Live from the
Entertainment 720 headquarters Moda Center as the Portland Trail Blazers host the NBA-leading Indiana Pacers.
The Blazers return home after splitting a pair of games on the road, losing again in Phoenix and narrowly squeaking out a win against the Lakers. And whew, last night’s game at the Staples Center was a close one. The Blazers got the win but only after blowing a twenty point lead in the fourth quarter. Hello, PTSD!
Portland has their work cut out for them tonight as they face the best team in the league. Indiana is on a whole new level this year, sporting the league’s best defense by a mile. Seriously, a mile. Nobody is close to their level in terms of efficiency and points allowed per game. Add in the meteoric rise of noted grape-eater Paul George, the emergence of Lance Stephenson, and basketball-gobbler Roy Hibbert eating up every shot in sight, and Indiana is looking primed to make a title run this year. Their league leading 16-1 record is no joke.
It’s going to be a great game, but mostly I’m just interested in seeing if I can get Hibbert to take me there.
Both Terry Stotts and Indiana coach Frank Vogel were named Coach of the Month for November. I hope that halftime features the two of them in Thunderdome battling it out to decide which coach is actually the best. Two coaches enter, two coaches leave, one coach is slightly embarrassed for not winning.
How’s this for a stat? Tonight’s game will feature the highest winning percentage between two teams this late into the season in over twenty years. The last time was in 1993 when the 18-1 Houston Rockets took on the 16-1 Seattle SuperSonics. Wait...Seattle had a basketball team?!
Speaking of the Sonics, Mr. Sonic himself, aka Sarge, is back in Portland for the first time since getting canned. The sidelines missed those billowing pants, you majestic man.
In actual Seattle sports news, the Seahawks are playing the Saints tonight in Monday Night Football which means Paul Allen will most likely be vacant for tonight's Blazers game. I was really hoping his empty chair would be replaced with Hologram Paul Allen and his holographic entourage, but alas, it’s just a sad empty hologram-free chair. The future is terrible.
Tonight is Dorell Wright's 28th birthday. He has been in the league for nine years. In unrelated news, I have wasted my entire life.
11:19 - Roy Hibbert with the first points of the game on a nineteen foot jump shot. He can make those? That isn't fair. You can't be that big and have a mid-range jumper. 2-0 Pacers.
9:48 - Oh man, it's going to be a slug fest. These two teams are going to grind it out, and points are going to be at a premium. That is apparent already. 2-2 Tie.
8:57 - Hibbert just grabbed a rebound flat-footed over 7'0" Robin Lopez. Uh, dude is big. 2-2 Tie.
6:03 - The Blazers have as many turnovers (two) as made field goals thus far. That is not good, especially when it took ten shots to get those two baskets. 9-4 Pacers.
5:06 - Paul George is, uh, really good. The MVP buzz is legit. He has three makes so far without a miss, including one from distance. He's the only one that has anything going offensively for either team. 11-9 Pacers.
3:40 - On the plus side, Paul George finally missed. On the negative side, he still has twelve of Indiana's sixteen points and is imposing his will on this game. Batum is getting frustrated, which transfered into a wild rushed shot on the offensive end. 16-11 Pacers.
2:28 - LaMarcus Aldridge is the only thing keeping Portland afloat right now. He has seven hard fought points and six rebounds early. There will be no free McDonald's tonight, folks. 20-13 Pacers.
0:00 - At the end of the first, the Blazers are hanging tough against the stifling Indiana defense. A couple mid-range jumpers from Aldridge and Mo Williams are the saving grace thus far. Otherwise, this would be real ugly. Like, Luis Scola ugly. 23-20 Pacers.
10:48 - Mo Williams is looking for his shot early and often, and so far it is paying off. The elbow jumper is open. It's about the only thing that has been open so far. 29-24 Pacers.
8:27 - Luis Scola is a nightmare for the Blazers. Remember the '09 playoffs against Houston? Ugh. He's got to be one of the players who always brings is best against Portland. He's got eight points and four rebounds so far. 31-28 Pacers.
6:27 - A touch foul from Mo Williams just negated a sweet Lopez block. This crowd is upset, probably because that was one of the very few highlight plays Portland has had thus far. 35-30 Pacers.
5:42 - Nothing like Luis Scola throwing the ball into the fifth row to really make up for that touch foul call a few possessions ago. It wasn't quite Gerald Henderson good, but good nonetheless. Portland is treading water against the Pacers' bench squad, which might not be good enough. Paul George still looms. 35-32 Pacers.
3:18 - Aldridge with four straight—two on a mid-range jumper (notice a theme for the shots in tonight's game??) and two more on a powerful move into the lane. Unfortunately, the Blazers can't put together multiple strong possessions in a row, as Lillard wanted to get in the throwing the ball into the stands action and tossed it to fan instead of Batum on a fast break. 39-36 Pacers.
0:58 - Batum with the deep deep three. The crowd was finally getting amped, but Paul George did his thing and silenced everyone on the other end with a free throw line jumper. People went nuts when it was suggested George was the third best forward in league behind Durant and LeBron. It is legit. Dude is that good. 46-43 Pacers.
0:00 - The Blazers had a chance to get the final shot of the half...but Paul George stole the ball in transition. George's eyes got wide with the prospect of a near open three in transition as the clock expired, but he pushed it about six inches too far. Whew. That was going to be a dagger, instead it's just a one point Pacers lead at the half. 46-45 Pacers.
