Live from the Moda Center as the Portland Trail Blazers host the Los Angeles Clippers.
This is the way the season ends. Not with a bang but a whimper. Tonight’s game, the final one of the regular season, is completely meaningless.
After toppling the Warriors in the best game of the year, the playoff seedings are all set in stone: Portland will play Houston in the first round, with the Rockets holding home court advantage. Done and done. That series starts on Sunday.
Portland is already looking ahead towards their upcoming matchup, completely ignoring the game at hand. If basketball had a cruise control button, it would be getting pressed violently right about now.
Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, and Robin Lopez have started every game so far this season, so they will get the nod again tonight. Once they get those first few minutes out of the way and earn their starters badge, it's going to be all about the bench unit. Allen Crabbe fans, tonight is your night!
Sorry, ESPN. This is not the dramatic conclusion you were probably hoping for. But hey, once Will Barton drops fifty, I’m sure all will be forgiven?
Returning to action tonight will be Joel Freeland, the big man’s first on court action since spraining his MCL. His return won’t move the needle that much, but having another big that can body up Dwight Howard is a welcome addition.
I’d say something about the Clippers here, but I’m already looking ahead towards the Houston series as well. Kiss a good Blake Griffin versus LaMarcus Aldridge matchup goodbye, as Griffin did not travel with the team to Portland and Aldridge will sit this one out entirely. So...yeah. Is this what the Milwaukee fans feel like every night?
It would be a different story if this was on TNT. Those guys know drama. Unless Cliff Paul shows up and tries to sell the players insurance on the court while the game is going, we're in for a long night.
11:39 - Robin Lopez had an uncontested offensive rebound, and kicked to an open Wesley Matthews for three. It's going to be that kind of night. 3-0 Blazers.
10:44 - Three offensive rebounds already for Portland. Yeah, the Clippers haven't even shown up. Literally. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and JJ Redick are still in Los Angeles. 5-0 Blazers.
9:34 - Portland has opened up an eight point lead. Time to pull the starters? Time to pull the starters. 11-3 Blazers.
6:49 - After that corner three from Dame, the Clippers take their second timeout of the quarter already. Glen Davis must need another donut. 19-8 Blazers.
3:59 - Hey, so the other game on ESPN finally just finished! They only skipped the majority of the first in this one, no big deal. All you missed was Glen Davis and Jared Dudley being a combined 75 pounds overweight. 26-18 Blazers.
3:11 - Robin Lopez has nine points and seven rebounds already. He can't sit until he gets the double double. Everyone else? Get them out of there! Ryan Hollins just checked in, and there's your white flag. 29-18 Blazers.
2:14 - Batum passed up an open layup to kick to an open Wesley Matthews behind the arc, and started running back the other way before Wesley even released the shot. That's how confident he was that one was dropping. 32-20 Blazers.
1:38 - Portland fans are still booing Hedo Turkoglu, huh? 34-24 Blazers.
0:00 - The starters played the full first quarter, which absolutely never happens. That must (hopefully) mean they're done for the night now, and that deep three from Lillard as the buzzer sounded was a fitting end to their run. 37-29 Blazers.
12:00 - Here comes the bench mob, with five subs in for Portland to start the second. Joel Freeland gets a nice ovation as he's introduced. 37-29 Blazers.
8:59 - After leaving his first jumper a foot short, Joel Freeland hit a nice spinning hook in the lane. He was guarded by Ryan Hollins, but still. 44-34 Blazers.
7:18 - Thomas Robinson left a step back jumper two feet short. This came off of a Dirk-like one-legged step back from Joel Freeland that was also left short. Blazers basketball, y'all. 49-37 Blazers.
6:25 - Will Barton with five quick points. He's a tenth of the way to fifty! 54-37 Blazers.
5:42 - Will Barton alley oop. It's all happening. 56-37 Blazers.
