Live from the Moda Center as the Portland Trail Blazers host the Toronto Raptors.
Oh dang, All-Star city! On Thursday, both LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard were named to the All-Star team, the first time Portland has sent two representatives to the game since 1994. Aldridge was a lock to make it, but Lillard’s inclusion was a pleasant surprise—either all those game winners held weight with the opposing coaches who voted him in, or that Sweetums Dunktastic 3-Point B-Ball Blast endorsement is finally paying off.
The Blazers have had three nights off to
livejournal their feelings reflect on their two worst losses of the season. Things can’t get much worse than they did against the Grizzlies, so at least there’s no real way to go but up. The defense will always be a problem, sure, but the offense should be able to kick itself back into high gear. The three-pointers will have to start falling again sometime, right?
The Raptors, at 25-21, currently hold the participation award for the best team out East not named Indiana or Miami. That third place record would be good enough for tenth in the Western Conference. Goodness, the East is terrible.
Credit to Toronto, though. After a middling start they traded away their “best” player in Rudy Gay and appeared ready to embrace the tank. Instead of taking a nosedive to the bottom of the standings, the team started playing their best ball of the season. Amid trade rumors and talk of gutting the rest of the team, the Raptors kept winning. Thank the Toronto Jesus. Started from the bottom now they’re here.
No, no. Sorry Drake, if anyone deserves credit for this Toronto team it’s Kyle Lowry. Dude has been an absolute beast since Rudy Gay was traded away, and the fact that Joe Johnson (?!?!) was voted an All-Star over him is the biggest snub of the year. Kyle Lowry deserves that All-Star spot. Kyle Lowry over everything.
Portland native and 2013 Dunk Champion Terrence Ross is back in town after breaking the internet last night. If that dunk on Kenneth Faried was any indication, he’ll have no trouble
swallowing your soul defending his dunk title this year.
Kyle Korver recently declined an invitation to participate in the Three-Point Shootout, which, by my math, all but makes Wesley Matthews a lock to join the field. Portland will be well represented this year. Now, if they could just start scoring in the hundreds again.
Oh, and good luck to Paul Allen's other team in the Super Bowl tomorrow. I can't wait. I've been listening to nothing but Mother Love Bone for the last week in anticipation.
11:44 - The Blazers waste no time, running a beautiful packaged play on their first possession. A couple of screens, lots of movement away from the ball, and the result was a Nicolas Batum layup at the rim. Great way to start for the home team. 2-0 Blazers.
10:32 - The first three-pointer of the night is good! After last game's 0-infinity from deep, that shot from Wesley Matthews was another good sign that Portland came to play. 7-0 Blazers.
8:31 - When Jonas Valanciunas scores in Toronto do they play "My Name Is Jonas"? Because they should. Hell, I'd make an exception for playing music when an opponent scores if it meant that song. This is how I feel. 9-4 Blazers.
7:39 - LaMarcus is having a game already. The Raptors can't seem to stay on him during pick and pops which has led to eight early points (on wide open looks) for the All-Star. 13-6 Blazers.
5:34 - Aldridge is out-scoring the Raptors on his own. The Blazers are locked in. Looks like those few days off worked their magic. 17-7 Blazers.
3:16 - Batum and Aldridge with a beautiful pick and roll. Batum entered the ball to Aldridge in the post, got the ball back on a simple handoff screen, and then Batum dished a bounce pass to a rolling Aldridge for an easy basket at the rim. What a play. The offense is back. 23-12 Blazers.
2:27 - Aldridge already has ten points and eight rebounds. He's going for 40/20 tonight. Calling it now. 23-14 Blazers.
1:38 - You know what makes everything better? "Ante Up" by M.O.P. Please, please, please keep that coming through the loudspeakers mister music man. 27-16 Blazers.
0:38 - Huh, so Mo Williams has three fouls already. He's been in the game five minutes. That last one came on a Kyle Lowry three-point attempt, because of course it did. 30-19 Blazers.
0:00 - That first quarter couldn't have gone much better. Aldridge picked up twelve points and eleven rebounds. Portland's defense did its job. The only thing that could have been improved is if Nicolas Batum personally handed me a puppy during that last timeout. 31-19 Blazers.
10:07 - Robin Lopez just decked DeMar DeRozan on a shot attempt at the rim. It was a clean foul, sure, but that took the "no easy buckets" mantra to its late 90's New York Knicks extreme. 35-20 Blazers.
8:49 - DeRozan had Jonas all alone, wide open under the basket, but he chose to take it himself for a contested layup. He made it, but it looked like he broke a little piece of Jonas's heart. I could almost hear the sad Charlie Brown Christmas music from up here as he ducked his head and slowly walked away. 35-24 Blazers.
7:10 - The third best team in the East is playing like the fifteenth best team in the West. 41-26 Blazers.
6:11 - Wesley Matthews picked up his third foul (!!) of the night battling for position with Jonas Valanciunas. In protest, he threw his mouthguard fifteen feet in the air and picked up a technical foul in the process. Both Mo and Wesley are in foul trouble so here comes Dorell Wright, back from the end of the bench! 41-29 Blazers.
4:49 - Portland has been called for two illegal screens in the last minute. The refs must be trying to make that a point of emphasis. 43-33 Blazers.
4:29 - The refs must be making "calling technicals on the Blazers" a point of emphasis as well, because Terry Stotts just picked up a T for arguing a no call. 43-34 Blazers.
3:10 - Lillard dunk! Lillard dunk! Everybody drink. Seriously though, that was nice. A one-handed slam in traffic, with authority. Get ready to see that highlight replayed a few more times this year. Lillard has fifteen points and has taken this second quarter over. 50-36 Blazers.
