An unfamiliar thing happened last week: I got depressed over a game. The Blazers lost a close one to the Nuggets because Greg Oden brick'd two free throws (like we knew he would) and I—along with a handful of friends who watched together—fell into the dumps. And though that somewhat familiar feeling was unwelcome, in a way it was strangely comforting.
Baseball stinks. I watch football, but only in the hopes of seeing a good game. College sports are just too hard to follow—too many players, teams and turnover. So thank Sports Jesus that basketball is back and not a moment too soon, what with the rolling back of daylight savings. Three or so days a week where the dark, cold evening can be at least partially averted—that is, just as long as the Blazers don't choke and thus compound the problem—lame sports depression compounding S.A.D.
But we don't expect that tonight, right? Naw—not against the Hawks, who are, when you think about it, the East Coast version of the Blazers. All kinds of young players resuscitating a franchise. High expectations. Lots of talk about potential. Strange as it might sound, the Hawks are about a year ahead. They've tied an NBA record with four-straight seasons with more wins and they've gotten out of the Playoffs first round. Then again they're the Hawks and this is probably the peak. Back to the dumpster with you!
Official Spread has Blazers -5.
Update: LaMarcus Aldridge, who was questionable with a banged up kneed, is warming up. Seems as if he'll go. Because you wouldn't get creepy stretches from a trainer with your legs splayed open like that just for fun, right?
Update 2: The Blog Software is being a finicky little bitch and refusing to send these posts live. We'll keep reporting, and hopefully it'll pop on up sooner than later.
You know who really doesn't care about the national anthem? Rudy Fernandez. Just sayin'.
9:13 - Martell Webster just missed a tricky reverse layup but something amazing happened: in crying out to draw the foul his voice was picked up by the rim mic and projected through the P.A.. This is incredible. Do NBA players realize this? Rasheed could be talkin' shit to opposing teams with a microphone!
8:12 - Right before this thing got ugly it didn't. After a horrible, clock-beating attempt by Steve Blake barely drew iron, Mario Williams missed a wide-open, breaking dunk on the other end, which turned into an Oden dunk. And a missed free-throw. But who cares right. Just get the dunk. That's where we're at. Portland 4, ATL 5.
6:56 - Of course, Greg doesn't want us to get our hopes too high. So he picks up his second foul and heads to the bench.
5:40 - Josh Smith misses a dunk, falls down and gets whistled. The refs must've thought he was Greg or something I'll take it.
4:02 - Zaza Patchouli-oil gets loose underneath and scores an easy layup. I'd say there's a 50-50 chance he and Joel Przybilla fight tonight. In that one, I give the edge to Pryzbilla, what with the mixed martial arts training. But it'd be a good one. Bloody good. In real news, Blazers seem to have settled in, and have clipped the Hawks wings, limiting them to just seven points so far. Portland are sharing, and have got 15.
1:40 - Joe Smith, who has now played on just about every NBA team, is now with the Hawks. This bums them out because Smith cannot guard LaMarcus Aldridge, who backs him down easy. (And WHOA! LaMarcus just went TO the basket!) Portland 19, ATL 11.
0:05 - Oh hot damn! Rudy strips the ball and lobs to a streaking Roy, who gets the easy break-away dunk. And that's the quarter. Roy and Aldridge played the entire 12 mins, and poured in 12 and eight, respectively. Portland 25, ATL 15.
11:30 - That was about the sweetest sequence I've seen yet this season. Travis fights to corral, and eventually steal a loose offensive rebound. Saves to Andre Miller, who finds Greg Oden above the rim with a perfect lob. Greg Smash! 27-18, Portland.
10:44 - Jamal Crawford is gifted three free throws for faking Rudy into the air from behind the line. Despite having done little so far, however, it seems Crawford could be a spectacular sixth man for the Hawks. A lot like a JR Smith, just so long as he can settle in and accept coming off the bench. Our sixth man, Travis Outlaw airballs the fuck out of a baseline turnaround. But Greg pulls it out and scores an easy layup.
8:34 - To those of you missing Nic Batum: Martel Webster CAN play 'D'. Excellent ball denial and constant hounding of Joe Johnson. And after his airball, the forgetful Travis outlaw scores five straight. Then gets forgetful again and mashed by Zaza while attacking the rim. Portland 33, ATL 25.
