"Ooh-de-lally, ooh-de-lally, golly, what a day."
— Roger Miller, full-time troubadour, part-time rooster, one of the patron saints of the laid-back.
It kinda feels like today was a day in which everything that was supposed to have been evenly spread over the course of a week was let loose in one massive "goosh!" Like a kinked hose with someone holding their thumb ever-so-slightly over the opening, making sure that a torrent of what-the-fuck comes screeching out, full-blast with the force of a wide-open fire hydrant.
It began at around four in the morning, when a Portland woman made national news for falling and wedging herself in an eight-inch gap between two different buildings, at which point Mercury blogger/Live Wire Radio writer Ben Coleman happened upon her, called 9-1-1, and set in motion the events that led to firemen cutting giant blocks of concrete into a wall and lubing the woman through the holes.
It swiftly moved to the realm of college sports, with the news that Oregon Ducks coach Chip Kelly decided, as so many wise sages have done before him, to leave the relatively safe climes of College Football success, where he wields an amazing amount of control, pulls in huge paychecks, and practically drowns in power and influence; and instead go to the pros. Specifically, Philadelphia, where Michael Vick has more power, influence, and money than Kelly will ever have, and this is after Vick went to prison for killing dogs for fun and entertainment.
Then, almost immediately after this became news, the President signed a 23-step executive order in an effort to toughen up gun control in the country, one of those steps effectively closing a loophole that makes asking "Do you have tickets to the gun show?" almost exclusively the set-up to a really terrible dad-joke punchline.
Finally, to close out this crammed-too-full news day, Heisman runner-up and Notre Dame inspiration Manti Te'o was revealed to have been involved in a hoax in which the dead girlfriend who was a key part of his heartwarming, life-affirming tale of perserverance and triumph was completely fabricated. She never existed. The fifteen-ring circus that will unfold hasn't even finished getting its tent set all the way up, and this is already maybe the most fascinating story I've heard in quite awhile.
I think our Baltimore correspondent Wee-Bey Brice sums it up pretty eloquently:
Seems like a perfect way to let this firecracker of a day go out is just relax, lay back, maybe put on that Robin Hood soundtrack, and watch a nice, low-stakes game of basketball. The Blazers are coming off a 3 game losing streak? The Cavaliers are... the Cavaliers? That'll fit the bill just nicely!
But wait: It can't be too low-stakes. Then it's no fun. There's gotta be something to artificially increase the importance of tonight's game. Like when you were playing in the driveway with your friend or younger sibling and at some point one of you struck on the idea of counting backwards from 5 so every possession was a potential buzzer beater, complete with cupped hands and a whisper-yelled "HAAAAAAAAAAA" from the victor.
I got it! Kyrie Irving vs Damian Lillard. Last year's Rookie of the Year vs this year's Rookie of the Year (this sentence was jinx protected when I typed it). This is their first showdown this year, and while the Rose Garden crowd has taken to chanting "M-V-P" when Lillard gets hot, it's not just a fun chant in Cleveland; Irving is without question his teams M-V-P.
People gonna have something to prove tonight. So let's watch em prove it, shall we?
10:58 - The only thing of note that's happened is LaMarcus Aldridge fouled Tyler Zeller coming across the key. It was as exciting to witness as it is to type. 2-0, Cavs.
10:37 - Second most notable thing? LaMarcus just airballed an 8 footer. Lillard ended up recovering and getting fouled by Irving. Lillard hits his free throws. FIRST BLOOD, LILLARD. 2-2.
10:20 - Irving iwth a floater over Lillard. And the Cavs didn't have to watch their center airball an 8-footer first. Hickson gets his own put-back on the other end, picks a pass on the defensive end, feeds Matthews, who gets confused as Hickson goes to the hoop, and launches an Alley-Whoops. Luckily, Batum is there to clean up. 7-4, Blazers.
8:25 - A subplot I forgot about - Hickson used to play for Cleveland, back in their LeBron days. They didn't really give him that much respect back then - not that he really earned it. His defense was shit, and he wasn't all that reliable. But there could be a revenge angle to be worked. Meanwhile, Cleveland's Tristian Thompson hits back to back jumpers, and Kyrie Irving drops a long jumper. 10-7, Cavs.
6:44 - The Blazers have attempted 9 field goals. I have completed 6 yawns. Holy shit this game is lethargic. I know I was talking about this being a nice, relaxed, low-key game, but, like - I feel like everyone snorted rails of sominex before they suited up.
6:10 - After a C.J. Miles drains a wide-open three, the Blazers have Nicolas Batum run the point. Guess who's number he calls? Did you guess "His own?" The result is a clanged three. Meanwhile, Irving does what Bill Schonely would have called a lickety-brindle-up-the-middle, switches hands in mid-air to avoid the traffic, and kisses a sweet layup off the glass. The Blazers are picked on their next possession, and Irving gets his forearms slapped by Lillard as he skies for the layin. He hits both free throws. 19-8, Cavs.
