Live from the Rose Garden as the Portland Trail Blazers welcome Team Jacob and the rest of the Minnesota Timberwolves. The bumbling Washington Generals to the Blazers' Harlem Globetrotters, the Timberwolves have lost 14 straight games to Portland, including ten in a row in this building. But who cares about that?
Let's play the game that is sweeping the nation, guess what Minnesota's Michael Beasley has tattooed on his leg! All I can make out is "Born 2 Lose, Built 2 Win, Can..." and then his sock cuts off the rest of the surely inspirational saying. Given the questionable tattoo history of "Supercool Beas," one can only imagine how what wisdom lies beneath that athletic sock.
Here are my guesses:
"Born 2 Lose, Built 2 Win, Can is My Favorite German Prog Band."
"Born 2 Lose, Built 2 Win, Can I Borrow a Feeling?"
"Born 2 Lose, Built 2 Win, Can Dee is Not How You Spell the Word Candy"
If you can solve this Sphinxian riddle, please free to submit your best guess. Now let us commence with the live blog.
Part of the appeal of tonight's contest—other than be a thrilling Monday night game against the Timberwolves—is that it features a direct matchup between Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge, a pair of players gunning for one of the final Western Conference All-Star slots. Love is good for a mighty 21 points and a hair under 16 boards a game, stats that would probably mean more if the Wolves had a record better than 10-31. Aldridge's numbers are slightly less impressive, but since Brandon Roy took a trip to the bench—then the operating table—Aldridge has been average 26 points and 10 rebounds in his last 16 games.
The last time these two teams met in Minnesota ten days ago Wesley Matthews notched a career high in points (36) and three-pointers (nine). On the season, Matthew is averaging nearly 29 points per game against the Wolves. Too bad every game can't be against them.
Armon Johnson finally sees time on the court... telling the crowd about MLK Day and to "have a good game."
11:30 - Last time Minnesota came to town the running punchline that is Darko Milicic rolled an ankle on the opening tip. Thankfully he survived the dangerous tip this time around, temporarily blocking a Nicolas Batum layup (Batum scored on a second later), and then added a basket of his own. Darko has been freed. 2-2 tie.
10:07 - Andre Miller has failed to hit the rim on a his first two shot attempts. The first met the hand of Darko, the second barely graved the backboard glass. Nice start. 8-2 Wolves.
8:16 - Darko is unstoppable. He has as many points as the entire Blazers do. Combined. 12-4 Wolves.
7:26 - Matthews converts on an and-one and Miller follows with a steal and layup (that actually finds the net). 12-11 Wolves.
5:40 - Batum startles Love at the rim and he clanks on a wide open dunk. Batum only got a miniscule piece of the ball, but it was enough for the former Lake Oswego resident to miss in a bad, bad way. 14-14 tie.
4:01 - I think they got it backward, but Rudy tosses to Miller (not the other way around) for a layup alley-oop. Darko answers on the other end. He leads all scorers. Seriously. 21-16 Wolves.
3:11 - It must be a Luke Ridnour thing, but Miller is shooting the ball at a ferocious pace right now. That was his sixth shot, three of which he's hit. Darko, meanwhile, cares not for Miller's shot selection, he tips home another wayward jumper. In less than ten minutes he's already topped his season average in scoring. 23-22 Wolves.
1:48 - Aldridge torches Darko in the paint with a spinning layup. Order has been returned. 26-25 Blazers.
0:55 - Rudy sells the "touched by a feather, drop to the floor like he was shot by a sniper" flop and draws a pair of free-throws. Biggest lead of the game for the home team, all of two points. 28-26 Blazers.
0:01 - Hooray, Martell Webster scores at the buzzer. Wait, he's on Minnesota now? Oh, never mind. I hope Portland got something good in return for him, not just some white bench player who never plays. 30-29 Blazers.
12:00 - Marcus Camby has left the game with a sore left knee and is questionable to return. A Blazers center with a knee injury, now I've heard everything. 30-29 Blazers.
10:15 - Christ, Nikola Pekovic looks like the hired muscle a Russian gangster uses to extort rubles. He just shook down Joel Przybilla on a pair of buckets. Portland's enforcer just got out-muscled. Twice. 33-32 Wolves.
9:12 - Not a lot of points to be found with a lineup of Patty Mills, Rudy, Batum, Przybilla, and Dante Cunningham. This lineup contribute a single basket in three minutes. Well played, lads. Nate McMillan subs back in Matthews and Aldridge. 36-32 Wolves.
8:39 - Aldridge with a baby hook shot and now he is outscoring Darko. I suppose that is reason to celebrate. 36-34 Wolves.
6:45 - Beasley with back-to-back "Born 2 Lose, Built 2 Win, Can I Get Anymore Wide Open on This Three-Pointer" baskets. 41-37 Wolves.
5:19 - Rudy with a steal and a (surprisingly slow) fastbreak that ends with Aldridge dunking the ball home. 42-41 Wolves.
4:08 - And another dunk from Aldridge. Someone wants that All-Star spotlight on him, not Love. So far he's winning that war. 43-42 Blazers.
