Live from the Moda Center as the Portland Trail Blazers host the Charlotte Professional Basketball Team. Charlotte is currently known as the Bobcats, but next year they’ll be dusting off their old Starter jackets and going by the Hornets moniker once again. All hail Gramdmama Johnson.
Here is where I would typically make a joke about how terrible the Horn-cats are. You know, like the reason Michael Jordan always wears such baggy pants is to hide the millions of dollars he’s saving by putting an underpaid, mediocre roster on the court. Or how their biggest highlight of the season is Gerald Henderson throwing a pass into the fourth row and hilariously knocking a lady off her feet. Hey, did you know white men can’t dunk?
But a funny thing happened to the jumpman’s squad this year: they kinda sorta maybe aren’t the laughing stock of the league any longer? Crazy, right? Charlotte, behind first-year head coach Steve Clifford, is currently one of the best defensive teams in the league. They play in the terrible Eastern Conference and have a sub-.500 record, but the Bobcats are vying for a playoff spot. Playoffs! The Bobcats!
Michael Jordan is still a terrible dresser, though.
Even though they split the pair, the Blazers return home from their latest two-game road trip triumphant. On the second night of a back-to-back, Portland beat the Thunder—an elite division rival that rarely loses on their home court. The Blazers were down by sixteen points late and were shooting poorly enough to make Ricky Rubio look like Ray Allen, yet somehow managed to gut out a defensively-driven win. Kevin Durant missed a great game-tying look from eight feet, and Russell Westbrook was out with a knee injury, but that does not change the fact that the Blazers won a game while playing like absolute garbage.
The knock on this team has been that they can’t win it all solely with jump shots. Once the jumpers stop falling, losses become inevitable. Well, Portland shot 8-33 from distance, didn’t crack 40% from the floor, and failed to reach 100 points for the first time in eighteen games. There were no jump shots to be had but they found a way to win regardless. Take that, Chuck.
And if everything wasn’t already coming up Milhouse, the January 20th game between the Lakers and Bulls has been bumped off of national TV in favor of the Blazers and Rockets. You read that right. The Blazers were bumped into the national TV spotlight over the Lakers. What world is this?
First-round pick CJ McCollum will make his debut tomorrow night for the Idaho Stampede, Portland's D-League affiliate. The rookie should be back with the Blazers shortly thereafter, and while it remains to be seen what he can contribute, having an extra body (that can shoot!) should only help.
11:52 - On the first possession of the game, Wesley Matthews straight up fumbles the ball out of bounds. That is not an encouraging sign. 0-0 Tie.
9:28 - For being a good defensive team, the Bobcats sure don't look good early on. LaMarcus Aldridge is beasting inside, the pick and roll defense has been bad, and the rotations are slow. Portland is going to start a new streak of 100 point games tonight. Book it. 9-7 Blazers.
7:25 - Everyone is getting in on the action. After getting up high and blocking an Al Jefferson hook shot, Batum came down on the other end and knocked down his first shot, a three-pointer. Things are already out of hand for the Bobcats and they need time. 17-9 Blazers.
6:42 - Portland is 8-10 on the night, including 4-4 from deep. Blowout territory. Already. 20-9 Blazers.
5:56 - Make that 9-11, including 5-5 from deep. 23-9 Blazers.
4:49 - The Bobcats are lost. Their rotations are slow, and Portland is having their pick of open three-pointers. The Portland offense looks unstoppable. Oh, and they're now 6-6 from distance after that last Lillard three. 28-13 Blazers.
2:35 - Portland has only scored two points in the last two minutes. This offense is terrible. 30-13 Blazers.
1:16 - Mo Williams with Portland's first miss from distance. They were 7-7 before that one rattled out. 33-17 Blazers.
0:00 - That was a thrashing. Who needs a drink? About the only thing positive I can say for the Bobcats at this stage is that Josh McRoberts looks majestic. 39-21 Blazers.
11:20 - I take back everything positive I have ever said about the Blazers. On a name that tune segment, not a single player could recognize "Even Flow" by Pearl Jam. Ugh. 39-27 Blazers.
8:49 - The three-point barrage continues. The Blazers are 9-10 on the night. Normally I would say that mark isn't sustainable, but man, the Bobcats have looked awful. 47-29 Blazers.
8:23 - When Meyers Leonard is getting breakaway alley-oops, you know you have a problem on your hands. Timeout for the Bobcats, who need time to hit the showers for a good cry in the fetal position. 49-29 Blazers.
7:27 - Lillard has sixteen points early, including knocking down 4-4 from deep. I'm running out of things to say. This is just kind of getting sad. 55-31 Blazers.
