of big men rushing the rim that they give them an attractive open shot and hope they take it.

They have a little trouble guarding pick and roll guards and big men who cares, that probably won’t be a problem in the playoffs. Sorry, excuse me? They’ll probably play the who? Rockets? James who and Dwight what? Oh geez, that could be bad.

Pretty much everyone on the Blazers had their customary performance tonight: LaMarcus with a throwback 22 and 8 (not all throwbacks are ideal), Lopez with 13 and 9, Matthews with a good-but-not-breathtaking 19. Batum had 11 and 6 assists, but only one rebound in deference to the regression Gods after his sinfully abnormal rebounding March. One hates to be the cranksterman after a win, but the Kings are a crummy team playing without two starters on a road back-to-back; why isn’t everyone feasting on the Kings’ tired corpse and getting some cheap stats?

Lillard had 19 and 10 assists, but he had five turnovers and played that aforementioned shitty defense against McCallum. Lillard’s defense has improved on dribble drives this year, but if you set a pick on him he still just kind of runs into it and lets the guard go flying towards the helping big. That was a very pretty sling pass to Wright, though.

STRAY THOUGHTS:

-Three of McCallum’s points were on a double-covered fadeaway three at the buzzer that nearly killed my dog.

-Earl Watson was a +14 tonight. Trade Mo Williams and Damian–and shit, let’s dump Wes too, because Earl is the Blazers’ guard of the future. All intangibles! He increases their steal percentage! He is a handsome man!

-Reggie Evans had a busy night: sometimes in the third he attempted a foul line fadeaway shot that DID NOT go in the basket and was offensive to me and my two children and my dog, all of whom are named “Rufus.” He also got a turnover out of LaMarcus when he pulled the chair on him in the fourth.

-The Wes alley-oop play worked tonight. Does it work more than I perceive, it just looks so silly when it doesn’t work that I internalize that pain and think irrationally about the play?

KINGS @ BLAZERS PREVIEW: ARE THE BLAZERS COOL?

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The Sacramento Kings (27-50) are scoring 105.8 points per hundred possessions, 18th in the NBA and surrendering 108.6 points per hundred possessions, the 22nd best mark in the NBA. Their simple rating, Basketball Reference’s team rating based on point differential and strength of schedule, is -2.10, which is not very good, but it’s better than last year’s -4.25. The Kings are a team on the rise, everyone!

The Kings are playing on a road-back-to-back, missing point guard Isaiah Thomas, and are firmly entrenched in the traditional bad team season ending skid out. This is probably an easy win for the Blazers so long as they don’t let Rudy Gay slice their bellies open for 32 points like he did back in the Kings’ 123-119 victory on January 7th. The Kings and Blazers other two meetings were home-and-home 104-91 and 98-86 victories back in November.

Also a possible problem for Blazers tonight: scary-as-fuck Alabama swamp monster DeMarcus Cousins. Boogie has scored 35, 33, and 35 points in games against against the Blazers this year. He is good at pretty much every element of big man scoring: post ups, putbacks, catches on pick and rolls. I guess he’s not a great midrange shooter, but like five NBA players are great midrange shooters and two of them are Dirk.

DMC is also very cool. He has a cool nickname, he chews out announcers, he volunteers with dogs, he scowls a lot and moves around the court like some kind of ballerina warlord. DeMarcus is the anti-Dwight Howard; he doesn’t care if anyone likes him and it’s fun to watch him play basketball.

This got me thinking: how cool are the Blazers (50-28)? We’ve been on the journey with them and we value that, but was it cool? I will determine:

DAMIAN LILLARD:

COOL: Oakland’s pretty cool. He sometimes takes three pointers several feet behind the line. Was in the dunk contest even though he rarely dunks in game, an ostentatious act if there ever was one.

NOT COOL: Doesn’t attack the basket enough. Stayed in college for four years, lame. Was in the dunk contest even though he rarely dunks in game, which, a little ostentatious, bro.

CONCLUSION: PRETTY COOL.

WESLEY MATTHEWS:

COOL: Seems like a very competitive young man. Undrafted out of college, sort of a scrapper.

NOT COOL: His name is “Wesley.” Has an okay post game he likes to break out, like he’s your dad or something. Never connects on that alley-oop play they run for him. Competitiveness isn’t THAT cool.

CONCLUSION: NOT THAT COOL

NIC BATUM:

COOL: Frenchman! The French are very cool because of France Gall and berets. They also wear striped shirts and smoke, and smoking is VERY cool. Very pretty eyes. He didn’t even go to college because he was playing pro basketball instead. He probably speaks French, which is the language Godard’s movies are in.

