Somewhere in the world, children were at play; flowers were blooming. Somewhere, a young couple shared icebreaking laughter on a first date. Somewhere else, underage college students were waiting in a Safeway parking lot to find a stranger willing to purchase a handle of Monarch vodka with communally-sourced cash. Somewhere in Mexico City, Raul Jimenez was scoring an unthinkable golazo with a perfect bicycle kick to keep alive a dream—already downgraded from a foregone conclusion—and avoid a truly unthinkable reality. All across the world on Friday night, life was happening. There was probably even some frolicking in some places – but not here. The Blazers were taking on the Utah Jazz in Boise’s Century Link Arena (home of the Idaho Stampede!); a location so exotic that it has apparently still eludes even the panoptic eye of television. Hence, in an undisclosed location deep within the Pacific Northwest, a blogger sat at the desktop computer in the center of his 4th-floor apartment with only a couple Pop-Tarts and a cold Miller High Life to keep him company, listening to this thing called “radio” and monitoring the refreshing pages of ESPN Gamecast and Twitter. The scene couldn’t have been too different from that of an emperor or empress of yesteryear, eagerly awaiting correspondence from some distant frontier. However, Queen Victoria probably didn’t take it upon herself to write recaps for every event of the Anglo-Zulu War. Of course, she probably didn’t eat Pop-Tarts either.
Despite the startling lack of modern technology in Southern Idaho (sorry, Idaho!), it wasn’t too difficult to create glorious mental pictures of the game’s action filled with rich, Lillard-laden imagery. The Blazers jumped out to an early lead, making 10 of their first 14 shots, and never really looked back. Unlike the prior two preseason contests, Portland’s starters played as such. Damian Lillard continued to impress, finishing with 23 points and dominating Jazz rookie Trey Burke so completely that Blazers radio announcer Antonio Harvey wondered if Burke had been quoted at some point making an unflattering remark about the former Weber State Wildcat. Nope, Lillard just took it upon himself to welcome Burke to the NBA in the simplest, most concise way possible: sticking jumpers in his grill and dunking all over his skull. The Big Ten, this was not. This was Big Sky country. Not only did Lillard assert his usually great offensive ability but poor Burke also became the doomed lab rat on which Lillard would test the work he had put in during the summer to improve his suspect defense. It’s hard to contextualize Lillard’s defense without any video but the numbers certainly do their best to quantify it. Burke recorded his first points with 1:15 remaining in the 1st half and finished the game with 7 points on 3-10 shooting. By all accounts, Lillard destroyed every aspect of Trey Burke’s existence.
The rest of the Blazers’ starters also had exemplary performances. LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 20 points and 8 rebounds. Wes Matthews hit a couple early threes to key the run that started the game. Robin Lopez defended the rim well and pulled down 9 boards. And Will Barton, starting in place of Nicolas Batum who missed the second straight game after sustaining a concussion in practice, scored 8 points on 4-5 shooting, including what was described on the radio as an “acrobatic” lay-up so one can only assume that it was extraordinary and marvelous and fleeting. Off the bench, Sweet Mo Williams added 11 points to go along with his typical monastic calming effect on the Portland offense, while the collection of muscles and brawn and spirit that calls itself Thomas Robinson collected 8 rebounds in 23 minutes. Only the Sultan of Silk, Allen Crabbe, had a poor performance, shooting 1-6 for 2 points after he had his best game in a Blazer uniform on Wednesday. The Portland lead even reached the tipping point that allowed E.J. Singler—quoth the Blazers official Twitter account: “South Medford stand up!”—and Richard Howell to get their first preseason run, and a chance to acquaint themselves with the fine folks of Boise and the arena they’ll soon be calling home with the D-League’s Stampede.
The box score, the ESPN Gamecast, the radio announcers, and the Internet at large would all suggest that this game marked the Trail Blazers rounding into regular season form but without a video feed, it still can’t be said for certain. But fear not, because fortunately for the non-blind and/or agnostic community of Blazer fans, and unfortunately for Trey Burke’s mental health, the Blazers will be running it back with the Jazz next Wednesday in Salt Lake City’s Energy Solutions Arena, a venue that boasts television cameras to beam footage directly to your favorite illegal streaming sites, if not the comfort of your own home (provided you live in Utah). Hopefully, the actual basketball will replicate the wonderful sugar plums that might be currently dancing around in your imagination. In the meantime though, go out and enjoy some life. Do some frolicking.