Live from the Rose Garden as the Portland Trail Blazers take on the Utah Jazz in a game more important than a thousand State of the Union addresses. The Blazers—who are more than just a bunch of bathroom mirror voyeurs armed with camera phones—are locked in a battle for second place in the Northwest Division with the Jazz, who just so happen to be the hottest team in the NBA. Utah has won seven of their last eight games, and a victory tonight would all-but guarantee them the tiebreaker with Portland.
Oh, it's "80s Night" here in the arena, so I'll be live blogging this game using all 8-bits of my trusty Commodore 64 (which is better than an iPad).
I'm sure my fellow word slaves and the Mercury editorial gulag wouldn't mind me betting our entire company pension against the Blazers tonight. Sorry, Portland, but a Brandon Roy-less Blazers team isn't looking too promising against a stellar Jazz lineup that features the likes of soon-to-be All-Star Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer, who is playing like his former superstar self.
If Utah has the momentum behind them, Portland has the numbers: In the series between these two teams, the home team has won eight consecutive, and 13 of the past 14. Also, the Blazers will get more Nicolas Batum (you can never have enough) than his brief ten minute debut on Monday. He should get about a dozen to 15 minutes, depending how much Portland needs him. The Blazers are also juggling their starting five, pushing Steve Blake and Jeff Pendergraph to the bench, while bringing back Juwan Howard and Brandon Roy's stand-in, Jerryd Bayless. Also, Martell Webster is donating $1000 of his own money to Haiti for every point he scores tonight.
Since it's "80s Night" tonight, they are playing Lil Wayne on the PA and the Blazers will be wearing their 70s throwback jerseys. It doesn't make sense, but whatever. It's not my job to dress them and pick out the music. If it was... they'd all be wearing short-shorts and listening to mid-90s emo.
This Commodore is great, but I hope I don't accidentally start WWIII by hacking into a military supercomputer. Shall we play a game? Yes. Yes, we shall.
10:56 - Ugly start. Portland is 0-3 shooting, while the Jazz have just scored with ease at the rim. 6-0 Jazz.
9:36 - And that is official the worst start of the year. Every single Jazz basket has come directly in front of the rim, even their lone miss was a wide-open layup. Timeout, Portland. 8-0 Jazz.
8:37 - This is ridiculous. 12-0 Jazz and Utah has not even attempted a jumper.
8:05 - Aldridge with Portland's first bucket. Yay? 14-2 Jazz.
7:25 - Adding insult to injury (and more insult), the Blazers have five team fouls and only two points. 16-2 Jazz.
6:17 - The score is 21-2. Portland is 1-14. That is all.
5:36 - Batum with a put-back dunk, literally doubling the Blazers offense. 23-4 Jazz.
4:03 - For a game with a football score, it's getting a bit chippy out there. Millsap blows over Blake, and a few seconds later, Batum gets knocked over by Boozer. If it wasn't for Batum this extreme blowout would be a super-extreme blowout: the Frenchman has nine of Portland's 11 points in a little more than four minutes of action. 26-11 Jazz.
0:31 - The Jazz are shooting 87% from the field. The Blazers, 23%. I think that sums it up. 36-14 Jazz.
0:00 - And then it got really ugly. Batum with a steal and breakaway dunk, which he was knocked to the floor by Kyle Korver. No foul was called and Bayless errupts and gets a technical. The booing has been going on for minutes, even during the timeout as the big screen plays a montage that mentions how "passionate the fans are." You don't say. 36-16 Jazz.
10:53 - It's all Batum, Bayless, and boos. No one else has bothered showing up. Also, can a crowd get a technical foul? This arena is getting a little bit restless. 39-21 Jazz.
8:40 - Haiti is still screwed. Webster is 0-4 shooting on the night. Too bad Batum didn't make the same offer, he's a perfect 6-6 shooting. 44-27 Jazz.