6:25 - Robin Lopez poster dunk? Sure, why not? 57-33 Blazers.
5:31 - Flagrant foul on Mo Williams who just straight up trucked Ramon Sessions in transition. Lowered his shoulder and just went for it. Were this the NFL, that would be a flag for a hit on a defenseless receiver. 59-35 Blazers.
3:42 - Portland brings back LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum into the game, which seems kind of unfair given the score. I almost thought they'd be left on the bench for the rest of the night with how bad this beat down is. 60-37 Blazers.
1:50 - Wesley Matthews was this close to a four-point play, getting fouled on a deep ball that nearly rattled home. That's the kind of night this is. Instead he had to settle for two of his three foul shots. Two out of three ain't bad, though. 68-43 Blazers.
0:30 - This game is so bad the Bobcats are going to change their name to the Hornets at halftime and hope nobody notices. 68-47 Blazers.
0:00 - Now the Bobcats are scoring on their own basket! While going up for a rebound off of a LaMarcus Aldridge three-point attempt—yep, even he's trying to get in on the action—Ramon Sessions tapped the ball up and into his own hoop. That is not a winning strategy. 70-49 Blazers.
10:37 - The Bobcats have scored on three straight possessions. Baby steps. 72-56 Blazers.
9:34 - Robin Lopez was fouled and had his shot knocked out of his hands. He still managed to punch it in, open-handed volleyball style. When those shots are falling, there is nothing to do but laugh. 76-58 Blazers.
8:17 - Two more threes for the Blazers. If this were an even remotely close game, Lillard and Matthews would put up some huge numbers. But they'll be sitting the fourth quarter completely, and we'll get a nice long look at Allen Crabbe. Oh, joy. 82-58 Blazers.
6:02 - LaMarcus Aldridge has the least amount of points on the night among Portland's starters with six, yet the Blazers are leading by twenty. Wow. 84-64 Blazers.
5:14 - Another three for Lillard, his sixth. Oh, yeah, and he's yet to miss from deep. The Blazers are 15-21 as a team from distance. The NBA record is 23 in a game, which is most certainly in play. Unless the refs call a mercy rule. 89-64 Blazers.
4:11 - I would like to take this opportunity to show you all Al Jefferson's bed. Remembering that gigantic thing exists has been the highlight of my night. 89-69 Blazers.
2:35 - Aldridge has been looking for his shot the last few possessions, and finally put one down after two straight misses. He's inching closer to that double-double with eight points and fourteen rebounds. Once get gets to ten points my guess is he'll sit for the rest of the night. 96-75 Blazers.
0:00 - Fast break, five seconds left. Dorell Wright passed to Aldridge who pulled up at the free throw line and knocked down the
Chalupa breakfast sandwich shot at the buzzer. That's 100 points for the Blazers, 10 for Aldridge. 100-77 Blazers.
9:41 - Lillard and Lopez are still in this game. I don't know what the holdup is, but it's time to sit them down. 107-80 Blazers.
8:47 - Okay, there we go. It's Thomas Robinson and Will Barton time. Get these young guys some run. 107-80 Blazers.
7:06 - Alright, Allen Crabbe time! Something to get excited about. The Blazers have emptied their bench, and the Bobcats have emptied their competitive spirit. 114-84 Blazers.
6:58 - A Will Barton three, and now the arena is emptying as well. Seven minutes left in the fourth? That might be a new record. A blowout is nice after the last few nail-biters the Blazers have been a part of. 117-85 Blazers.
5:24 - The Blazers have only shot six free throws on the night, yet have 119 total points. That has to be a record. The Bobcats have shot thirty free throws yet only have 91 points, which isn't a record. Just plain bad. 121-93 Blazers.
3:49 - The Blazers just had an easy fast break, yet everyone leaked out and nobody bothered to corral the loose ball. Just so good. 121-94 Blazers.
2:46 - Thomas Robinson just flexed after getting an and one. His team is up thirty. Either he hasn't seen the court in awhile or he is really proud of those muscles. Probably both. I mean...have you seen his biceps? 126-96 Blazers.
1:11 - Meyers Leonard double-double alert. Eight points nine boards. That's...about all I got. This game is done. 132-101 Blazers.
0:38 - Leonard just missed a three. It would have given the Blazers 22 three-pointers on the night, a new team record. As it stands, they tied their own mark with 21. 134-104 Blazers.
0:00 - Not much to say about this one. It was a rout from the beginning. The Blazers exploded from distance, and the Bobcats were helpless against Portland's outstanding offense. So much for that whole "Bobcats might not be that bad" thing because they are plain awful.
FINAL: 134-104 Blazers.