NOT COOL: I got nothing.

CONCLUSION: V. COOL, SUPER DOPE.

ROBIN LOPEZ:

COOL: Seems very comfortable with himself. Boxes out very well without prioritizing his own rebounding, community and teamwork are very cool.

NOT COOL: A DEEP DEEP nerd. The wettest, dankest nerd shit. One time he Tweeted about how he didn’t like new Looney Tunes cartoons; that’s like the deepest darkest nerd place you can go, man. Mariners fan.

CONCLUSION: NERD, EXISTS OUTSIDE TRADITIONAL SCALE

LAMARCUS ALDRIDGE:

COOL: Deep voice. Baseline turnarounds are A LITTLE cool.

NOT COOL: Doesn’t dunk enough. The midrange pick and pop is by far the uncoolest basketball play and everyone knows it. Probably lives in Beaverton.

CONCLUSION: NOT COOL.

BENCH:

COOL: Will Barton, Dorell Wright, Earl Watson (Fouls are cool.), Thomas Robinson

NEUTRAL: Joel Freeland (British: makes him a novel NBA player, but he IS still British.), Victor Claver

UNCOOL: Meyers Leonard,  CJ McCollum (4 years of college, NOT COOL.), Allan Crabbe (seafood, can’t abide it)

DEEPLY UNCOOL: Mo Williams. Quit trying so hard, man.

FINAL CONCLUSION: The Blazers are not cool. I am sorry, everyone, but it is the team we’re stuck with, forever.

TRAIL BLAZERS 100 – PELICANS 94: 500 DEGREEZ

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IF YOU CAME HERE LOOKING FOR RATIONAL MODEST PERSPECTIVE WITH A SIDE OF “WE’RE ONLY AT BASE CAMP, EDMUND HILLARY,” THEN PACK YOURSELF ON BACK TO WHATEVER INTERNET HELLHOLE RUN BY A CAT GIF DICTATOR THAT YOU CAME FROM. THIS IS A PLACE OF FREE LOVE AND CELEBRATION AND UNFETTERED JOY AND EXCLAMATIONS ABOUT WILL BARTON’S ARTISTRY BOLSTERED WITH EXTRA HELPINGS OF DRAGON REFERENCES. GRAB A PLATE. MIX YOUR METAPHORS. IT’S A PARTY. YOU MIGHT GET ENOUGH THRILLS FROM RIDING THAT GLASS ELEVATOR AT THE EMBASSY SUITES AND FEELING LIKE A GOD WATCHING OVER THE PEASANTS AT THE BREAKFAST BAR, BUT I WANT TO TAKE AN ENERGY DRINK SPONSORED JOURNEY TO THE STRATOSPHERE AND GAZE OUT INTO THE THIN EVERY-COLOR-OF-BLUE LINE SEPARATING PLANET EARTH FROM THE BLACKNESS OF SPACE AND FEEL ENORMOUS AND TINY AND ONE WITH ALL EXISTENCE, JUST LIKE NICOLAS BATUM, EVEN IF THAT FEELING ONLY LASTS FOR A MOMENT.

THE TRAIL BLAZERS BEAT THE PELICANS ON SUNDAY NIGHT IN PORTLAND AND WHILE THAT DOESN’T REALLY MEAN SHIT IN THE REALM OF HUMAN ACHIEVEMENT, 50 WINS ON THE SEASON AND A PLAYOFF BERTH KINDA DOES. I’LL ELABORATE ON THAT GRIPPING THESIS IN A SECOND, BUT FIRST, I SHOULD PROBABLY, YOU KNOW, RECAP THE GAME.

THE BLAZERS CAME OUT JACKING THREES BECAUSE MIDRANGE BASKETBALL IS PROPAGANDA AIMED AT THE MIDDLE CLASS TO KEEP THEM SUBJUGATED AND PACIFIED WITH THE ILLUSION OF ACCOMPLISHMENT.

THE PELICANS CAME OUT GIVING THE BALL TO ANTHONY DAVIS BECAUSE HE IS A BURGEONING REVOLUTIONARY WHO WILL SOON DESTROY ALL THAT IS LEFT OF THE STRUCTURE OF BASKETBALL THAT WAS ONCE THOUGHT TO BE EVERLASTING.

TYREKE EVANS ALSO GOT SOME TOUCHES. TYREKE HAS NO GREATER POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE.

