Live from the sold out Rose Garden as the Portland Trail Blazers take on the San Antonio Spurs in the home opener of the 2008-09 season. Gosh, this sure is exciting. A young team versus an older championship squad. Brandon Roy versus defensive specialist Bruce Bowen. Greg Oden versus... one second, let me crack open the newspaper here and.... OH DEAR LORD, AGAIN? Greg Oden right foot sprain? Only 13 minutes on the court? Why does God hate us?
Okay, so Tuesday's season opener did not go quite as planned. Oden played for a few hundred seconds, the Blazers were schooled on national television, and the team lost by a resounding 20 points. Good thing I missed it all. What? There was a Walker Texas Ranger marathon on. Dude has a jetpack. You can't expect me to miss that.
But I won't miss tonight's game. Let the season begin...
The good news for Portland? San Antonio is without the floptactular duo of Manu Ginobili (ankle) and Fabricio Oberto (heart problems--how emo!). The bad news? Those mean 'ole Spurs have won 12 straight against Portland and 19 of their last 20 in the series. Crap.
Oh, and the whole "let's all wear red to show our unity" thing? Not looking good. Or red, that is. I'd say that the majority of those here right now are not in red. But, hey, it's free hat tonight. What color are the hats, you ask? Not red.
Without Captain Flopsalot (that would be Ginobili), the Spurs only have two weapons: Eva Longoria's husband (Tony Parker) and a guy who would kill to be Eva Longoria's husband (Tim Duncan). If Portland can slow their roll--they both has 32 points apiece in their opener--the Blazers will have a great shot at victory. In other really obvious news: Cats hate dogs and John McCain is old.
Being the home opener, tonight is a little more special than normal. Earth Wind & Fire is performing! ESPN is here! And there will be a moment of silence for fallen Blazers icon, Kevin Duckworth.
Earth, Wind, Fire... and Rudy? It's cute to see the legendary band at center court, so close to the players. I wonder if the rookies think they get a free funk show before every game.
10:02 - Portland is quick out of the gate and looking aggressive. LaMarcus Aldridge nails the first two buckets of the home season. It also helps that Kobe Bryant and the Lakers are a few thousands miles away. 4-2 Portland.
8:41 - Tony Parker has been swatted twice, the last of which leads to a Steve Blake layup. Meanwhile, Matt Bonner grabs Brandon Roy on a breakaway suspiciously close to his bits and pieces, but somehow the officials don't call a clear path foul. Or a ball grabbing foul. 8-7 Portland.
5:40 - So, it's quite clear that Portland is wearing their big kid pants and being aggressive. It's also clear that the Spurs have been playing together since the beginning of time. Back then, Timmy Duncan used to dunk the 'ole leather ball in the peach basket. And we all wore onions on our belts. Now get off my dang lawn. 10-10 tie.
5:05 - Michael Finley gets fouled by Nicolas Batum, who was 6 years old when Finley was a rookie. Yikes. 14-12 Spurs.
3:15 - After a trio of misses, Portland somehow maintains the rebound, flipping to a charging Batum who clanks the dunk. Granted, he might have been fouled. But he's a rookie, and French, so he won't be getting those calls anytime soon. 18-14 Spurs.
2:56 - Rudy hits the floor to RUDY RUDY RUDY chants. Is it hot in here or is it just me? 18-16 Spurs.
0:48 - After 22 sloppy second of mishandling the ball, Sergio Rodriguez just hurls up a three-pointer, which somehow goes in. It was the ugliest three points you'll see tonight. 21-20 Portland.
0:00 - Roy holds for the last shot, which ends up being a three point attempt from Rudy. Rims off. Oh well, considering the foul trouble, and the fact that the San Antonio Spurs are on the court, the Blazers are fortunate it's this close. 22-21 Spurs.
11:12 - Oh no he didn't. Batum just swatted a dunk attempt from Tim Duncan. A much larger Tim Duncan. A future hall of fame Tim Duncan. A totally stunned Tim Duncan. That leads to Rudy knocking back a three, and we're all tied up, 24 all.
9:56 - While it is Rudy who gets the chants, Batum is playing like a man possessed. After a great defensive stop, he sliced the lane and hit an acrobatic layup. He's easily the second best French player on the court right now. That was mean. 28-24 Portland.
7:24 - Batooooommm! Spurs might be better, but they are being out-hustled by Batum, who comes up with a steal and a breakaway layup (while getting fouled). 31-28 Portland.
6:29 - Sure, the Spurs are old, but it's a little too early in the year for their dusty 'ole bones to show like this. Is Kurt Thomas riding a rascal scooter? The Spurs are already in the penalty, and are looking a little overwhelmed by a quicker Portland team. I know! San Antonio overwhelmed by Portland! I thought I'd never type those words. 35-31 Portland.
4:21 - Aldridge does something awful pretty while posting up Duncan. If LaMarcus ever wants to make the all-star team, it's Duncan's spot that he will be gunning for. Poor Droopy Dog. 40-37 PDX.
2:00 - Roy discovers the best way to score while being guarded by Bruce Bowen. It's to shoot from as far away as possible. 46-42 Blzrs.