5:58 - If anything, this absolute nightmare of game should act as a reminder that the Blazers need to make a move. The Jazz scored 24 points in the paint... in 12 minutes. They have 32 so far on the night. The Blazers have no center, so the Jazz are driving (and scoring) at will. When those drives are properly covered, the Jazz dish out for three-pointers. Utah coach Jerry Sloan has the Blazers' house of cards figured out, and word will get out. 52-29 Jazz.
1:13 - Portland scores three straight baskets. Could this be the exciting comeback this crowd longs for? Ha, God no. 61-41 Jazz.
0:07 - Batum finishes the first half with 16 points (to lead all scorers) on 7-7 shooting. With any luck, I'll be ordering a 7 and 7 at the bar during the half. Nicolas and I have so much in common. 63-46 Jazz.
8:12 - This crowd is turning on Aldridge for constantly refusing to go to the basket. They sort of have a point. He passes up a one-on-one against Boozer and dishes the ball back the Bayless, who, ironically, has no issue taking on bigger players. He hits the layup. Blazers turning this disaster of a game into a respectful defeat. That's a good thing, right? 68-52 Jazz.
7:25 - Boozer just left the court and went down the tunnel. Sensing the momentum turning, Williams argues a call long into the timeout and gets a technical. I promise I won't mention comeback unless Portland trims this lead to less than double digits. 68-54 Jazz.
6:05 - Webster with a couple more thousand for Haiti (that's $6000 on the night) and the Blazers close the lead to 11. Still no word on the fate of Boozer. 70-59 Jazz.
4:35 - Again, Webster for three (and $3000) and now Portland has officially made a comeback. 72-64 Jazz.
4:01 - Webster's accountant just hung himself. $3000 more from Webster. $14000 to Haiti on the night, and Portland is within seven. 74-67 Jazz.
0:15 - It's a bit tough to trim down a lead when you don't stop the other team on offense. The Blazers cut the lead in half (from 20 to 10) and they have the momentum going into the final period. 85-75 Jazz.
10:42 - Tough possession. Batum barely gets his first miss, Rudy misses a three, and Howard can't convert a tip-in. 87-75 Jazz.
8:53 - Blake misses a layup. Wide open. He pretty much just airballed it. Just when it looks like it is all over, Dante Cunningham picks up a nifty swat on the defensive end. The score hasn't really changed, but if there ever was a time for Portland to make their move... 89-78 Jazz.
8:22 - Wow, Rudy just split the lane, switched hands with the ball, and hit a layup in a sea of Utah jerseys. One play later, after a stop, Aldridge draws a foul and hits one of two. The lead that was once 26 is now down to seven. 89-82 Jazz.
6:40 - Aldridge leads all scorers with 23, but is absolutely frightened out there. Every time he gets the ball, no matter how wide open, he tries to pass, and only shoots when there isn't another option. For a guy scoring so well, he looks rattled. 93-86 Jazz.
5:41 - Aldridge doesn't freeze in the spotlight that time, narrowing the lead to five with that 12-foot jumper. 93-88 Jazz.
3:35 - An Aldridge turnover, a Webster missed three, a Miller layup swatted at the rim, another Webster missed three, and one Miller jumper that rims off—the Blazers are getting plenty of chances to comeback, but not taking advantage. 96-88 Jazz.
2:05 - Aaaaaaand that'll do it. Aldridge with a missed three pointer (that man hates getting anywhere near the basket) and it seems doubtful that Utah could blow a ten point lead in such little time. 98-88 Jazz.
0:53 - Bayless with a big gamedoesntmatter dunk. Yay, meaningless points. 101-92 Jazz.
0:44 - Why no Patty Mills? Bayless hobbles around after rolling an ankle on a missed layup. 103-93 Jazz.
0:00 - Torch those retro uniforms and never speak of this game again. The Blazers (sort of) made a game of it, but the Jazz roll all over Portland by a final score of 106-95. We'll see you on February 1st.