Live from the Rose Garden, it's the Mercury's thirty-second annual Disney On Ice live blog extravaganza!!
Oh, wait, scratch that. It looks like Santa finally received one of my letters—I'm still waiting for that pony though, fat man—and ended the basketball lockout for Christmas. Those interested in whether or not Jiminy Cricket can pull off a triple Salchow, sorry, tonight is not your night. Those interested in some hot Blazers live blog action, follow along after the jump!
Dang, it feels good to be back. Even with the Ghost of Brandon Roy Past and the Ghost of Greg Oden Future still looming over the arena, the fact that there is basketball even happening at all after this summer's lockout madness is reason enough to celebrate.
As for the Blazers themselves, most of the same cast is back for another run of it. Apart from Roy retiring and Oden still being hurt, the team swapped Andre Miller for Raymond "Lifetime Gold Member at Felton's Donuts & Pastries" Felton on draft day, shipped off Rudy Fernandez (lowering the team's sexy quotient by about a fifth), and made a splash by signing perennial sixth man of the year Jamal Crawford. The team also bolstered their frontcourt depth by adding Kurt "I'm older than Juwan Howard" Thomas and a Rhino.
Since it's the first game of the season, it's time to speculate as to how Portland will fare during this shortened 66 game season. A quick informal poll of the other authors of this live blog—Ezra, Tony, Bobby—show varying degrees of optimism. Bobby has them finishing with 36 wins, Tony with 39, Ezra with 43, and I have them finishing with 42 wins. Barring some sort of catastrophic collapse—you know, apart from their franchise player retiring early because his knees are made of dust—this is still a playoff team, and one that could prove to be sneaky good. I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Blazers finally (finally!) made it past the first round of the playoffs this year.
Portland is hosting the Philadelphia 76ers for their first game of the season, a team that over-achieved last year under new coach Doug Collins. They still have good young pieces in Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner, still have the ultimate trade bait in Andre Iguodala, and, hey, Lou Williams didn't get mugged during the off-season!
Considering this is the first game of the season, in front of what is surely going to be an amped home crowd, anything less than a victory would be incredibly disappointing.
The game opened with clips of Brandon Roy's epic fourth quarter last year against the Mavs in the playoffs, followed by the slogan "New Team, New Players, New Start." Salt, meet wound.
11:34 - Jodie Meeks started the season for the 76ers by knocking a three pointer from the baseline off the side of the backboard. Welcome to 2011-2012 basketball! 0-0 Tie.
9:43 - Wow, there is some rust out here. After a nice LaMarcus Aldridge block, the fast break finished on the other end by Gerald Wallace whiffing two easy layups. Yep, that sounds about right. 4-2 Blazers.
7:31 - Wallace has been active tonight. After that last put back off of an offensive rebound, he has four points and four boards. Granted, two of those rebounds are because he couldn't hit a layup, but those stats still count. Just ask Andray Blatche. 8-2 Blazers.
5:03 - The Blazers are running! The Blazers are running! Seriously! There are fast breaks happening here and I just don't know if I can control my excitement! 14-6. Blazers.
3:35 - Aldridge's jumper is in mid-season form already—he's got eight points and leads all scorers. More importantly, though, a lot of his looks are coming in transition and not in a half court set. I can hardly keep up on the typing things are going so fast. 20-13 Blazers.
1:44 - Aldridge for two more, upping his point total to ten. And the All-Star campaign starts now. 22-13 Blazers.
0:30 - Batum just missed an amazing put-back off a rare Aldridge miss, flying in behind the defense. No matter, though, as Portland is building an early commanding lead. The 76ers are shooting an anemic 30% from the field (hello, rust). They should have joined the Raymond Felton Offseason Cupcake Diet—it looks like it has been doing wonders for his game, as he's controlling this tempo with ease. Blazers fans, I think Felton could prove to be a new fan favorite. 26-15 Blazers.
11:00 - Nolan Smith for three! Nolan, I take back all the mean things I said about how Portland should have drafted Kenneth Faried instead of you. Seriously. 29-21 Blazers.
9:42 - Jamal Crawford has never met a shot he didn't like. Good thing Gerald Wallace was there to clean up his miss and get the easy put-back. Oh, and Wallace immediately took a charge on the other end. I am hereby starting the Wallace for MVP campaign. 31-25 Blazers.
Why didn't anybody tell the internet that the lockout was over? Ugh. Sorry about that everyone.
Portland ended up winning 107-103, keeping their hopes of an unbeaten season alive. I'll be back at it tomorrow as the Blazers host the Kings, and hopefully things will go a little smoother.