Live from the Rose Garden as the Portland Trail Blazers take on the Houston Rockets. There was a time when these two teams would feature a pair of battling big men—Greg Oden versus Yao Ming—and sharpshooting wings—Brandon Roy versus Tracy McGrady—but injuries have snuffed out that scenario. Now the Rockets and the Blazers are pretty similar, as both are teams are assembled with fine components, but are a far cry from their former shelves.
Pour a little something something out for Yao, Greg, Tracy, and Brandon and let's begin...
The post-Roy era got off to a wonderful start on Thursday when Portland rolled division rivals Utah 100-89. Without Roy's long shadow lingering over the team, this current lineup is free to play a much looser, and quicker, style of basketball that plays up their collective strengths in lieu of the plodding offensive style that Roy prefers.
Tonight's injury update: Joel Przybilla is still out for Portland. As for Houston, they'll be missing Chuck Hayes, but Aaron Brooks is back in the lineup after a long absence due to an ankle injury. Brooks usually torches the Blazers, and if you remember your nightmares well, it was his drive past past an inept Steve Blake that lead to Greg Oden's horrific knee injury (the second one). The Rockets are an up-tempo team that is fourth in the league in scoring, which is a drastic shift from the meticulous team that bullied the Blazers out of the postseason in 2009.
In other news, Luis Scola's face looks like a melted candle.
I'm a little under the weather tonight, so my apologies in advance if I spend the entire third quarter incoherently rambling in a psychedelic Robitussin-soaked haze. Hey, this might be my best blog yet!
10:20 - Oh Jordan Hill. You have to fill in for the gigantic Yao Ming, and then you get school by Marcus Camby in the first minute, and then clank a breakway layup in the second minute. I except your shorts to fall off (Like King Hippo!) in the next minute. 5-4 Blazers.
8:08 - Two defensive technicals have been whistled on Houston in the first four minutes. I guess it really is against league rules to have another guy on your shoulders while you throw sand in Andre Miller's eyes. 8-7 Rockets.
5:58 - Camby with a swat, Miller with a rebound and fastbreak, and Nicolas Batum with the dunk. One play later, pretty much same thing, but with LaMarcus Aldridge finishing with the dunk. 14-14.
4:21 - Does anyone else think of the seasoning when they hear the name Kyle Lowry? Or the Kanye line? "Haters give me them salty looks, Lawry's." No? Okay, nevermind. Back to the cough syrup for me. 17-16 Blazers.
3:21 - Brad Miller in the game. In other news, Brad Miller is still alive. 18-16 Blazers.
1:49 - Patty Mills enters the game, Patty Mills hits a three, Patty Mills is serenaded with a Men at Work song. 25-18 Blazers.
0:07 - "That Rudy Fernandez, he needs a shave." That quote is from the Rockets' radio announcer. Clearly he missed the "Keep Portland Beard" memo. 27-25 Blazers.
10:40 - Aaron Brooks is exactly what Patty Mills needs to become: a serviceable point guard with a quick step and a nice outside shot. It's interesting to see the two of them defend each other since their games are so similar. It's like Tomax guarding Xamot. *goes back to playing with his G.I. Joes* 31-27 Blazers
9:23 - Mills forces Brooks to lose the ball into the seats, then gets rubs it in with a three, goggles and all. 34-27 Blazers.
8:07 - Chase Budinger for three. We are from the same hometown. I don't know why I just mentioned that. 34-30 Blazers.
6:50 - Mills is clearly still not hungover from New Year's Eve. (Maybe because he celebrates on Aussie time, at like 6 am?) Mills has ten points to lead all scorers and his beating Brooks at his own game. 36-30 Blazers.
6:30 - If a cure for cancer was strategically placed one inch above the reach of either Sean Marks or Brad Miller, and all they had to do is jump up and grab it, we'd all die from cancer. 38-31 Blazers.
5:48 - Rudy scores at the hoop—I love that his case of rimophobia is over—and the Blazers are now on a 15-4 run. 42-31 Blazers.
4:51 - Patty Mills has already hit his career high with a dozen points in less than ten minutes. 42-33 Blazers.
1:57 - Kevin Martin is fouled by Matthews mid-air, looses the ball, recovers it, and shoots it all before landing. Of course it goes in. Rockets now down by a single basket. 47-44 Blazers.
1:33 - Matthews gets his revenge by picking up a three shot foul from Martin. He hits all three. 50-44 Blazers.
54-48 Blazers. Time to get some tea.
10:44 - Battier with a really bad airball. Actually, is there a good airball? If so, this wasn't it. He missed by about three feet. Clearly Battier was still reeling from the breakdancing demonstration and history lesson at the half. So that's where pop-and-locking comes from. 56-48 Blazers.
8:58 - Oui! Batum with a corner three (goggle-free) and then a steal from Scola on the other end. 61-52 Blazers.
6:42 - Martin misses a short jumper, steals the ball from Camby, misses a four footer, gets the rebound, passes to Scola, who then misses another four foot jumper. Ouch. 63-56 Blazers.
4:53 - Aldridge misses a short hook shot, but scoops up the rebound and dunks it. Seconds later, Matthews steals the ball and gets a dunk of his own. Dunks for everyone. 69-58 Blazers.
3:52 - Either Aldridge just attempted a three pointer or I just drank more than the physician recommend amount of Robitussin. Either way, awesome. 69-58 Blazers.
2:50 - Rudy tumbles after a blocked layup attempt and bemoans the lack of call. No matter, he takes inbound pass and flips it to Aldridge for an alley-oop. 73-58 Blazers.
2:14 - Miller tosses a long outlet pass to Batum who somehow retrieves the ball off Battier's head mid-step and converts the layup. Sloppy basketball is fun basketball. 75-58 Blazers.
0:46 - With that last assist Miller passes Kevin Johnson as 17th best in NBA history. If he gets 9094 assists tonight, he'll tie John Stockton. Let's go, Dre, you can do this. 79-62 Blazers.
11:01 - Now Brad Miller is chucking up three attempts. I think the game has just ended. Where's my damn Chalupa coupon? 79-64 Blazers.
10:21 - Dante CunningJAM with the dunk. Batum follows with his own. These things come in pairs, just like celebrity deaths. 83-64 Blazers.
8:34 - Aldridge never out-rebounds Camby. I'm too
high lazy to dig up the stats on this, but I'm pretty sure it's a very rare occurrence. The two are tied right now at 11 boards each. I expect Camby knock over Aldridge for the next rebound. 88-68 Blazers.
7:41 - Mills had a breakaway layup—not a Rocket player anywhere in site—and was about to set his career high in scoring. But instead he dribbled the ball off his foot instead. 90-69 Blazers.
7:01 - Mills decides to not dribble the ball away and hits a running layup. Career high time. 92-69 Blazers.
6:23 - Batum exits for the night with 21 points. That ties a season high for Frenchy 88. 92-73 Blazers.
3:01 - Someone just score the damn Chalupa point already. I'm tired of the Blaze-as-a-Mexican-Trail-Cat-in-a-Poncho graphic they keep playing on the big screen. 97-79 Blazers.
2:21 - Camby wins the rebounding war over Aldridge, 13-11. He also had eight dimes. Marks checks into the game with one rebound... so far! 97-81 Blazers.
1:35 - Rudy crams a goddamn Chalupa down all of our throats. 100-84 Blazers.
0:00 - And that'll do it. Nice win for the home team, your final score, Portland 100, Houston 85. We'll see you a week from tonight when the Blazers welcome Juwan Howard's Miami Heat team. Have a good night.