7:24 - Rudy Fernandez is giving a language lesson in Catalan on the big screen. And I might add, having just traveled to Barcelona, we're lucky to have Rudy. Being a king of that most magnificent city must've been hard to give up. All the people are beautiful, the sea is temperate, the food is terrific, and there are no bums. Pretty much the opposite of Portland? Nah.. that's too harsh. But thankful nonetheless.
5:32 - What the hell happened to this game's momentum? Fouls, free throws, timeouts, who the fuck else knows, but it's c-r-a-w-l-i-n-g all of a sudden. If there were Blazer Dancer fans they would be psyched. Yeesh. 37-29, Portland.
4:50 - Not particularly thrilled to be right, but Jamal Crawford has almost single-handedly gotten the Hawks back in this one. He's got 15. Blazers 39, Hawks 36.
1:15 - Josh Smith has been making some ridiculous athletic plays on offense, but the league's blocked shot leader can't get near Travis as he slashes through the key for a two-handed dunk. Might as well just try to pull down his shorts or something, cause it aint being blocked. Portland 47, ATL 45. And, ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a game.
Half: 48-47. Jamal Crawford has 17 points to lead all scorers. Roy and Aldridge have 14 apiece. And apparently the horrible, horrible stage show "Celtic Thunder" is coming to the Rose Garden. Get your tickets, or something.
2:57 - When a friend wants to buy you drinks at half-time and the blog isn't updating properly you take the drinks. 64-62, Portland.
2:08 - It's too early to say for sure, but Brandon Roy sure seems to be taking a lot more three's than last year.
:50 - Jamal Crawford puts his head down, dribbles coast to coast and gives the Hawks a 70-69 lead. Patchuli-oil tacks on two more. Roy bricks a three. I'm not the only one noticing Roy's increased reliance on the deep ball. Portland 69, ATL 72.
9:45 - LaMarcus gets his second consecutive dunk in the key. Untouched too, which is odd. You'd expect Zaza to be swatting at him with a lamb-shank or something. And after missing his first three from downtown—and being generally cold to begin the season—Rudy finally drains a three. All tied at 78.
8:55 - For a game of such little consequence, so early in the season, you'd be hard pressed to find a louder NBA arena. It's something special, truly. Forget the reasons, but who compares, really? And we're not talking about the final minute—there's over eight to go. But Portland is making ears bleed. Fucking phenomenal.
6:00 - As Andre Miller is blocked on a fast break attempt the Hawks edge out for a four on nothing. Jamal Crawford, surprisingly enough, hands off his open take to Al Horford who thunders down a two-handed dunk that would make Dominique proud (who is here, a Hawks commentator). After the ferocious, uncontested dunk, Horford mugs the crowd, who rain "boo's" down upon him. He doesn't care. Timeout Portland, who are down 86-80.
5:00 - Travis nails two wide open jumpers. One just inside the three-point line and one outside. Five quick points. Rudy has a chance to make it eight, but it clangs off the back rim. Portland 85, ATL 86.
4:25 - Oden has been doing yeoman's work, picking up offensive boards. But he's whistled for one—the crowd would say unfairly—and that's his fifth. LaMarcus heads back in.
3:00 - Greg back in but swatted by Josh Smith. Blazers forced into a 24-second violation. A little macabre in here all of a sudden... but maybe that's because there's a Black Eyed Peas remix on. Just horrible. 88-85, Hawks.
2:47 - Random stat update: Andre Miller has 11 assists. LaMarcus has grabbed 11 boards. That is all.
2:00 - Travis goes one on one with Crawford, takes what seems like a bad shot 'till he makes it. On the other end Joe Johnson drills a three. 91-87, Hawks.
:56.4 - PLAY OF THE GAME: Josh Smith blocks an Andre Miller layup on the three-on-one break, which leads to a uncontested, cherry picking dunk by Al Horford. That's likely to do it. The Portland fans that aren't slumped over in surprise or disgust are heading for the exits. Hawks up six, under a minute to play. 95-89.
:24.9 - Travis scores on a top of the key isolation. Blazers then force a 24-second violation on the Crawford corner-three airball. A sliver of hope?
:14.5 - Roy misses down low and Blake rims out the following three. Horford rebounds and is fouled. Now people are REALLY headed for the doors. Resounding disappointment abounds. Portland 91, ATL 95.
:00 - Remember that bit I said at the beginning about getting down after a game? Well there's about 20,000 people in this room feeling the same way. Portland 91, Atlanta 97.