FRANCISCO GOYA PAINTED THE SECOND QUARTER. MEYERS LEONARD PLAYED. A LONE DOG APPEARED STRANDED THE DESERT. MO WILLIAMS TURNED THE BALL OVER. SATURN DEVOURED HIS SON. THE PELICANS LED BY 7 AT HALFTIME.

THE SECOND HALF SAW A RENAISSANCE OF TRAIL BLAZER CULTURE THANKS TO THE MAJESTIC INTERCOURSE OF SCIENCE AND ART AND THE FLOW OFFENSE. LAMARCUS ALDRIDGE ROSE STRONG AND MIGHTY LIKE A COLOSSAL MONUMENT IN THE CENTER OF THE OFFENSE, WHILE WES MATTHEWS DID THE HARD LABOR ON THE FRINGES, LILLARD PROVIDED THE MEMORABLE FLOURISHES, AND BATUM WAS THE ENLIGHTMENT AS HE ALWAYS IS.

THE PELICANS LOST.

NOW AS FOR THAT NEBULOUS THING CALLED MEANING. THE PLAYERS WILL OBVIOUSLY DOWNPLAY THE WIN AND INSTEAD TALK ABOUT ROADS AND PATHS AND HIKES AND MOUNTAINTOPS AND OTHER VAGUE METAPHORS RELATED TO ALPINE LIFE. WHY SHERPAS HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO CUT IT AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL REMAINS UNKNOWN. MEANWHILE, AS THE SHERPAS NOD IN AGREEMENT, THE SO-CALLED REALISTS POINT TO THE DIFFICULTY OF THE WIN AND THE GENERAL STATE OF THE BLAZERS OVER THE LAST COUPLE MONTHS AND USE THAT TO ADVANCE THEIR VIEW THAT NONE OF IT MATTERS ANYWAY WHEN THE BLAZERS INEVITABLY LOSE IN 6 TO THE ROCKETS. YEAH, TRUE. SO WHY EVEN ENJOY THE EMOTIONAL TICKLE OF MUSIC OR FILM OR GUACAMOLE? EVERYTHING DIES, RIGHT?

BUT I AM NOT BOUND TO ALPINE CLICHÉS, AS I AM NOT A PLAYER (I’M A GREAT PASSER FROM THE HIGH POST THOUGH, TERRY! I’LL SEND YOU SOME TAPES FROM MY CYO DAYS!). NOR DO I SUBSCRIBE TO BASKETBALL NIHILISM – IF WE’RE ON THIS WORLD, WE MIGHT AS WELL HAVE SOME FUN. SO I WILL HAPPILY LET MY EMOTIONS RUN AWAY AND PAINT THIS WIN AS GLORIOUSLY AS POSSIBLE.

THE TRAIL BLAZERS DEFEATED ANOTHER PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL TEAM, AN ACCOMPLISHMENT FOR ANY TEAM, AND IF YOU LIKE THE BLAZERS AND CARE ABOUT THEIR SUCCESSES, YOU SHOULD FEEL HAPPY ABOUT THAT FACT. IN DOING SO, THE TRAIL BLAZERS EARNED THE RIGHT TO PLAY MORE BASKETBALL AND STAY IN THE RUNNING TO WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP, WHICH IS GREAT IF YOU LIKE BASKETBALL AND WATCHING THE TRAIL BLAZERS. THEY MADE THE PLAYOFFS FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 2011, THE END OF THE MIGHTY, ALBEIT BRIEF, AGE OF BRANDON ROY. YET, THEY NEVER COMPLETELY DESTROYED WHAT HAD BEEN. THERE WERE NO WILD TRADES TO GRASP FOR A MESSIAH, NOR WERE THERE ANY MARCIN GORTATS OR OMER ASIKS TO THROW TO THE NOISY MOB LIKE LOAVES OF BREAD. THE PILLARS OF THIS TEAM HAVE ALWAYS BEEN PILLARS, AS THE LASTING PRESENCES OF LAMARCUS ALDRIDGE AND NICOLAS BATUM POINT TO THE BLAZERS’ BELIEF IN PATIENCE AND TRUST AND PERSONAL GROWTH. DAMIAN LILLARD WAS A HIGH DRAFT PICK, BUT A LOW-RISK PICK EXPECTED ONLY TO START, NOT CONQUER THE LEAGUE LIKE A DURANTULAN TYRANT. THEN THERE IS THE SALVATION ARMY. WES MATTHEWS IS FROM MARQUETTE. ROBIN LOPEZ IS WEIRD. MO WILLIAMS WAS HEARTBROKEN. DORELL WRIGHT WAS RESCUED FROM A CONVEYOR BELT PROBABLY HEADED TO THE CHINESE LEAGUE. THOMAS ROBINSON AND WILL BARTON HAVE BEEN LIBERATED TO DO WHAT THEY DO AND BE CELEBRATED FOR IT, NOT ADMONISHED FOR WHAT THEY DO NOT. EVEN MEYERS LEONARD—UM, WELL—IF THE BLAZERS WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP, I’M SURE HE’LL GET HIS NUMBER RETIRED RIGHT UP THERE NEXT TO DAVE TWARDZIK. SORRY SABONIS.

