King's Landing the Moda Center as the Portland Trail Blazers host the New Orleans Pelicans.
Thank the old gods and the new, tonight’s early 6pm tip-off means there just might be enough time to make it home in time to watch Game of Thrones. Because, let’s be honest: everyone will be keeping their eyes on Westeros tonight, not on this late season matchup between the Blazers and the Pelicans.
The Pelicans are out of playoff contention. The Blazers can make the playoffs, but they need a win coupled with a loss from either Phoenix or Memphis. Not quite a meaningless game, but it doesn’t hold the same weight as last Friday’s tilt against the Suns. We’re in the dregs of the NBA season, even if the Blazers still haven’t officially punched their playoff ticket.
Tonight’s saving grace is Anthony Davis. The Brow has emerged as one of the best players in the league and he hasn’t even remotely tapped into his potential yet. The twenty-one year old is averaging twenty points and ten rebounds, leads the league in blocks per game, and is top five in PER. He’ll be a league MVP sooner rather than later, and he is most certainly more entertaining than the Red Viper.
Brace yourself, basketball is coming.
The Pelicans have had a year to forget. Despite The Brow’s emergence, the rest of the season has been dark and full of terrors. Both Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday missed the majority of the season, offseason acquisition Tyreke Evans suffered through a first-half slump, and there is no draft pick coming next year because the Pelicans traded it away. But hey, at least Tyreke Evans is finally playing better!
The Blazers should take care of business tonight. The Pelicans are starting Greg Stiemsma, Brian Roberts, Samwell Tarly, and Darius Miller, three non-rotation players and one slayer. With games coming up against the Jazz and Kings, this is by no means a must win for Portland though. The playoffs are coming, and unless there is a Red Wedding type shocker coming around the corner, Portland will end the season with a playoff berth.
Memphis is currently losing by twenty to the Spurs, so it looks like the Blazers are once again facing a win and get in scenario for the post-season. Hopefully tonight goes a little better than Friday night against the Suns.
Oh hey, Luke Babbitt! I totally forgot he signed with the Pelicans. Tonight just got a million times better. Chalupas for everyone!
9:40 - Missed jumper, missed jumper, missed jumper, turnover, turnover, foul, foul, missed jumper, missed jumper, offensive foul, made basket. Well, tonight is off to a rousing start. 2-0 Pelicans.
8:00 - The Blazers are 3-3 from distance, 0-2 from everywhere else on the court. 9-6 Blazers.
6:38 - So this Anthony Davis kid is real good. He swatted a LaMarcus Aldridge jumper with ease, and it immediately led to an and one fast break for Tyreke Evans. Aldridge can't figure out what to do against Davis—New Orleans is doubling and The Brow's length is causing all kinds of problem as Aldridge tries to pass out. LaMarcus already has two turnovers. 11-11 Tie.
3:47 - Davis with eight points already. He is a delight. 17-17 Tie.
3:27 - Portland drew four fouls against the Pelicans within the first three minutes of the game. They are still sitting on four fouls. So much for taking advantage of that bonus. 19-17 Blazers.
2:01 - I forgot that the Pelicans are the reason the Blazers have Robin Lopez. So thanks for that, Pellies. 23-21 Pelicans.
0:45 - Wait, Wesley Matthews has twelve points already? He's even out-scoring Anthony Davis. I guess I'm just transfixed by that mesmerizing brow. 25-25 Tie.
0:00 - THERE IS A DINOSAUR ON THE COURT! A DINOSAUR! A baby T-Rex, just walking around, being a dinosaur. Your move, dragons. 25-25 Tie.
11:08 - Robin Lopez picked up his third foul just a minute into the second quarter. He'll sit for the rest of the half, and here comes Meyers Leonard. The high of seeing a dinosaur on the court to the low of seeing a Meyers Leonard on the court is an emotional roller coaster I never want to ride again. 25-25 Tie.
9:51 - Meyers Leonard checks in, the Pelicans rip off a 7-0 run. These things are not unrelated. 32-25 Pelicans.
7:11 - The Meyers Leonard experience is going terribly. He can't box out, can't defend the pick and roll, and the Blazers are getting torched because of it. Both Thomas Robinson and LaMarcus Aldridge were waiting to check in, but there were no stoppages of play. After getting burned (again), Coach Stotts had to call time just to get Meyers out of there. 39-29 Pelicans.
