Live from the Moda Center as the Portland Trail Blazers host the Atlanta Hawks.
The Blazers are covered in stink after their loss to the Lakers on Monday, their five-game winning streak snapped by the island of misfit basketball players. With a brutal road trip on the horizon, dropping one to a bad team at home is just the pits.
Good news, though! Portland has one more chance to atone for their purple and gold sins before hitting the road, this time against the scuffling Atlanta Hawks. There was a time this season when the Hawks were sitting near the top of the Eastern Conference—which, to be fair, is like getting a participation award for trying extra hard—but they have won only once in their last twelve games. Atlanta has slipped all the way to eighth in the East, and unless they can get back on track a trip to the lottery seems likely. A trip to the lottery might even be the end goal, because the Hawks don’t appear too concerned with winning at the moment.
Adding injury to insult, Paul Millsap will be out for tonight’s contest. That means Mike Scott will log a ton of minutes at power forward tonight, and we’ve all seen what happens when Mike Scott plays basketball.
The Hawks have moved on from the Joe Johnson / Josh Smith era, and the only player most casual fans have heard of (Al Horford) is out for the season. That leaves Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, and the reanimated corpse of Elton Brand as Atlanta’s star power for tonight. Oof. Good thing ESPN scheduled this game to be on national TV. Enjoy those Korver curl routes, America!
Damian Lillard missed practice yesterday with an illness, but it looks as though he’ll be set to give it a go tonight. Thomas Robinson is still on the shelf with a sore knee, so the limbplosion known as Meyers Leonard will once again be allowed to flail his way around the court. You win some, you lose some.
If something off of Black Portland isn’t the pre-game warm-up music I will be upset. Synergy, people. Young Thug & Bloody Jay even have a song named after noted-Oregonian Danny Glover!
For the first time nearly all season, the Blazers have relinquished the top offensive rating slot to the Heat. Portland has been in front forever, mostly by a wide margin, but recent struggles have finally taken their toll. Like the Heat needed another thing to dominate.
11:39 - It only took twenty seconds for Robin Lopez to get an open dunk at the rim. He and Damian Lillard ran the pick and roll to perfection. 2-0 Blazers.
9:10 - At least the Hawks still have Jeff Teague. He's on the only Atlanta player to score thus far, and might be the only dude that came to play for the road team. 4-4 Tie.
8:34 - So a front court of Mike Scott and Elton Brand is not that good defensively. Go figure. Portland has gotten everything at the rim, and it hasn't been close a struggle. Tonight already looks a lot different than the Lakers game. 6-4 Blazers.
5:56 - Atlanta had a reputation for being one of the blandest teams in the league when Joe Johnson was around. He's gone, but they still are pretty boring. 13-10 Blazers.
5;04 - I don't know what has gotten into Robin Lopez—is there a great new comic book series I'm not aware of?—but he's been playing with fire the last few weeks. He just tried to put Mike Muscala on a poster off of another pick and roll. He missed the dunk but got the foul. 15-13 Blazers.
2:51 - Sir Limbsalot, Meyers Leonard, did something positive! He put the ball through the hoop! 22-15 Blazers.
2:26 - Mo Williams hit a jumper from the free throw line, but as the ball was in the air a foul was called on (who else?) Meyers Leonard. Since Portland is over the penalty, Lou Williams immediately got two free throws on the other end. I love that play. 24-19 Blazers.
1:00 - Williams had a fast break, he just forgot to include the ball. He phantom dribbled it, right off his foot and out of bounds to the Hawks. 27-19 Blazers.
0:00 - Nicolas Batum had eight rebounds in the first quarter. Eight! We are well on our way to blowout territory. About the only drama left is whether or not Kyle Korver is going to hit a three-pointer and keep his streak alive. 29-19 Blazers.
10:44 - LaMarcus Aldridge has zero points and zero rebounds thus far. His two blocks are the only thing in the way of him and a trillion. 29-21 Blazers.
8:54 - The Hawks are in the midst of a 6-0 run, and Terry Stotts needs time. The timeout was either because Mike Scott just beat three Blazers back in transition for an easy basket, or he really wanted to watch the guest attendants dance with the Blazers Dancers to Soulja Boy. 29-25 Blazers.
8:35 - Aldridge finally gets his first points of the night after knocking down two free throws. The one person trying to get an "MVP" chant started should probably stop. 31-25 Blazers.
6:52 - There have been some late whistles in the game. Robin Lopez just made a basket, and it wasn't until everyone was running up the court that the ref blew his whistle and called Lopez for an offensive foul. It's like the refs are watching this on tape delay. 35-27 Blazers.