PELICANS @ TRAIL BLAZERS PREVIEW: MUGGLES

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(You walk into a mysterious store in Southeast Portland. The store sells voodoo knick knacks: various skulls, canes, vials of blood, varying shapes and sizes of purple candle. The back room calls to you. Beads in lieu of a door. There is a gigantic fat man in the back, wearing a horrible purple zebra striped suit and a gigantic yellow hat. He has a gigantic beard with purple and yellow beads in it. He carries a cane with a beaver skull on the head. He speaks in a thick, nearly incomprehensible southern accent and never seems to say the same word the same way twice.)

Why hullo thure my young friend my name is Crystal Butts, and I am a VooDooMan from Loosie-ana down south. The various devils and demons I consort with have brought me heeure to tell you about tonight’s Pawlan’ Tril Buggers (record) an’ Nawlins Pelly-Cans game (record) happenin’ tonight in the ol’ Roses Garden.

Now the Pellies are havin’ theselves a rough yeah with the loss by injury of their star point gaud J-rue Holly-Day and fowad Ryan Andyson and disappointing season from free agent signing Tyrick Eveans. They scorin’ 107.3 points puh hunded po-ssessions that’d be 12th place in the NBA an’ not so bad but theys givin’ up 110.1 points puh hunded po-ssessions which’d be 27th in the league an’ about as bad as a crawdad tryin’ to size up against a gator lemme tell you. (Crystal Butts laughs, then coughs for 20 seconds)

Nah the Pellitcints best playah is Anthony Davidson, a dynamic forward from Ken-tucky by way of Chicagee Ill-in-oise, he averages 20 points and tenerso rebounds for the Pelicans. When these teams last puh-layed back in Nawlins on March 14th, a 111-103 Pawlan’ win or so he scored what was then his car-rier high of 36 points (Butts whipsers) he eclipsed that total a few days latuh when he scored fawty points again’ Kelly Oly-Nicks and the sadass Bawsin’ Caltics. (Crystal snorts a line of a blue drug you’ve never seen before.) Oh my that DOES hit the spot yessuh. Now what was I… oh yes, Anthony is a tree-mendous high pick playugh, able so scour on mid range jump shawts, lawb passes and dribbadrives to the rim. Verah difficult playugh to guard, espi-cly if your picknroll defens is occasionally lacking the way Pawlans’ is. The other match-ups between these teams were buth in Decembuh, a 110-107 Blazuh win an’ a 110-108 Pelicuns victroy.

A win for the Blizzars I believe will cinch a playouff spot for that org-in-a-zay-tion, the team’s first in three yeahs time. The Peli-cans are maybe in a little bit of a pickle as they are in danger of losing their d-raft pick to the Philadelphia Seven’y Sixers on account of their trade for J-rue Holday. Pruhaps they are not a terribly moto-vated group of young men. Notta mentyun their of’ injurred shooin’ guard Eirc Gawdin is also out with a sprain’ left knee god bless his heart. The Blazers have none of these sawts of injries exceptin’ the ongoing knee problem with Britman Jo-el Free-lan’. (A cat jumps onto Crystal’s lap, he pulls out a knife, cuts some of the cat’s hair off and eats it.)

Oh yes, this game will also mawk the return of mah son, Luke Babbit, to the Rawse City after his bref soj-urn playing baskeyball in Russia. Naw, I don’t quite understand why he is callin’ himself Luke these days, as his muthuh an’ I named ‘im Dragonslayuh Von Butts, but I spose’ that every youngin’ wants to make his own name in the wuhld and there ain’t much I kin do to stawp im’. Lawke is scorin’ 5 points a game an’ shootin 34 Per-cent from 3 in his time with Nawlins, not so terrible I ‘spose. It’s somethin’ of a shame he would have been such a good witch doctor like his muthah if he had decided to go down that path. Also on the Pelicans: Austin Rivuhs, a hawbble little man who scares chillens’ and has no place in a civ’lized NBA.

