The last time we had an All-Star named Wallace in this city, we thrust the team into his hands and said "This is yours now. It belongs to you." He didn't want that. We didn't want to hear that, and so, eventually, things went sour, spiraled down into a cacophony of profanity, whistles, empty platitudes and the low-level hum of seething resentment. We traded him to Detroit where, without the pressure of being "The Guy" constantly draped around his shoulders, he promptly won a ring.
In 2012, by the 10th game of a shortened season, we have all but decided, as a city, that this team belongs to Gerald Wallace. It's his. It's not LaMarcus Aldridge's, It's sure as hell not (nor will it ever be) Greg Oden's. Even though he's only 3rd in scoring, and is (ostensibly) battling Nicolas Batum for playing time, this is a team whose future we have intertwined with that of a man we lovingly call "Crash."
Would he want to accept that burden? Is he willing to put that load on his shoulders? You know what I think? I think Crash Wallace wouldn't, and doesn't, give a single, solitary fuck about any of that shit.
If the city says its his team? Fine. They can say that. Doesn't necessarily make it true, and even if it was, it's not gonna change how he plays the game, or how he energizes his squad. It's pretty hard to pin a badge on someone's chest when he won't stop moving, can't stop throwing his body all over every last inch of the court.
Which is exactly why we're already trying to give him this team.
Aside from a brief period in the 90's, The Orlando Magic have always been, and will always be, the best minor league team in the NBA. They're a rest home for journeymen and an incubator for winners, a nest that baby birds outgrow, in search of a ring they'll never get if they stay in Orlando, Florida, located halfway down the shaft of America's syphilitic dick.
Their latest Big Bird, Dwight Howard, is looking to fly away too, but as of tonight, he's still on the Magic, he and his sleepy eyed Snuffleupagus Hedo Turkoglu, and that means the Blazers are gonna have a hell of a time stopping the player many in the league call Superman from shitting all over them at such great heights.
The Magic (6-3) of today play like a badly xeroxed copy of the championship Houston Rockets teams of the mid-90s. A smart, mobile, multi-talented center who is the first, second and third option. Fourth option is any of the other bastards stationed around the 3 point line like witches outside a pentagram. Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and J.J Redick (ugh) can all hit from that range. But can is not the same as will, and I gotta imagine the plan here is to throw as many bodies at Superman until Hedo and Company show 'em somethin.
If they don't? We might see a Blazers (7-2) victory and a happy crowd heading to the exits clutching expired coupons for a free dogfood & diaper delicacy at their nearest faux-mexican culinary establishment, where only the finest of foods are prepared with caulking guns and other industrial contractors tools. But if Hedo is feeling every last point of his .452 three-point percentage? This will be an up-for-grabs game that grinds to a halt in the mid-to-high 80s.
Elliot Williams reads off a cue card with all the vibrancy of an antique dish before Tarn-X, letting us know that he's chosen the warmup music: Young Jeezy. A safe pick, I believe. If he really wanted to get this team at maximum hype levels, he'd be all about them RIFLES BURS.
Also - Nate's not much for rockin a tie w/ his three-piece is he? He's not tonight, and I don't remember him doing so much before, either. The no-tie look is not good. Shit screams early 90's. The only thing worse than no tie is a bolo tie, really. I mean, it worked for that one dude on Renegade w/ Lorenzo Lamas, but besides that: Off limits.
11:12 - The most basic of pick & rolls with Jameer Nelson & Dwight Howard yields a too easy layup. And then next time down the court? He doesn't even need the screen. He's moving at 3/4 speed and the Magic are up 6-0.
10:10 - J. Rich comes around a screen on the inbounds play, and Hedo, who has been lustily booed anytime he's even thrown a sleepy-eyed glance at the ball, lofts him a pass. One catch, one step, one dunk, Nate McMillan calls one time-out, Magic 8-0.
9:24 - Ryan Anderson does the pee-pee dance in the middle of the key as three Blazers swarm him. The turnover leads to the first basket (Camby down low, assist by Wallace) for Portland. 8-2 Magic
8:21 - Lazy pass by Felton leads to a tip by Jameer Nelson, who finds a streaking J. Rich going right at the hoop. We call that a little Rob & Lob. 10-2 Magic
7:20 - After a three from Turkoglu, LaMarcus Aldridge takes a wide open jumper from the top of the key, spangs it off the back of the rim, dropping the Blazers shooting percentage to 1-for-FUCK-this-is-ugly.
