Live from the Rose Garden as the Portland Trail Blazers take on the New Orleans Hornets in a 5-on-5 basketball contest--most points wins!
Portland is attempting to remain unbeaten for the season inside the 503, while New Orleans is trying to make their mark as the best sports franchise to ever wear those hideous teal uniforms. My apologies, San Jose Sharks. Could tonight's game mark Travis Outlaw's final game ever in the Rose Garden? What about Sergio Rodriguez, are his days as Rudy Fernandez's BFF numbered here in Portland? Since my illegal wiretap on Kevin Pritchard's cell was deemed "highly illegal," I have no clue.
The arena is buzzing about the trade rumor that would send Outlaw to Memphis for Mike Conley, the longtime pal of Greg Oden. The idea being that Conley would be the tick bird to Oden's rhino (Was that too dorky, a I-watch-nothing-but-Animal-Planet, of a reference for writing about the NBA?), and the two would then form a glorious symbiotic relationship until the end of time.
The reality being is that Conley hasn't really done much in Memphis, and the deal might also need to include Rodriguez and Hakim Warrick's contract (he'll come with it). I don't like the trade offer at all, but it clears the eventual logjam at SF (with Martell Webster coming back in a matter of weeks, if not days), makes Oden a happy little boy, and clears some salary space for the off-season. Maybe the team will resign Raef LaFrentz with all that coin?
But Portland better be ready to focus on the Hornets unless they want to get stung (See what I did there? I am a goddamn professional at this shit! /High-fives John Canzano). Tryptophan hangover won't be an excuse, especially since New Orleans was in Denver last night and the Blazers' depth should be their advantage over a thin Hornets roster. Then again, the boys in teal have Chris Paul (Brief assholish reminder: Portland could have drafted Chris Paul, but selected Martell Webster instead. You have my permission to commence head-into-wall slamming right about now), and CP3 is good for at least a double-double every night. And the Blazers, with their lack of um, skill, at point guard, just might be powerless to stop him.
Oh, it's also Civil War night here at the Garden. So can you stop asking why I am wearing this General George Pickett uniform? And, yes, the beard and bayonet are real... um, wait, what? Ducks vs. Beavers? Oh, I sure do feel foolish right about now. Although, come to think of it, this would explain why none of the players would speak to me before the game.
11:35 - Nice start for Kid Oden, who nets an offensive rebound and pass to Brandon Roy for a 12-footer. 2-0 Portland.
11:00 - Yikes, Portland is -P-U-M-P-E-D tonight. A full court press brings about a rare panicked look in Chris Paul's eyes, as he calls timeout once he realized he was trapped. 4-0 Portland.
8:39 - Chris Paul hits a layup that sends him into the seats, and 'Lil Stevie Blake takes advantage of Paul not getting back in time as he hits a three-pointer. 11-7 Blazers.
7:55- The Hornets seem ill-prepared to handle the Blazers' full-court press, as Portland is determined to keep the rock out of Paul's clutches for as long as possible. Meanwhile Peja Stojakovic cares not for Nicolas Batum's rookie ways as the crafty (that's basketball speak for annoying) veteran has handled him with ease. 13-9 Portland.
5;31 - There was a beautiful moment where, on a switch gone bad, Oden had posted up Chris Paul. Yet still, with over a foot to his advantage, the big chap lost the ball at the basket. It looked like this picture, but less fun. 16-12 Blazers.
4:17 - If you want any idea of how good the Hornets are, Portland is playing nearly-perfect basketball right now and only leading by seven. Shots are going in, threes are falling, Oden is not falling over, yet after all that, the Hornets are still right there. 23-16 Portland.
2:00 - Rudy para tres! That's his humble way of saying "don't you dare trade Sergio." 28-22 Portland.
0:08 - Hilton Armstrong (great porno name, by the way) heroically stops Outlaw from completing a huge alley-oops dunk. He fouled Outlaw in the process, but considering how loud that would have made this crowd, it was a wise play. 31-26 Portland.
10:37 - Someone has watched Portland's YouTube highlight film of alley-oops, because every time a Blazer goes near the basket, the Hornets drag his ass back down to the court. Even if it's a foul. Rudy was the latest victim to meet the hardwood. 33-28 Portland.
9:10 - With Portland shooting a redonkulous 65% in the first quarter, and an equally as shocking 57% from long distance, this lead was bound to crumble. And crumble it has. The Hornets trim it down to three. And if that wasn't bad enough, James "Elbows" Posey doesn't have any sympathy for Travis Outlaw's possible relocation to Memphis, as he violently pushes Outlaw away, yet somehow gets the favorable whistle. There is no justice in the world. 34-31 Blazers.
6:37 - Channing Frye just got suckered on defense by Posey. That looked terrible. Channing, that is why you have a blog and Posey has a championship ring. Well, that and Kevin Garnett. 41-37 Portland.
