Live from the Moda Center as the Portland Trail Blazers host the Memphis Grizzlies.
It’s the end of the road, and this is (likely) going to be the last time the Blazers take their home court for a long while. They’re going gently into that good night. All warmup music has been replaced by “Christmas Time is Here” and the players are just aimlessly shuffling around the court with their heads down.
Down 0-3, this series is over. No NBA team has ever come back from an 0-3 deficit, and this Portland team isn’t about to create history. Not even Mike Conley’s absence due to a broken face will make a difference. If Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Courtney Lee, Beno Udrih, and Grizz the mascot also broke their faces, then maybe the Blazers would have a chance. Until that time, grab a dustpan because dudes are about to get swept.
Okay, fine, maybe the Blazers sneak away with a victory tonight. Maybe LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard both have good games on the same night. Maybe CJ McCollum builds on a solid game three. Maybe Meyers Leonard will notch more points than fouls. But there’s no chance the Blazers are getting past Memphis in game five. So when the final buzzer sounds, clap a little harder than normal.
It’s been a hell of a year.
Watching the Blazers get thoroughly dissected, much like they were against the Spurs last season, has been sad. They’re bleeding to death by a thousand tiny cuts and have just one band-aid left. A once-promising season gone, just like that.
And this offseason is going to have more questions than answers. Thanks, media, for rubbing that in the last few days.
The arena is a little less amped tonight. The Grizzlies entered the court to fewer boos than Saturday night. The Blazers entered the court to fewer cheers. This could be over real quick. But hey, the Nets stole two games from the Hawks. The Mavericks forced a game five after going down 0-3. As I type, the Bucks are on the verge of winning two in a row after dropping their first three to the Bulls. Maybe there's hope yet.
Wait, Beno Udrih is active and will play tonight? Oh, the Blazers are screwed.
11:14 - New starting point guard Nick Calathes started the scoring with a triple. Is another wire to wire victory ahead? Please, no. 3-0 Grizz.
9:57 - Calathes for another three. Mike Conley who? The worst part is it's Batum guarding him, not Lillard. 6-0 Grizz.
9:45 - Finally, the Blazers are on the board behind a jumper from Dame. Commence the uphill climb. 6-2 Grizz.
6:46 - Well, this feels...familiar. The Blazers are treating this game like it's in February, not a lose and go home game in April. 12-4 Grizz.
5:08 - Dame just threw a sixty foot outlet pass to a streaking Batum for the easy lay in. That's more like it. That last Blazers timeout seems to have done some good—Portland is finally awake. 12-8 Grizz.
3:45 - Meyers into the game. Meyers with an offensive rebound. The Blazers picked up their second second-chance bucket of the night and the answer, as always, is more Meyers. 14-12 Grizz.
3:16 - Meyers offensive rebound! CJ three! For the first time in what feels like all series, the Blazers have the lead. 15-14 Blazers.
1:41 - Beno Udrih—who else?—silences the crowd with a mid-range jumper. 18-17 Grizz.
0:30 - Meyers for three! Play that man for the rest of the game. 25-22 Blazers.
0:00 - What?! A positive quarter of basketball? Outside shots are falling, offensive rebounds are being secured, and this crowd is making a difference. It only took five quarters total, but playoff basketball has finally come to Portland. 27-22 Blazers.
10:17 - Sad trombone. The Grizzlies start the quarter on a 6-0 run to retake the lead. Portland flew too close to the sun. 28-27 Grizz.
8:45 - Meyers Leonard three! He's on a personal 5-0 run and is feeling it. 32-28 Blazers.
8:02 - Meyers! For three! Meyers freaking Leonard! He let out a yell coming back down the court after that triple. Dude earned it. 35-30 Blazers.
6:10 - The Meyers game is a real thing that is happening for real. 11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists. 37-35 Blazers.
5:08 - Meyers with a forced turnover. Just shut it down. Let's all go home. 39-35 Blazers.
3:20 - CJ hit the deck to force a jump ball with Marc Gasol right under Portland's hoop. Gasol easily won the tip, of course, but it bounced directly to Aldridge for the easiest lay-in of the night. The Blazers might steal a game yet. 43-37 Blazers.
2:28 - Dame just wandered away on defense, drifted towards the middle of the court for no reason, and left Calathes wide open in the corner for three. Nothing but net. I hope he's forced to watch that play, Clockwork Orange style, all off-season. 45-40 Blazers.
1:45 - We've gotten to the point where the crowd is groaning when Meyers passes up open threes. No worries—he drove the lane and threw it in over Randolph. 49-40 Blazers.