4:52 - "Wesley Matthews from I-5" yells the house announcer. Half the crowd just looked up like "Wha? We scored?" 19-11, Cavs.
4:23 - Have I been complaining that this game is uninteresting. I apologize. Nolan Smith is running the point, and Luke Walton just checked in for the Cavs. Does your seat have an edge? I suggest perching on it. Because shit is about to get EXCITING. Batum drains a long two off something that resembles an actual offensive play, only to be answered by a three from Irving. 22-13, Cavs.
2:27 - I just found this picture on the internet, which I think sums up the Manti T'eo story pretty perfectly.
Anyway, Nicolas Batum hit a three, Joel Freeland got a dunk, and quarter ends 26-21, Cavs.
11:26 - Nolan Smith is still in. He puts up an okay-ish jumper, which rolls in and out. Why he didn't kick it back over to Batum, who is 4 of 5 on the night? Probably because that would be a GOOD decision, and he still has a troubled, complicated relationship with those. Shaun Livingston hits a couple free throws. In other news, Shaun Livingston is still in the league. 30-21, Cavs.
9:25 - Terry Stotts calls time-out after Tyler Zeller, a seven-footer with a land-speed of roughly a half a foot a second just beat the entire Blazers D back on a fast break.
Is this Conrad? Is this Bonar? Is this a picture of Blazers head coach Terry Stotts from 15 years in the future? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your guess, and you might win a Portland Mercury keychain!* 39-24, Cavs.
6:21 - Goddammit, Luke Walton scored. We might not win this game, but Portland could have at least felt good about the fact they kept Luke Walton off the scoreboard. But now they have to win. It's the only way to salvage the night. 43-27, Cavs.
5:50 - Damian Lillard is finally back in the game. He feeds Matthews waiting in the corner for a three. It goes clanging off the side of the rim - right back at him. He gathers up the ricochet, takes off for the basket, gets hit, goes under the hoop, kisses the ball off the glass, then hits his and-one. 44-30, Cavs.
4:07 - Aldridge swats the hell out of Shaun Livingston, and what follows is a slow-motion fumble-fest between Lillard and Hickson. The ensuing Cavs possession ends with C.J. Miles draining a three. I'd say the crowd is deflated but it's already laying out flat on the living room floor like a popped air-mattress. 49-32, Cavs.
2:49 - Nicolas Batum runs a pick & pop with Aldridge at the top of the key. Batum comes off the screen. Floats a pass to Aldridge's back, which goes about as well as a play for someone's back should go, i.e. Kyrie Irving to Tristian Thompson on the fast break for a two-hand dunk. 51-32, Cavs.
2:16 - Hickson gets flat out robbed for the ball. Lillard hauls ass on D, and picks Alonzo Gee's pocket right back, feeds Batum, waiting on the corner, who drains the three. Then Lillard does it again on the next possession, and feeds Batum again, who is hacked going to the hoop, and hits his free throws. Batum, by the way, has still only missed one shot all night. Number of plays actually run for him? two-ish. 53-36, Cavs.
26.1 - Lillard dribbles from about 40 feet out, lulling Irving to sleep. Irving bites on a jab-step, Lillard feeds to Batum, who misses from three. The Cavs don't even really get a shot off before the buzzer sounds, and that's the half. 53-36, Cavs.
By the way, this is probably the single worst quarter of basketball that the Blazers have played this year. Batum has 17 points. Nobody else on the team has more than six. And to top it all off, LUKE WALTON SCORED.
11:22 - LaMarcus Aldridge hits a pretty jumper from the top of the key. Alonzo Gee answers back with a prettier runner, running right PAST Aldridge standing flatfooted in the key. Aldridge goes right back to work on the other side with another jumper. Nothing from the Cavs, and then a three from Wesley Matthews, who drops his shooting hand like "C'mon now. Of course that dropped." Another non-starter of an offensive play from the Cavs, leads to a fast break, where Lillard leaves a bounce pass for Hickson in the key. He gathers it up on his way towards the hoop, with Alonzo Gee caught, floating, helpless in midair. Hickson plows right over him on the way to the two-handed flush. He hits his and-one, too. More has happened in this single paragraph than has happened for the entirety of the first half. Cleveland coach Byron Scott calls time out. 55-46, Cavs.
9:22 - Just putting something here because nothing's happened since that last paragraph but I don't want you to think I went home or something.
8:51 - Tristian Thompson with a breakaway dunk, followed by Kyrie Irving picking Lillard's pocket and going uncontested to the other end. C.J. Miles, kinda feeling himself, tries to take it to the hoop against Aldridge, and gets his shit put into the second row as a result of his efforts. Batum swings it crosscourt to a waiting Lillard, who passes on the three, instead giving it to Wesley Matthews, who does his whole "C'mon, man. OF COURSE I'm draining this shit" thing again. 60-51, Cavs.