2:09 - The Blazers are headed to the bottom of the NBA stat barrel with their atrocious three point shooting. Following that Rudy miss the team is now 0-6 on the night from beyond the arc. 46-45 Wolves.
0:32 - Rudy with a steal and is fouled hard at the rim by Ridnour. He went down clutching his knee. While Rudy is definitely the boy who cried wolf (or the Spainaird who cried flagrant foul), it's never good to see any Blazers player fall to the ground holding their knee. But of course, he rises—like Jesus—and shoots his free-throws. 47-46 Blazers.
0:02 - The Blazers hold for the final shot and convert with a 12-footer from Aldridge. Rudy scoops up his fourth (!) steal of the game, but unsurprisingly fails on a three at the buzzer. 50-46 Blazers.
The entertainment at the half was David Garibaldi, who paints a large portrait of MLK, as he does during every Blazers game on this holiday. One of the arena staffers in the press area who was watching the painting in progress commented "Why is this guy painting a picture of Greg Oden." Oh, Portland.
10:12 - Fouls! So many fouls to start the third quarter. Darko picks up a whistle on an and-one jumper from Aldridge, which LaMarcus converts. 53-50 Blazers.
9:33 - LaMarcus All-Star™ with a skying putback over the outstretched limb of Darko. 55-50 Blazers.
8:40 - Holy smokes, Darko with an around-the-back trick move and the layup. He's full of surprises tonight. 55-54 Blazers.
8:02 - Matthews with the Blazers first three of the night. 58-56 Blazers.
6:56 - Plenty of hustle points from Cunningham in the absence of Camby. With that rebound and foul, Dante now has nine on the night. 65-58 Blazers.
5:55 - Miller to Aldridge, back to Miller, to Matthews in the corner for three. Count it. That was impressive. 70-62 Blazers.
4:02 - Things aren't going well for the visiting team with Pryzbilla starts scoring. The Vanilla Gorilla uses his big paws for a tip-in basket in transition. 74-63 Blazers.
3:50 - Aldridge with an alley-oop layup and a whistle. Darko needs to stop fouling him on those. 77-63 Blazers.
3:35 - Correction: LaMarcus All-StarDridge is better than LaMarcus All-Star. 77-63 Blazers.
2:49 - Mills dribbles through a crowd, slices to the rim, and flings a pass off Webster's face. 78-65 Blazers.
2:00 - Mills for three. That made shot improves Portland's three-point shooting percentage to 25%. Yikes. 81-66 Blazers.
0:35 - Nikola Pekovic's tattoo is incredible. I do believe that is a knight posing atop a pile of skulls. I'd like to think he adds a skull after every game. Do not mess with that man. 86-71 Blazers.
0:00 - The Blazers entered the third quarter up four points and exited with a 15 point advantage. That was 38 points in the quarter for the home team. Looks like their 15th consecutive victory over the Wolves is a dozen minutes away.
12:00 - Just watched two fans wearing homemade Martell Webster shirts take them off and change into Sean Marks shirts. I do not understand that at all. 88-75 Blazers.
8:44 - I think you can close the book on Aldridge vs Love for the evening. Aldridge swats away a Love jumper, in addition to outscoring him (so far) by a total of 18 points (31 to 13). 92-80 Blazers.
7:35 - This Wolves team will be a whole lot more fun to watch next season if/when Ricky Rubio joins their ranks. Until then, and with Ridnour running the point, they will not win many games. Actually they probably won't win many next season, but will be infinitely more exciting to watch. 95-83 Blazers.
6:19 - Oh my god, Darko has 20 points in this game. Plus he's two rebounds away from a double-double. 98-85 Blazers.
4:08 - Batum fouls Corey Brewer on a layup. Brewer makes the free-throw and now it's a eight point game. I don't anyone here noticed, they were blinded by the free chalupa coupon. 100-92 Blazers.
3:34 - Love hits the court hard holding his knee after an offensive foul. The center knee curse includes all players from Oregon. 102-92 Blazers.
3:19 - Matthews, those three goggles look dashing on you. 105-92 Blazers.
3:07 - The Blazers just huddled up after an Aldridge foul and Beasley just poked his head into the huddle. That was adorable. "Born 2 Lose, Built 2 Win, Can I Play for Your Team?" 107-94 Blazers.
2:27 - Brewer with a tomahawk dunk. Sadly, it was not worth 11 points. 107-96 Blazers.
1:49 - Aldridge just earned his career high in scoring with his 36th and 37th points. It's also his 20th double-double of the season. Get that man an All-Star jersey, stat. 109-96 Blazers.
1:04 - Nice to see Pryzbilla shake off some of the cobwebs. He has a season high six points and seven rebounds. Baby vanilla gorilla steps. 109-100 Blazers.
0:00 - Your final score, Portland 113, Minnesota 102.Aldridge vs. Love. Winner: Aldridge. LaMarcus delivered a monster night with 37 points (a career best) and ten boards, while Love finished with a respectable 22 points and 14 rebounds. Miller also joined the double-double party, with a quiet 15 points and ten dimes. Rudy had a nice line off the bench, chipping in 13 points and a career high five steals.
See you on Thursday when the Los Angeles Clippers—and Blake Griffin's slamdunkathon—come to the Rose Garden.