Kevin Love didn’t play. It was a last-minute decision, like digging through the laundry pile to find some socks and deciding that nobody will notice if you’re wearing two different socks, as long as you’re wearing pants, and Rick Adelman was wearing pants. They were charcoal-colored pants, I think. Nikola Pekovic was wearing a beige trench coat, a sort of stylish trench coat, the kind that a man might wear if he wanted to spy on East Germany by day and sit faux-casually on faux-leather couches in poorly heated Berlin clubs by night. If you’re thinking that Pek played in that trenchcoat, no, you are wrong, but Pek’s absence was no surprise. His ankle stay bursitis’d. Also, Kevin Martin didn’t play because he recently broke his thumb. He has another thumb to tell you if you should see Ride Along or kill a fallen gladiator (btw don’t worry it’s not like an either/or thing), but basketball requires two thumbs. So yeah, like a lot of important Timberwolves, Love didn’t play. I’m not really sure what was wrong with him though. Hey, do you [not] pay me to dig up facts or write sarcastic fan fiction? Pek probably got cast as the Cyclops in a community theater production of The Odyssey and because Pek comes from the Daniel Day Lewis school of method acting, he probably ate one too many goats and obviously someone needs stay up all night to hold the bag (IN THIS IMAGE PEK IS VOMITING PARTIALLY CHEWED RAW GOAT INTO A BAG HELD BY LOVE THUS LOVE DIDN’T GET ANY SLEEP AND WAS NOT FIT TO PLAY A BASKETBALL GAME).
I just wrote 271 words without a single mention of anything that happened on the basketball court in the basketball game, but featured two references to the same imaginary UNCONFIRMED vomiting-of-goat incident. It’s almost like it was intentional. Look, the Blazers won and that’s great. I don’t want to take a free pizza, then complain that all the good pepperonis are wearing fashionable trench coats behind the bench (and yeah, I know pepperonis don’t [usually] wear trench coats, I GET IT, ASSHOLE). But basketball appreciation isn’t all about the wins and losses. Sometimes in basketball, as in life, the losses can be beautiful and the wins can be ugly. Like ice dancing, you know? I wouldn’t say this win was ugly, but it wasn’t attractive. At best it was frustrating, but more than anything, it was uninteresting. It didn’t particularly fit into the season’s #narrative, yet it revealed almost nothing.
The Blazers came out, scored some points on the undermanned Wolves, and took a lead. Ricky Rubio enjoyed Portland’s midrange allowance and scored some points himself. Shabazz Muhammad, who already was discovered to be older than originally believed, still looks older than what is now his truth. Maybe he has a fast-aging disease like Robin Williams in Jack, and soon Shabazz will get suddenly depressed, then drunkenly hit on Fran Drescher. I don’t know. I’m not a scientist. For now though, he has a nice little post game and gave the Blazers quite a bit of trouble in the second quarter. The other unstoppable force for Minnesota was Corey Brewer (related: Portland was on the second night of a back-to-back after playing a grueling overtime game on the road against the best team in the league). Brewer scored quite a few points as the Timberwolves even found a lead at some point in the second half that I would prefer to wipe from my memory. But fortunately, LaMarcus Aldridge is better than Dante Cunningham and Wes Matthews has the kind of iron gut that can chew on all manner of raw goats with no trouble, and the Blazers regained a late hold on the game, just in time to clinch the win.
If there were any mementos to take from this game and remember its existence along the great continuum of time (and the smaller continuum of the NBA schedule), it was C. J. McCollum’s career night. With Mo Williams away from the team tending to his ailing sister, and Damian Lillard and Earl Watson both in constant foul trouble, McCollum found his 11 older brothers all looking up to him. Word to Coach Herman Boone. McCollum responded with a career high 19 points on 6-12 shooting from the field and 3-6 shooting from three-point range. He had already shown some of his ability as a scorer earlier in the year, but to do it in a close game, as struggling teammates turn their lonely eyes to him, well that’s the kind of stuff that earns a postgame interview. After delivering the usual postgame interview clichés (“DON’T TALK ABOUT ME!!!” “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLLLLLLLE!”), the interview ended, as it frequently does. Now usually, the interviewee thanks the interviewer, slaps him on the back, and trots into the locker room like a good soldier who respects the importance of the press in regulating democracy, but also must maintain the illusion that sportsmanship and teammates and strong, solemn trots are more important to the #branding of that democracy than self-promotion. But instead, C. J. just kind of stood there, awkwardly looking into the camera as they cut to some words from their sponsors AKA some words about pancakes from IHOP. McCollum seemed to understand it was over, but didn’t really want it to be.