SUNS 109 – TRAIL BLAZERS 93: GREEN IS BLUES

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Here is some footage of Gerald Green’s night:

 

 

Blazers wore yellow it was weird.

C’mon, get a hand up, Wes!

OK STANNIS WELL I GUESS WE AREN’T CLINCHING THAT PLAYOFF SPOT JUST YET.

O nvm that’s just a scene from Reign of Fire.

SUNS @ TRAIL BLAZERS PREVIEW: KNIFE MAN

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Tonight in Multnomah County, the Portland Trail Blazers (49-27, 5th place west) will match up with the visiting Phoenix Suns (44-31, 9th place west.). The Suns are in the middle of a vicious all-out 3-team battle royale with the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies for the last two spots in the Western Conference playoff bracket. There were five minutes there were everyone worried that the Blazers might join them in this fight but after convincing victories over the Hawks, Bulls, Grizzlies and Lakers, those fears have subsided.

The Suns are scoring 109.5 points per hundred possessions, the 8th best mark in the league, and allowing 106.8 points per hundred possessions, 14th place in the NBA. THe results of their previous meetings with the Blazers this year were: a season opening 104-91 home victory (Point guards Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe had 26 and 22), an 89-90 loss in November (Lillard had a game winning layup), and a 120-106 victory later in November (Dragic had 31.)

That first game was very frustrating at the time, a sign to all pessimists that the Blazers could rearrange as many pieces as possible, they would still be good at home and stink on the road and not make the playoffs in the Western Conference that breaks everyone but the Spurs eventually. But as it turned out, the Suns weren’t the shameful tankapalooza everyone thought they were and it was a perfectly acceptable loss.

People might not remember in the light of the Suns’ success this year, but this team was thought to be a shameful organization on the tank. Dragic was pretty good, but how would he play with Bledsoe? They’re REALLY gonna trot Miles Plumlee out there? Does it seem like they just traded for Marcus Morris for novelty’s sake? Turns out, they play VERY well together, in part because Bledsoe magically developed an acceptable (34%) 3-Point shot over the summer, Miles Plumlee was pretty good, and the Morris Brothers have weirdly complimentary (Marcus outside, Markeef inside) games and must be an absolute NIGHTMARE to scout since they look exactly alike. (We better watch out for that from Marcus. That’s Markeef. Wait, are you sure? No, not really.)

Dragic and Bledsoe are an insane backcourt because they can both do pretty much whatever you might need a guard to do: they both dribble and pass, they can both defend both guard positions, they both shoot pretty well. Hopefully the Blazers can guard th… haha, I couldn’t even finish this sentence they’re gonna get killed by these dudes. Look out for Lillard getting a facefull of Morris torso and giving up a clean three to Dragic.

The Suns have tremendous spacing. Look out for something like Dragic/Green/Tucker/Morris/Frye, five guys with convincing three point shots that can drag someone like, oh, say, Robin Lopez out of the paint and leave an open basket for a penetrating guard like, say, Goran Dragic. Losses to madcap wackybones teams like the Suns and the Mavs, teams that throw out versatile multi-position players and experiment with matchups on the fly are the price the Blazers pay for signing optimum players at every conventional 1/2/3/4/5 position and paying like six bucks for the bench.

A Blazer win tonight will lock up a playoff spot and tie them with the Rockets for fourth in the West but it will actually be fifth because Houston has the tiebreaker.

TRAIL BLAZERS 124 – LAKERS 112: THE CAMERA PHOTOGRAPHS WHAT’S THERE

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Dear Jack Nicholson,

 

Here is what you missed:

 

Did you know Steve Nash is still alive? Well he is! I know; I saw that video on Grantland in which they (by “they” I mean doctors or doctor-like folk, not Bill Simmons et al.) were injecting Nash’s back with needles – really big needles, like the kind of thing that people use to inseminate horses. I’ve seen that before too; the Internet is wild! You should check it out! I mean you should check out the Internet, not horse insemination. Horse insemination is pretty much what you would expect.

