Live from the Rose Garden as the Portland Trail Blazers take on the Dallas Mavericks in game three of the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs. After dropping the first two games of this best-of-seven series in the Lone Star State, Portland needs to defend their home court in order to advance in the postseason, or at the very least, extend this series a few more days.
But will the baffling reemergence of Jason Kidd and Peja Stojakovic spoil the Blazers postseason hopes? Will Mark Cuban (who is suspiciously ripped, by the way) get in a money fight with Paul Allen? Will Brandon Roy be able to see the basket through all the tears?
The answers to all these questions (or none of them) after the jump.
In injury (a familiar term around these parts) news, Marcus Camby has swelling in his right hand, but he'll still be playing tonight. Expect rebounds and lots of long jumpshots that he has no business taking.
Considering that tickets were still available this afternoon, the mood in the Rose Garden is upbeat, but a bit less giddy than in previous years. Two seasons back, the Blazers had home court advantage against the Houston Rockets (before losing), meaning the postseason started in this building. It was electric. Last season Portland upset the Suns in game one in Phoenix, meaning they came to Portland in game three with a distinct advantage (before losing). That's not to say tonight won't be loud—there are tiny plastic noisemakers everywhere—but I can definitely see this crowd turning on the home team if they come out flat.
My bold prediction for the next Mavs player to have a breakthrough game: Brain Cardinal. Now that's what a basketball player looks like.
The inflatable blimp just dropped a prize... on me. Again. That's the third time this has happened over the years. Overcome with playoff generosity I offered my winning envelope to a kid, who then promptly ripped it from my hand and ran away. No thank you, or anything. Fucking degenerate.
Kevin McHale is in the building. But if he's here, who will run the Minnesota Timberwolves into the ground?
Oooohhh! Fancy projection introduction. Way nicer than in previous years. Well done, Blazers.
Brandon Roy gets a loud ovation when shown on the big screen. The reaction might be less substantial once he checks into the game.
11:33 - Tyson Chandler tips in a Shawn Marion runner. Eh, at least it wasn't a wide open three from Kidd. 2-0 Mavs.
10:44 - Gerald Wallace picks off a pass and LaMarcus Aldridge finishes the break with a dunk. Crowd liked that. 4-2 Blazers.
9:44 - Three goggles for Wesley Matthews. Then Kidd tosses the ball into the seats. Nice start for Portland, it's what they needed to happen. 7-2 Blazers.
9:08 - Wow, Camby swats a Chandler jumper and then poses (the looking far off into the distance pose). One play later Matthews with another three. Panic in Dallas, the Mavs call a timeout. 10-2 Blazers.
8:55 - Evidently there are less mid-game entertainment options during the playoffs. This entire break has been pictures of dancing fans on the big screen and house music. House music > Blaze the Trail Cat. 10-2 Blazers.
7:19 - Marion pump fakes Camby and finishes with an easy dunk. 10-7 Blazers.
6:46 - Matthews again for three. Even Kidd misses every now and then. 13-7 Blazers.
6:22 - Matthews again!! Three more points. He is 4-4 from beyond the arc and has easily outscored the Mavs himself. Knowing McMillan, he'll now pull Matthews and put in Roy. 16-7 Blazers.
5:46 - Following a Kidd three pointer, Matthews hits an 18-foot jumper. He hasn't even hit the rim on any of these shots, all net every time. 18-12 Blazers.
5:02 - It's hard not to be distracted by Matthews' shooting (threes!), but the Blazers have played some horrible defense so far. The Mavs haven't had to do much in order to score, and it's doubtful Matthews can keep up this pace for the entire game. 18-14 Blazers.
4:05 - Or maybe he can, Matthews hits a running layup in traffic. 22-16 Blazers.
3:40 - Two fouls on Chandler. That means Haywood is in the game. Blazers should hack him every chance they get. He shot 36% (!) from the free-throw line this season. 24-18 Blazers
2:22 - Matthews finally misses a shot. Ironically Roy enters the game for him. McMillan was just waiting for that first miss. 24-18 Blazers.
1:24 - Someone needs to bring that three-point percentage down, Rudy steps up and clanks a three. On the other end Jason Terry torches by Roy for the second consecutive play. This time Roy fouls him and he hits both free-throws. It's not an offensive thing, Roy's knees just can't keep up on defense. Sad, but true. 26-21 Blazers.
