Live from the Rose Garden as the Portland Trail Blazers take on their longtime rivals the Los Angeles Lakers. Somehow this game, the first visit from the world champs, has been overshadowed by the deafening chatter about how the Blazers are this close to trading for Gerald Wallace. How's that deal coming? Slow. Turns out that—once again—Michael Jordan ruins everything for Portland. Jordan, the owner of the Bobcats, has supposedly come down with a case of cold feet. The deal is dead, at least it is for now. It's going to be hard to blog through these tears.
Oh, and Brandon Roy returns tonight after a 30 game absence. And the Lakers are here. Oh boy.
Portland is the winner of six straight (their best run since late 2007), while the Lakers have won just one game in this building in the past six years. Even if Los Angeles has been stumbling of late, they are still the champions of the basketball world, the same team that rolled Portland by 25 points in November.
Roy will be capped at 15 minutes, or 15 crippling knees, tonight. Whatever comes first.
Also, it's like a Lakers replica jersey convention here in the Rose Garden. In all my years covering this team, I have yet to see a single replica Clippers jersey when they come to town.
Now that the Gerard Wallace-to-Portland deal seems to be a dead end—no! we made this in Photoshop and everything—let's kill the emptiness of our daily existence with some other trade rumors. How about Johnny Flynn? Eh, just not the same. Plus, the Timberwolves won't be making any trades with the Blazers after this drama.
To make tonight even more bizarre, at the half they are running a Captain Morgan promotion where they "attempt to break the Guiness Book of World Record for the number of people holding the Captain Morgan pose for 2 minutes." Yet what does everyone get when the Blazers score 100 points? A chalupa, not rum. A bottle of poor, pirate-endorsed rum is the least they can do for making this sold out crowd forceable take part in this cross-branding synergy.
Your first, of many, "Beat LA" chants has already begun. Yeah, take that, Derrick Caracter and Devin Ebanks!
11:32 - Three misses than Ron Artest ignores the talking man on his shoulder—shut up, Kazoo—and hits a three. Capital start! 3-0 Lakers.
10:26 - The Lakers already have three offensive rebounds. It's gonna be a long night for the short team. 7-2 Lakers.
9:20 - LaMarcus Aldridge wakes up the crowd with a thunderous dunk. That'll work. Also, I think Andre Miller just knuckle-bumped Paul Allen between plays. That's job security right there. 10-4 Lakers.
8:29 - Wesley Matthews starts a fastbreak with a steal and one player later drains a three. It's loud here. Playoff game loud. 10-9 Lakers.
7:54 - Charlotte Bobcats center Joel Przybilla with the dunk. 12-11 Lakers.
5:42 - Pau Gasol is underrated under the basket. He slips through a handful of Blazers and scores while Batum hacks him. 16-15 Lakers.
4:53 - Gahh, Steve Blake is on the court. Get him off! Oh sorry, he's on the Lakers. That's fine. 17-17 tie.
3:02 - Fastbreak three from Rudy. You know who will love a shot like that?His new team, the Bobcats. 22-19 Blazers
2:21 - Holy fuck. Rudy goes into the seats to save the ball to Aldridge, who dives for it, tipping it to Batum beyond the arc, and he nails the three. That was ridiculous. 25-19 Blazers.
2:15 - Oh hello, Brandon Roy. Here's a standing ovation for you. Welcome back. 25-19 Blazers.
1:47 - Aldridge shows Roy how things work now. LA hits a jumper while everyone just stands there and watches. It's a new regime. 27-23 Blazers.
0:30 - Roy hesitates at a three, then finally takes a shot, but it rims off. 29-23 Blazers.
0:01 - Kobe hangs in the air but misses over Przybilla's hand at the buzzer. Lots of pep from the home team in that opening quarter. Moxie, too. Aldridge finished with a dozen points to lead all scorers. 29-23 Blazers
10:38 - Rudy with a crazy jai alai pass to Matthews in the corner, but he misses the shot. But damn, that looked cool. Do it again! Do it again! 32-27 Blazers.
9:17 - That'll work. Rudy to Aldridge for an alley-oop. That two man game should find its way to SportsCenter, unless Blake Griffin hogs the highlight reel (like always). 34-27 Blazers.
8:04 - Armon Johnson in the game, Patty Mills on the pine. Well, it was fun while it lasted. Just as long as he keeps Twittering, I'm fine with Mills' demotion. 34-29 Blazers.
