"We're coming out! Guns blazing!"
—Al Pacino as John Milton, Lawyer and Satan, verbalizing the innermost thoughts of Jamal Crawford.
This is what happened the last time the Blazers played the Mavericks.
It was pretty awesome.
That won't be happening tonight. For a couple reasons. 1) LaMarcus Aldridge isn't playing. 2) The Mavericks are still sorta pissed about how that last game went down 3) The Blazers don't really have anything resembling a defense right now.
I envisioned more nights like this when I first came here, but everything happens for a reason. Better late than never.
That means there's about to be more lights shot out than the parking lot at Nakatomi Plaza.
And unless someone lets Oh Dae-Su loose in the Rose Garden tunnel as the Mavericks are running through it, I have a hard time believing this is a shootout that the Blazers will fare well in. I mean, it'll be fun to watch, but let's not go into tonight expecting anything similar to last week's matchup with these Mavericks. It's okay to want it, but let's not fit a soggy diaper full of expectation on what will probably be a really ridiculous night of basketball.
For example: maybe, if we're lucky, we'll see Vince Carter airball a finger roll again:
Or we'll see Hasheem Thabeet throw an attempted hook shot into the sun, like he did against the Warriors.
There's only one thing I'll say with any certainty: The crowd will care way more about "winning" a coupon for a food-ish item somehow less appetizing than a split open Tauntaun, than they will about the Blazers ACTUALLY WINNING the game. It happened at Golden State, and I was pretty disillusioned, not only by how rube-like the fandom can collectively get (Once upon a time, Portland fans were known league-wide for being rather smart) but by how happy this must make the butt-destroying demons in charge of slurrifying your innards at Taco Hell:
"Look, Reginald, the Blazers are only up by two in the waning minutes of a game they had easily in hand only mere moments ago!"
"But the crowd, Portnoy! They are, collectively, Portland's sixth man! The loud man on the public address made sure to reiterate that bold claim very recently!"
"They seem concerned, but not overly."
(The crowd noise begins to rise exponentially)
"What is going on, Portnoy?"
"Why Reginald, it appears - it appears the rabble has noticed they are only two points away from being gifted a coupon to one of our chalupa-delicacies!"
"But won't that cost us promotional moneys?"
"Oh, Reginald - the cost of a Chalupa is nothing compared to the feeling I get knowing that we can force a stadium full of paying customers to abandon all team loyalty and concern with merely the promise of ingesting our foul offal!"
"They seem to place much more importance on pounding our slop into their waiting gullets than they have anything else in this game!"
"Indeed. It excites me! It—ahhh. I just let fly a wet bloom in my pants."
"Let's build a new menu item around that!"
"Done and done, Reginald!"
Tonight's warm-up music is being chosen by J.J. Hickson. He chooses "That's What Up, What it Is" by Young Gotti. It is terrible. This would have been sub-par album filler on an Eightball & MJG album back in 96. Something you would have left off the tape you dubbed off for a friend who couldn't afford to cop the CD. But as we've already established, it appears most of the Portland Trail Blazers have awful taste in hip hop. And by awful taste, I mean taste that doesn't align with mine, which effectively stopped evolving somewhere around 2007. Because I am old and grumpy. New things confuse me.
But I dig it when those Rifles Burs.
I think maybe it's that I'm spoiled by DJ OG-One, who typically spends the hour before tipoff playing what probably counts as "oldies" now, if we go by the rule that anything 20yrs old and beyond is technically "classic." Which reminds me - maybe the most adorable thing that happens every pre-game is the Announcer introducing OG-One to the crowd and offering up a cheerful, jovial, SUPER-DUPER-WHITE "Thanks, OG!" before continuing on to the rest of his promotional duties.
11:20 - First points on the board come in the form of a pretty, pretty three from a funky looking German: Shawn Marion recieves the pass from Dirk Nowitzki. He kicks it back out after a couple dribbles, and maybe the purest jumper in the league finds its. Mark. The Blazers go downcourt, execute something bland, leading to a missed shot. Vince Carter nails an easy jumper. J.J. Hickson misses his on the other end. Brendan Haywood gets a dunk. The scoreboard has gone out. I'm betting it's simply given up already, before any real damage can be done to it. Nowitzki hits a long two after saving the ball from going out of bounds, Kaleb Canales calls time out, and it's 9-0, Mavericks.
9:19 - Raymond Felton finally puts the Blazers on the board with yet another expert play drawn up during the time-out: Dribble around for a few seconds and chuck up something as soon as daylight makes itself seen. 9-2, Mavericks.