Anyway, Steve Nash! He was out there creating like his team was made out of Play-Doh and they pretty much are! Plus, he even made some shots! His spine didn’t fall out or anything! Can you believe it? I think he organized an expedition to find the Holy Grail and he remembered that the penitent man shall pass and that in the Latin alphabet, “Jehovah” starts with an “I,” and he took the leap of faith and then he chose wisely and he hasn’t taken the Grail across the seal. Remember that Indiana Jones movie? Don’t tell Kobe though. He’ll fly his helicopter there and take the grail across the seal because he thinks the Kobe System is more powerful than magical Grail rules. SMH he’s just like that Nazi lady, I know!

Hey you know who is not a Nazi (other than most people on Earth), Nick Young! He’s like the opposite of Nazis! They would hate him! Nazis were not very fun and Nick Young is all about fun! He’s not really fun for me, of course, because I like the Blazers and even I’m not that much of a self-hating fan. But for any other non-Puritans, Nick Young would be pretty fun. He was wearing some 10-year-old LeBron shoes that were colored like Timberland boots – “wheat” is the technical term. Nick Young likes his shoes like he likes his toast. That wasn’t a good joke. I’m sorry. I bet Lou Adler tells the best jokes. I bet his jokes are all simple and timeless, like something Jack Handey would say. I don’t have that kind of talent. I would just say something dumb like how Nick Young and wheat are similar because some “intelligent” people say they’re allergic to Nick Young and wheat but really those people are just making up some fake allergy to defend how picky they are, and also Nick Young and wheat are the same because wheat is a staple food and Nick Young plays in the Staples Center. Whoa. I hope you didn’t get high before you read that last part. You seem like you might be high a lot.

Ok Jack, I’m going to have to talk about some people on the Blazers now. You, as a lover of basketball, should embrace the opportunity to discuss a team that does not give heavy minutes to Robert Sacre or start Kent Bazemore (no disrespect #justfacts). Damian Lillard of Oakland, California, scored 34 points. He was the best player on the court, and that includes your beloved Pau Gasol. Lillard hit 5 of 10 three-pointers and he threw down a pretty nice dunk too, after which he glared back at the Lakers like he was Cyclops shooting invisible laserbeams out of his eyes that would cook the Lakers and cause their lake to evaporate, leaving just a hole filled with tree stumps.

Elsewhere in the realm of achievement, LaMarcus Aldridge scored 31 points and pulled down 15 rebounds. Sometimes he can look like an empty vessel and as we suck the straw (NO JOKES) beckoning for more all we get is the remnants of liquid careening off ice cubes, but tonight, he was filled to the brim with purpose. Either that or he was playing against Robert Sacre and apathetic post-vertigo Pau Gasol and Ryan Kelly and Chris Kaman. BTW is Chris Kaman OK? The beard, the lying down, the lack of even fake effort on defense, it sure seems like a cry for help. I’M HERE FOR YOU CHRIS! WELL NOT ME, PERSONALLY, BUT SOMEONE LIKE ME! SOMEBODY WITHIN THE HUMAN RACE IS HERE FOR YOU! TAKE A SHOWER! A LIFE SHOWER! BUT FIRST A REAL SHOWER! YOU LOOK SOILED! YOUR SOUL IS SOILED AND YOUR BODY IS SOILED!

Ok, let’s end this on a positive note. Kendall Marshall nearly died! At the hands of Meyers Leonard, no less! That is not an April Fool’s joke! Marshall was coming down the court on a fast break, eyeing the rim like a man hungry to turn a 6-point night into an 8-point night and cut 16-point deficit to a 14-point deficit. Oh yeah, there was like 36 seconds left when this was happening. The game had long been decided. Meyers Leonard, who had been on the court for about 90 seconds, decided that this would be the moment when he would make his stand of defiance against all those who call him too weak-hearted and too passive to become a dominant center in this league. NO LAYUPS. So as Marshall gathered to take it to the rim, Meyers grabbed yung K-Butta by the back of the neck-butta, and “threw” him to the ground. I put “threw” in quotations because the malice was suspect. The move itself looked like a combination of Meyers wanting to chokeslam Marshall and also wanting to bring him in close for a warm hug. In the replay, the look on Leonard’s face held terror and violence until it didn’t, like he was saying in his internal Meyerslogue: “GRRRRRRRGGGGHHHHROOOARRRRRRRRR DEATH TO ALL WHO CHALLENG—oh no! Kendall! The wood is hard! Are you OK? Here, wait there! I’ll go get you some Jolly Ranchers! What flavor is your favorite?” Meyers was given a flagrant 2 and ejected from the game.

