Live from the Rose Garden as the Portland Trail Blazers take on the Golden State Warriors. The aftermath of last night's 107-102 Blazers win over the Minnesota Timberwolves has been brutal; tonight the team will be without Marcus Camby and Joel Przybilla. That means no center. That also means only man can step in and make things right. Only one man can carry this team upon his back towards victory. Only one man has what is takes.
And that man is Sean Marks.
Strap yourself in and get ready for 48 minutes of glorious Sean Marks action. Clumsy fouls! Bad passes! Missed shots! Confusion! It's all here, folks.
Sadly Camby is not the only starter out tonight, Nicolas Batum was a game time decision... until that decision came in and he was told not to play. That means Portland will have nine available players tonight: Andre Miller Wesley Matthews, Rudy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dante Cunningham, Patty Mills, Armon Johnson, Luke Babbitt, and the aforementioned superstar, Marks. They'll have ten if Blaze the Trail Cat laces up the sneakers and gets on the bench. Eleven, if Coach McMillan points to press row and calls me in. *stretches calf muscle, just in case.*
Cunningham will get the start, the first of his career. If he isn't exhausted from last night, Aldridge should be able to actually achieve—and not just tie—his career high in points tonight.
Let me call it right now, this game will be complete chaos.
Golden State hasn't escaped the injury curse either. Professional free-throw misser Andris Biedrins (He shot 16% from the charity stripe last year, think about that for a second. It's an unguarded shot that old people and little kids make. All the time. Underhanded.) will be out tonight, as will Stephen Curry. The latter will hurt the Warriors, since this team is basically Curry, Monta Ellis, and David Lee. Okay, maybe a little Dorell Wright. Everyone else is pretty expendable, yes, even you Ekpe Udoh and Dan Gadzuric.
12:00 - Unlike last night I am happy to report that no player was injured on the opening tip. Safety first, boys. 0-0.
10:43 - If given the option of who would dunk first: Cunningham or one of the best dunkers in the NBA, Lee. I would have bet my soul on Lee. Thankfully I am not a betting man. 2-2 tie.
9:31 - The line on Lou Amundson tonight: Two fouls, two points, one ponytail. 2-2 tie.
8:50 - If you wonder what playing with no center is like, the Warriors just made it clear. Four misses at the rim, four rebounds, and finally two points on the fifth shot. 5-4 Warriors.
7:32 - Miller is the still the best player in a Blazers uniform. Aldridge might get the glory for dunking that alley-oop home, but Miller was the one that isolated his defender, split three Warriors players, and tossed the ball to Aldridge as the shotclock expired. 8-8 tie.
5:35 - If your team is tiny and doesn't have a center, run like hell. So far it's worked wonders for the Blazers. Rudy drops off after missed shots and Miller has had little trouble controlling the tempo of the game. 14-10 Blazers.
4:57 - Sean Marks is in the game. Parents, tell your children about this great moment in sports history. 14-10 Blazers.
4:01 - Four plays, four straight fouls. The home team is in the penalty for the remainder of the quarter. Too bad Biedrins is not playing, it could be a strategic advantage for the Blazers. 14-13 Blazers.
3:09 - If you were curious, Ellis has no trouble dribbling around Mills. That was actually kind of sad. He might as well of pantsed Patty while dribbling around him. 17-14 Blazers.
1:21 - Any possession when Babitt and Mills take the only shots is not a positive one. 18-17 Warriors.
0:33 - Aussie revenge. Mills draws a great charge foul against Ellis. Then his pet dingo at Ellis' baby. That was mean. 19-18 Blazers.
0:02 - Mills to Marks for the dunk. Oh, that explosion? That was the sound my head just made. 21-18 Blazers.
12:00 - The Blazers just out-scored the Warriors with a lineup that included Mills, Marks, and Babbitt (who was in Idaho on a D-League team this time last night). Golden State fans, I'm sorry. No one deserves to suffer like this.
11:14 - The following Portland players are on the court right this very second: Rudy, Mills, Marks, Cunningham, and Babbitt. Stop laughing. They're still winning. 23-20 Blazers.
10:17 - Marks just hit a 18-foot jumper while I quietly mouthed the word "NO!" from my seat. 25-22 Blazers.
9:19 - He just hit another. WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING? 27-22 Blazers.
8:32 - The year is 2051. My grandson is perched on my lap. "Grampy, tell me about that time Sean Marks scored back-to-back baskets in a game. When you are done, let's go for a jet pack ride and watch President Trig Palin declare war on Canada." 29-24 Blazers.
8:01 - Mills with an alley-oop pass to Dan Gadzuric. Wrong team, buddy. Hey, where's Andre Miller? 29-29 tie.
6:30 - Rudy missiles through a crowd of Warrior defenders and hits an and-one. His three shot is not "goggling" tonight, so it's nice to see him at least make an effort at the rim. Oh, and then the officials wave off the shot. Whatever, I am not deleting that sentence. They pay me by the word. 30-29 Blazers.
