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We're broadcasting—or whatever you call this—live from press row at the Rose Garden tonight as Portland hosts the Philadelphia 76ers. Ezra’s still at Lollapalooza or something, trying to get the Butthole Surfers to autograph his t-shirt...so once again, you’re stuck with me. The Blazers are coming off two epic wins—the first, a hard-earned victory against Dirk Nowitzki and the sharp-shooting Dallas Mavericks; the second, an absolute shellacking of Red Klotz and the Washington Generals the Cleveland Cavaliers (Baron Davis continued to make a strong case for a starting spot on my list of All-Time Favorite Players I’d Never Actually Want On My Team).

Thanks for opening up a new browser and clicking over from our first annual Blogtown Final Four Bracket (feel free to use tonight’s comments section as a forum to brag about your decision to put Richmond in the sweet 16, or any other relevant shit talking). My team, Brandon Davies’ Honor, is hovering around 14th place…but don’t write me off just yet). After a few days straight of college ball, it’ll be refreshing to watch a game with a sensible shot clock (Jesus Christ, do I need to watch Brandon Knight dribble the ball in place for ten seconds on every fucking possession).

Philadelphia handed us a loss during that atrocious late-November skid, but both teams have developed significantly since our last meeting (Aldridge’s testicles, for instance, have grown at least three sizes). The Sixers, led by Andre Iguodala, have transformed themselves into a playoff lock, and gotten surprisingly strong support from an aging Elton Brand and second-year guard Jrue Holiday. Word is, however, that Iguodala is taking the night off. If Phillie’s going to pull off a win, Brand’s going to need to put up big numbers and someone else will need to step up as a scoring threat (look for Jodie Meeks out on the perimeter). Tip off’s at 7:00. Stay tuned.

Pregame:

According to the Oregonian's Jason Quick, Andre Miller—who has away taking care of some family business—is en route to the Rose Garden. If you happen to be on the 84 (eyes on the road!), kindly pull over the shoulder and let him pass. [UPDATE: Andre's made it...he's out shooting around. Thanks for being less shitty than usual, Oregon drivers.]

Anyone want to make a prop bet on whether the 3-Goggles come out tonight? Apparently Nate thinks the pose is affecting the team's transition defense. With Phillie's speed, you can't really afford to lose a step. Tough, though, to cut off a meme just as it's catching on.

Looks like Evan Turner is starting in place of Iguodala tonight. He's joined by Elton Brand, Spencer Hawes, Jody Meeks, and Jru Holliday.

Blazers are starting with Miller, Matthews, Batum, Wallace, and Aldridge.

Lets hope this gets off to a better start than the Timber's game.

First Quarter:

10:30:Matthews answers the 3-goggles question early. It's a yes. 7-4 Blazers

9:20: Looks like Jody Meeks is the scoring threat Philly was looking for. He's got all three of their buckets. 7-6 Blazers.

8:16: Lamarcus Aldridge reminds me why I dropped Spencer Hawes from my fantaasy team. Dude is worthless on both ends. 9-8 Blazers

7:00: Jody Meeks ties it up with a three (that's 9 for him), but Matthews follows with back-to-back threes of his own. 17-13 Blazers.

5:00: Nocioni checks into the game, and immediately drains a three. Sixers are getting good ball movement (not like Dallas showed us the other day, but not to shabby). 20-18 Blazers.

4:35 Matthews drains ANOTHER three. That's 14 for him on the night. 23-8 Blazers

3:41: And ANOTHER! llloolll 26-20 Blazers

2:00: Lamarcus Aldridge passes up an open lane, and a golden opportunity to posterize the Sixers defense, and settles for a little 8-foot-jumper. Despite the collective groan in the Rose Garden, Aldridge sinks it. 30-22 Blazers.

1:15: Rudy's turn lllooolll 33-22 Blazers

0:00: Aldridge draws a foul from Tony Battie at the top of the key and sinks the bucket for an old fashioned three-point play. On the other end of the court, Lou Williams tries the same thing, throwing up an ugly shot from behind the arc, but drawing Patty Mills in. He makes all three free throws. That'll do it for quarter #1. Big story from the game so far is Wesley Matthews' perimeter shooting. 5-5. 36-27 Blazers.

Second Quarter:

10:00 This time it's Patty Mills from outside. Portland is 6-8 from behind the arc. 40-31 Blazers.

9:00 Brandon Roy gets his first points of the game on two free throws. This isn't the old Brandon we saw the other night, but he's getting touches and working through sets. Interesting to watch him adjust to this new role—especially after proving that he can still slash (well, against a weak interior defense, anyway). 44-35 Blazers

8:16: Watching the Junior Blazer Dancers makes me sad. I never want to have daughters (of course, I don't want sons either).