After the game, Meyers Leonard had this to say to the gathered scribes into their gathered tape recorders:

“YEAH, MEYERS LEONARD, MOTHERFUCKERS. ASK ABOUT ME. THAT SOFTBATCH PUNK WHATEVER HIS NAME IS—KENDALL? IS THAT A GIRL’S NAME? [CACKLING] THIS AIN’T THE KARDASHIANS AND I AIN’T BRUCE JENNER THOUGH I JUST MIGHT TOSS A JAVELIN THROUGH HIS BITCH HEART IF HE TRIES TO APPROACH THE RIM AGAIN ON MEYERS. NO LAYUPS. HE’LL BE THE TAR ON MY HEEL, YA FEEL ME? Wait—are the Tar Heels the ones who wear baby blue? OMG you guys, a couple months ago, I dyed my dog baby blue and it was just the most adorable thing. God bless Pinterest [giggling].”

 

So yeah, that’s how it went down Jack.

Love,

Joe

LAKERS @ TRAIL BLAZERS PREVIEW: THIS AIN’T NO PICNIC

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A COMPLETE LIST OF WAYS IN WHICH THE 2013-2014 LAKERS RESEMBLE CAKE:

1. They both have a lot of empty calories. The Lakers are scoring 102.6 points per game, 12th in the NBA on 104.0 points per hundred possessions, 22nd in the league. This discrepancy is the result of the Lakers playing at the league’s 2nd fastest pace. It’s not a “good offensive team,” it’s a “fast-paced offense that sucks,” much in the same way cake might fill your belly, but you don’t get the nutrients you need to dominate the competition.

2. Cake is pretty easy to dominate. The Lakers are 25-48 and getting eaten up every which way. Stick a fork in and get your stats, Blazers, the cake won’t stop you!

3. …but cake can also make you sick. For instance, at the Lakers’ previous game against Portland (48-27), where they beat the home team on a game winning-shot at the rim from Wes Johnson on a lob from Kent Bazemore, then stood around while Damian Lillard clutched his belly and moaned from cake overdose right before tossing up a lethargic shot to seal the Blazer loss.

4. Cake stinks at defense. Think about your family under siege from raiders. Would you line your house with bricks or cakes? Bricks, obviously, because they are a solid object that would keep raiders on the outside. If you put a big ol’ pile of cakes, they might stop and eat, but they will eventually get inside and steal your things and make your son their cabin boy. Similarly, the Lakers and their profoundly defensively deficient frontline players (Pau Gasol in a disengaged mood, Chris Kaman, Jordan “The Gentleman’s J.J. Hickson” Hill) are giving up 110.3 points per hundred possessions, the 28th worst mark in the league.

5. Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, a pair of athletes who obsess over conditioning do not fuck with cake, nor do they fuck with the 2013-14 Lakers. Kobe has a broken knee and Nash has a big ol’ pile of maladies that render him unable to play basketball. There’s no reason to get a chunky reputation by feasting on the extra career stats this cake would give them.

6. Cake has flour. Chris Kaman is white, fluffy, and he has more bone powder than people would be comfortable with if they knew.

7. Forum Blue and Gold are not colors that occur in nature, much like the various colors of frosting and fondant that are spread all over cake.

8. Cakes often feature chunks of ex-Dukies who people find irritating. Ryan Kelly is on the Lakers.

Hopefully the Blazers, now on a 2013-vintage three-game winning streak, will crush this cake with their bare feet, much like the woman in this odd video I found. Boy, what a weird video! Is it a joke or something? Is the joke that she’s wasting that cake?

TRAIL BLAZERS 105 – GRIZZLIES 98: COLD IS THE OCEAN’S SPRAY

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It’s the 9th Century. The ol’ Julian calendar on the wall says that it’s summer, but there’s still a chill outside. There’s always a chill outside – it’s the 9th Century and the signage reads “Canterbury” or something and the sheep haven’t quite been as forthcoming with that good wool lately. Times are tough. So just to get a break from the depressing monotony of counting parsnips or whatever in your tiny dirt hut, you grab your cloak, mumble something to the family about “going to the store,” and head out for a walk to clear your head. Right as you’re sitting on a bluff overlooking the North Sea, gazing out into the emptiness and reflecting on all the dreams you compromised for a family and steady life in a dirt hut counting parsnips or whatever, you see it, a small fleet of ships approaching from the horizon. Each has the one sail, the oars sticking out the sides, the shields, the dragon on the bow, the whole nine. Soon, the ships land on the beach below and everyone that unloads looks enormous, made from volcanic rock, and ready for war, like they’ve been crafted for war. You’ve heard the grim stories about the terror wrought by these “Northmen,” but who knows where they’re really from. Maybe Hell. Maybe Graceland. Suddenly, all you want is to count those parsnips or whatever forever, but you know that your destruction is assured.

