NBA basketball is the only sport I keep tabs on. Frankly, I don’t understand how anyone can follow more than one professional or college sport at a time. Everyday life has enough stresses, concerns, and emotional tumult. Why would you invite the strain of fandom into your life all year long? This goes double for anyone who chooses to hitch their wagon to the Trail Blazers. I love the home team, but by the time the off season starts my blood pressure is always ready for the break.
The end of this regular season has been one for the pulse-pounding record books too. With only a trio of contests left, the Blazers still haven’t clinched the eighth seed playoff spot. And of course, the last three games are against teams who have put on clinics against the Blazers at some point during the season. The Rip City Clothing Company in the Moda Center would probably make a killing if they sold Blazer branded defibrillators as the item of the game for the last three home games.
Last night the Blazers faced the Utah Jazz. A team that showed them the shitty end of the stick only a few days ago in Utah. The Blazers were unfortunately still sans Jusuf Nurkic, but just to hobble them further, Allen Crabbe was likely going to sit out for the duration with a sore foot. The same Allen Crabbe who almost singlehandedly blasted the doors off of the Timberwolves on Thursday going eight for ten from behind the three point line. Losing another player to injury was gonna be a hurdle for the Blazers.
But, alas, all the Blazers needed was one man to scat past the Jazz, and his name was Damian Lillard. Every clock was stuck on Lillard Time at the Moda Center as Dame scored a career high 59 points, and lead the Blazers to a 101-86 victory.
(photos borrowed from trailblazers.com)
The Blazers took control quickly in the first five minutes cranking their lead up to double digits. They were looking great on both ends of the court. Defensively they held the Jazz for two shot clock violations, and any icy 30 percent field goal percentage in the first five minutes. Dame took care of them offensively streaking through the paint and drilling threes for an impressive 26 points before the opening quarter was over. In fact, the only other Blazers with points in the quarter were Meyers Leonard and CJ McCollum. They had a combined total of eight. The Blazers took a 14 point lead into the second.
A few minutes into the second quarter there was a medical emergency court side that halted play for a good few minutes. A server that had been carrying a tray of food and beers to some fans had passed out, or suffered a seizure and collapsed right on the court. Medical personal and even the Blazers’ trainer rushed to the woman’s aid. She was eventually put on a stretcher and wheeled off to a gentle, concerned ovation from the crowd. The officials oversaw the clean-up from the refreshments she was transporting, and announcer Mark Mason later informed the crowd that the woman made it safe to the hospital and was responsive. It was a tense, scary moment.
Once play continued neither of the teams could thread the needle. If their shots weren’t clanging off, they were turning the ball over like they were playing with one eye closed. With only four minutes left the Blazers had only scored ten points, and the Jazz had scored 12. Before the quarter ended the Jazz took a few steps forward and whittled the Blazers lead down to six.
Dame hibernated for most of the second quarter, but he came out in the third looking red hot. He scored 19 points bringing his total up to 45. Again, the only other players on the Blazers who’s point totals came close to Dame’s were Meyers and McCollum, and they only had nine points a piece. It was the Dame Show all the way, and nobody had any complaints.
Maurice Harkless did some damage in the fourth, finishing the game with 12 points, but it was still Dame Dolla who carried the Blazers to the win with 59 points, six rebounds, and five assists. Naturally, Dame’s 59 points broke a number of records. It marked a personal career high, it was his third career game with 50+ points, gave him the most games with 30+ points in Blazer history, put him in the fifth slot in the organization for point total, and made him the highest scorer to date in that arena, beating Damon Stoudamire’s 54 point effort.
Good-God-Damn, somebody cool that man down!!