0:37 - Rudy smacks the headband off Haywood's head. Smart foul. He should keep the headband like a scalp. Haywood misses both. 26-21 Blazers.
0:19 - Roy airballs a layup and the Mavs convert on an easy fastbreak layup. Ugh. 26-23 Blazers.
0:02 - Roy (slightly) redeems himself with a fall away jumper. 28-23 Blazers.
12:00 - The Blazers shot 57% from the field and 67% from three and are only up by five. That's the problem with the Mavs, they are hard to put away, no matter how well you play.
10:55 - Haywood on the line with a chance to tie. He hit both. Not a good sign. 28-28 tie.
10:31 - Bad call against Rudy as Jose Barera flops. One play later, Terry nails a three. Mavs lead. Mavs lead. 31-28 Mavs.
8:44 - Touch foul on a Nowitzki jumper leads to an and-one. Much like the first two games of this series, the Mavs allow the Blazers to shoot well and then take advance of their soft defense. Portland won't have a shot unless they tighten up on defense, otherwise this series is as good as over. Case in point: Roy has a -11 +/- rating in just over five minutes. 37-32 Mavs.
7:05 - Barea tries the flop on a posting Andre Miller to less favorable results. Dre hits the basket and the and-one. Tie game. 39-39.
6:16 - Dre doing work, posts up again and converts the layup. Haywood responds on the other end with a mighty dunk. 43-41 Mavs
5:25 - His defense might be atrocious but Roy has his shooting stroke tonight. He hits a top of the key three-pointer. He's shooting 4-5 so far. 44-43 Blazers.
5:05 - Chandler with a quick third foul. That might be a real problem for the Mavs in the second half. 46-43 Blazers.
3:37 - Matthews with an... airball. Well, it couldn't last forever. 48-47 Blazers.
3:19 - In case you are curious, no Blazers player (other than Patty Mills) knows the music of AC/DC. Thank you, mid-game entertainment.
2:10 - Terry is pretty much unguardable when he is on. He is on right now: 6-7 shooting for 17 points. There really is no Blazer player that matches up with him well. 50-49 Blazers.
0:50 - Dirk for three. Can't guard that either. 52-52 tie.
0:21 - Matthews hits the 22 point mark (in the first half, his playoff high is 23) with a driving layup. On the other end, Kidd misses a three and we go to the break with a slim Portland advantage. 54-52 Blazers.
I'm going to eat some popcorn and try and spot Bill Simmons.
11:30 - Camby picks up his third and fourth foul in the first 30 seconds of the half. 54-54 tie.
9:52 - Terry drains a three and the Blazers—who have yet to score—call a timeout. 57-54 Mavs.
9:09 - Aldridge hits a jumper after the shotclock buzzer. Huh, surprisingly there was no whistle. It was close, but looks like he didn't shoot it in time. 57-56 Mavs.
7:49 - Wallace hustles (shocking!) for a loose ball rebound and gets an eyeful of Chandler's fingers. That's four fouls on Chandler and a trip to the bench. The Blazers quickly take advantage with a three from Miller. It was ugly, but it went in. 61-60 Blazers.
6:11 - Miller attempts another three but it rims off. Let's just stop there. 62-61 Mavs.
5:24 - Kidd for three. Hopefully I won't have to type that six more times. 65-62 Mavs.
4:23 - Barea hits the ground against Matthews (it's his move), except it wasn't a flop. Matthews used a forearm to plow through him, but the Blazers still get the call. A couple fortunate non-calls for Portland so far. 66-66 tie.
3:37 - Aldridge with a sweet jumper and Portland wrestles back the lead. I'd feel a little more comfortable about this development, but Dallas has closed well, scoring +15 in the final quarter in the two previous games. 68-66 Blazers.
3:37 - That Aldridge shotclock jumper from earlier was just disallowed. So, tie game. 66-66.
3:25 - The Mavs are taking advantage of Roy and running their offense through whatever lucky player he happens to be guarding. "Guarding." Marion hits an easy layup and gets fouled by Roy in the process. 69-66 Mavs.
2:03 - Terry gets greedy and tries to steal the ball from Roy and instead Roy cuts to the rim for the easiest wide open layup of his career. 69-68 Mavs.
1:23 - Roy hits the jumper and his fouled. His defense will be tolerated if he keeps shooting like this. 71-69 Blazers.