3:25 - Rudy, who has never met a shot he doesn't like--the feeling is mutual, the shots themselves love Rudy--keeps laying the bricks and he gets the hook from McMillen. If it wasn't for him, the Blazers would be still shooting around 65%. His replacement, Nicolas Batooooom, steals the ball on his first play and goes coast-to-coast for the layup. 45-42 Portland.
0:52 - Paul just dribbled past the entire lineup of the Blazers--including Blaze, Paul Allen, and the ghost of Kevin Duckworth--for an easy layup. Oh, New Orleans now has the lead. 48-47 Hornets.
0:12 - Not for long. Batoooommm might as well have just signed Outlaw's trade papers, as the French kid nails a three to put Portland back up. Meanwhile, Frye flexes his muscles with a big block on the defensive end to ensure that the Blazers will lead at the half. Wow, that might have been the best competitive--the blowout games are entertaining, but not as exciting--half of basketball I've seen in quite awhile. 50-48 Blazers.
11:15 - Batum missed a three? I didn't know that was an option. Rasual Butler (I prefer Casual Butler, my new sitcom in FOX staring Jeff Foxworthy as unorthodox Southern butler forced to raise a pair of spoiled city kids. Laughter, and valuable life lessons, ensue.) hits a three to put the Hornets in the lead. 51-50.
8:41 - Steve Blake pulls a Chris Paul--ironically in front of Paul--by slicing two defenders and driving to the basket. Aldridge tipped it in, thus saving the pretty play. 56-56 tie.
7:18 - Chris Paul just hit a three from well beyond the arch. He was actually off the court up here in press row, right next to me, when he shot it. I was so close, I could smell him. He smelled like cinnamon. 60-57 Hornets.
6:40 - Oden gets an offensive rebound and gets stuffed by the backboard on his way up. My god, that piece of non-mobile equipment came out of nowhere! (I meant the backboard, not Oden). 60-60 tie.
4:53 - Despite having more fouls than points, Portland keeps handing the ball off to Oden. Luckily he draws a foul on his most recent of misses. Unluckily, he misses both shots. Luckily (again) he comes up with a block on the other end. What part of "defensive presence, do not, for the love of God, let him touch the ball on offense" does Portland not understand? 65-65 tie.
3:20 - Tough titties (that's an old basketball term, goes way back to Dr. James Naismith) for New Orleans, since they are already in the penalty, all their fouls lead to shots. Joel Przybilla hits both of his free-throws, 'atta Gorilla. 69-69 tie.
2:22 - Hack a gorilla--Jane Goodall does not approve--as New Orleans once again fouls Przybilla. He hits them both with his velvety touch. 71-69 Portland.
0:58 - The Hornets go small, and Aldridge goes BIG, as he impressively uses his size to complete a pair of layups for Portland. Look at that lead, not that it will last... 75-69 Blzrs
0:01 - Rudy gets tangled up, on a very dumb foul courtesy of Devin Brown, as time is about to expire. He comes up limping, but the sold-out crowd chanting "RUDY! RUDY!" probably helps with the pain. He hits both shots. 76-69 Portland, as the Blazers finish very strong at the end of the quarter. A dozen minutes to go...
10:20 - The good news for Portland is that Chris Paul has four fouls, and thus, is riding the pine right now. On the court Portland comes out strong once again (see the whole Chris Paul on the bench thing for the reason why) and stretches the lead to 82-69 with a three from Rudy.
9:07 - Sean Marks? Really? Are the Hornets waving the (literal) white flag by putting him in the game? 85-71 Portland.
5:20 - I guess the question right now is, are Portland really this good at home? Are they the best Western team on their home court? They are a very different team than the squad that fell apart in Phoenix last week, and to have a 15 (!) point lead over a healthy Hornets team this late in the game is phenomenal. 91-76 Portland.
2:59 - That might be a first. David West fouls Brandon Roy very hard, and Roy--of all people--gets in his face with a few choice words. And, as it should be, Przybilla enters the picture to "enforce," but is pulled away before he has a chance to rip West's still-beating heart from his chest. Gorilla smash! 93-82 Portland.
2:09 - Tyson Chandler fouls out, with only five points to his name, which says a lot about the struggles he had while guarding the dual-headed beast of Oden/Przybilla. 97-82 Portland. Chaulpas coming shortly...
0:53 - Chalupa courtesy of a three from Blake, only after Roy goes under (!) Devin Brown. How was that even possible? 101-85 Portland.
0:00 - If Portland wanted to be a playoff team they had to do more than just whup the scrubs--sorry Chicago and Miami, but it's true--and tonight's commanding victory proves they can do just that. This was more than just a nice "W," it was a statement that will earn this team a well-deserved rep for being unfuckwithable on their home court (7-0 at home!). This was one helluva basketball game, with the final score: Portland 101, New Orleans 86.