Live from the sold out Rose Garden as the Portland Trail Blazers take on the Houston Rockets in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. Just in case you missed Saturday's Yaosplosion (much better than Yaosploitation), here is a photo I took of the massacre in progress. Shortly after that was taken, Joel Pryzbilla was mysteriously never heard from again.
While the Miss Cleo in me wants to say, child, Blazers gonna win this game, I can't go that far. But what won't happen is another 108-81 blowout where the Rockets rough-up the home team. And while I'm listing other things that will not occur this evening: Yao Ming shooting perfect from the field, Aaron Brooks looking like the greatest point guard on the planet, and LaMarcus Aldridge's vanishing act. Portland should play better, while the Rockets will come tumbling back to earth. Kind of like the Challenger. Zing! (Take that, perfectly innocent school teacher and America's failed dreams of outer space exploration.)
Will tonight be the last (home) game of the season for the Blazers? If they fall tonight, the odds of them winning one (or two) games in Houston are next to impossible.
During the Rocket's introduction, a chant of "Let's Go Blazers" drowns out the player's names. Now we'll never know Ron Artest's college alma mater and Luis Scola's uniform number.
11:47 - Clearly not a fan of Tru Warier Records, Nicolas Batum swats Artest's shot to open the game. In my mind, Batum listens to nothing but Serge Gainsbourg. There is no score.
10:25 - It took a few days, but Portland now has their first lead of the series. 4-2 Blazers. Savor this moment.
9:04 - Batum for three from the corner, and then he follows that up with some hounding defense on Artest that leads to a shotclock violation. 8-7 Rockets.
7:40 - Someone brought their whistles. Lots of calls so far, and Steve Blake just got a whistle for using some salty language. 13-10 Rockets.
7:12 - Blake responds with a three point fuck you shot. It's like a regular three, but it involves Blake running down the court flipping off the officials with both hands. Wait, that never happened. 13-13 tie.
6:24 - Yao finally misses a shot. I've been waiting forever for that to finally happen. 17-15 Rockets.
3:48 - Hate to be that guy, but I assume I'm not the only person in town confused on how Yao has physically punished the Blazers —he just sent Roy to the floor—without earning a single whistle. 21-18 Rockets.
1:17 - Dikembe just tore his ACL. Maybe that is not the proper diagnosis—I'm a blogger, people, not a medical doctor—but he is doing that withering on the ground thing that I did a few months ago when I tore my ACL. I think my injury involved more Tourette-esque cussing. Is this the end of Dikembe? Did Oden just chalk up his first casualty? Will Dikembe be my rehab buddy? Here comes the stretcher, there goes Dikembe for maybe the last time... 24-20 Houston.
1:00 - Okay, I've been working on my Odd Couple-esque sitcom script for me and Mutmbo. We're rehab buddies repairing our damaged knees, and living in a tiny apartment together (I picture us sharing a Murphy bed) with a nosey landlord (he doesn't believe we are fraternal twins) and sexy coed neighbors. There's a lot of his "not in my house fingerwaving" and arguing about who did what chores, but we learn to be best friends after our get rich quick schemes (in the pilot episode, I play a game in his jersey... hijinks ensure) fall through. Fox just bought 12 episodes.
0:19 - Aldridge just swatted Aaron Brooks' shot all the way into the seats. Portland holds for the last shot, and Roy—who else?—hits a three from the top of the arch. After a quarter, it's 28-26 Portland.
9:50 - Travis Outlaw blocks a Von Wafer layup from behind. I love that play. It's really the most skillfully play in all of basketball. Well, except that play in And-One where they dribble off someone's head. 30-29 Blazers.
9:13 - Here's a sentence that I didn't get to type enough last game: Rudy for three. 32-29 Portland.
8:28 - Sure he can hit a full court shot, but put Oden three inches away from the basket and watch him panic and clank a layup. That is three on the night that he has failed to convert. 34-32 Blzrs.
4:52 - Blake with an alley-oop to Roy for the dunk. Life is a whole lot easier for Portland when Yao and Dikembe are out of the game. 42-41 Houston.
3:20 - The past few minutes have seen the return of Aldridge's offensive game (6 straight points), but the Blazers are still having a hard time stopping the Rockets on the other end of the court. Houston is shooting over 60% from the field, again. 49-47 Houston.
2:14 - Make that 10 points in a row for Aldridge. 51-49 Rockets.
0:00 - The Rockets controlled the pace for the entire second quarter, but much like the first dozen minutes of action, the Blazers roar back in the final few minutes. At the half, your score: 53-51 Blazers.
10:23 - Stay classy Przybilla. The Vanilla Gorilla hip-checks Aaron Brooks and is not whistled for it. That would be a foul in hockey. Oh, sorry, a penalty. Stupid Canadians. 55-54 Houston.
7:57 - The LaMarcus Aldridge that couldn't miss in the second quarter has started to miss again. He's had three attempts—all of which have been wide open—and nothing. 60-56 Rockets.
6:50 - Yao picks up foul number four. That's good news as is, but even better without Mutombo in the game. The Rockets' backup centers are both a tiny 6"9. 63-60 Houston.
3:58 - Roy scores his 30th (!) point of the night. That is nearly double of any other player on the court. Dude is not fucking around tonight. 66-65 Blazers.
2:52 - Overheard on press row: "Scola is pretty cute for a 6"10 chick" 69-65 Blazers.
2:07 - Five point lead for Portland, sadly that is their biggest lead of the series. Make that seven points, Aldridge just found his shot again. 72-65 Portland.
0:00 - Goodbye lead. The Rockets roared back, and as Portland took the final shot, Roy for three, it missed and Aldridge taps the rebound to Brooks who raced the length of the court and tied the game. A dozen minutes to go and we are all tied up: 72-72.
11:29 - That's how every quarter should start: Rudy for three. 75-72 Blzrs.
10:16 - Steve Blake tosses the worst pass in basketball history, and the Rockets tie the game back up. Portland's point guards are a mess. 77-77 tie.
7:56 - Learning from the best—Papa Pryzbilla—Oden shoves Yao. Surprisingly, no fouls are called. Oh, and the Rockets are winning again, 83-79 Houston.
6:06 - Przybilla gets clipped from behind and tumbles over. For some reason that is considered a foul, which is number five for him. Oden has five as well. Panic! 86-83 Houston.
5:11 - Roy ties it up with a pair from the charity stripe. 87-87. Aldridge picks up his 5th foul. Portland has a real problem here, especially if this game stays close or goes into overtime. 89-87 Rockets.
4:44 - Oden with a put-back dunk that was just ridiculous looking. That might have been the best play of his career. He follows that by stripping Yao (of the ball, you perverts), and Portland scores on a layup by Blake. 91-89 Blazers.
3:39 - Goodnight, Oden. Six fouls for you. 91-90 Blazers.
2:25 - Roy with an impossible three pointer. Good lord, that is 39 for him. That might have done it. Damn, it's loud in here. 96-90 Portland.
1:03 - Just when Houston was ready to come back, Outlaw tips the loose ball and dunks it all alone on the other side of the court. 98-90 Blazers.
0:39 - Roy is fouled and ices this game with a pair from the line. Ladies and gents, the Blazers are coming back home a week from tonight. 100-92 Blazers.
0:06 - Houston will not die. The Rockets mess without everyone's press filing deadlines (don't fuck with us media types) and extend this game another ten minutes with a series of fouls. Then Brooks hits a pair of threes and makes this game uncomfortably close. 105-103 Blazers.
0:00 - Nice win for the home team. Now pray for a miracle on the road. Your final score here: Portland 107, Houston 103. See you next Tuesday.