Live from the Rose Garden as the Portland Trail Blazers welcome the Dallas Mavericks in game four of the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs. After two losses in Dallas, Portland came alive—just like Frampton!—in game three, winning 97-92 at the Rose Garden. In a series where the home team has won every time, today's matinee game is vital for the Blazers. Otherwise, this will likely be the final game here this season.
It's the first warm day of the year, hopefully Paul Allen will retract the Rose Garden roof and this game can be played under the sun.
I do a great Charles Barkely impression. In fact, I'm going to call Brandon Roy and give him another pep talk. It worked last time. After getting a pre-game call from (the real) Barkley, Roy looked like a man with two functioning knees as he dropped 16 points in game three. Curious to see if his knees can repeat that performance.
According to Mike Tokito at the Oregonian, Nate McMillan has finally joined the ranks of sane basketball fans (and myself) and might start the Hack-a-Haywood tonight. Dallas backup center Brendan Haywood shot a shameful 37% from the free-throw line this season (that's 19% lower than Shaquille O'Neal's worst seasonal free-throw percentage), yet the Blazers are too gentlemanly to purposely foul him. Considering how close these games have been, the Blazers need every advantage they can get. Even if that means Armon Johnson fouling Haywood on six consecutive plays.
Warm weather means there are plenty of replica jerseys being warn without undershirts. Lots of pasty shoulders in this arena.
Game three had a great introduction with projections that draped the entire court, but today it's just a giant disco ball unceremoniously spinning at center court. What chance does Portland have with such a lackluster introduction?
11:28 - In order to slow down the Blazers, looks like the Mavs will be full-court pressing Andre Miller on every inbound pass. If they can do that, surely Hack-a-Haywood will be tolerated. 2-0 Mavs.
9:02 - There have been a combined eight shots, seven of which have missed, and two turnovers to start this game. Playoff basketball, catch the fever! 2-0 Mavs.
7:58 - It's been over four minutes and the Blazers have yet to score. The Timbers might score in their game before the Blazers gets their first point here. 5-0 Mavs.
7:50 - The TNT broadcast has finally switched over to this game, so the Blazers were just waiting for a larger TV audience before scoring. 5-2 Mavs.
6:29 - DeShawn Stevenson for three and he flashes the "Three Monocle." Matthews answers with a three of his own. Hand gestures for everyone! 8-7 Mavs.
5:15 - Camby swats/fouls a Nowitzki jumper that somehow sends the official into the seats. Such power. Jason Kidd is not impressed and he bombs a three. His first, and probably not last, of the game. 11-9 Mavs.
4:19 - Matthews grabs a Dallas turnover and goes coast-to-coast for the layup. That was pretty. 11-11 tie.
3:45 - Nowitzki for three. Dallas has started 4-5 from beyond the arc. Not a good sign for Portland. 14-11 Mavs.
2:37 - This has to be the lowest scoring quarter of the series. No mid-afternoon chalupa for the Rose Garden crowd. 14-11 Mavs.
2:03 - While going for a loose ball Jose Barea pounces on Rudy. No foul because it was too cute. Like two kittens wrestling over a ball of yarn. 14-11 Mavs.
1:17 - Portland has four turnovers and one assist. And 11 points. Wait, make that five turnovers. 14-11 Mavs.
0:18 - Six turnovers. 16-11 Mavs.
0:00 - Roy misses a three. Blazers shot 25% from the field and had a half dozen turnovers. They should thank Dallas for only having a five point advantage. 16-11 Mavs.
12:00 - Only two Blazers (Matthews and Miller) scored in the first quarter. Surely this is part of McMillan's genius strategy. Right?
10:27 - Roy dribbles down the clock, nearly turns it over, then flings the "flaming bag" pass to Wallace as the clock expires. Well played. Excellent way to burn 24 seconds off the clock. 22-13 Mavs.
9:51 - Rudy twirls and misses a three-foot jumper. It was like all his other misses, but with more spinning. 22-13 Mavs.