6:50 - Camby at the top of the key waits patiently for LaMarcus to spin off his defender and go up. The ball is waiting when he gets there. 13-4, Magic
6:04 - Wesley Matthews pokes a hand inbetween the two miles of space it takes for Howard to dribble the ball, takes it all the way to the hoop for an easy layup. 15-8, Magic
5:25 - Oh, now we gon' start tradin threes? Okay. This could get fun. Ryan Anderson gets one? That's cool. Wesley Matthews can answer that. 19-11 Magic
3:26 - Goddammit J.J. Redick is the recipient of a cutesy game of around the horn, and sticks the three. I fuckin hate that guy. 23-13.
3:03 - Felton checks back into the game and promptly runs around 3/5ths of the Magic non-stop on the way to the hoop, curving around the key like a cue-ball with some english on it. To answer, Chris Duhon jacks a 3 from about 28 feet out, for no reason. Seriously, that dude was practicing half-court shots during warmups. Fuck Duke. 26-15 Magic
2:14 - Jamal Crawford enters the game, recieves the inbound, immediately stab steps and sinks a soft floater. Looks nice. Looks HUNGRY. Might wanna start feeding that guy. 26-17 Magic.
1:08 - Redick (ugh) for another three, but Batum is waiting in the corner on the other end for Felton to whip the ball at him. He does, and he answers. Unfortunately, Turkoglu has the answer on the other end. 34-22 Magic
13.2 - Redick hits a wide-open two (someone wanna step on that gnat already) and Felton starts dribbling out the quarter. with 7 seconds, he drives to the hoop, only to get hugged hard. There's a bad miss off the inbound, Orlando recovers the board, and Raymond Felton basically throws his ass into Redick's chest halfheartedly. End of quarter, 36-22 Magic
11:41 - J. Crossover doing his work. Sticking the J right in Redick's face makes it all the sweeter. 36-24 Mag—OH WAIT NEVERMIND the Magic just farted another 3-ball into the hoop courtesy Ryan Anderson 39-24 Magic
10:45 - Von Wafer to Big Baby Davis like the Blazers were cardboard cutouts. That one hurt. 41-24 Magic
9:13 - Nate McMillan calls time out. See, if he was wearing a tie, he could loosen it. It's a gesture that helps release some steam. But he's not wearing a tie, and that top neck button is straining against his neck,got him looking for all the world like a scowling embolism waiting to happen. And the way the Blazers are playing tonight, I wouldn't be surprised if he busts like a blood blister. 44-24 Magic
8:49 - Von Wafer's already got three fouls, prompting J. Rich to come back in. Aldridge hits from the corner of the key, only to have Davis respond after the Magic scare the shit out of Portland by just twitching their head like they're going to pull up for 3, only to dump it into the Big Baby. 46-29 Magic
7:02 - Dwight Howard only has 4 points tonight. Problem is J. Rich just drained a three and Portland has no answer. Wait, did I say no answer? I meant they have Jamal Crawford sticking a three and getting the and one to put Magic in the penalty. 49-35 Magic
5:34 - Time-out, so that Rose Garden staff can run a couple wet mops over the floor to clean up whatever residue is left from the Magic consistently raining threes from every fucking spot on the floor. Only one person has scored less than Superman for the Magic tonight, and that's Chris Duhon - who has a three. With almost 70% shooting, 54-35 Magic
5:27 - Aldridge bodies Howard, who looks behind him to see J. Rich going straight for the corner. He beams it over to him, and the crowd groans before he even catches it. Because they know what's gonna happen. And then it does. 57-37 Magic
4:14 - Aldridge takes a pass from Felton at the top of the key, and lofts a smooth looking jumper. It drops, and the crowd cheers, partially because it's a pretty shot, and partially because it reminds them what a jumper on our end looks like. 57-41 Magic
2:56 - Felton pulls a couple defenders to the left, and the instant they overcommit, he bounces a pass to Aldridge at the corner of the key for the jumper. 57-43 Magic
2:00 - Felton is hassling Nelson, and Aldridge isn't giving Howard any free looks. The magic cough up the ball, and Gerald Wallace goes crashing into the lane, spins, and lays it in. 57-45 Magic
25.1 - Every time Redick takes a shot the crowd reacts like a semi-truck is bearing down on Gage in Pet Sematary. His three glances off the rim, and there's more exhaling than a Toni Morrison novel. The Blazers are actually shooting better from 3 than Orlando is - 66% to 61% - its' just that Orlando's hitting almost 2x as many. Ryan Anderson proves that point with another three (he leads the team with 11pts), but Felton jacks one up as the light around the backboard flashes red, and it goes. 62-50 Magic.
