Tonight I'll be bringing you a cutting edge, live recap from the upper 200 level of the Rose Garden where our very own Portland Trail Blazers are taking on the Philadelphia 76ers, a team I know very little about except that over the summer they lost Andre Igoudala and gained Andrew Bynum in the epic trade that brought Dwight Howard to the Lakers. I use the term "gained" lightly because Bynum had knee surgery this summer and has been experiencing numerous health setbacks since, leaving Philadelphia a little wanting for production and team cohesion. Guys you might have heard of on their roster include Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, and Nick Young. They're 14-16 and not playing so great. Also they have Kwame Brown and an ailing Jason Richardson.
The Blazers are coming off a tough loss in LA last night. (Did you watch that? Because it was a fucking massacre.) Tonight could go one of two ways. 1. The Blazers are tired and disheartened and give up an easy loss to a team desperate for some wins or 2. The Blazers are charged up after last night's beating and take it out on a vulnerable team. Here's hoping they're up to it. The Blazers are clearly the more talented team. The only way they'll lose this game is giving it away.
I've been listening to some of the chatter about Jrue Holiday. The guy is much better than I realized. He's the same age as Lillard but already in his fourth season. He's third in assists in the NBA and averaging 18 points and 8 assists per game. Those are legit numbers. Excited to see Lillard and him match up.
11:41 - Blazers win the tip and Aldridge drains a bucket under tight coverage. 2-0 Blazers.
10:45 - Jason Richardson is playing. He drains a three, giving me flashbacks of 2010. 5-2 Philadelphia.
7:43 - Hickson intercepted two passes, getting a foul on his last run to the hoop. 10-7 Blazers.
6:56 - Evan Turner pulls Batum to the ground. On the inbound Lillard gets open on a screen and drains a three, his first basket. 13-7 Blazers.
5:34 - Lillard hits an awkward lay up under the basket. I literally forgot Batum was playing in this game for a second. 15-9 Blazers.
3:31 - Claver loses his defender and tosses in a nice lay up. It's relieving to see this guy coming around as a player. 19-13 Blazers.
2:36 - After a quick succession of passes, with the Sixers closing in on any Blazer who touches the ball, Lillard takes the ball baseline and makes another tough lay up. 21-15 Blazers.
2:06 - The Sixers turn up the defensive pressure on Aldridge and Lillard, leaving Claver wide open for a three. 24-17 Blazers.
1:15 - After another tough sequence Ronnie Price shoots the ball to Meyers Leonard for a quick two at the shot clock buzzer. It count. 26-19 Blazers.
END OF QUARTER Jrue Holiday scores a quick two at the buzzer. Aldridge leads the Blazers with 8, followed by Lillard and Claver with 7 each.
11:39 - Second quarter opens and Jrue Holiday has something to prove, taking the inbounds pass coast to coast and laying it in. 30-25 Blazers.
10:19 - Batum rouses from his slumber, making two baskets, the latest a three. 35-27 Blazers.
8:26 - Jrue Holiday continues his mission to single handedly win this game, muscling his way to the basket for two. 36-31 Blazers.
6:43 - NIck Young easily scores a couple baskets for Philly, but luckily they're answered by Babbitt and Batum. 40-36 Blazers.
5:58 - Damien loses the ball, dives for it, loses it again, throws himself on top of it and turns over, ball safely in his hands, but Lillard on the ground. Terry Stotts sees cause to call timeout. 40-36 Blazers.
4:52 - Batum takes an ill advised shot from an isolation move that bricks. Hickson does what he does, grabs the rebound and puts the ball in the hoop. 44-36 Blazers.
2:53 - A whole lot of nothing is going on out there. Noteworthy development of December: Victor Claver looks like an NBA player. 47-40 Blazers.
END OF HALF is marked by a bunch of broken plays and misses. I would say the defense is looking good, but neither team is looking hot right now. 49-44 Blazers.
10:01 - Two minutes into the third and only Holiday has scored so far, a bank shot hight off the glass. 49-46 Blazers.
9:29 - Quick buckets from Lillard, Richardson, and Aldridge get things going again. 53-48 Blazers.
7:53 - An offensive rebound by Batum goes quickly to Lillard who is wide open for a three. 56-50 Blazers.
6:04 - Jrue Holiday drains one at the shot clock buzzer to put Philly back in the lead. 57-56 Philadelphia.
5:34 - Another two from center Lavoy Allen sends the Blazers to time out. 59-56 Philadelphia.
5:16 - Aldridge sinks a clean two out of the buzzer. 59-58 Philadelphia.
4:42 - Again Holiday leaks out from (double) coverage and makes an easy basket. Holiday is 10/16. 61-58 Philadelphia.
3:04 - Batum makes a timely three to tie the game again, then assists a Hickson bucket to regain the lead. Timeout Philadelphia. 65-63 Blazers.
1:54 - Batum gets a good look at a three but misses. Holiday is still tearing us apart for 27 points. 65-65.
1:10 - Barton misses a flailing lay up. So that's what they mean when they say he's raw. 67-65 Blazers.
:40.5 - Batum with another three. He sure does pick his moments. 70-67 Blazers.
END OF QUARTER.
Lillard has zero assists on the night.
11:02 - Leonard makes a nice block, then gets clocked in the face with no foul called. Being a rookie center is tough. On the other end Aldridge nails another bucket. 72-67 Blazers.
9:41 - Lillard hits a three. I'm sorry I gave you shit, Damien, I really am. 75-67 Blazers.
9:01 - Batum gets fouled and hits two shots. On the other end Leonard goes down hard on his ankle and the trainers are walking him off the court to some big applause. They replayed it and it was NOT PRETTY. Nothing like the sound of 20,000 people recoiling OOOOOHHHHHH at the same time. 77-69 Blazers.
9:01 - Seriously that ankle turn was gnarly as fuck. I am going to dream about it.
7:35 - Lillard is hot, hitting another three. 80-69 Blazers.
6:32 - Nick Young keeps things interesting with something besides his hair, hitting a nice three. 80-74 Blazers.
5:46 - Dorell Wright cuts through the heart of the Blazers for a dunk. Timeout on the floor. 80-76 Blazers.
5:25 - Hickson finishes an alley-oop, putting everyone in a better mood. Batum was the passer. He's basically our point guard tonight with 8 assists. 82-76 Blazers.
2:51 - Hickson executes a nice turnaround, a rarity. The crowd is getting pretty rowdy in reaction to physical play from the Sixers. Also Meyers Leonard has an ankle sprain and will not return. 84-76 Blazers.
2:22 - Lillard continues to turn it on. He's shooting a lot this game, but no one's complaining. He's now at 20. 86-78 Blazers.
1:38 - Philly keeps getting to the line to keep it close. Thaddeus Young adds another point. 86-81 Blazers.
1:05 - Another basket from Young sends Portland to timeout once again. 86-83 Blazers.
:24.9 - A nail-biting sequence that starts with a bad miss from Batum leads to a wide open three attempt from the Sixers. It does not go in. The Sixers knock the ball out of bounds and quickly foul the Blazers on the next play. Philadelphia is in the penalty. Batum goes to the line and sinks both free throws. 88-83 Blazers.
:21.6 - This is Philadelphia's last chance. They miss another three point attempt badly. Batum grabs the air ball, sprints away, and is fouled. As he squares up for his shots the crowd arena starts to empty. 89-83 Blazers.
END OF GAME. Philadelphia makes one last basket, but it's too late and time runs out on the Portland inbound. Final score: 89-85 Blazers. The Blazers hit the road to face the Knicks on New Year's Day. They return to the Rose Garden on January 8th.