February 21st, 2010 | by MICHAEL MANNHEIMER News | Posted In: Sports, Sports

Almost Live: Jazz Vs. Blazers

kirilenko_andrei_1It takes some time to acclimate a new player to a team. That's what every Blazer fan—and even coach Nate McMillan—is admitting after Friday night's blowout home loss to Boston. How bad was the game? Well, the Blazers tied a record low with just seven assists for the entire game. Boston's Rajon Rondo had that many in the first quarter. It was ugly almost from the first tip, and Marcus Camby's first game as a Blazer wasn't what everyone has hoped for, as the Celtics controlled the paint and completely shut down the Blazers offense. Tonight might be an even tougher matchup: the Blazers are 0-3 against the Jazz this year, including a 118=105 trouncing last month where the Jazz shot 80 percent for the game (only a slight exaggeration; it couldn't miss). All three games have been decided by more than double figures. Yikes. The good news? Brandon Roy had a whole day to rest his sore hamstring, which left him looking more like Patrick Roy limping around the perimeter Friday against the Celtics stingy defense. Sorry, I got Olympic fever.

More good news: it's a weekend game, which means DJ O.G-One is on the decks. No more annoying ska punk during the pregame warmups! If the Blazers lose, I'm going to blame it on Andrei Kirilenko's crazy eyes.

For anyone wondering about the extent of Roy's injury, Brian T. Smith of the Columbian (who's sitting next to me tonight) is reporting this on Twitter:
trainer Jensen said Roy originally had a hamstring strain of the biceps femoris in his musculotendinous junction.

Musculotendinous junction? Sounds like a terrible band name.

FIRST QUARTER:

11:33 - Quick start to the game! Boozer gets an easy dunk for the Jazz, but Roy quickly responds on a nice give-and-go with Aldridge. The hammy looked good on that play.

10:22 - Now that the Sonics are no longer, the Jazz are probably the second most hated team for Blazers fans. It's already loud tonight, and if a few more calls go against Roy it might get crazy.

9:03 - Roy leaves the game just three minutes in with two fouls. Let's see if the Ghost of Rudy Fernandez has an game tonight.

8:00 - The easiest way the Blazers can break out of a terrible scoring funk like they had last game is to aggressively take it to the basket. If Andre Miller misses a layup, I can live with it. But it's tough to watch such a talented team settle for jump shots instead of working for something easier. Dre Miller just put it two straight easy ones, and suddenly the team looks alive. 12-9 Blazers lead.

6:32 - Hey, Rudy, I like you and everything, but for the love of Spain you gotta stop jacking up bad threes. You have so much talent! Few defenders can stop you off the dribble. Remember last year when you used to drive to the rim, and sprint down the court chasing Sergio's lob passes? Your new friend Andre Miller can pass the ball even better than Sergio, and his lob isn't too shabby, either. So move around on offense! If not for me, do it for the ladies. We know you love them. Sincerely, Michael.

5:07 - Gosh, the Jazz run a beautiful pick and roll. I know it's old school and not flashy, but is there any play in sports that's so effective when it's done right? Watching Deron Williams and Boozer run it again and again is really something. Boozer scores, but the Blazers lead 14-13.

3:24 - Antonio Harvey makes a great point: can you remember the last time the Blazers had an advantage in points in the paint after one quarter? So far it's 12-4, and it just makes the rest of the offense flow so much better when that inside game is working.

3:07 - I love watching Juwan Howard talk to the refs. It just seems so civilized. The Blazers are called for illegal defense, and Howard knows it (Rudy wasn't guarding anyone) but he approaches the ref to just hash it out. "Hey friend, I know my man Rudy wasn't guarding anyone, but how can you call that? They didn't even have that call when I started playing basketball in 1945. Think about that next time."

2:11 - LaMarcus just looks goooooodddddd right now. He's one of those players that are hard to watch because everything is just so effortless. Even when he misses one of those picture-perfect turnarounds it's hard to get angry because it's such a thing of beauty. Right now he's on, though, with six points and three boards in the quarter. Blazers lead, 22-14.

1:00 - Un, deux, trois! Batum hits a corner three (with Blake in Clipperland, it's now Batum's Corner Store) and the Blazers look great right now. Active on offense, taking charges on the other end, and hustling all over the floor. This is how they have to play to win a playoff spot.

Blaze is staging his own "Olympic Games" which means a mascot race. The Winterhawk is here (does he have a name), along with Benny the Beaver and the Jazz gorilla. But where's the Duck? I can't believe any mascot competition without Donald. It's just unjust.

SECOND QUARTER:

Whoa, we have an ugly white center sighting! It's Kyrylo Fesenko, everyone's favorite backup center, inheriting a spot alongside other great Jazz big men like Greg Ostertag and Mark Eaton. That's quite the company.

10:46 - Ronnie Price hits for the Jazz to end a 13-0 Blazer run. But Rudy is quickly back on the other end for a jump shot and then a block (!) of Miles underneath the hoop. Strong showing so far. Blazers up 17.

9:15 - Where would the Blazers be without Dante Cunningham? What a steal by Pritchard and co. He looks more confident every game, both on offense, where his 15-17 foot jump shot is starting to rival LaMarcus', and on D, where he routinely goes up against bigger power forwards and holds his own. Like Batum he does all the little things that never show up in the stat sheet (taking charges, rotating on defense, setting a great pick), and his offense just keeps on geting better.