7:21 - Man, not having a scoreboard is going to make liveblogging this game REALLY fucking annoying. Almost as annoying as the fact the Blazers seem to have no problem leaving Dirk Nowitzki wide open beyond the three. He makes them pay for this. J.J. Hickson is fouled down low by Mr. Finger-roll himself, Vince Carter - and gets shook by an errant bird flapping ass all over the court. The crowd awws appropriately, but Hickson's concentration is broken, and he only gets one of two. Stupid bird. I think it shit on the shotclock before it flew away. 15-4, Mavericks
6:19 - following a Nowitzki penetration-kick out-kick back to Shawn Marion, Raymond Felton almost dribbles directly into Brendan Haywood's asshole. Needless to say, the ensuing offensive possession is not ideal. But as the Mavericks try to charge back downcourt, a pass is picked, and the fastbreak is finished with authority via dunk by Batum. 17-8, Mavericks.
4:43 - Jason Terry enters the game for the Mavericks, Luke Babbitt for the Blazers. Terry wins the race to chuck up something from deep. It airballs. Jamal Crawford checks in. I predict a LOT of ordnance whizzing through the air shortly. Speaking of ordnance: Przybilla grabs a board, goes back up, dunks. His feet thud to the ground like a falling mortar shell. 20-12, Mavericks.
2:00 - Internet took a nap, sorry. What you missed: Not much - Raymond Felton got himself a tech, so Canales pulled him pretty fast. Hasheem Thabeet is in the game - he's fallen down twice already. Luke Babbitt is in the game. He tried going to the hoop hard. He managed to stay upright, but no dice getting a shot to drop. Dallas is pretty much coasting. They can afford to right now. 25-14, Mavericks
25.8 - Jamal Crawford is in the building - he's jacked up two shots, one good, one not, both taken within 10 seconds of his touching the ball. Dirk Nowitzki is in the building - when he pulls from 25 feet out with no provocation? It's butter smooth. Crawford gets the ball with the shotclock off - he holds for the last shot and misses it at the buzzer. Things aren't looking too great right now. 30-16, Mavericks.
11:28 - Jonny Flynn calmly dribbles at the top of the key, waiting for Hickson to explode in the general direction of the hoop. He does, of course, because Hickson does not move ANYWHERE calmly. Flynn weaves a bounce pass through a thicket of Mavericks. Hickson catches it in stride and beats the shit out of the rim with a two-hand dunk. 30-18, Mavericks.
10:35 - Canales considers himself a defensive coach. I think he just shit and barfed from both ends at the same time upon witnessing what just happened on the Mavericks end of the court. The Mavericks missed a free throw and two jumpers in the same possession before Rodrigue Beaubois drained the pretty three from the corner. I dont' know how much time came off the clock from the beginning of the possession to the end, but it seemed about as long as the 18 endings to Return of the King. 34-18, Mavericks.
9:52 - Well, they're not having problems on the defensive end now. Mostly because the offense has coughed up the ball twice in a row, and they dont' have time to get back before the Mavs finish at the rim. Delonte West is sorta feasting on Jonny Flynn's bad reads and late passes. Jamal Crawford is the only one on the Blazers end looking somewhat alive offensively, nailing a very impressive double clutch reverse layup in traffic. 38-20, Blazers.
8:36 - Batum is back in. Instantly picks the inbound pass intended for Nowitzki, jukes him at the rim, gets the layup. Crawford gets the pick on the Mavs next opportunity, finishes with a dunk. If they're not careful, they're gonna wake these Mavericks up. 38-27 Mavericks.
5:25 - Internet was busy scratching its ass behind the men's restroom or something. Only just now came back. What you missed? A whole bunch, actually. Nowitzki hit another three, started getting lippy, sat down. The Blazers are getting their lunch eaten on the boards. Nicolas Batum just got himself a nice looking dunk by going straight at the Mavs down low, which is a good idea since the most physical player on the court for them currently is Vince Carter, and he's about as hardcore as a Cabbage Patch Kid anymore. Batum seems to want to put the squad on his shoulders right now. Another three from him drops through the net. It's an 8-point game all of a sudden. 45-37, Mavericks.
Sorry kids. I haven't been able to reliably update in the last 30 min, and updating via phone (as I'm doing now) won't work, as my battery is about to die. And so, unfortunately, I have to bail on you at halftime. 56-41, Mavericks.