Live from the Rose Garden as the Portland Trail Blazers take on the Phoenix Suns. The Blazers' injury woes have gotten so bad they were granted a "hardship exception" earlier this week from the league. This is the basketball equivalent of waving the white flag, and will allow for the Blazers to pick up one additional player to hold them over until Rudy Fernandez returns. The lucky winner that gets to carry Brandon Roy's luggage, Anthony Tolliver. Judging by this photo, he can play an entire game on his back.
The Suns' first (regular season) visit signals the return of Channing Frye. Last year's 11th best Blazer on the court—and number one when it came to blogging—has been experiencing a career revitalization (12 point and six boards a game) in Phoenix. Meanwhile Portland is so desperate for warm bodies that they dipped into the D-League for Tolliver. Well, that worked out well.
Tonight's biggest question is how the point guard shuffle (Andre Miller starter, Steve Blake and Jerryd Bayless splitting time off the bench) goes against a better team than the Sacramento Kings. If there was ever a team Bayless could do his thing—drive the lane, score a basket, fall down, look angry—on, it's the Suns.
Some other news around the Rose Garden:
Nicolas Batum was spotted by Ben Golliver from Blazers Edge shooting jumpers before the game. As was Australian rookie Patty Mills, who is tiny. He might be 6"0 in the Southern Hemisphere—and in the media guide—but he seems like a generous 5"10 at best.
11:33 - Miller to LaMarcus Aldridge for the easiest alley-oop dunk you'll see on a professional court. Good to see Frye still plays defense like he did last year. 2-0 Blazers.
8:57 - Martell Webster doesn't last long. Perhaps it was giving up that layup to Grant Hill (older than Juwan Howard!). 9-4 Blazers.
6:03 - Unlike Howard, Hill doesn't seem like his bones are compiled of dust. He just ran the length of the court, hit a layup, while picking up a foul. It's like bring your grandfather to work day for the Suns. 17-13 Suns.
2:50 - It's odd to see Frye hit a three pointer on this court. I can't remember that happening too often for his two years in a Blazers uniform. It would be like watching Sebastain Telfair comeback to the Rose Garden and making a pass. 23-17 Suns.
1:46 - Bayless in the game. Bayless on the board. He hits a jumper to prove it's not all scowls and getting knocked over under the basket. Such range. 24-19 Suns.
0:21 - Frye flops to pick up a foul against Dante Cunningham, only to have the favor returned (re-flopped?) by Bayless. Speaking of, the quarter ends with Bayless picking up a steal and taking it all the way to the rim for a layup. Once again, when Bayless comes in the game, good things happen. Unless your name is Channing Frye. 28-25 Suns.
10:51 - Bayless to Aldridge for a fastbreak alley-oops. This would be a 15 point Phoenix lead if it was not for Bayless. 30-29 Suns.
9:20 - Bayless to Blake for three. He's even taking care of the guy whose job he just took. 33-32 Blazers.
7:06 - Joel Przybilla sends Hill flying after a layup attempt. Instead of helping up Hill, he just towered over him admiring his work. 38-37 Suns.
5:41 - The numbers show a game that leans heavily in favor of the Suns. They have 20 rebounds, eight of which are offensive. This compared to Portland's 13 rebounds, all of which are on the defensive end. While they are getting ample second chance points, the Blazers—and mostly Bayless—have kept Portland in this game. 40-39 Suns.
5:10 - Miller just ended up with a finger (of unknown origin) in his eye. The training staff just removed him from the court. Ugh. 42-39 Suns.
4:15 - Miller seems to be fine and will not lose an eye. Or worse, look like Stuart Scott. Although, a player in an eye patch would go over very well in this city. 47-39 Suns.
2:50 - Roy clanks a wide-open layup at the rim and a few tipped balls later, Amar'e Stoudemire puts down a tomahawk dunk. 49-40 Suns.
1:27 - He can't really shoot, but Martell Webster hasn't forgotten how to score at the rim. He dunks back a missed jumper, and following a Frye three (again?), he hits a reverse layup. 55-46 Suns.
