To celebrate their 50th season as a franchise, the Trail Blazers are doing decade themed games throughout this monumental season. Last night was dedicated to the '70s, and the Blazers and everyone in the organization pulled out all the stops. TV broadcaster Lamar Hurd donned a proper pimp outfit topped with an afro wig and some killer shades to call the game, and Director of Game Operations Todd Bosma had on a yellow leisure suit that looked like it was wearing him. Even DJ OG One took a bit of a backseat so they could pump some proper '70s jams into the Moda Center. There was no Bruno Mars last night, just all of the funky disco hits and essential classic rock the crowd could handle. Blazers alumni and members of the ’77 team like Lloyd Neal, Bob Grosse, and Larry Steele were in attendance receiving accolades for their contributions to the Blazers’ legacy as well. It was a groovy night, indeed!
Even the Blazers opponent was fit for the nod to the '70s. The Philadelphia 76ers were the team that the Blazers defeated in the fateful ’77 season when they took the title. Unfortunately, a big difference with last night’s game was that the Blazers didn’t have a Bill Walton on the court. In fact, the Blazers had zero big men available. Pau Gasol and of course Jusuf Nurkic were still injured and out, but Zach Collins was also out because of his shoulder dislocation a few games ago, and even starter Hassan Whiteside was sitting due to a left knee injury. Fortunately for the Blazers, the 76ers’ all-star and starting center Joel Embiid was on suspension because of his part in an on-court melee with the Timberwolves. It was sure to be a height deficient game, so the Blazers were going to have to rely on their shooting game to knock the 76ers off.
The Blazers held fast and looked fine for 47 minutes of the contest, but the 76ers made a push in the final minute, and a big, completely uncontested three from Furkan Korkmaz would clinch them a win, 129-128.
The Blazers took control of the game in the first quarter. Mostly due in part to Mario Hezonja, who had his first start with the team. He was flashing everywhere on both sides of the court. He played all but one minute of the quarter, was the high scorer with ten points, and nabbed five rebounds and two steals. Super Mario was well on his way to a double-double.
The dominance continued in the second. At the end of the half the Blazers had drained 10 for 20 from the three point line—a cool and clean 50 precent. Rodney Hood perpetrated four of the long balls, bringing his point total up to 20.
The Blazers’ mortar campaign punished the 76ers into the second half. They had no need to step into the paint. They went bombs away and made the hoop look like it was the size of a kiddie pool. Hezonja pulled his 10th rebound at the six minute mark, giving him a double-double with his 11 points. He is certainly proving himself to be a great asset to the red and black.
The 76ers tried to kick their defense into high gear in the fourth quarter. They aggressively double and triple teamed the ball high and tight, giving the Blazers little room to work. Fortunately the Blazers didn’t need too much space to continue their offensive assault and maintained their lead.
But, just when things were looking up, another heinous, potentially serious injury took place just under the five minute mark. In the midst of a killer game, Hood collided with Ben Simmons, leaving him writhing on the court. After a minute or two, he was helped off the court into the locker room. Tragically, it looks like the Blazers may be made of glass this season.
After that the Blazers were rattled enough to let their lead slip and the 76ers got up one point, their first lead of the game, with ten seconds left. The Blazers had possession and Damian Lillard fed young buck Anfernee Simons for a heroic three point shot. Sadly, there was 2.2 seconds left on the clock. Just enough time for the 76ers to feed a wide open Furkan Korkmaz for a game winning three for the 76ers. It was a dagger that silenced the raucous arena, and gave the 76ers the win. Heartbreak City: population, Blazers.
At the postgame press conference, Coach Terry Stotts informed the press that Rodney Hood was looking at a thigh contusion. That kind of injury usually puts a player on the bench for a week, two tops. So, at least there was some good news to finish off a rather woeful evening.