0:00 - French on French action! Batum is brought in to guard Parker, and while Parker coasts around him, he misses the layup. Roy gets a hold of it and hits a fall-away dramatic three-pointer as the buzzer sounds. Are you kidding me? Where was this team on Tuesday night? At the half, 51-45 Portland leads.
12:00 - Coach, here. Want to continue to stop the Spurs? Then perhaps you should guard Duncan, Parker, or Finley, because those are the onlySpurs who have really scored tonight. (Sorry, Desmon Farmer, your whopping five points do not count.) I'm not sure if San Antonio is even playing with all five guys on the court. It's like a Blazers powerplay all night long.
7:09 - The Spurs have their legs back and are keeping it close--Parker and Duncan keep scoring at will--but the odds of Portland ever pulling away seemed slim. As long as they keep it within a few baskets, they can probably run the Spurs into the ground. 60-53 Blazers.
5:54 - A hard foul delivered by Duncan stops Outlaw from getting back-to-back dunks for Portland. On the previous play, the Vanilla Gorilla played garbageman and had a nice put-back dunk, and the lead grows... 64-55 Blazers.
3:29 - Clearly a different player than the #7 who took the floor in Los Angeles, Roy keeps the pressure on the Spurs with a sweet little baby hook. Let's just pretend Tuesday never happened, okay? 68-61 Blazers.
3:14 - It took 15 seconds for Nicolas Batum to leave the bench and finish with a fast-break layup. Damn, kid. 70-63 PDX.
1:43 - Matt Bonner--Brian Scalabrine's body double--has the ugliest shot I have ever seen. It's like he's dry heaving the ball. The only thing that makes it worse is that it went it. From three. 74-68 Blazers.
0:30 - Roy to Batoooooommm! That was a dunk, hence the six O's in his name. 76-68 PDX.
9:42 - The Blazers should feel fortunate that they are up on a Spurs team that is shooting almost 60% from the field (58% actually). The reason that is the case is because Portland has been sticky-fingered and is not turning the ball over--four total, compared to 13 for the Spurs. Double digit lead time. 82-72 Blazers.
9:13 - Channing Frye is responsible for the Blazers previous three shots, the last of which was a very un-Frye like driving dunk. But the Spurs keep clawing back. 84-78 Blazers.
7:58 - The razorblade in the Blazers delicious Halloween apple, the Spurs are making their move right now. Parker to Duncan (shocking, I know) for a dunk, and now the Spurs are down by four. 84-80
7:24 - Ime Udoka, who suffered as a Blazer back in the dark ages, buries a three from the corner. Cue dramatic Spurs comeback right now... 85-83 Spurs.
5:28 - Like a horror villain who just-won't-die, the Spurs keep lingering around. And while they aren't killing sexy teens at sleepaway camp (not yet, at least), they aren't about to let Portland get the win and all the delicious Halloween candy that awaits them. Seriously, this Blazers team is young enough to still be trick-or-treating. 89-85 Portland.
3:11 - One point game! They can not be killed. Mike Meyers is impressed. 92-91 Portland.
3:00 - And now we are tied. Like a teen camper investigating the noise in the woods, or the neighborhood kids daring each other to spend the night in the old haunted house--DON'T GO IN THERE--you can't help but get the feeling that San Antonio, who has trailed most of the game and is being outplayed on both ends of the court, has Portland right where they want them. The good news, Tim Duncan might be mortal. He has five fouls. Here's hoping for number six.
2:16 - Roy with a pretty pretty stutter-step and 14-foot jumper. Roger Mason answers that. 95-95 tie.
1:39 - Rudy on the line for two. Clank! He makes the second. Blazers by a lone point. 96-95.
1:16 - Parker answers with a layup, but Mason pushes Roy into the stands (well played, quite subtle of you good sir) and now BRoy is on the line... First one rims in. The second is a swish. Phew. 98-97 PDX.
1:00 - The Vanilla Gorilla gets a break when he paws Duncan from behind (not in the good way) and gets a jump ball. I'm surprised that wasn't a foul. He better bring his hops here on the jump... Przybilla wins it! The Blazers have the ball, up by one with less than 60 seconds to go. 98-97 Portland.
0:34 - As the shot clock expires Aldridge with what might just be the best jumper of his short career. From the top of the key as the clock hit zero. Wow. It's been three years since the Blazers beat the Spurs. Could tonight be the night? 100-97 Portland.
0:32 - Oh, that wasn't good. Roy with a foul on Parker, after 2 seconds, at it pushes the team over the limit and San Antonio to the line. He makes them both. The crowd groans, while, somewhere, sitting in a large pile of money, Eva Longoria cheers. 100-99 Blazers.
0:00 - Wow. So Portland stumbled on offense, leaving Outlaw to flail on a wild layup attempt, and the Spurs quickly got the rebound. Instead of calling a timeout (why?) they pushed it forward and left Michael Finley with a wide open 6-foot jumper. The kind of shot that 13-year veterans dream about. The kind they never miss. He missed. The clock expired. The Blazers won. Holy crap.
For a team that was pwnd on national TV to start the season, and one without Oden, the Blazers put on one hell of a show tonight. Final score, Portland 100, San Antonio 99.