1:54 - Amir Johnson just got called for an illegal screen as well, so the refs are playing that one equal. I can't ever remember seeing that foul called this much in one twelve minute quarter. 50-36 Blazers.
0:50 - Aldridge and Lillard have 31 points combined. The Raptors as a team only have 38. The Blazers aren't shooting the ball all that well, but the defense has been legit tonight. 55-38 Blazers.
0:00 - The Blazers needed that half of basketball. The stink of the Grizzlies game is gone. Aldridge and Lillard are showing whey they were named All-Stars, and Portland has this one under control. 57-40 Blazers.
11:33 - The ref called a travel on Aldridge because he dragged his pivot foot. Instead of just calling it and leaving it there, the ref decided to imitate the call and ended up doing the stanky leg in the process. 57-40 Blazers.
9:52 - Robin Lopez and Wesley Matthews both have four fouls. Uh oh. That could be trouble. 61-46 Blazers.
8:13 - Batum for three! When the long ball is falling, this offense is damn near unstoppable. Nicolas is having a strong start to the third here, and the Raptors appear a bit too tired to make a go of it. 67-50 Blazers.
5:54 - Patrick "2Pat" Patterson lets it ride for three. Brain malfunction—does not compute. Just when the Raptors seemed wasted, they're playing well enough that Coach Stotts needs time. 70-58 Blazers.
4:37 - I don't know what the record for most fouls in a game is—if only there were an easy way to look that up on the internet—but my guess this one game holds every record by this point. Every single play is resulting in a foul call. These refs are out here trying to get some people kicked out of this game. 73-60 Blazers.
2:29 - Portland is getting sloppy. The Raptors are feeling it. This one is now within single digits, and Portland's recent three game streak of terrible third quarter play is rearing its ugly head again. 73-65 Blazers.
1:27 - DeRozan with the turnaround and one. The Blazers haven't scored a field goal in what feels like thirty minutes. It's panic time here in the Moda, and the crowd is uneasy. Aldridge free throws are the only thing keeping Portland afloat right now. 75-70 Blazers.
0:33 - Lillard for three! A field goal! Whew! 80-72 Blazers.
0:00 - Mo Wiliams for three! Those six quick points from the Blazers PGs were huge for the scuffling Blazers. The biggest issue, again, was defense. Portland did a great job of limiting the Raptors to forty points in the first half, but they just gave up a thirty-four point third quarter. Not good. 83-74 Blazers.
11:45 - Matthews keeps it going with a three to open the fourth! The Blazers have their breathing room back. 86-74 Blazers.
9:52 - Lopez is back in after missing most of the third with foul trouble, and immediately he's having a huge impact. He's got four points, including two on an offense rebound put back. His size is trouble for the Toronto bigs. 90-77 Blazers.
9:22 - Wesley for three! Again, when the threes fall, this offense looks so much better. A basic talking head statement, sure, but it really does open everything on the floor for the Blazers to work. Plus 3>2, and I think the point of this game is score the most points. I think. 93-77 Blazers.
7:58 - DeMar DeRozan is having himself a game. It's like he was just named an All-Star or something. That corner three just gave him 27 points on the night. 95-82 Blazers.
6:13 - The Raptors are refusing to go away. The Blazers are hiding out in the kitchen hoping to stay out of sight for the rest of this one, but they really need a T-Rex to come in and clean things up. 98-87 Blazers.
6:06 - Batum is just walked the dinosaur right down the lane for a one handed poster dunk over Jonas. That was so pretty. 100-89 Blazers.
4:21 - DeRozan is killing it. He's got 34 points for the night now. I don't think he's missed this half. 102-96 Blazers.
3:11 - How did this become a four point game? Seriously? How? 102-98 Blazers.
2:52 - Welp. A Kyle Lowry three just made this a one point game. After that dropped the Toronto bench jumped up and started celebrating. They are fired up, and Portland needs time. 102-101 Blazers.
1:24 - A wild sequence. DeRozan missed a fadeaway jumper, the rebound bounced around for a few seconds before the Raptors saved it. A pass found DeRozan wide open under the basket, but Lopez was able to recover and block it out of bounds. Raptors ball still. 102-101 Blazers.
1:03 - Missed shot by the Raptors. Patrick Patterson with an offense rebound, Patrick Patterson with an offensive foul trying to put it back up. The Blazers escape that one unscathed. 102-101 Blazers.
0:25 - After a LaMarcus jumper juuuuust rimmed out, DeRozan was able to get Matthews in the air on a jumper attempt and picked up the foul. Two free throws coming his way. First one down. Second one down. Toronto has their first lead of the game. 103-102 Raptors.
0:11 - Lillard was fouled going to the hoop, but the call was on the floor. As it was the first in the last two minutes, the Blazers got the ball out of bounds. Lillard took it to the rim a second time, pulling up for a one handed floater in the lane. Money. Portland has the lead back! 104-104 Blazers.
0:05 - Dang, this is stressful. Matthews tied up DeRozan on a drive to the hoop, jump ball, eight seconds left. The Raptors won the tip and called time. It's still Toronto's ball, down one. The Blazers need one last defensive stand. 104-103 Blazers.
0:00 - DeRozan dribbled the ball off his foot! The loose ball ended up in Portland's hands, but the refs called a foul on the floor before the horn sounded. The play is under review now. It will be free throws for Portland once they figure out how much time is left on the clock. 104-103 Blazers.
0:00 - It's only .01 seconds left, so this game is Portland's! Two free throws for Batum seals it!
FINAL: 106-103 Blazers. Portland blew a huge lead and needed some last minute heroics to seal it. What a weird game, but the good news is the Blazers still got the W. Portland is out on a four game road trip next week, so getting that victory at home was huge. Phew. Who needs a drink?