Live from the Rose Garden as the remnants of the Portland Trail Blazers take on the Golden State Warriors. Last April the Blazers headed to the playoffs with a starting lineup of Brandon Roy, Steve Blake, LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Oden, and Nicolas Batum. Four of those five are injured. As is Rudy Fernandez, Travis Outlaw, Joel Przybilla, and almost half of the coaching staff. In fact, the Blazers are down to eight players, two of which are rookies, and one of which is named Shavlik Randolph. This would be absolutely depressing if it wasn't so historic.
This isn't a basketball team, it's a Final Destination film. Who's next?
I'm still convinced that the team is under a gypsy curse, so I took some precautions and sacrificed a goat (with Photoshop!) outside the arena. If "Billy Goat" can haunt the Cubs for 60+ years, I am not afraid to spill a little animal blood outside a major sporting arena. I now expect evil spirits to be pouring out of this place like it's the Lost Ark of the Covenant.
Enough with gypsies and evil goats, let's talk some basketball. The Blazers complete lack of players means rookie Jeff Pendergraph is getting a promotion. Congrats, homie, you are now a starter. It also means Brandon Roy will probably be playing 48 minutes and we'll see our first, non-ironic, appearance of Shav Randolph.
The Warriors knocked off a (relatively healthy) Blazers teams earlier this year when they were shorthanded, so tonight would be an ideal time for the home team to get revenge. Then again, Don Nelson's team will run the Blazers ragged, lead by Monta Ellis and a lightning fast offense (107 points a game) that is the second best in the league. They are so quick on offensive they even have a guy named Speedy Claxton. They made him change his name!!
Roy is skipping the opening shooting drills. I would too if I had to carry this team on my back for the next 48 minutes.
10:40 - I'm usually all for Webster camping out in the far corner—far away from the ball—but when he has four inches and nearly 55 pounds (!) on Stephen Curry, he should be posting up. I don't want to see him facing the basket unless it's from 3" inches away. 6-1 Warriors.
9:33 - Given the Blazers' predicament this game could either be the greatest highlight of the season, or an absolute blowout from Golden State. Let's check the scoreboard: 11-1 Warriors. Oh, so it's going to be like that.
6:23 - In a fluke play, an Ellis pass hits the rim before finding its way to Anthony Morrow, who then casually hits a three. Insult, meet injury. 21-8 Warriors.
4:15 - The Warriors are shooting 78%. My god. That would be good if it was their free-throw percentage. 25-14 Warriors.
2:27 - Andre Miller is playing his best quarter of the season. Maybe he does better knowing that no matter what happens tonight, Steve Blake won't be taking his minutes. He has 11 of Portland's 20 points. 31-20 Warriors.
1:33 - Don Nelson is awesome. Anthony Randolph has been in 3:32 and has already picked up three fouls, yet Nelson leaves him in the game. If that was McMillan—on any other night than tonight—a player wouldn't be back on the court until the final quarter after three fouls. 35-26 Warriors.
0:08 - Webster hits a three, which turned the tide... for all of six seconds. Ellis races up the court, hits a layup, gets fouled, and buries the free-throw. A 41 point quarter for Golden State (36 was the Blazer's season worse on defense). Ouch. 41-31 Warriors.
11:27 - Roy leads all Blazers in rebounds. It's come to this. 41-33 Warriors.
9:45 - Roy with a steal and a layup, and all of sudden it's a game. Cue techno music and jumbotron images of old white people dancing poorly. 41-37 Warriors.
7:46 - Dante Cunningham comes out of nowhere (and off the bench) to tip-in a missed Bayless jumper. As long as Portland keeps it close, they'll be able to rely on Roy as time expires. Unless he expires from fatigue first. 48-43 Warriors.
3:42 - Well, they weren't going to shoot nearly 80% all night long, so as the Warriors come back to reality, Portland pull within a single basket. 52-49 Warriors.
2:35 - Curry is the Warriors leading scorer, but he also has four fouls. He won't be scoring from his new spot on the bench. Meanwhile the Blazers haven't closed out on the lead—still keeping it a single basket—but seeing how they were trailing by 14 earlier, this will do. 56-53 Warriors.
1:07 - Shav has entered the court. Lock up your daughters. And bloggers. 56-55 Warriors.
0:00 - Not bad. A huge comeback, a Shavlik sighting, and a mere one point deficit. Halftime, here we come. 56-55 Warriors.
9:19 - The Blazers tie the score with a Webster jumper and then keep the points coming. Juwan Howard's jumper makes it a four point advantage and leads to a Warriors' timeout. Don Nelson needs a drink. 62-58 Blazers.
5:50 - Season high in points, here he comes. Miller drives through, but definitely not over, Anthony Morrow for a gritty layup. Can layups be gritty? Sure, why not. Miller has 18 so far. 67-66 Warriors.
4:38 - Now that was gritty. Miller hits another layup and goes hard into the knees of the cameraman below the basket. He looks dazed, but he's still playing. 70-69 Blazers.
1:48 - Anthony Randolph just put down a ridiculous dunk, then grabbed a technical as well for hanging on the rim for far too long. Even the dudes with the trampolines spend less time dangling from the rim. 75-73 Blazers.
0:00 - The quarter ends with the Blazers' largest lead of the game, and a standing ovation from the crowd. 78-73 Blazers.
12:00 - We just witnessed our first on-the-shoulders crowd action. It's like a Van Halen concert here. If Rudy was playing her replica jersey might have come off.
9:39 - The Warriors scored 41 in the first quarter, then 32 in the next two. They are on pace to do even worse this quarter. Amazing. 82-73 Blazers.
6:27 - Cunningham lays out for a loose ball on defense, proving that Nicolas Batum isn't the only young Blazer player with a knack for defense beyond his years. His +/- on the night is the best of any player at +13, plus he has ten boards on the night as well. 86-80 Blazers.
5:14 - It's nice that Roy hasn't been forced to play every second of this game—he's sat out a total of about 5:30—and is eclipsed in minutes by both Miller and Webster (who just knocked back a three). 89-80 Blazers.
3:25 - Although they have eight players available—barely—the Blazers are really only using six. Randolph and Pendergraph (despite his start) have less than six minutes of playing time combined. This Blazers effort has been almost exclusively been the work of Roy, Miller, Howard, Cunningham, Webster and Bayless. 93-83 Blazers.
2:32 - That might be it. Webster pump-fakes one defender, then buries a three with Cory Maggette's hand in his face. 98-86 Blazers.
1:52 - And then Juwan Howard hits a three. [Insert joke about him playing before there was a three point line.] Roy then follows for the third consecutive three-pointer in a row. All of a sudden, it's a blowout. 103-86 Blazers.
0:24 - Shav gets rejected by the rim when he tries to dunk. Awww, how adorable. And that will do it. An unbelievable effort from a very short-handed Blazers team. Webster gets a double-double (21 points, 11 boards), Roy notches 37 points, and your final score: Portland 105, Golden State 89. See you Tuesday night.