0:40 - Roy with a pretty (and spry) move to slice the lane and he dishes to Wallace at the last second, but Gerald clanks the layup. Terry answers with a three. That was an unfortunate series of events. 72-71 Mavs.
0:11 - Chris Johnson!!!!!!! The seldom used bench player, who is in the game so Aldridge doesn't pick up a late quarter foul, blocks a Barea layup. That triggers a fastbreak where Batum is fouled. He hits both. 75-72 Blazers.
12:00 - Only six players have scored so far. That number was five up until Batum hits his free-throws in the final minute. Wallace has zero points, yet eight rebounds and two steals. Terry leads all scorers with 26, with Matthews right behind him with 25.
11:40 - Terry gets in an argument with a guy in the crowd (!) and then shoves Batum. Technical foul for him. That means he has one technical and one missed shot on the night. One player later, Wallace gets his first two points. He'll cherish them forever. 77-72 Blazers.
9:58 - Back-to-back Batum! First a pretty jumper than a three from the top of the key. Nice way to start the fourth quarter. 82-74 Blazers.
9:26 - 11-2 run for Portland right now. It's the opposite of how they started the final period in the first two games. 82-74 Blazers.
8:48 - Wallace for three. Make that a 14-2 run. 85-74 Blazers.
8:05 - Johnson again! He swats a Dirk jumper that triggers another fast break. Amazing. It's a 21-5 Blazers run. 87-74 Blazers.
7:24 - Chandler fouls out. Mark Cuban is pissed. The Rose Garden is LOUD. All is well. 87-77 Blazers.
6:56 - Mark Cuban is now playing to the crowd's boos. He is like a WWE villain. 87-79 Blazers.
6:44 - A quick Portland turnover and a Dirk jumper and now it's a six point game. Dallas still has plenty of fight left. 87-81 Blazers.
5:45 - Camby climbs Kidd like a ladder and tips in a Roy miss. That was a foul and a half, but no whistle. One player later Wallace drags down Barea just because he's annoying. Everyone is okay with that foul. 89-82 Blazers.
5:22 - Miller subs in for Roy. Wonder if he comes back in the final minutes? Who cares about that, where's Chris Johnson? 91-82 Blazers.
4:05 - Wallace and Dirk get into a pushing match, but it's a superstar's league Wallace is the one called for a foul. Miller follows with a smart foul of Haywood, preventing two easy points. Instead he misses both. Dre's wise old man game strikes again. 91-84 Blazers.
3:41 - Barea is fouled on a fastbreak and now Portland is in the penalty. Hack a Haywood. Please, McMillan? Dallas has no other center now that Chandler has fouled out. Pretty please? 93-85 Blazers.
3:05 - Aldridge dives into the seats and tosses the ball off Haywood. Everyone is picking on him tonight. 93-85 Blazers.
2:20 - Just as the lead shrinks to six, Aldridge nails a 14-foot jumper. Not sure why Dirk left him that wide open. 95-87 Blazers.
2:20 - "OK Portland — put Luke Babbit in and foul Haywood out of this timeout. Last chance to do it before we get under 2." John Hollinger just said that, and he's smarter than I will ever be. It's a great strategy, too bad we won't see it.
1:34 - Camby misses an alley-oop layup by about two feet. Then Aldridge fouls Dirk. Surprisingly he misses the first, but hits the second. Roy also checks back into the game. 95-88 Blazers.
1:00 - That was bad. Roy tries to draw a foul when shooting a three, but comes up empty on both. Dirk answers with a short jumper. Portland needs to score again. This game is not over. 95-90 Blazers.
0:13 - Matthews misses a jumper and Kidd buries a very long two. It was ruled a three but his shoe was on the line. Maybe if he wore a different shoe. Like Crocs. Game. Not. Over. 95-92 Blazers.
0:13 - Replays show that it was really a three. Oops. But it also showed he shuffled his feet before taking it. Let's call that a push. 95-92 Blazers.
0:10 - Portland barely gets the ball inbounded, and Kidd fouls Miller. He hits the first. He hits the second. 97-92 Blazers.
0:00 - Kidd airballs a three. Or maybe it was two? Doesn't matter. Game over. Your final score, Portland 97, Dallas 92. Dallas only had two players in double figures, plus were held back with 16 turnovers.
We have a series. See you Saturday afternoon.