0:33 - And then Dame did that on back to back possessions. First, he rifled a no-look bullet pass to a cutting Aldridge through the tiniest window of space for a wide open dunk. Next, he lost his defender with a spin move and threw in an acrobatic reverse layup between three defenders. What an amazing couple of plays. 55-46 Blazers.
0:00 - What a half. Finally. Blazers basketball is back, y'all. 55-48 Blazers.
10:59 - A quick 4-0 start for the Grizzlies this quarter, two of those points coming on a second-chance possession. The Blazers can't afford to step of the gas here. At all. Where's Meyers when you need him? 55-52 Blazers.
9:02 - Welp. So much for that lead. A 10-2 run has the Grizzlies on top once again. Timeout Portland. 58-57 Grizz.
7:54 - The Grizzlies have regained their defensive swagger. The clamps have tightened, and the Blazers can't get anything going offensively. The crowd is trying their best to wake this team up, but so far it has been all Memphis this half. 60-57 Grizz.
5:32 - The Blazers have just two points this quarter. Two! And have yet to hit a field goal. 64-57 Grizz.
5:09 - CJ with the layup! Hit 'em with shot, chef CJ with the shot boy. Finally, the Blazers have scored from the field this quarter. 64-59 Grizz.
3:51 - CJ came up with a steal, had a fast break, but Calathes poked the ball away from behind. A cherry-picking Zach Randolph was hanging out under his own basket for the easy dunk. Ugh. 69-62 Grizz.
1:46 - Something tells me both CJ and Meyers aren't going to see the bench again tonight. The Blazers are just dying anytime Afflalo (and Lopez, to a lesser extent) are on the court. 71-68 Grizz.
0:50 - A three-point game just a minute ago is back up seven. The Grizzlies aren't messing around. 75-68 Grizz.
0:00 - A McCollum floater just rimmed out as the clock expired. That was just a 27-13 quarter in favor of Memphis. No big deal. 75-68 Grizz.
11:36 - Courtney Lee starts the scoring off this quarter with a jumper. It's nervous time in the Moda Center. 77-68 Grizz.
9:11 - Miss after miss after miss. Stotts has to get Aldridge and Dame back in, and quick. The season is on the line here. 77-70 Grizz.
8:48 - Jeff Green with a deep three to beat the shot clock. The Grizzlies are up double digits. Oof. 80-70 Grizz.
7:39 - After hitting a jumper, Dame went for the heat-check deep three but it rattled off. Both he and the crowd desperately wanted that one to fall. With Aldridge flailing this half—he's 0-8, if I'm not mistaken—it might be Lillard Time. 80-72 Grizz.
6:30 - Dame with another mid-range jumper. A 6-0 run has this crowd energized once again, and Memphis needs time. 80-76 Grizz.
5:10 - Aldridge still hasn't hit from the field this half, but he's been able to pick up four freebies on Portland's last two trips down the court. It's back down to a one-possession game! 82-80 Grizz.
4:44 - CJ with the steal and finish in traffic! He deserved a head nod after that basket. We've got ourselves a game. 82-82 Tie.
2:35 - CJ! Again to the lane for the nifty layup! Both he and Meyers deserve a joint game ball when this is all said and done. 84-84 Tie.
1:58 - Yes! After Gasol sunk two free throws to give Memphis the lead back, Dame came curling off a screen for a three plus the foul! A four-point play! Blazers lead! 88-86 Blazers.
1:20 - CJ for three! It's straight bonkers in here right now. 91-88 Blazers.
0:28 - Randolph was off on one end, but Dame also missed a dagger three on the other. Good news for Portland, though, is Jeff Green was holding Batum's arm on the rebound attempt. He's heading to the line for two free throws. First one up...and it just rattles off. Second one up...and it's good! 92-88 Blazers.
0:15 - Memphis scored on the quick two, then immediately fouled Dame on the pass in. Free throw time. First one up...good! Second...good! Timeout Memphis. 94-90 Blazers.
0:07 - Once again, a quick two for Memphis and immediate foul. Dame to the line, and he sunk them both! 96-92 Blazers.
0:00.6 - When things are going well. Memphis missed, and Batum grabbed the board. He was fouled, chucked a 3/4 court shot just for the hell of it, and it fell. Unreal. He's headed to the line for two freebies, and that will do it. 96-92 Blazers.
0:00 - Batum missed the second free throw, and with nobody boxings out, Aldridge jumped in and nailed the put back. His first field goal of the half!
FINAL: 99-92 Blazers. Hey, a win! That felt great. For the first time in eight attempts this season, the Blazers finally got over the Memphis hump. Clear your schedule on Wednesday—this series ain't quite done yet.