Live from the Rose Garden Iberdrola Renewable Energy Arena as the Portland Trail Blazers welcome the Dallas Mavericks. I'm taking over for Ezra tonight while he's off galavanting in Texas (don't tell Ezra's wife, but he and Rodrigue Beaubois are attempting a little Haley-Mills-style switcheroo). The Blazers are coming off a perplexing 2-2 road trip. Somehow the same squad that was able to carve out wins against Miami's big three and the (admittedly Dwight-Howardless) Orlando Magic, had no answer for Capn' Jack's Bobcats or the Atlanta Hawks' Joe Johnson Josh Smith Al Horford Jeff Teague(!?!).

If the third time this season is going to be the charm, the Blazers are going to have to hold Dirk to a few less than the 40 points he scored last time he came to town, but even so, the Mavs have a lot of scoring threats (even if they are all jump shots), and about five guys who you can't give the three. Dallas is coming off a tough loss to the Lakers, whom they're jockeying against for second place in the West, so don't expect them to phone this one in. But who knows, if our recent pattern holds, I'll be a lot more worried about Thursday's matchup against the Cavs (Manny Harris just may be primed to have the game of his life).

Recent addition Gerald Wallace is getting his first start tonight, because—get this—a Blazer center is having some knee problems. Aldridge will jump center and Camby will be playing limited minutes off the bench. As rebounding and points in the paint aren't exactly the Maverick's strong suit, I'm all for trying out a new starting five. Or maybe Oden's about ready to to lend a hand in the middle? [Asking those around me] Oh. Turns out he's "nowhere near" ready to return. You can all thank SuperChundy for reminding me of this video to play in honor of Crash's first night starting...we might have been stuck with Dave Matthew's Band.

Blaze has been shooting me the death-stare ever since I got here. Eff that dude. His days are numbered.

First Quarter:
11:40: Blazers take the tip, and Andre Miller makes a quick pass to Aldridge at the top of the key. He hits that jumper I've come to appreciate so much more now that he's got an inside game.

10:09: Well, if the key to the game was stop the Mav's perimeter game, it's not going so well. Dirk just hit their second 3 of the evening.

8:45: Aldridge capitalizes on laziness in the paint and puts in a second chance bucket. After a Mavs miss, Matthews straps on his 3-goggles for the second time this evening. 10-15

7:31: Somebody's going to need to get out on Beaubois. He knocks down another 3, and the Blazers take a timeout. 10-18

6:30: Matthews can't miss. The crowd loves it. But Dirk knows how to shut them up from 3-point range. 16-20.

4:48 Camby checks into the game for the first time. Chandler fouls Aldridge in the paint, and he knocks down 1 of 2. 19-24

4:15 Jason Kidd's pass is no match for Camby's old-man dexterity. Matthews picks up the loose ball and hits a wide-open Aldridge in streaking to the hoop. 21-24

1:15 Sorry...Safari quit on me for a minute. In the meantime the rest of the second line came into the came. Roy's out there proving he can still slash and takes Jason Terry off the dribble. 27-30

0:00 Rudy's dancing around while the seconds dwindle off the clock, he steps back and barely gets the shot off before the buzzer. Good! Three goggles are on, but misplaced. The officials say his toe was on the line. 29-32. Not a bad first quarter.

Second Quarter
11:30 Deshawn Stevenson adds his name to the list of Mavs not to leave open outside. 29-35

9:45 Good ball rotation finds Rudy open in the corner. This time he keeps his toes behind the line. 32-37

8:46 Timeout Dallas. The Mavs are shooting .667 tonight, and .500 from the 3-point range. The Blazers are staying with them through rebounding and matching them from the arc.

8:00 Roy's determined to re-live his old slashing days against this weak interior defense. This time he's got Stevenson off the dribble for another layup. 36-41

6:45 Someone forgot to tell Dallas not to leave the Western Conference player on the month open on an inbound play. Nobody near him. Miller hits Aldridge in the lane for a quick 2 points. 38-41.

5:13 Miller sees a window I didn't, and throws the ball to Matthews for an unconventional alley-oop at the rim. Not quite as fluid as Aldridge, but it works. 40-43

4:07 Matthews is open in the corner. Knocks down a three for the Blazers first lead since the opening minutes. Jason Terry, of course, reponds with same. 45-46.

2:32 Timeout is called, and Jeremiah proposes to Danielle on the Jumbotron. They seem happy. We'll see if that lasts.

1:50: Tyson Chandler takes a rare pass to the rim and reminds us how tall and strong he is. Wallace follows with a quick bucket. Tied at 53.