5:44 - The Hawks are shooting 24% from the floor. Wow. 38-28 Blazers.
5:01 - Batum grabbed his tenth rebound, Matthews hit his second three, and the Hawks need time. Again. 42-28 Blazers.
3:14 - Matthews just hit the deck hard, the thud reverberating through my tailbone. He appears to be okay, getting up to shoot his free throws like nothing happened. Dude is tough as nails. I'd be whimpering on the court in the fetal position if that were me. 44-30 Blazers.
2:05 - Aldridge is 0-6 from the field, but he's making up for it at the charity stripe. He's 6-6 from the line. 48-33 Blazers.
1:24 - Batum is having himself a half. After that three-pointer, he's got six points and twelve rebounds. Twelve rebounds! 51-33 Blazers.
0:00 - We have ourselves a blowout. Matthews is the only player in this game in double figures—he's got ten points on the night. Batum is doing a little bit of everything, and if things continue as they have thus far, the starters will get some good rest in the fourth quarter before this upcoming road trip. 56-38 Blazers.
10:39 - Elton Brand has had a terrible time trying to guard pick and rolls tonight. He just got burned, again, and had to hack Lopez to prevent a dunk. The two free throws from Lopez put an end to a mini 4-0 run from Atlanta. 58-42 Blazers.
8:34 - Double Aldridge in the post, get a Nicolas Batum three-pointer from the top of the key. Pick your poison. 63-44 Blazers.
8:02 - Lillard gets in on the action, draining a three from deep. Atlanta needs time. 66-44 Blazers.
7:04 - It look a little over a half of basketball, but Aldridge finally hit his first field goal of the night. His first field goal, and yet the Blazers are winning by over twenty. That should tell you all you need to know. 68-46 Blazers.
4:28 - Batum has his third straight game with fifteen rebounds. The only other players to do that this year are either centers or power forwards. So legit. 68-49 Blazers.
3:04 - Korver still hasn't a hit a three this game, and Matthews is blanketing him with a little extra urgency. Korver's streak of 127 games with a made three could be in jeopardy. Come on, Matthews! Shut it down! 70-51 Blazers.
1:28 - Batum has eighteen rebounds, a new career-high. A 20-20 game is in play! 75-55 Blazers.
0:00 - Three quarters down, zero Korver threes. Batum has fourteen points and eighteen rebounds. Aldridge is shooting 1-10 from the floor and yet Portland is still destroying. The Hawks are shooting 29%. We may not see much more of the starters in this one. Sorry for the terrible game, America. 79-55 Blazers.
10:35 - Aldridge hit the side of the backboard on a six foot shot attempt, then proceed to push an eight foot jumper in the lane long. It's been one of those nights for the big man. At least he's getting the rust out now as opposed to on the road. 79-55 Blazers.
8:40 - Holy passing. The Blazers just sent the ball around the perimeter what felt like three times, and had the Hawks so out of whack that Mo Williams ended up with a wide open three at the top of the key. Bang. With CJ McCollum and Will Barton in and playing well, it might be the end of the road for Batum and Matthews. 87-60 Blazers.
7:04 - Will Barton got his headband knocked off and for a second I thought he might have been naked. 89-64 Blazers.
6:08 - Allen Crabbe time. Bench mob time. White flag time. The biggest drama left is whether or not Kyle Korver checks back in to this game. It doesn't appear as though he will, which would mean the Blazers snapped the longest three-point streak in the NBA history. 91-64 Blazers.
5:12 - Sir Limbsalot should never try and throw backdoor passes. He tried to thread the needle, but instead missed his man by two feet and threw it right out of bounds. 91-68 Blazers.
4:43 - Will Barton is rolling without the headband. What kind of evil magic is this? 91-86 Blazers.
3:41 - It's an evil three-making magic, that's what. The headbandless wonder just hit a deeeeep three to beat the shot clock. I love you, Will Barton. 94-72 Blazers.
2:17 - If only there were some kind of chant, like "Chalupa," that could get this keep this crowd entertained. Instead we're limping towards the finish line. 96-78 Blazers.
0:56 - CJ McCollum gives the fans their free food. Now it's time to head for the exit. 100-78 Blazers.
FINAL: Well, that was never close. Even with Aldridge's poor shooting, the Blazers had this game on lock. Korver's three streak is over, Batum had a career high in rebounds, and now the Blazers head out on a brutal road trip.