A balding guy with a pot belly is doing trampoline assisted consecutive backflips like Yippy, the Backflipping dog, and the look on one of the Blazer T-Shirt Shooter guys iis the look of a prehistoric ape marveling at a monolith being deposited in front of him. He has begun clapping in wide-eyed amazement at a young man doing quadruple somersaults with a snowboard strapped to his feet. I don't know if he's closed his mouth once. But why should he? That would just hinder the intake of all that oxygenated AWE.
So yeah - as Commenty Colin has pointed out in the thread below, there's no fucking way this Orlando team continues to drop threes at an almost 70% clip. They're going to cool off. But the problem is that this has basically been a free half for Howard. He's barely exerted himself at all, which means should the Magic go cold, he's ready to put in work down low. The Blazers have been scrambling like hell just to stay within 12 at the half. Crash Wallace is a fount of unending energy himself, and Jamal Crawford looks good today, but it's gonna be a long row to hoe in the second half unless that little three-point raincloud of Orlando's dries up.
11:05 - Hedo Turkoglu galumphs his way to the hoop on the Magic's first possession, which is embarrassing enough. And then J. Rich draws the double-team, leaving Jameer Nelson all alone down low in the Blazers paint, which is a place he does NOT belong. 66-50 Magic
10:05 - Wesley Matthews is 0 for 2 so far this quarter, and the Blazers seem to have come out trying to play the Magic's game. Which works when you're Orlando, and you make more than 2 passes before you chuck up a three. Nate McMillan calls another time out. 68-52 Magic
9:15 - Raymond Felton has had enough of this bullshit game, and just barreled straight for the rim with nothing even resembling grace or finesse. He gets Howard to accept his challenge. They smash together in midair. He gets both free throws. 68-54 Magic
8:34 - The first solid offensive possession of the game for the Blazers, the ball doesn't touch the floor for 5 seconds, touches every Blazer hand, and winds up in Matthews' hands, who drives strong to the hoop for the duece. 70-56 Magic
7:27 - Jameer Nelson gets Aldridge and Wallace to doubleteam him after just sticking a three on the previous possession. He skips a pass over to Turkoglu, looking like a human skin tag behind the three. Guess what happens. 76-56 Magic
5:58 - Dwight Howard makes his first concerted effort to establish a presence down low. It leads to him spinning on Wallace with the fierceness and dunking hard on whoever is left beneath him. 81-58 Magic
5:04 - Jamal Crawford recieves a pass from Wallace, calmly steps to the three-point line and sinks it. He's the only Blazer playing with any real consistency tonight. 81-61 Magic
4:25 - Luke Babbitt just entered the game. The crowd made a noise like their hopes just sharted.
3:52 - Babbitt with the threeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeNO. Jameer Nelson floats a teardrop over Aldridge's outstretched hand on the baseline. 83-63 Magic
2:25 - Jamal Crawford cuts through the lane unmolested for an easy layup. He is singlehandedly keeping this team within 20. You may shudder now. 85-65 Magic
The Jumbotron Game tonight? Name that Tune. The tunes? Sexyback by Justin Timberlake & Miss Jackson by Outkast. Not a surprise? Kurt Thomas doesn't know either of those acts, because he is as old as Greg Oden looks, and he finds the young people's music much too hasty, haroom haroom.