8:37 - Someone finally blocked a Barea layup (Batum!) and the Blazers get an actual fastbreak. Wallace misses the layup but was fouled. He hits both. 22-15 Mavs.
8:18 - Another Barea miss leads to a fastbreak but Roy is fouled hard by Peja Stojakovic at the rim. Roy actually bounced after landing on his back. He hits both. Meanwhile a guy in a Jason Terry jersey (who is not Jason Terry) gets in a fight with a Blazer fan in front of us. Both are getting reprimanded by the ushers. 24-18 Mavs
6:10 - After a scoreless first quarter, Aldridge hits his last two jumpers. Kidd, again, answers with a three. Blazers are shooting 29% and are on pace to score barely over 70 points. 31-23 Mavs.
4:37 - Kidd picks up his third foul and a trip to the bench, meaning we are about to see a whole lot more Barea. Yay? 33-25 Mavs.
3:38 - Wallace smacks Tyson Chandler so hard that we can hear it on press row. No foul. One play later there is a bit of a tussle between Chandler and Aldridge. No technical fouls called (yet). Remember, Chandler and Joel Przybilla had a few run-ins in the past. 35-29 Mavs
3:21 - Technical fouls called on both Chandler and Aldridge. Because of that, Dwight Howard will be suspended for one game. I think that's how David Stern's rules works. 35-29 Mavs.
2:36 - Nowitzki and Miller get tangled up and Dre is tossed to the hardwood. It's getting chippy in here. The second half of this game will be played in the octagon. 37-29 Mavs.
2:06 - Aldridge steals a pass from Terry (on a defensive mismatch), tips to Matthews, who then alley-oops it to Wallace. That woke up the crowd. One play later Matthews drives in for a layup and Dallas calls a panicked time out. 37-33 Mavs.
1:10 - Jose Juan Airballa. 37-35 Mavs.
0:53 - MVP chants for Aldridge? Maybe Most Improved Player but not MVP. MIP! MIP! 37-35 Mavs.
0:00 - Exciting end to an ugly first half. Portland comes roaring back on a 10-2 run and make a game out of it. 37-35 Mavs.
12:00 - Weirdest stat of the game: Blazers have a dozen free-throw attempts in the game while and the Mavs have zero. No complaining about the officials today. Mavs also don't have a single fast break point.
10:27 - It's been nothing but missed shots and turnovers so far. Let's relive that first quarter. 37-35 Mavs,
10:08 - Another whistle on Kidd. He is not pleased. He makes his OUTRAGE face. That's four on him but he is staying the game. Wonder if Dre will try and draw the fifth foul. 39-37 Mavs.
9:03 - Nearly three minutes in and the Blazers have yet to make a field goal this half. And Camby joins Kidd in the old man with four fouls category. 42-37 Mavs.
8:00 - Four minutes without a field goal. 48-37 Mavs.
7:25 - Wallace bullies his way to the rim, but misses the layup while getting fouled. Portland has four points from the line, but still no field goal this half. 48-39 Mavs.
6:20 - Missed layup from Miller. Can we get six minutes? Probably, Blazers just reeled off three consecutive fouls on one possession. This game is all sorts of ugly. 52-39 Mavs.
5:43 - The Blazers have now gone over half the quarter without scoring a single field goal. That is shameful. 54-39 Mavs.
5:20 - Nowitzki misses a jumper, but Marion gets the board, returns the ball to Nowitzki and Dallas adds three more points. Unless the Blazers revive themselves, this game is over. As is the season. 57-41 Mavs.
4:46 - It's hard to win you take an eight minute vacation from scoring from the field. Goodnight Blazers. 59-41 Mavs.
2:57 - Nine fucking minutes without hitting a shot. 0-14 shooting. We are witnessing a colossal Blazers collapse like no other. Meltdown in the Rose Garden. 20 point leads for Dallas. 61-41 Mavs.
2:46 - Peja for three. Make it stop. Please. 64-41 Mavs.
2:29 - Rudy makes a shot!!! After the whistle. Oh. He also was rewarded with condescending applause, because it's come to that. 64-42 Mavs.
