Live from the Rose Garden as the Portland Trail Blazers welcome the San Antonio Spurs. While most casual fans think the honor of the NBA's best team belongs to the Miami Heat or world champion Los Angeles Lakers, the Spurs are actually the top team in the league. And it's not even close. San Antonio has 40 wins to just seven losses on the year and are coasting to a Southwest Division title.
In other news, the Send LA to LA campaign worked! A Portland Trail Blazer is going to the All-Star game. Too bad it probably won't be LaMarcus Aldridge. Instead his teammate Wesley Matthews was selected this afternoon to take part in the Rookie-Sophomore game. Congrats, Wes. Have fun being dunked on by Blake Griffin in front of millions of television viewers the world over.
And there's more good news: Nicolas Batum will not only play in tonight's game, he's starting. Batum left last Thursday's matchup against Boston with a frightening knee injury—the first ever in team history (note to self: please fact check this before publishing)—that turned out just to be a bone bruise. He left the arena Thursday night on crutches and had an MRI the following morning, but he'll still suit up tonight. This proves it: the French never surrender. Never.
Let's surrender to some tedious live blog action...
Despite their continual dominance, the Blazers have actually toppled the Spurs in four consecutive games in this building. Getting to five won't come easy. The Spurs are stingy on defense and their systematic offensive—run by the robotic Tim Duncan—makes few mistakes. I've said it before, but the Spurs truly are the missionary position of the NBA. There are more exciting options—like "Working In The Garden"—but none as boringly efficient.
Now that you have a mental image of sex and Manu Ginobili, let's proceed.
11:26 - Spurs win the jumpball. Miss a layup. Get a rebound. Miss another layup. Get a rebound. Miss a jumper. Get a rebound. Then finally convert. Can we go home now? That was depressing. 2-0 Spurs.
9:08 - Richard Jefferson waltzes down the lane and hits a layup while getting fouled. Oh, this has been a marvelous start! Good thing Portland fans don't do the college tradition of standing until the team scores its first basket. 5-0 Spurs.
7:59 - Two points! Four minutes into the game Andre Miller hits the first basket for the Blazers. 9-2 Spurs.
5:41 - The Spurs are as thrilling as Ben Stein calling role in Ferris Bueller. 13-6 Spurs.
4:36 - Portland is shooting 30%. San Antonio is fairing better, 35%. This game is where offense goes to die. 15-10 Spurs.
3:25 - Aldridge gets a piece of Tony Parker's short jumper—not as easy task, Parker scores at will in the paint—and then finishes on the other end with a put-back dunk. 15-12 Spurs.
3:01 - Another missed layup for the Spurs and another offensive rebound for them as well. Portland might want to keep that from happening. It's just embarrassing. 17-14 Spurs.
1:40 - Rudy to Aldridge for an acrobatic alley-oop that woke up this arena. Hey look, there's a crowd here. And they're loud. 18-18 tie.
1:00 - Dante Cunningham contributes his typical unguarded jumper. Let's cherish this Blazers' lead while it lasts. 20-18 Blazers.
0:17 - Patty Mills hits a layup at the rim with George Hill's hand planted his beard. It took awhile but the Blazers have made this interesting. At the halfway point of the quarter the Blazers had a half-dozen points, but finished strong thanks to Aldridge's 16 points. 24-22 Blazers.
10:10 - Back and forth we go. Batum hits a jumper, Ginobili answers with a three. 30-28 Spurs.
9:03 - Mills attempts to draw a charge, but instead of a whistle all we heard was the thud of him hitting the floor. I'm in the media annex row way up in the second tier and I heard that. 30-29 Blazers.
8:48 - Chris Johnson on the court for the first time as a Blazer. He's the new piece of fresh center meat the team has temporarily called up from the D-League. The good news, he's in the NBA. The bad news, he's playing the most dangerous position in sports. Have fun with that. 30-30 tie.
7:22 - Rudy for three goggles. George Hill answers with whatever the San Antonio equivalent is. Three monocle? Three eye patch? 35-33 Spurs.
5:12 - The Spurs have 11 offense rebounds so far. If the Blazers had any centers, they should feel ashamed for themselves. Sadly it's just that one guy from the D-League and the sad remains of Joel Pryzbilla. Also, that's 16 second-chance points for San Antonio as well. It's impressive that the Blazers aren't being blown out when you consider that. 39-37 Spurs.
4:45 - DeJuan Blair just picked up a double-double. In the second quarter. Against a normally-respectable rebounding team. Craziness. 41-39 Spurs.
3:52 - Then another. Blair has 14 points and 11 boards so far. The Spurs have as many offensive rebounds (13) as the Blazers do total rebounds. 45-39 Spurs.