30.3 - Wesley Matthews just took J.J Redick and Anderson to the center of the key and then dropped them off on his way to a fadeaway two. Orlando and Portland then trade misses, and the third quarter ends with with even less hope than halftime. 85-68 Magic
11:35 - Fuck you, J.J. Redick. In your goddamned mouth. 88-67 Magic
11:25 - Thank you, Jamal Crawford. You are awesome. 88-70 Magic
9:56 - Felton passes up a three, gives it to Crawford. He knows who has the hot hand. Crawford delivers. 90-75 Magic
9:21 - Wallace harasses Duhon, who basically gets all crosseyed and confused, and just kinda flops out of bounds. The crowd becomes excited. Portland forces another turnover on the next possession, and Jamal Crawford cuts to the hoop, kicking out to Felton, who just puts juuuust too much on the shot. Luckily, the Magic seem to have caught the turnover bug that bit the Blazers early in this game, and they throw it into the second row. Time-out Magic
8:44 - The Blazers come back out onto the court to the sounds of Jimmy Eat World, and I am left to contemplate whether 8:44 is enough to overcome the torrent of threes raining from outside like Elves raining arrows in Lord of the Rings. Aldridge immediately goes down low and gets himself two. Crash Wallace just up and takes the ball from Orlando, like J.D's Gafflin, and gives it to Felton, who gives it right back to Wallace, just behind the three. COUNT THAT SHIT. 90-80 Magic
5:57 - after trading a couple baskets, the Blazers stall out on offense after Jamal Crawford makes Redick look like he's got his shoes tied, only to dish to Felton, who loses the ball off his hands momentarily, only to regain it, and have his pass tipped sky high as the shot clock runs out. Time-out Magic 94-82
5:40 - Matthews recovers a Davis miss, and Crawford and Aldridge play a game of catch, leading to a Pick & Pop that gives Aldridge his 17th & 18th points of the night 94-84 Magic
4:37 - Big Baby gets a bucket, and the Blazers respond by swinging it to a wide-open & forgotten Wesley Matthews deep in the corner, who drains the three with confidence. 96-87 Magic
3:56 - Wallace at the line after a clumsy foul from Turkoglu. Hits the first. The crowd begins "Ger-ald Wal-lace" the 2nd free throw drops. They erupt. 96-89 Magic
3:17 - Howard recovers the ball after it's knocked out of Batum's hand on the drive. Batum simply picks it right back. While Howard paws at the air where the ball should be, Batum is up and laying it off the glass. This crowd has not sat down for the last minute, and Portland is as close as they've been since the 11 minute mark of the first quarter. 96-91 Magic
And just when you think the crowd couldn't get any louder? Cameraman cuts to a bearded, well fed looking Patty Mills, who smirks, picks up a t-shirt and starts helicoptering that shit over his head. Bedlam.
2:52 - Jameer Nelson jacks up a three, and it clangs hard. The crowd is loving it. They love it even more when Crawford pulls the defense to the right, and swings it to Aldridge, who ices an 18 footer. 96-93 Magic
1:50 - Wallace bodies Turkoglu about 10ft behind the three. Turkoglu ambles loose, and Aldridge, inexplicably, stays about five feet off him. And Turkoglu makes the most of it. 101-93 Magic.
1:08 - Two consecutive loose ball fouls called on the Blazers. One on Batum for jumping straight up while an Orlando player drops to all fours behind him, one for Gerald Wallace standing stock still while Dwight Howard jackknifes himself in midair. We go to Clay Davis for the call.
Nine point lead with 68 seconds to go? The unfaithful are beginning to head to the exits. The one two punch of Turkoglu's wide-open three and the officials deciding to shit into their whistles has led to dejection.
1:05 - Wallace misses a wide open three, but the scramble for the rebound leads to his recieving the ball from Crawford, and driving straight for the rim and getting the two. 102-95 Magic
40.4 - Jamal Crawford dances at the top of the key, loses J. Rich and continues to the rim for two. Wesley Matthews comes streaking in on the Magic inbound play, and as Wallace before him, just RIPS the ball out of Jameer Nelson's hands like Debo snatching chains. He goes straight to the hoop, and with 32 seconds to go, 102-99 Magic
28.8 J. Rich gets the inbound, and Batum goes streaking by him. J. Rich immediately looks to the nearest ref and begins crying, miming a poke in the eye. The ref blinks, waits a sec, and then shits into his whistle again and calls the foul. Richardson proceeds to miss his first free throw, because cheaters never prosper. But he hits the second because life is also never fair. 20 second time-out 103-99 Magic
16.5 - Jamal Crawford makes Dwight Howard look SILLY at the top of the key, going behind the back a couple times before just turning on the afterburners and blowing right by him for two. Magic inbound to that FUCKING FLEA, THAT CONTEMPTIBLE GNAT J.J. REDICK, who is immediately hacked, and hits both his free throws. Time-out 105-101 Magic
9.1 - Blazers inbound, swing the ball to Wesley Matthews at the elbow of the three, who jacks up a three, off-balance, and more than a little too fast. It clangs off the rim, and Redick (UGHGHGH) gets the board, and the foul. The crowd is starting to filter to the doors. Redick hits them both. Aldridge hits a three with 2.7 to go, but it's too little too late, and that's your FINAL - 107 104 Magic.