1:44 - At this point I am all for the franchise moving to Southern California. Anaheim Blazers has a nice ring to it, don't you think? 64-42 Mavs.
1:29 - The Blazers avoid history as Aldridge hits a short jumper. The first field goal of the half. 64-44 Mavs.
0:01 - Roy hits a three that dramatically dangles on the rim before falling in. With that shot, the Blazers have now scored five whole points from the field in the quarter. Shocking they are not losing by 18. Oh wait, they are. 67-49 Mavs.
12:00 - Oh crap! This just happened. I think there was a brick in that box. Someone wants this blogger dead. Cuban, was that you?
10:39 - The Blazers only like even numbered quarters. Wallace starts the fourth with a layup and Batum follows with a three. At least that woke up the crowd. 71-54 Blazers.
9:17 - Aldridge with a dunk and Rudy draws a foul on a fast break. He hits both. At what point do I eat my words on that "Goodnight Blazers" comment? 73-60 Mavs.
8:28 - It wasn't pretty, but Roy backs down Kidd and hits a short two foot jumper. Never seen a crowd get so excited when trailing by 11 in the fourth quarter. 73-62 Mavs.
7:06 - Trading baskets doesn't help the Blazers shave down that lead, but it has kept the crowd in the game. If that was LA, it would be empty in here by now. Also if this was LA, the weather would be the same outside. 75-64 Mavs.
6:23 - Roy passes an open jumper and hits Wallace for a three point attempt. Airrrrrrr ball. 75-64 Mavs.
5:34 - Roy with a jumper, no more double digit lead. 75-66 Mavs.
4:34 - Miller with a little jumper around a screen and a defensive stop gives Portland a chance to make it a seven point game. Roy does just that. 77-70 Mavs.
3:29 - Jason Terry with a three (and a dagger to our hearts). 80-72 Mavs.
2:32 - Old school Roy crossover drive. I guess you don't need knees to play basketball, you hear that Oden? After a first half where he didn't make a single shot from the field, Roy is six for his last seven. 80-74 Mavs.
2:16 - Wallace draws a charge on Dirk. Cherish that call, because no way that happens again. Timeout. Blazers ball. Time for a C&C Music Factory song. 80-74 Mavs.
2:03 - Reverse hook from Aldridge. Four point game. Then the Mavs cough it up. Oh man. This is happening. 80-76 Mavs.
1:36 - Roy for a foot-on-the-line two. Down to a single basket. 80-78 Mavs.
1:15 - Marion answers for Dallas. 82-78 Mavs,
1:06 - OH MY GOD. Roy hits a three, while getting fouled. It's 2008 Roy right now. I am stunned. Roy is on the line. He hits the free-throw. After trailing by 23 in the second half, Portland has tied this game in less than 17 minutes. This is Roy at his finest. 82-82 tie.
0:49 - Wallace can't hold onto the rebound and Dallas will get another chance. Tough play, since it could have gone either way. The play is now under review. 82-82 tie.
0:49 - Wow, they reverse the call. Portland ball!
0:39 - Pull up jumper from... who else? Brandon Motherfucking Roy. Unbelievable. He has 18 points this quarter. That is more than Portland had in both the first and third quarters. 84-82 Blazers.
0:28 - Kidd for a wideopen three. Clank. He missed the rim (and net) entirely. Blazers ball with a chance to win it (I did NOT think I would be typing that sentence 20 minutes ago). 84-82 Blazers.
0:00 - Roy misses a three and Jason Terry gets a clean look at a three to win. NOPE. Blazers win! This was the single biggest playoff comeback since the 2008 NBA Finals.
0:00 - In all seriousness, that was the single greatest Blazers game I have ever seen. Ever. This team was dead in the water with twelve minutes standing between them and the end of the season (since they would not be winning down 3-1 in Dallas). And then Brandon Roy—who everyone had already written off, myself included—came through with the greatest quarter of his career. It was simply remarkable. Your final score, Portland 84, Dallas 82. See you Thursday night for game six.