5:02 - Allen Crabbe is not so adept at finishing alley oops. He just earned a spot on Shaqtin' A Fool, coming up with nothing but front rim on a wide open dunk opportunity. Whoops. 56-40 Blazers.
2:11 - It's not a question of if Meyers Leonard will hit a three tonight, it's a question of when. This is his night, and dang I need something to root for. This game plain awful. 66-46 Blazers.
0:50 - Big Baby Davis went down like he had been blasted by an elbow to the face, drawing a charge on CJ McCollum. There's now way Davis should ever be able to take a charge. It would take a backhoe to actually knock that guy down. 68-50 Blazers.
0:00 - The drunk guy behind me yelling about how Victor Claver should never be able to put up a three is more exciting than this game. I'm going to go see if I can have some of what he's having. Dude is having a blast. 68-52 Blazers.
11:24 - Robin Lopez is back in, but it's just to pick up one more offensive rebound. He's currently tied for the Portland record for most offensive rebounds in a season, and one more will put him in first by himself. He had a perfect opportunity, but Big Baby Davis took another charge. Boo. 68-52 Blazers.
9:52 - There it is! Lopez grabbed an offensive board, and a timeout is called to get him out of the game. The bench is giving him all kinds of love as he heads over, and he's got a huge grin on his face. Hey, something exciting! 74-56 Blazers.
8:38 - Two straight misses at the rim for Earl Watson and Joel Freeland, both off of pretty passes from Will Barton. There goes the Barton triple double that we've all dreamed of. 74-60 Blazers.
6:41 - Hedo took an elbow to the face and was down for a few seconds, writhing in pain. On the jumbotron replay that showed the carnage, the fans stopped booing for one brief moment. That brief second of non-boos, even if it came after getting rocked, might have been the highlight for Hedo and Portland. 74-64 Blazers.
5:56 - So this is a game again? Good. I didn't want the halftime soft serve to be the highlight of my night. 74-69 Blazers.
5:10 - Four-point play alert! You do you, Jamal Crawford. 74-73 Blazers.
2:14 - I'd feel worse about Portland blowing this lead if they had actual rotation players in. As it stands, Allen Crabbe and Meyers Leonard are getting torched by Matt Barnes, Jamal Crawford, and Darren Collison, all heavy rotation players for Los Angeles. 83-78 Clippers.
0:00 - Portland was only outscored by twenty points that quarter. The playoff schedule was released and everything fell apart, so I blame the Rockets. Oh, who am I kidding? This is clearly Meyers Leonard's fault. 85-82 Clippers.
10:23 - Will Barton for three. Will Barton for president of my heart. 87-87 Tie.
8:20 - Clippers come out of the timeout and immediately pick up an offensive foul. Ryan Hollins, don't ever change. 91-89 Blazers.
7:18 - Los Angeles brings Matt Barnes and Darren Collison back into the game, so I guess that means they want to try and win this one. 92-91 Blazers.
6:19 - Portland brings Meyers Leonard back into the game, so I guess that means they don't want to try and win this one. 94-91 Blazers.
4:32 - Will Barton for three! Jamal Crawford splashed one in his face on the previous possession, but Will is completely unflappable. That's twenty points for Will, and while it isn't quite the fifty I was hoping for, he's making this one more enjoyable than it has any right to be. 97-96 Blazers.
3:17 - Will Barton is the people's champ. Free McDonald's for everyone. The amount of people heading to the exits now that Portland has secured free food is alarming. 100-98 Blazers.
2:28 - Victor Claver for three! The drunk guy behind me who has been screaming all night for Victor Claver to never shoot a three is eerily quiet. 106-100 Blazers.
0:22 - TV timeout! There's thirty seconds left, and by the time they come back from commercial break, this arena will be empty. 108-102 Blazers.
FINAL: 110-104 Blazers. It sure wasn't pretty. But hey, what else would you expect from a meaningless game where the starters were all but absent? It's playoff time. The series with Houston starts on Sunday!