In theory, the purpose of these recaps is to try to give a sense of the experience watching the game and put it in some kind of greater context – or simply, what happened and what does it mean? Sure, there are plenty of times when we don’t really do that well, or in a traditional method, or really in any method, but even the weirdest of the weird stuff still hopes to answer those questions at some level. Sometimes in #veryrare times though, I don’t know those answers. I’ve been reading a lot of bizarre stuff related to True Detective lately, so that’s probably infected my brain with what Gregg Popovich would call “a variety of maladies,” but whatever the reason, I never found a grasp on tonight’s game and I could dwell on its mystery forever and become consumed in a state of cosmic despair. Go Blazers.
In my head—in my BRAIN, I know that this game doesn’t really matter very much for reasons outlined below, yet I’m nonetheless very bummed out, and I can’t decide if it’s because of this single loss or because it would appear that I (and you, dear reader who I assume is a Blazer fan) will have to watch (and write about [not you, you just read about, I write about]) basketball similar to this for at least the next week.
Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard, Joel Freeland, and The Yellow King himself, Meyers Leonard, did not play. There were reasons for that, reasons you can probably find elsewhere if you’re so medically inclined. For our purposes here, just know that their bodies weren’t up for a game of NBA basketball. In their place, Cory Joseph, Marco Belinelli, and Boris Diaw started for the Spurs, Dorell Wright started for the Blazers, and Thomas Robinson got to run around a lot and do some jumping too.
I get excited about strange lineup combinations because sometimes an imagination needs to feel real, so even though all those dudes sat out, I was excited to see what kind of wild and crazy ideas Terry Stotts might come up with in a safe environment for such experimentation, with the Spurs’ stars also sitting out. “Will Barton at point guard and Nicolas Batum at point center! With a whole bunch of crazy in between! Could it happen?! Let’s watch and see!” These were my thoughts before the game. Those are kinda my thoughts before every game, but this game, it was supposed to be real. It was supposed to be the fun of a preseason game or – dare I say, a Summer League game – but it would actually MEAN something, happening in the regular season against the San Antonio Spurs.
But what happened, exactly? There were some smallish lineups, sure. Thomas Robinson played center. Victor Claver got to play! Damian Lillard shouldered the load, as hoped, scoring 31 points. Mo Williams and Wes Matthews did their parts, with 19 and 18 points, respectively. The middle class might have paid off their credit card bills, but the revolution fell flat.
Instead of Terry Stotts being like a witch who went through her refrigerator and threw all the random leftovers into a witch Crock Pot to cook up a delicious new witch stew to cast new spells, the result just tasted like stale tortilla chips and leftover hot dogs. It was not magical.
As for how, more exactly, the Blazers lost, there were some key plays late that hurt them — a bad turnover and a marked inability to stop Patty “I SOLD MY SOUL TO 2001 ALLEN IVERSON” Mills come to mind — but this wasn’t the sort of game to point to individual events as turning points. This was the sort of game to see in its entirety, from the vantage beyond the fourth dimension. Time is just a flat circle. The same events happen over and over again. Portland was always going to lose, playing as disjointed as they did for most of the game, and certainly as they did for the second half. If they had won, it wouldn’t have been deserved.
In the fourth quarter, Gregg Popovich ran out a lineup that featured Patty Mills, Cory Joseph, Nando de Colo, and Danny Green. Yo.