5:17 - Matthews gets a technical foul for um, something. Not sure what he did. It's probably for shiving Vladimir Radmanovic in exchange for a pack of smokes. 34-33 Warriors.
2:44 - I imagine letting Miller school you on a hesitation drive to the basket isn't the worst experience a defender can have. He is the basketball equivalent of the elder bull in the "Two bulls stood on a hill..." story. 42-36 Blazers
2:00 - Matthews with his very own Three Goggles. I fear that will catch on and become the macarana. Even Al Gore is going to do it. 45-38 Blazers.
0:03 - Miller sizes up Ellis on the final play of the half... and picks his pocket. Miller strips the ball (and the dignity) from a stunned Ellis and coasted in for an easy layup. Oh, Golden State. You only scored 42 points against a team that is missing three starters. And has no center. 51-42 Blazers.
Three Blazers are in double figures, oddly enough Aldridge is not one of them. Miller, Cunningham (!), and Matthews are your leading scorers, while no Warriors players have over seven. That's what you get when you shoot 32% on the night. Although I think we're about to witness a Monta Ellis explosion.
10:33 - Ellis coming. That's two baskets so far. Although that's pretty slow for him. Plus, I doesn't really matter when your team can't play much defense. The Blazers have scored on every possession so far this half. 56-46 Blazers.
8:17 - Defense has many forms. You can guard a player, or just jab him in the eye. Cunningham went with the latter on Ellis. It worked. Back-to-back turnovers for Monta. 58-49 Blazers.
6:50 - A double-double for Aldridge. Much quieter than the one from last night, but he does have as many rebounds as the entire Warriors starting five combined. 60-52 Blazers.
5:58 - Miller goes between the legs and hits Cunningham for an easy jumper. Dante just tied his season high for points. Miller just tied his season high for badass plays (that's a real stat). 62-52 Blazers.
4:19 - Rudy for three. All five Blazers are now in double figures. 67-54 Blazers.
3:22 - Sean Marks just heaved the ball into the Warriors bench. Every one of his plays should be followed with the sad trombone noise. 69-58 Blazers.
0:35 - Rudy still taking the ball to the basket. I wonder if he keeps this up—it's worked wonders so far—or if he stops once Portland takes on a team with a real center. I guess we'll find out on Monday when Andrew Bogut and Milwaukee come to town. 73-63 Blazers.
0:15 - Babbitt makes Mills look as calm as a statue. He's like a puppy who pees himself from excitement every time you walk in the door. 74-65 Blazers.
11:28 - Marks and Babbitt fight for a rebound, Marks wins, dishes to Mills for three. Those three are the new Oden/Aldridge/Roy. 77-69
10:12 - Babbitt with his first points. And a foul. Three point play. If Don Nelson was still coaching this Golden State team he'd be openly drinking from a bottle of scotch right about now. 82-71 Blazers.
9:21 - Mills draws a fifth foul from Ellis. Well, that was huge. I'm sure Acie Law will step in and take it from here. 83-71 Blazers.
7:41 - If Mills outscores Ellis, I will eat an entire jar of Vegemite. Ellis has 20, Mills has (career high) 12 following that three he just nailed. 86-73 Blazers.
5:53 - Reggie Williams for three. Dude, where' my lead? It's down to eight. 89-81 Blazers.
5:27 - Playtime is over. Mills out. Miller in. Miller hits a quick jumper. No Vegemite for me. 91-81 Blazers.
3:14 - Rodney Carney for three?!? The lead was once 15 and now it's down to three. Panic. 92-89 Blazers.
2:52 - Miller does not panic. That's why he plays and I don't. Despite how much I stretched my calf muscle earlier. Miller with a jumper (it goes in) while getting fouled (the free-throw went in as well). 95-89 Blazers.
2:03 - Williams pulls the Warriors within a basket. Losing this would not be fun for the home team. 95-93 Blazers.
1:16 - Aldridge on the line after missing a layup while getting hacked by Williams. Misses the first. Hits the second. 96-93 Blazers.
0:33 - Of all people Rudy plays some tight defense, but Matthews turns it over on the other end. Ellis barely misses his short jumper, but converts both his free-throw attempts. One point game. Fun! (Except for those with heart conditions.) 96-95 Blazers.
0:12 - Radmanovic swats Matthews shot and Alridge's prayer of a jumper at the end of the shotclock rims out. So close. Warriors ball with plenty of time to win this game and break a few thousand Oregonian's hearts. 96-95 Blazers.
0:00 - It wasn't pretty, but Ellis got a clean look and missed long. Portland wins. Barely. At first it was a game the Blazers had no business winning, and later, it was a game they had no business losing. Funny how that works. Your final score: Portland 96, Golden State 95.