Now, imagine it’s 2014 and those same “Northmen” are landing on these shores. They’re still big, igneous, fearsome, with the axes and swords and shields and intimidating hairstyles and all that. But it’s 2014, and you don’t need to fight them on their terms. You have modern weapons like Mo Williams, who seems to have recently embraced his role as scorer and become more assertive looking for his shot in the pick-and-roll. You have the newly repaired LaMarcus Aldridge, whose post game looks to have returned, if his turnaround fadeaway is still finding its way. You have Damian Lillard of Oakland, California. They just have axes and swords and shields. Even if the combat becomes hand-to-hand and punishing, you have more evolved tools of brutality like the The Yung Energy God Thomas Robinson, Ol’ Ironsides Wes Matthews, and the Octopus Wizard Robin Lopez. Or, if you’re feeling peaceful, just allow Nicolas Batum and Will Barton to pacify these incoming warriors with the beauty and transcendence of art.

BLAZERS @ GRIZZLIES PREVIEW: STACYE

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That was a fun two-game win streak, full of ball movement and good wins over subpar teams. But the fun may end tonight with the Memphis Grizzlies in town to play the Trail Blazers (47-27). Their two previous meetings this season were 98-81 and 109-99 Grizzlies victories. The Blazers were stifled by the Memphis defense in both of those games, shooting 35% and 40% from the field. They also allowed the Grizzlies balanced and efficient scoring in both encounters.

The Grizzlies are 43-29, good for eighth place in the Western Conference. They’ve scored 106 points per hundred possessions, the 16th best mark in the NBA and allowed 104.2 points per hundred possessions, the 6th best rating in the league. BUT, these numbers do not truly communicate the proficiency of the team on account of a prolonged injury to their starting center and best player Marc Gasol. Their poor injury luck has put them in an uncomfortable race with Phoenix and Dallas at the bottom of the West for a playoff spot. I suspect they will be victorious in this endeavor, since their true talent level is so much better than their current record.

Under Lionel Hollins and new coach Dave Joeger, the Grizzlies have had the unfortunate habit of giving up leads late because of a counterproductive strategy of working to kill clock at the end of a game. NBA offenses work best when they initiate early and find a good shot. But the Grizzlies always start playing against the clock a little too early in their lead, allowing the opposing defense to set and get a good contest on their attempt. On Friday, this strategy and timely threes from from Steph Curry killed them late in their game against the Golden State Warriors. Watch out for this if the game is close near the end.

The best Memphis Grizzlies play: Conley and Gasol run a high pick and roll. The other team packs the paint when Gasol receives the ball. Gasol then passes to a spotted up shooter, perhaps Mike Miller or profoundly-Grizzliesesque-scrap-heap-discovery James Johnson in the corner, and they hit the three. That was a lie: the best Memphis Grizzlies play is when Z-Bo knocks the guy who he is posting up on over, then he calls for the ball and makes a layup. The third best Grizzlies plays is when Tony Allen gets the ball above the three point lines, drives into the paint, is met with some resistance, dribbles out and hands off to Conley, having blown 10-15 seconds of clock for no reason. If you ever get the chance to see the Grizzlies in person, do it, because Tony Allen is, like, really fucking amazing to watch. He never ever stops moving and he yells and claps all the time and occasionally you think he is an alien. Look for all of of these wonderful plays to understand how America’s beautiful game is played.

James Johnson is a wing who has only played 845 minute for the Grizzlies, but he is leading the team in dunks with 39. This is both because: A. He dunks a lot and B. No one else on the Grizzlies dunks, ever. Marc Gasol has 17 dunks. Zach Randolph has 5. Mike Conley has 1. The Grizzlies do an amazing job denying pleasure to anyone who is watching them on a non-fan basis. They are the dankest, dirtiest, deep cut in the NBA. If you like them, you’re either a defense and big man enthusiast (hey.), or a person from Memphis who likes violence. For three years, they started a shooting guard who couldn’t shoot! I hope, somehow, they best the Pacers in the Finals and end the NBA as a sport that average Americans care about altogether.

The Blazers haven’t made one single half-court heave this year. Should we be concerned? Mo Williams is leading the team in heave attempts at 4. Someone else needs to step up and step into a heave, if you ask me.