10:44 - Aldridge just swatted a Roy Hibbert shot to the third row. That was a beauty. Aldridge doesn't have many game changing blocks, but that might have been the key. Portland needed that, as the Pacers had put up four quick points to start the quarter. 50-45 Pacers.
8:10 - Aldridge, again, stops the bleeding. The Pacers had opened up a seven point lead, but Aldridge has his mid-range jumper falling. The Pacers seem determined to break this one open to start the third. 54-49 Pacers.
6:55 - There's the Portland passing attack. Off a turnover, every Blazer touched the ball, including a nice inside dump off from Lopez to Aldirdge for the easy slam. That was the best looking possession of the night, and it isn't even close. 61-54 Pacers.
5:33 - Orlando Johnson sighting! Orlando Johnson with a three! Wait, sorry, that isn't a good thing. Dude is a still favorite of mine, though, as he went to college in my hometown. However, the Pacers now have their lead up to eight, the largest of the night. The Blazers won't be able to grind this one out against this team—the need to get their offense flowing. 64-56 Pacers.
3:48 - The Blazers are frustrated. The Pacers are all arms and hands and deflections and Luis Scola hair. Portland can't get into any of their sets as the Pacers are destroyer of worlds. 68-61 Pacers.
3:12 - And now the fans are getting frustrated. Paul George ripped a rebound away from Joel Freeland and tried to leak out into transition. He lost the ball near Nicolas Batum, and the two collided. George fell to the floor and got the foul call, even though it looked like he initiated all of the contact. Batum could have easily picked up a tech for his demonstrative reaction, but instead it's a timeout. I wouldn't be surprised if a fight breaks out here before too long. 68-61 Pacers.
2:04 - Okay, here's a run! The Blazers seem a little more energized, the crowd is getting into it, and suddenly that Pacers lead doesn't seem so large. 68-65 Pacers.
0:32 - Two offensive rebounds in a row for the Blazers. The result was two free throws for Aldridge, who split the pair. On the miss, Batum traced the rebound and picked up Portland's third offensive rebound in a row. He dished to a wide open Joel Freeland who slammed it home! Tie game! 70-70 Tie.
0:00 - It's loud in here now. The quarter ended on free throws from Paul George and Damian Lillard, who each sunk their pair. We're still all tied up heading into the fourth, and it's looking like it'll be a great finish. 72-72 Tie.
11:06 - Lillard for three! It's getting crazy in here. Portland has their first lead of the night. 75-72 Blazers.
9:31 - Now Indiana are the ones looking frustrated. That's two straight turnovers, plus two straight fouls on the other end. Lillard knocked down the two freebies, and he's got a little more bounce in his step. It's getting too loud to think in here, so if this blog turns into unintelligible yelling, you know what happened. 77-74 Blazers.
8:28 - Four straight for Mo Williams. The Blazers are opening this one up. 81-74 Blazers.
7:27 - Williams is feeling it. He has the last six Portland points, and the Pacers continue to scuffle this one away. I don't know if Indiana is tired or the Blazers have figured something out on offense, but the baskets are finally coming easy for Portland. Finally. 83-76 Blazers.
5:23 - Wesley Matthews is doing work. He had to switch over to Paul George after Batum picked up his first foul, and immediately got a charging foul called against him. Man, this Portland team is so much fun to watch. 86-82 Blazers.
4:47 - Robin Lopez was just fouled by Lance Stephenson—his sixth of the night—and someone must have done something when the two were on the ground because Lopez got up with crazy eyes. He was ready to rumble. Crisis averted. 88-82 Blazers.
3:46 - Roy Hibbert just picked up a Lopez block and flung it over his head, no look, at the basket. That was the most nonchalant make ever. If he hadn't made that I would have thought the ball came out of his hands by accident. 90-87 Blazers.
2:56 - Paul George missed a three! Yay! Portland couldn't corral the rebound, and George didn't miss on his second attempt. Boo. Those are killer shots this late in the game. 94-90 Blazers.
2:24 - Paul George with another three. That's 34 points on the night. Dude is too good. 96-93 Blazers.
1:35 - No, seriously. Paul George. He just drained a three with Matthews draped all over him. Step back, fall away, nothing but net. How...I don't even. 98-96 Blazers.
1:01 - Lillard answers with his own three. Holy hell. Neither of these teams want to lose. 101-96 Blazers.
0:24 - After a David West miss, Lillard went up high and secured the rebound amongst a few Pacers. He then kicked to Batum who was fouled. Batum drained both freebies, and the Blazers are looking like they may pull this one out. Unless Paul George goes all Tracy McGrady, which is entirely possible the way he has been shooting. 103-96 Blazers.
0:15 - Woah, that was close. George did indeed hit a three out of the timeout, because of course he did. (That's now 40 on the night.) The Blazers turned it over the ensuing inbound, and George had another look at a wide open triple. His first miss in nearly forever. Lillard was fouled on the rebound, and calmly sunk the free throws. 105-99 Blazers.
0:10 - I have never seen anything like this. Lillard managed to block a three attempt from George—shades of last night's block—but George was able to get the ball back and hit another three. He is unconscious right now. 105-102 Blazers.
0:00 - Batum was able to knock down one of two free throws, and the Pacers couldn't get the ball to Paul George on their next possession. Both George Hill and David West missed threes, and that's your ball game.
FINAL: 106-102 Blazers. That was a statement win. The Blazers were able to knock down their free throws and withstand an insane onslaught from Paul George. Portland took down the best team in the league, handing them their second loss on the season. Any doubters about this team left? The Blazers are for real. See you again on Wednesday as Portland has another tough contest against the Oklahoma City Thunder.