0:00 Brandon Roy 2011 dresses up like Brandon Roy 2009 and attempts to run an isolation play as the clock runs down. It doesn't work. Blazers trail by 3 at half. 53-56.

Maybe now's a good time to tell you guys that I invented a three-goggles emoticon.


So far my friend Everett is the only person who likes it (another friend told me it looked like a parkinson's patient was trying to lol). I'm still convinced that the twitter is going to be all atwitter over it any day now. I'm giving it a test drive this second half.

Third Quarter
Starting lineup is back on the floor. I'm on the fence about whether this is going to be effective.

10:40: Give Dirk and inch, he'll continue to make you pay. Quick jumper from 10 feet out. 55-60

10:00 Beaubois makes the first three of the half, but I'm saving my emoticon for the Blazers. Aldridge finds a fast break and takes hard to the rack. 59-65

8:17 Batum picks up a ticky-tack foul and looks unhappy. Next time down the court he drives past Dirk for a pretty little layup. 63-65.

6:50 Dirk reminds us that, oh yeah, he's not a 6'4" shooting guard. He puts his shoulder into Batum's chest, drives hard to the hoop, and kisses it off the glass for 2. 63-69. Timeout Portland. The announcer tells us Lance Armstrong is in the crowd, but it turns out not to be the one that's famous for banging Sheryl Crow, but a guy back from from the Navy. Welcome home!

5:00 Aldridge takes it hard at Chandler, who fouls him, then slaps the ball into some poor photographer. T'd up. Andre hits the technical free throw, and Aldridge nails his first. The second comes off the rim, but Camby puts it right back. 68-71

4:14 Shawn Marion makes a runner from five-feet out. On the other side of the court, Aldridge goes right back at a clearly frustrated Tyson Chandler, gets the bucket and one. 70-73, with a free throw coming. Time-out Dallas. Cue Will.I.AM.

3:29 llloolll Rudy for three! 73-76

2:10 Roy makes one of two freethrows on a questionable shooting foul. Aldridge follows with a beautiful turn-around jumper to tie it at 76. Dirk gets trapped under the hoop, and throws it across the court. Blazer ball! Roy gets another driving layup and puts the Blazers up by 2. 78-76.

0:45 Free-Throw guy is no match for DIrk, who makes two off a Rudy foul. 78-78.

0:00 OK...I was too hard on Roy. With 6 seconds left, Roy tries that isolation again, this time hitting a fade away jumper from 18. Blazers lead by 2 with a quarter left to play. 82-80.

Fourth Quarter
10:30 Brandon got some confidence. First two times down the court he takes it alone. Once on drive, once on a turn-around from 8 feet out. Rudy flings himself at the hoop, and the refs bail him out. He knocks down both free throws. 88-84

9:02 If Oregon can have an official state play, I vote for Rudy's scoop pass alley-oop to Aldridge off the pick and roll. That just happened. Again. So smooth. So pretty. 90-84.

7:25 Rudy! llloolll 92-88

5:27 Nobody wants to take the shot on this possession. Rudy has two clear looks, but dishes anyway. Wallace throws a garbage pass to Jason Terry's head, and Marion is already breaking toward the basket. Easy layup. 94-92.

5:05 If Roy's knees are hurting him, he's not letting on. Dude's throwing himself into the lane like someone with cartilage left.

3:50 Rudy Fernandez scoops up a bad pass from Jason Terry and takes it hard up the sideline. He finds Aldridge running full speed up the middle and connects. Two generous steps (maybe Aldridge is a superstar now) and he posterizes the trailing defenders for two. 100-94

2:00 Jason Terry quiets the crowd with an open 3, and Roy can't match it. 100-99

0:47 Roy hits 2 of 2 free throws, and nabs a steal at the other end. He drives into Dirk, steps back and manages to arc it over the German's scowling face. 2 more. 104-99

0:38Dirk takes it hard at Camby and draws a foul (easy on the old guy!), knocking down both freethrows. 104-101

0.15 Aldridge forgets that he can back his man down all day, and throws up a jumper from 12. Jason Kidd grabs the rebound.

0:00DIrk gets the final look, and squares up from three-point range with a second left on the clock. It rattles around the rim and pops out. Phew. Final score 104-101.

Nail-biter there, folks...that's not a shot Nowitzki misses very often. The Blazers capitalize the Mav's poor (by their standards) fourth-quarter shooting, and pull out a win over a potential first-round playoff matchup. Cleveland's up next...lets hope my second-paragraph joke doesn't come true.