6:06 - Toggling between zone and a good perimeter lockdown defense, the Blazers have done a respectable job so far of keeping the Lakers from using their height to overpower them. Matthews has kept Kobe to a quiet four points so far. 39-31 Blazers.
4:26 - Miller lulls the Lakers to sleep—it's that damn dangling pocket watch of his—and he casually tosses the ball to Batum under the basket for a wide open dunk. He also hypnotized Los Angeles into quitting smoking and he cured Artest of crazy. 41-33 Blazers.
2:20 - Kobe with six points so far. Portland made a good decision bringing back Ruben Patterson to guard him. 44-38 Blazers
2:15 - The crowd is really on it tonight. I love the "LA > LA" sign, plus that chant of "Don't Trade Andre" was great as well. 44-38 Blazers
1:20 - Pryzbilla just airballed a free-throw. Good thing the rim is one foot closer in Charlotte. 45-41 Blazers.
0:51 - Vanilla Gorilla beats Black Mamba. Pryzbilla stuffs Kobe at the basket. 45-41 Blazers.
0:20 - The Blazers defense comes alive (like Frampton!) in the final minute. The lead will stay at six into the break. 47-41 Blazers.
Kobe ended the first half with a 4-13 shooting line, plus the Blazers managed to out-rebound a significantly larger Blazers team 21-16. I doubt you'll see the Blazers cobble together a better start to a game than that.
Dang, I missed the Captain Morgan's promotion. Too bad it wasn't Hennessy, since Artest might have been interested in partaking in such revelry.
10:50 - Aldridge to the rim and draws the whistle. Last year he would have passed out of getting the ball in the post, or just hurled up a 18-footer. Too bad it took Brandon Roy losing both knees for him to start developing this aggressive game. 49-41 Blazers.
9:56 - One play later, Aldridge hurls up a 18-footer. So, uh, nevermind. Meanwhile, Kobe responds with a three. I doubt he'll have another nine point half. 51-47 Blazers.
8:55 - Gasol with the world's worst pass—or the best, depending on your loyalties—and Aldridge picks it off and gets fouled at the basket. He hits one of two. 53-47 Blazers.
8:29 - Derek Fisher converts a three, the third of the half for the Lakers. That's a bad sign. 53-52 Blazers.
7:27 - Aldridge with a turnaround jumper. That's 25 for him. Zero for Roy. Just in case you are keeping tracks of such things. 55-52 Blazers.
6:45 - Kobe with another three. The Lakers are shooting 8-10 from beyond the arc. Even Artest thinks that's crazy. 57-55 Blazers.
4;48 - Gasol's rainbow jumper (as in a shot, not a colorful outfit) puts the Lakers on top. 61-59 Lakers.
4:15 - Ten bench points combined for the both teams. I guess this isn't going to be Luke Walton's career night. 61-60 Blazers.
3:46 - Dre Miller with a high-flying two inch layup. Reach for the sky, buddy. 63-62 Blazers.
3:16 - Alley oop Aldridge. One play Kobe hits a fantastic jumper while getting fouled by Matthews. That was impressive. 65-64 Blazers.
2:20 - Make that 7-10 from three, as Fisher airballs his attempt. Roy is also back in the game, looking for his first points since December—read this next part dramatically—OF LAST YEAR. 65-64 Blazers.
1:08 - Rudy has his layup batted away, but Aldridge flies in from nowhere to tip it in. Gasol is stripped by Aldrdige on the other end and Matthews quickly converts. 69-67 Blazers.
0:00 - It wasn't pretty, but the Blazers close out the quarter well and hold on to the lead headed into the final quarter. Roy is still stuck at zero, but Aldridge is a beast with 29 points and 11 boards so far. Take a deep breath, this is gonna be a good finish. 69-67 Blazers.
11:16 - Up until this point Roy has looked exactly like a guy who hasn't played a basketball game since December. And just had two knee surgeries. But he pulls off a nice ball fake and hits his first jumper of the game. 71-69 Blazers.
10:19 - Dante Cunningham and his scary fava-beans-and-a-nice-chianti facemask tip-in a missed Rudy three attempt. 73-71 Blazers.
8:45 - Matthews juked a defender, turned, spun, turned again, and then airballed the shot. No matter, he redeems himself by picking up a charge on the other end. Unlike other Blazers of yore, Matthews can make up for poor offensive possessions on the defensive end of the court. Timeout and an Offspring song plays. A new Offspring song. Lucky us. 76-71 Blazers.
