Live from the Rose Garden as the Portland Trail Blazers take on the Sacramento Kings. It's been ten days since Portland left this arena and in that time there has been two surgeries (Greg Oden's knee, Nate McMillan's achilles), one "procedure" (Rudy Fernandez's sexy sexy leg), one win, and three loses. And tonight, well, this game just might—fingers crossed—mark the end of the Steve Blake era. Rumor has it that Gummo's starting job has (finally) been usurped by Andre Miller and that wound will be freshly salted with the report that he's on the trading block as well. Oh, happy day!
Tonight also marks the return of Nate McMillan, who spent the past ten days partaking in an activity that all Blazers fans have been doing all season long—medicating the pain away. He'll be in a cast, and either on crutches, a scooter, or Pogo Ball™. Let's hope he goes with the crutches.
Speaking of driving unwanted point guards out of town, welcome back Sergio Rodriguez. Rudy's bags aren't going to carry themselves. Left with your legs.
The Kings' record (10-12) is a bit too similar to that of the home team (14-11), but Sacramento only has a single road win all season. With the exception of Sergio and John McCain superfan Spencer Hawes, the Kings have a really intriguing young lineup: Jason Thompson and rookie Tyreke Evans are stars in the making, while Omri Casspi is the league's first Israel baller (well, technically, David Stern is the league's most powerful baller, but you know what I mean). Since tonight is the fifth night of Hanukkah, look for Casspi to drop 55 points and solve the Middle East conflict during the halftime break.
And your starting point guard is... Andre Miller. Thank you, Nate.
10:24 - The Kings starting five is huge. They have three players 6"11 and up. This might explain why Spencer Hawes is just lingering beyond the three point land, big guy has nowhere to go. 4-2 Blazers.
8:23 - Roy, like Moses, parts a sea of defenders and giftwraps a pass to Joel Przybilla for the dunk. There's my token biblical Jew reference for my chosen one pal, Casspi. 10-8 Portland.
6:35 - Blake's benching has lead to an obvious improvement in ball movement. It might be the Kings' soft defense, but the Blazers' offense appears confident, instead of their usual pass the ball for 23 seconds then heave up a prayer approach. 17-8 Blazers.
6:04 - Welcome back Ime Udoka. Had Portland not cut you, you'd be starting right now.
3:22 - Pale and bearded, Casspi looks like Portland. I bet he bikes everywhere. Please trade for this man. 19-17 Blazers.
0:18 - It would have been a great night for Jerryd Bayless to toss some dirt on Blake's grave, but with the exception of a single assist, he's looked like a third-stringer. Passing the ball into the seats off an entry pass is never a good move. 23-23 tie.
10:55 - Blake vs Sergio. No one wins this epic battle of pasty lightweights. 27-25 Blazers.
10:14 - Bayless fouls Sergio while shooting a three. Someone is getting beaten with a crutch at the break. 27-25 Blazers.
8:50 - Hawes, Casspi, Brockman, Sergio, and Udrih. The Kings have the white/international lineup in the game right now. It might be working: 32-31 Kings.
7:05 - Vanilla Gorilla mauls his ways to three fouls. Back to the bench for him. Not a good plan against a team as big as Sacramento. Bayless just passed Blake in minutes played, so there's always that to look forward to. 38-37 Kings.
2:55 - Roy tosses the ball to the wrong team, then fouls out of frustration. This is what losing at home to Sacramento is like. 45-40 Kings.
1:45 - Kings are unstoppable. Or, at least, the Blazers defense is about as trustworthy as a New Orleans' levee. Not regional enough? How about, the Blazers defense is as trustworthy as the Sacramento housing market? No? Should I stop? Okay, I will. 53-42 Kings.
0:34 - Roy was bailed out by a foul while shooting a three. He misses the first. Misses the second. Finally hits the third. What is happening? 54-43 Kings.
12:00 - Depressing first half stats: Aldridge is 1-7 shooting. Five Blazers with negative +/- ratings. A dozen less points in the paint than Sacramento. And, most importantly, an 11 point Kings lead. Hang your heads in shame, Blazers fans. 54-43 Kings.
"Happy Hanukkah, Rip City." They are lighting the Menorah, complete with basketball puns and a dance remix of the dreidel song. Kill me now.
11:04 - A quick four points from Aldridge. And it didn't take seven shots. I see this as a good thing. 56-47 Kings.
9:13 - Clearly doing it for us Jews, Roy buries a jumper and the Kings take a timeout to stop the bleeding. 56-52 Kings.
7:50 - Przybilla gets the credit for this comeback. He's been flattened in taking a pair of big charging calls, and with him in the paint, the Kings can no longer score at will from under the hoop. He also tips a rebound to Aldridge, whose dunk ties the game. 56-56 tie.
5:43 - Przybilla with a block, and one play later the Blazers take back the lead. 60-59 Blazers.
4:26 - Martell with some hops, as dusts off his tomahawk dunk. It's nice to see another part of his game other than the three pointer from the corner. 62-60 Blazers.
1:21 - No Przybilla equals big (actually, small) problems. The Kings have returned to taking four foot jumpers from the paint and expand their lead: 71-66 Kings. Sacramento has 34 shots in the paint so far tonight. Even if this team propped up Oden as a scarecrow under the basket, it would be better than this.
10:02 - There is hope since Przybilla looks to play the majority of minutes in this quarter. He hasn't picked up a whistle since the second quarter, and baring some horrible scenario (what bad thing could happen to a Blazers center?) he is staying in the game. 78-74 Kings.
6:44 - Bayless and Blake are neck-and-neck in minutes played, but Blake just tossed an impressive alley-oop to Aldridge, so he's not coming out anytime soon. 81-81 tie.
5:47 - There is a giant rat mascot (in a cape) during the break giving away T-shirts. At first I thought it was Hanukkah Rat, but it's just a promotional furrie for the Nutcracker. I liked Hanukkah Rat better. 83-81 Kings.
2:59 - Aldridge with a layup—thanks to a pass from a diving Roy—and the Blazers go back on top. Alridge has 16 points in the second half. 86-85 Blazers.
2:23 - Blake gets out of position and instant turnover. Sergio is pleased... from his seat on the Sacramento bench. 86-85 Blazers.
1:37 - Aldridge hits a jumper and picks up the and-one. 89-85 Blazers.
1:15 - Bayless ends up on his back after a wild layup attempt but is bailed out by the foul. Miller might have started the game, but he certainly isn't finishing it. 91-86 Blazers.
0:17 - Bayless with a slicing layup to put a nail in the Kings' coffin. 93-88 Blazers.
0:00 - And that will do it. It wasn't always pretty, but Blazers 95, Sacramento 88. See you Thursday.