Live from the Rose Garden as the Portland Trail Blazers meet the San Antonio Spurs in competitive five-on-five indoor basketball. Portland's 2-3 start isn't exactly the impressive beginning most fans were hoping for, but the Blazers have opened at a 2-3 clip eight of the past nine years, including last year's 54 win season. What's that? The Blazers also started 2-3 the year they won 21 games? Oh crap. We're all screwed.
Want to hear the craziest thing ever? No, it's not a rabid Manu Ginobili hanging upsidedown from the rafters. Steve Blake is starting at small forward. Yeah, for some
totally insane perfectly logical reason, Coach McMillan is trotting out a starting five that features both Andre Miller and Steve Blake, along with Brandon Roy. I-N-S-A-N-E. And this will be against a San Antonio team that is not small (after wee Tony Parker, the next smallest player is 6"7), and is way too experienced to be fooled by a three guard set. Plus, with two point guards in at the same time, who leads the second unit? Jerryd Bayless? Patty Mills on one leg? Time traveler Nate McMillan? Wait, is time traveler Nate McMillan dunking on Tom Gugliotta? That's just cruel.
Seriously, since when did Nicolas Batum hold this entire franchise together? He goes down and the entire team falls into pure chaos. A one armed Batum on a post-surgery percocet buzz seems like a better idea than Blake starting at small forward.
It's also throwback uniform night. Hopefully it won't be throwback lose to the Spurs at home night.
The PA announcer says "guard" three times in introductions. There are three guards starting this game. Maybe this is the Wildcat Offense of lineups and McMillan is really a genius?
11:26 - Blake for three! 3 guardz foreverz!! 3-0 Blazers.
11:16 - San Antonio calls a 20 second time out after 40 seconds. I guess Gregg Popovich was just as confused as we are. 3-0 Blazers.
9:47 - So far Portland guards have eight points while San Antonio has zero. 8-0 Blazers.
8:28 - Oden with a jumpshot. For reals. Like a real, big boy shot. And it went in, too. And he didn't foul anyone in the process. Gosh. 10-4 Blazers.
5:58 - Well, that was impressive. The Blazers look a bit livelier than they have in the past few games, and while their defense isn't exactly locking the Spurs down (57% shooting for the visiting team), the offense seems to be getting open looks at will. 14-10 Blazers.
5:26 - When Tim Duncan gets pulled from the game he does that sad Charlie Brown walk from Peanuts all the way to the bench. Sad panda. 14-10 Blazers.
1:51 - Bayless comes in to a rousing ovation. What the hell is going on here? 22-12 Blazers.
0:14 - Bayless slices the lane and scores while getting fouled and stumbling a row into the crowd. The lineup change is working wonders. Nate McMillan is the Bill Belichick of the NBA. He now needs to cutoff his sleeves on his suit jacket. 27-14 Blazers.
0:00 - Holy shit. Rudy misses a three as time expires, but Martell Webster—clearly not upset that he just lost his starting job to Steve Blake of all people—dunks the ball home with one hand as the shot clock expires. That was ridiculous. 29-14 Blazers.
12:00 - Only three San Antonio players—Duncan, Parker, and George Hill—scored for the Spurs in the first quarter, compared to eight Blazers (out of the 10) who notched points. 29-14 Blazers.
8:20 - With a bit less pep, the Spurs score 10 quick points to start this quarter, most of them were off a soft second unit—Bayless, Outlaw, Przybilla, Webster, Rudy. 34-24 Blazers.
6:08 - The Spurs are now up to four players with points scored (welcome to the club, Richard Jefferson), but they still trail by 11. Then again, is it a big honor worth celebrating to hold Matt Bonner and Keith Bogans scoreless? 38-27 Blazers.
4:53 - Bayless has more minutes than Oden so far. Perhaps this is sign of things to come? 38-29 Blazers.
3:32 - Clearly reading this blog from the bench, Oden checks back into the game and hits a hook shot over the droopy eyes of Tim Duncan. Sorry, Greg. 43-29 Blazers.
2:36 - Uh.... I just saw the "Carpet Carl" guy with his trophy wife/date/whatever. I am not shitting you. Way to go, Carl. Also, could there be a lamer local celebrity sighting? Maybe if I spotted Tom Peterson, and Gloria (too). 43-31 Blazers.