10:12 - Roy started off this game slow (eight point, zero assists) but he's made it a point to start shooting in the second half. Granted, his shots aren't falling (with the exception of a three to start the quarter), but let's award such effort. Wait, what? It's a 12 point Phoenix lead? Never mind. Effort is overrated. 63-51 Suns.
8:39 - Webster again at the rim. I never want to see another jumpshot from that man again. From now on he shots in the Przybilla zone of 2-8" from the hoop, or not at all. 63-54 Suns.
5:28 - Frye has 18 points tonight. That is more than any single Blazers player. Excuse me while I slam my head into the press row desk a few times. 70-59 Suns.
3:23 - Is Portland's new offensive scheme to just kill time until Bayless gets in the game? If so, mission accomplished! 77-64
2:27 - Let's play the "Guess Who is Dribbling the Ball Around Steve Blake" game! Your answer: Alando Tucker. 'Atta boy, Blakey. 79-67 Suns.
0:35 - Steve Blake is to defense what Avery Watts is to music. Watts was the halftime musical guest. Imagine a non-ironic, mildly retarded Andrew WK. But worse. LET'S GET THIS PARTY STARTED, PORTLAND!!!!! 81-70 Suns.
11:26 - Roy with a three to open the quarter. Just like he started the third quarter. Wonder if this one will go as poorly. 83-73 Suns.
10:16 - I take back my Martell can only dunk comment. He just hit a three to bring this game to comebackable (real word!) distance. I will stand by my retraction until he misses his next three, at which point I will then be angry at him. I am a man of great reason. 83-76 Suns.
8:29 - Roy just made Louis Amundson's ponytail go limp after out-hustling him on a rebound, which then leads to a Blake three from the corner. Przybilla should rip that thing off and wear it on his belt. 86-81 Suns.
6:58 - After an amazing defensive play (drawing a charge and fifth foul on Hill), Bayless drains a jumper. This lead is fading faster than Nash's hairline. 88-84 Suns.
6:04 - With the exception of Stoudemire's monster night (27 points, 10 boards), this game is all about Bayless. Even when he does nothing, it's exciting. He has 18 points on the night and has been equally as active on the defensive end. I know this blog has been 80% Bayless (and 20% Amundson ponytail jokes) tonight, but he just has a knack for making these games exciting. 90-86 Suns.
5:07 - That said, Bayless for three. 92-89 Suns.
3:50 - I should be reserving a motel room for him and myself by now, but HOLYFUCKINGSHIT Bayless just hit a reverse layup that was just plain ridiculous. This team needed some spark after the nonstop parade of injuries and #4 just lit this place aflame. His 23 points just tied a career high. 94-92 Blazers.
2:38 - Roy and Hill trade jumpers. And then, of course, Bayless hits another three. This is his coming out party. Even better, Webster swats a Stoudemire jumper on the other end. This game is nuts. 99-94 Blazers.
0:50 - Somehow Aldridge misses a tip-in dunk off a Roy three attempt, then Nash buries his second three-pointer in a row. If Portland loses this game, Bayless will kill everyone in this arena. 102-100 Blazers.
0:09 - Bayless is off on a long two, but Webster picks up the board and now it's free-throws for the home team. Bayless makes the first. He makes the second. That is 28 for him on the night. 104-100 Blazers
0:04 - Nash scores in five seconds on a layup. That's actually slow for him. Portland to inbound at halfcourt instead of risking a Nash steal under the wrong basket. In other news, I heard Bayless can cure Greg Oden's knee just by touching it—FACT! 104-102 Blazers.
0:04 - Bayless is fouled and can wrap up this game if he hits both from the charity stripe. He misses the first! He makes the second. Bad Bayless, bad. Phoenix has a chance, and plenty of time, to send this game into overtime. 105-102 Blazers.
0:00 - Nash misses an off-balanced three at the buzzer, and Jerryd Bayless leads Portland over the Suns in a real big way, 105-102 is your final score. It's roadtrip time for the team, but I'll see you back here on Christmas day. Good night.