5:40 - Wesley Matthews just threw a pass directly at Kyrie Irving. There's no other way to explain it. I mean, maybe he was trying to hit Lillard, but he was off by like, 10 feet. Irving pulls a pretty little half-windmill thing before he goes up and over Lillard with the layin. Matthews tries to make up for it with a smooth jumper on the other end, but Irving is now fully feeling himself, and jukes Lillard out of his shoes so hard Damian looks like he's doing jumping jacks while Irving calmly spins and gets another bucket. 64-57, Cavs.
4:04 - Aldridge has decided to show up in defensive low-post. He's swatted like, 3 shots away this quarter alone. I don't think any of them have translated to Blazer baskets, but they're definitely getting the crowd a little more amped. But an amped crowd does not replace a well-oiled offense, and the crowd is taking what it can get: A pretty spin move by Nolan Smith elicits the sort of reaction normally reserved for a Matthews trey. Of course, it goes nowhere (because this is a play initiated by Smith) and Batum has to hack the shit out of Tristian Thompson to prevent a breakaway dunk. 66-57, Cavs.
2:52 - Nolan Smith just hit a three. In my FACE, shitty Mercury Blazers Blogger! Eat THAT. 68-60, Cavs.
1:54 - LUKE WALTON JUST HIT A THREE FUCK MY LIFE. 71-60 Cavs
40.2 - Hawaiian correspondent Jorge Garcia with a re-enactment of Manti Te'o's first date with his girlfriend
0.4 - Will Barton just heaved a half court runner as the buzzer sounded. It hit glass, and rolled around every last inch of the rim... before falling out. Why would it go in? Why tonight? 74-65, Cavs.
11:46 - The house announcer just said "It's Sixth Maaaaaaaaaaaaan tiiiiiiiiiiiime." The crowd cheered. But there were boos. Maybe about 1/3rd boo to 2/3rd cheer ratio. Lillard is fouled shooting a three. 1/3rd make to 2/3rd miss ratio. 74-66, Cavs.
7:23 - Love to tell you what happened, but the internet here in the Rose Garden shit its pants like someone shuffling a deck of cards in a mud puddle. It'd be nice to say that what happened while I was dark was a bunch of boring disappointment like most of the game up until this point, but the Blazers are within three points now, for the first time since the 10 minute mark of the first quarter. There are those of you now who are thinking "Huh... tried and true sports superstition shows if the team went on a run while the idiot blogger was radio silenced, HE'S THE JINX."
Let's test that theory.
6:03 - Damian Lillard just drilled a three to tie the game. I have no idea if you're reading this or not. 77-77
4:42 - Tristian Thompson with a put-back. I think I'm online. I must be online - the Blazers just went down by four.
I think the Rose Garden internet is trying to tell me something. 79-74, Cavs.
3:55 - Wesley Matthews misses a wide-open three, but Lillard scoops up the board, and swings it around the key, finding Batum, who passes on the shot because guess who hasn't even MOVED from their spot in the corner? Matthews doesn't miss twice. But Kyrie Irving answers with another sweet double clutch reverse through traffic on the other end. 83-80, Cavs.
2:35 - C.J. Miles drains a jumper, which sucks because it makes sense when Kyrie Irving is beating you... but C.J. Miles? He should not be beating you. JJ Hickson gets another offensive board off a Batum miss, gets hit, scores, misses his and-one, only to have Batum clean up Hickson's board and put in the deuce. The Cavs fuck up their offensive possession, and Lillard clutches a 15 footer to give the Blazers their first lead with just over two minutes left. 86-85, Blazers.
1:10 - Kyrie Irving hit another jumper, and a couple empty possessions lead to Aldridge hacking Tristian Thompson on a layup attempt. That's a wise hack, as Thompson clangs both free throws in a pressure situation. How do the Blazers capitalize? JJ Hickson muffs a pass from Aldridge in a pressure situation. The ball hits the heel of his hand and rolls out of bounds. Irving one-on-one against Lillard, goes between his legs two or three times, and tries to beat him off the dribble going to the right. Lillard pokes a hand in there, knocking the ball loose. Irving recovers and ices a jumper right in Lillards face. Stotts calls time out with 26 seconds left. 89-86, Cavs.
22.4 - Aldridge gets the inbounds and hurriedly backs down Thompson. Thompson goes at like a 45 degree angle trying to stay upright. It gives Aldridge all the room he needs to bang home the jumper. The Blazers immediately foul Irving on the inbounds. He hits em both. Stotts with another timeout. 91-88, Cavs.
14.9 - Hickson is fouled going to the basket. By fouled I mean he went up, found Thompsons outstretched arms, and weaved his own into them like a learned craftsman. He is rewarded for his chicanery by clanging both free throws. Tyler Zeller gets the board, is fouled immediately, and ices his free throws. The crowd is starting to bail out. 93-88, Cavs.
5.0 - Wesley Matthews misses a wide open three, and that's the end. It probably shouldn't have even been THIS close, so I guess there's that. It's not much of a comfort, though. FINAL: 93-88, Cavs.
*You will not win a Portland Mercury keychain.