0:55 - Oh, Dante. Ginobili pump fakes Cunningham twice, and the second one resulting in Dante spinning around like a puppy chasing his own tail. Ginobili then buries the shot in his face. Guess which one of them is an All-Star? 52-45 Spurs.
0:00 - Portland holds for the last shot and Miller converts a difficult running layup with just a couple seconds to spare. That's the same play that failed in the final seconds against the Miami Heat a few weeks back. 52-47 Spurs.
11:56 - Ginobili steals the inbound pass but clanks the pointblank layup. Both were surprising developments. 52-47 Spurs.
9:46 - Batum scoops up the loose ball and hits Aldridge with a behind-the-back pass. No bucket, but Aldridge does head to the charity stripe after being fouled. 55-53 Spurs.
9:09 - Normally it would be troubling that Aldridge is the only Blazer player with over six points, but it's hard to argue with a guy who has dropped 25 points in less 24 minutes. 59-58 Spurs.
5:37 - Miller hits the double digit point mark. Now Aldridge doesn't feel so alone hogging all the stats. Meanwhile the Spurs push the second-chance point differential to +17. 63-62 Spurs.
4:23 - Hill whips a pass to the official. That was weird, but the referees do have a very similar gray and black color scheme to their uniforms. I wonder if this happens all the time to San Antonio? 68-64 Spurs.
2:53 - With the foul on old man Antonio McDyess (still younger than Marcus Camby) the Spurs are now in the penalty. The Blazers are about to get acquainted with the free-throw line. 68-67 Spurs.
2:05 - Smart play from Batum. Blair pushes him after a rebound and Batum hits the floor. No way that wasn't going to be a whistle on Blair, his fourth of the game. Two free-throws later... 71-68 Blazers.
1:40 - Ginobili flops and gets the charge on Miller. No excuse, he's been doing that same move for the past eight years. 71-68 Blazers.
0:02 - Batum vs. Ginobili, one-on-one for the final play of the quarter. Ginobili dribbles for a few seconds than hits a three. Advantage Argentina. 71-71 tie.
10:51 - Mills does a "Jarrett Jack" and steps out of bounds in the far corner. That takes me back... back to when the Blazers only won 21 games in a season. 73-71 Spurs.
10:05 - Matthews does a great job drawing a charge on McDyess. It's not a flashy play, but the sort of boringly efficient move successful players make. Tim Duncan wold be proud. 75-74 Spurs.
9:05 - Matthews can do it on the other end as well. Three goggles for him. 77-75 Blazers.
8:31 - Ginobili hurls himself in front of Aldridge to prevent an alley-oop that would have really gotten the crowd into the game. Smart play. Timeout San Antonio and this crowd is treated to a very loud techno remix of "We Will Rock You." What did we ever do to deserve this? 77-75 Blazers.
7:47 - Rudy for three. No. Matthews for three. No. Matthews for another three. No. Aldridge for a tip-in layup. Yes. That was fortunate. 80-78 Blazers.
7:01 - Matthews with a very choppy fastbreak layup that wasn't exactly smooth, but it worked. Biggest lead of the game for the home team. 82-78 Blazers.
6:22 - That's 34 points and 10 boards for Aldridge. All-Star numbers for a player who'll likely not be playing ion that game. 84-78 Blazers.
5:35 - Since Kevin Love and Blake Griffin are the two players likely to get the All-Star nod over Aldridge, lets look how their past two games against the Spurs went: Love had 18 points and 17 rebounds in a January 9 loss. Griffin faired better, 31 points and 13 board in a December 1 upset over the Spurs. Both were great games, but if Aldridge carries the team to victory tonight he should get the credit he so rightly deserves. 84-78 Blazers.
4:20 - Ginobili attempts a flop while shooting (Obi-Wan Flopoli) and instead is whistled for the offensive foul. Good thing, since that would have been a three shot penalty. 88-80 Blazers.
3:54 - Tony Parker get caught traveling in the lane. Back to back turnovers from two of the best clutch players in the game. Meanwhile Aldridge continues his career night. He grabs a Matthews' airball and hits falling away from the basket for his career-high 38th point. Wow, Portland just blew this game wide open. 92-80 Blazers.
2:27 - Miller to Aldridge for the gentle alley-oop. That's 40 points. There is "LaMarcus Aldridge" chants going on right now. 94-82 Blazers.
1:23 - The Spurs wave the white flag. Aldridge just sunk their battleship. 98-83 Blazers.
0:00 - Very big Blazers victory tonight. LaMarcus Aldridge did everything, finishing with 40 points and 11 rebounds. Matthews added 21, and Miller had 18 and nine dimes. The Blazers just did what the entire Northwest Division has yet to do this season, beat the Spurs. Your final score, Portland 99, San Antonio 86.