4:53 - Wesley Matthews picked up three fouls in roughly 45 seconds of play, and he has to sit now along with Robin Lopez. I can't remember the last time two Blazers were in foul trouble this early. 45-36 Pelicans.
3:17 - The refs must have realized they were calling it tight for the Blazers. They let Mo Williams hack Brian Roberts on a drive without calling anything, and it led right to a fast break bucket for LaMarcus Aldridge. 47-42 Pelicans.
2:05 - Dame somehow got checked by the rim on a dunk yet managed to still throw it down. Impressive. 52-44 Pelicans.
0:00 - Aldridge finishes the half with a double double, but even that can't erase the hole that Meyers Leonard dug. With Robin Lopez and Wesley Matthews getting their regular minutes in the second half, this will be a much different game. 55-48 Pelicans.
10:04 - This game is flying by. The refs must want to watch Game of Thrones as well. Either that, or holy hell neither of these teams can play defense. 59-55 Pelicans.
6:31 - Guys, if you like Greg Stiemsma post-ups, have I got a game for you! 63-59 Pelicans.
6:10 - Here come the Blazers. Wesley Matthews sunk a circus shot, throwing it at the rim to try and draw the foul, but somehow both made the shot and didn't get the foul call. Timeout Pellies. 63-61 Pelicans.
5:48 - There was a weird play a minute ago where Robin Lopez looked to pick up an offensive foul, but the refs called it on Damian Lillard. During that last break, the call was changed, so now Lopez has four fouls. It appears as though Stotts is going to let him play through it. 63-63 Tie.
4:59 - Blazers lead! Off of a stripped ball, the Blazers leaked out in transition. Batum passed to Lillard who then threw it back up to Batum for a huge alley-oop. 65-63 Blazers.
3:26 - Aldridge has the quietest 18 point and 15 rebound game you're likely to see. I had no idea he was doing that well. And against The Brow, no less! 67-65 Blazers.
1:39 - Well this is just turning into the Battle of the Blackwater. The Blazers have held the Pelicans to ten points so far this quarter and have opened up a ten point lead of their own. And, uh oh. There goes Anthony Davis to the locker room with a wrap on his lower back. 75-65 Blazers.
0:00 - The Blazers won that quarter 29-14. Wow. It's nice being on the other end of a quarter like that after what happened in the fourth against the Suns. Leaving Robin Lopez in was a great call by Coach Stotts. 77-69 Blazers.
10:54 - Welp. Robin Lopez picked up his fifth foul and will now have to head to the bench. Adding insult to injury, he grabbed a technical foul in the process. 79-72 Blazers.
10:03 - I keep getting surprised when I look at the box score. After that last triple, Wesley Matthews leads all scorers with 21 in the game. Really? I think I remember about two of his three-pointers and maybe another basket and that's it. 82-74 Blazers.
8:15 - Back to back baskets for Aldridge, his jumpers starting to fall with ease. That's 22 points and 15 rebounds for the All-Star. The only downside is he hasn't attempted a free throw yet, and it has taken 23 shots to get his numbers. Those 15 rebounds are huge, though, especially with Lopez battling foul trouble all night. 88-78 Blazers.
6:06 - Dorell Wright, mixing it up down low! He went amongst the trees and was able to knock in an offensive rebound. 94-81 Blazers.
5:24 - Anthony Davis blocked a turnaround jumper from LaMarcus Aldridge! It happened! I thought that shot was un-blockable! It's like I just saw a white walker or something. 96-85 Blazers.
3:03 - Normally I'd say it's still a bit too early to be headed for the exits, but duty calls. That HBO isn't going to watch itself. 96-85 Blazers.
1:39 - A quick 5-0 run for the Pelicans. Do they have enough time for one last run? 96-90 Blazers.
1:14 - Welp, maybe they do. New Orleans picked up a steal and a layup, and Portland needs time. 96-92 Blazers.
0:55 - Aldridge finally gets a foul call, and he'll step to the line for his first free throws of the night. First one off. Second one down. That gives him 25 points and 18 boards on the night. 97-92 Blazers.
0:22 - Dame all but sealed it with that last drive and finish. The Pelicans call a timeout, but what they really need is time. 99-94 Blazers.
FINAL: 100-94 Blazers. Playoffs are coming! The Blazers finally clinch, and they'll be headed to the post-season for the first time since 2011. Aldridge, Batum, Matthews, and Lillard all had strong games for the Blazers, and Portland now has 50 wins for the season. What a year.