1:41 - A jump hook by Oden is impressive—hell, anytime he touches the ball and it doesn't end in a whistle is a good start—but one over Tim Duncan is even better. Meanwhile, an enraged Ginobili argues a call, clearly under the influence of the vampire poison that courses through his bloodstream. Bite the official, Manu. Do it. It's your destiny. 49-35 Blazers.
1:02 - After the game Manu and I are going to watch Twilight together. That wasn't a vampire joke, he just thinks Robert Pattinson is hot. 49-40 Blazers.
0:02 - Roy knocks back the final shot to remind the Spurs that it's not just Oden hook shots. After one half, ten (!) Blazers have scored, yet none in double figures. This is the best balanced scoring effort this team has had in quite some time. 51-40 Blazers.
0:00 - Tony Parker is out for the rest of the game with a sprained ankle. There will be no French basketball players tonight. Parker and Batum will be in the film room watching Jean Renoir movies for the remainder of the evening.
9:58 - The three guard set looks less impressive on defense this time around since no one is quite sure who to guard. The result: Three points from Keith Bogans (who resembles former Spur Bruce Bowen, but without the elbow in your groin). 56-45 Blazers.
6:55 - After a few failed attempts (including being blocked by the fleshy mound of paleness that is Matt Bonner), Oden finally overpowers Duncan and drops in a layup. With that, he's the first Blazer to make it to 10 points for the evening. 62-47 Blazers.
3:17 - The Spurs don't have a lot working in their favor—no Parker, no shooting (37%)—and their defense looks shaky at best. Evidence of this can be found when Rudy launched a 20-foot bounce pass to Aldridge for a dunk. The old Spurs would not have allowed that. Bruce Bowen would have kicked Rudy in the throat, Robert Horry would have punched LaMarcus in the teeth, and a young Ginobili would have argued the call. 68-54 Blazers.
0:37 - Antonio McDyess is still alive? Unless he is undead and was bit by Ginobili. Regardless, he just hit a jumper and now San Antonio is within ten. 68-58 Blazers.
10:34 - Eight point lead. That's a little too close for comfort. Especially with Manu Ginobili and his magical bald spot in the game. 68-60 Blazers.
8:51 - Oden swats George Hill's layup attempt away. While his offense has been a little clumsy, his defense has been solid, and a Greg Oden with only three fouls this late in the game is a good Greg Oden. 73-62 Blazers.
7:11 - Just when it seems like Roy is ready to put this game away, two really bad turnovers—one from Blake, naturally, and one from Roy—lead to the Spurs closing to the gap to seven points. 75-68 Blazers.
5:52 - The last four plays for Portland = four turnovers. Two by pass, two by shot clock violation. Bad time for the offense to completely meltdown. Meanwhile, Ginobili is warming up his drive/flop/fouled game and has personally chipped the lead down to three. 75-72 Blazers.
4:16 - Roy just tossed a pass (optimist), or an airball (pessimist), to Oden for the layup. Portland has a little breathing room. 80-72 Blazers.
2:17 - Roy fouls Jefferson after his layup—he missed the free-throw—and the lead is down to three once again. That is until Blake drains a three, doubling the lead. 83-77 Blazers.
2:16 - Ginobili and Blake have some words after a near-scuffle breaks out. I think Ginobili invited Blake up to his castle for a glass of wine after the game. Steve, Bayless thinks you really should go.
1:52 - Jefferson posterizes every single Blazers player with a heroic dunk, but it might not be enough. The Spurs foul Roy (who jokingly tosses up a near halfcourt shot that goes in—it doesn't count) and he hits both free-throws. 87-79 Blazers.
1:02 - Outlaw, on a play that was drawn up for him, hits a running jumper then Oden smacks a shot away from the basket and this game is all but over. Time to make a bunch of free throws and for me to go see David Bazan. 90-82 Blazers.
0:00 - And that'll do it. The three guard system didn't cause the Blazers to fall to pieces and the world as we know it to implode like a Roland Emmerich movie. Your final score Portland 96, San Antonio 84. See you Sunday night.