7:30 Jody Meeks picks off a bad pass from Gerald Wallace and finds Lou Williams breaking toward the hoop. The Blazer D gets back, but not fast enough. 2 points for Williams. The Blazers' shots aren't falling, and the Sixers are taking advantage. They cut the lead to three. 44-41 Blazers.

4:00: Elton Brand picks off a Matthews pass at half court and tosses it to Jodie Meeks, who in turn lobs it up to Nocioni for an alley-oop. Effective but not as pretty as ours. 50-45 Blazers.

2:45: Beautiful ball movement on a Blazer past break. Aldridge makes an extra pass to Wallace down low, and the sole Phillie defender is confounded. 54-47 Blazers

Chundy, you'll be pleased to know that the big screen is showing a montage of pets wearing Blazer uniforms. Also, apparently it's Andre MIller's birthday. Still plays a like a young man.

1:54: Gerald Wallace, again, is out there proving he has perimeter skills. llloolll 57-51 Blazers

00:20 Roy penetrates and drops a no-look bounce pass to Miller under the hoop. Miller swings it out to Matthews inthe corner for ANOTHER three. That's 20 points for him.
62-54 Blazers going into the half.

Halftime:
Just remembered a joke my boss told me. What’s first prize? A free night in Philadelphia! What’s second prize? TWO free nights in Philadelphia! I didn't say I remembered a good joke my boss told me.

Not much production from the Blazer bench tonight—only 7 points, compared to 35 from Phillie's reserves (they're outscoring the starters at this point). Now excuse me, I have to watch a corgi win a foot race (the Tail Blazers are taking on the Muddy Paws in some kind of relay).

Psh...they called it a tie.

Third Quarter:

11:30: Spencer Hawes airballs from 6 feet out. God I'm glad I dropped him. Batum, on the other hand (and on the other end), swishes it from 12 feet. 64-54 Blazers.

9:45 Wallace gives a strong head fake from the arc and drives hard to the hoop. He kicks it out the last second to Batum three. lllooolll 69-58 Blazers.

5:50 Wallace goes hard to the rack again. It's in and out, and Andre follows for tip...a little too closely it seems. Ref calls offensive goaltending. On the other end, Thaddeus Young knocks down a long two. DAMMIT...I missed a big Wallace dunk while I was typing. Hope you guys are happy. Meeks sneaks in for another two, and with that, the Blazers' lead is down to two. 75-73 Blazers

4:19 Wallace backs his man, and about two others, down to the hoop. He finds an open Andre Miller underneath for a quick and easy bucket. Spencer Hawes misses again, and turns a quick pass from Andrew Miller into three points. That breathing room feels nice. 80-73 Blazers.

3:46 Roy and Rudy check into the game. Roy takes a pass down at the block and find a cutter in Gerald Wallace. He puts it off the glass for two and gets the foul (and the free throw). 83-73 Blazers

1:45Rudy throws a lovely little floater to Wallace at the rim. Wallace graps in the air and throws it straight into the rim. Luckily he grabs his own rebound and puts it in. The refs miss a big foul on Rudy from three-point range, than Nocioni a charity call on the other end. The crowd's pissed. 87-80 Blazers

0:00 Lou William's hits a three with about 40 seconds left on the clock (that's 20 for him off the bench). Roy tries to follow suit, to no avail. End of the quarter, Blazers lead 87-83.

Fourth Quarter:

9:48: For the second time this quarter, the Sixers get hit with a defensive 3-seconds T. Rudy hit the free throw, but knocks the ball out of bounds in the set. 92-87 Blazers

8:30 Happy Birthday, Dre...Rudy hits Miller at the top of the key for a nice little jumper. 94-89 Blazers.

7:30 Gerald Wallace steals and pushes it up the court. (Note: I would shit my pants if dude was running full speed at me.) Pass to Miller who swings it to Matthews for the layup. We're at 97-89 Blazers

5:00 The crowd gives Matthews a standing ovation...not for this three point percentage tonight but for getting them a free Chalupa with a put back on a Wallace miss. 101-92 Blazers

4:00 Batum and Wallace are playing keep-away, letting the shot clock drain. At the last second Batum flips the ball back and Wallace knocks down the three. Portland's starting to pull away. 106-92 Blazers

2:07 Somebody forwarded Doug Collins that Oregonian article about Portland's tendency to throw the lob pass to the rim. They're seeing it every time. We're at 107-95 Blazers

1:10 As the clock winds down, the crowd manages to squeeze in a quick "Beat LA" chant.

0:00 And that'll do it. Blazers win 110-101 . Despite minimal contribution from the bench, the Blazers are able to hold onto an early lead. As the crowd hinted, we're going into a tough back-to-back against the Lakers tomorrow.