8:14 - Roy for three. Just like old times. 79-71 Blazers.
7:00 - Roy skips a jumper, passes to Aldridge, who skips the jumper and hits Matthews in the corner. Three points. Just like new times. 82-75 Blazers.
6:37 - Lamar Odom with a technical foul. He gets one every game on principal for dating a Kardashian. It's a new NBA rule. 83-75 Blazers.
5:46 - Matthews converts a pretty teardrop jumper over Odom, and then pumps his fist in Odom's face after the play. Again, it's a Kardashian thing. 85-77 Blazers.
5:03 - Roy hits the 15 minute mark, so he's done for the night. Unless this game tightens up, then McMillan might be tempted to bring him back in. God, I hope not. 85-79 Blazers.
3:55 - Gasol gets a whistle for a defensive play that was just him punching Aldridge in the kidneys until someone noticed. That's four on him. 87-80 Blazers.
3:19 - You don't see that every day. Or ever. Kobe was unaware of the shotclock and let it expire while he was holding the ball. Rookie mistake by the 14 year veteran. 87-80 Blazers.
2:21 - Batum misses a wild alley-oop layup. That would have been big. 87-80 Blazers.
1:29 - Rudy swipes the ball on defense but again Portland fails to convert. Artest has no such issues, he buries a three. Jesus called him and told him to hit that shot. 87-83 Blazers.
0:49 - Good ball rotation for Portland and Matthews draws a non-shooting foul. After the inbound the Blazers give it to Aldridge who can't convert at the rim. Kobe responds by calmly hitting a fadeaway over Rudy. Uhoh. 87-85 Blazers.
0:04 - Kobe, as always. Matthews defended him well, but a clutch fading jumper rolled in. The Blazers have the ball and a chance to win, or slink into overtime. Roy check into the game for some reason. Decoy? 87-87 tie.
0:00 - Aldridge at the rim for the game, but no basket and no foul. Rudy misses the tip and now we get an extra period. Not the ending the Blazers had in mind. 87-87 tie.
5:00 - The Blazers have already dropped a pair of heartbreaking overtime games at home to Oklahoma City and Miami. Both took awhile to shake off. Losing this one might be worse, since Portland had ample chances to close out this game.
4:47 - Odom for three. It's all happening again. 90-87 Lakers.
3:54 - Batum draws a whistle on Kobe and heads to the charity stripe. One common thing of the two previous loses was that the Blazers fell behind early in the extra period and never recovered. They're close now after the first minute. 90-89 Lakers
3:13 - Batum pumpfakes Odom, then drains a clutch three in the corner. They needed that. But Artest (again!) answers with a three of his own. Crazy. Literally crazy. 95-92 Lakers.
2:09 - Rudy answers with a three from the opposite corner. Man, what a game! 95-95 tie.
1:21 - Lakers can't convert and Gasol gets foul number five. Dre drains a short jumper for the lead. 97-95 Blazers.
1:16 - Gasol hits and his fouled by Aldridge. He breaks the tie and Los Angeles is now up by a single point. 98-97 Blazers.
0:27 - Kobe with an impressive steal from a pass into Aldridge. The Lakers pick up a tipped offensive rebound and Kobe slices through the lane and stabs everyone in the heart with a short jumper. Now that hurt. 100-97 Lakers. It'll take a miracle in a pair of three goggles to salvage this game.
0:19 - Aldridge is fouled and tosses the ball off Gasol's back. It was tough to tell if he was throwing at the Spaniard (who just fouled out) or at the official. Regardless, technicals on both players were called. Aldridge on the line for two. Misses the first. Ugh. Misses the second. Yeah, that might do it. 100-97 Lakers
0:18 - Bryant is a closer. Get that man a cup of coffee. He hits both free-throws and Portland ends this game with a whimper and a blunt reminder why their opponents wear championship rings. 102-97 Lakers
0:16 - It doesn't matter but Kobe shoves Miller pass the halfcourt line without a whistle. Too bad the boxscore won't show how close this game really was. 104-97 Lakers.
0:00 - And that will do it. The Blazers once again stumble into overtime at home and are suffer a devastating defeat. Could this loss be enough for the team to pull the trigger on a deal for Wallace? We'll know by 11am tomorrow, when the NBA trade deadline comes to a close.
Your final score, Lakers 106, Blazers 101. We'll see you Friday night when Timofey Mozgov and his Denver Nuggets come to town.