8:16 - When Kyrylo Fesenko comes into the lane, you get the f*%$ out of the way. Wait, did I just censor my own curse? It's not like we're The Oregonian here. But maybe my mom's reading? One never knows.

7:11 - Paul Milsap is whistled for traveling, and it's a good call. Milsap is a beast, and a beast who was almost a Blazer last summer. I still think he'd be a great addition down the line, but I can't see the Jazz swinging a trade with a division rivla.

6:23 - The Blazers half court offense is getting a little stagnant, and on the last few plays no one really wanted to shoot it. But they continue to push the tempo, which I love. No reason not to, especially now that the full team is finally healthy.

5:50 - HOLY SHIT, NICHOLAS BATUM! He just swatted Williams from behind, and that was absolutely Teyshaun Prince-esque. Batum's seen his minutes come down the last few games, but when he's on, it makes the Blazers SO much better. He's got 9 points and four rebounds, and the Blazers continue to hold onto a double digit lead. It's 42-16, and all the Batum signs are out tonight.

3:21 - Batum for three again, and he's having himself the best half of his life. 14 and six, the best block of the season, and just stellar defense on Kyle Korver, who can be deadly if he gets open. I can see why the everyone thinks so highly of the kid.

1:50 - Andrei Kirilenko is out for the rest of the game with eye back spasms. Maybe the Russian just couldn't handle such a sunny, warm winter day. I think I might frame the injury report they just handed out on press row.

0:30 - Blazer lead down to 11, but the Jazz are shooting just 40 percent from the floor. They shot over 60 percent the last time these teams played.

0:06 - Rudy gets the steal, throws an alley-oop to Batum...and the pass is a little low. Still, the Blazers look solid in the first half, and lead 50-38.

THIRD QUARTER:

10:42 - Sluggish start to the quarter. The Blazer are playing hot potato again, as no one wants to put up a shot. Roy still looks a bit tentative with his hamstring, as his signature crossover hasn't been in display tonight. But, look, Roy hits a long two and the refs give him a three for it. I'm pretty sure his foot was on the line...

9:20 - You see one name I haven't mentioned tonight? Marcus Camby had a quiet first half, but he just got his first block of the game and now has seven boards. He still hasn't scored since like a minute into the Celtics game, but the Blazers didn't trade for him for his offense.

8:14 - Everything is going the Blazers way tonight. Roy just willed his way to the hoop, and fighting through three Jazz defenders, hitting a short jumper and drawing the foul. Blazers have a commanding lead at 61-39, and Utah looks tired. No big surprise considering this is their fourth game in five nights.

7:15 - Camby can't draw a break, as another layup rolls off the rim. But luckily for the Blazers the rest of the team is playing like this is a playoff game. Camby has also tipped three or foul offensive rebounds out to Roy or Miller behind the three point line, which is something Howard, at his age, just can't do. He's got 10 boards and there's a lot of game left.

5:39 - Has anybody given Marcus Camby a proper nickname yet? He's only been in town for less than a few weeks, but he needs something. If Wheels can't come up with anything, or Mike Rice, then I'm going to throw something out there. How 'bout the "blockness moster?" Eh, eh? Tough to say, but oh so clever.

5:26 - The Jazz are already in the penalty, and, with the ESPN commerical breaks, this might be a long quarter. While I've got some time I should probably say that the Jazz really could use Ronnie Brewer right about now. After giving up him and Eric Maynor, a rookie PG with some serious game, for basically nothing, it's gotta be hard to see the Jazz bench struggle so much.

4:07 - Juwan Hoard is playing power forward! His natural position! We haven't seen this since Oden went down, and with Camby and Howard in together it gives the Blazers the oldest frontcourt combo in the NBA. Actually I should probably look that one up, but I'm pretty sure about it. Right? Blazers up 68-53

3:28 - Macus Camby has a tattoo of of his name on his right arm. How hard is that? Definitely my second favorite tattoo, only trailing the BAYLESS that's inked on Jerryd's shoulders. I guess it's time I finally got that MANNHEIMER tattoo on my lower back.

1:07 - The score keepers are being really generous with Camby's rebound total tonight. He has 11 boards, but at least four have come off tips where he jumps up and clears the ball almost to halfcourt. Great play, but not sure if that really counts. Does anybody know the official ruling? Don't have an NBA handbook with me.

0:59 - Camby and Rudy, working the pick and roll like naturals. That's one thing in the playbook nobody in the league has to study. Camby went an entire game (from the first qrt against the Celtics to now) without scoring, so now hopefully his offensive confidence is back up. Blazers up by 13.

FOURTH QUARTER:

10:55 - Rudy's guarding Kyle Korver, and they won't stop yapping at each other. $10 they're talking about hair products.

10:31- McMillan benches JayBay less than two minutes into the quarter. He's bringing the energy tonight, but his game looks off. It's going to be really interesting to see how many minutes he gets now that everyone's back. The last few games it's been Rudy getting the bulk of time, with Bayless acting as the fourth guard. Blake's gone, but he's still gonna fight for PT.

9:18 - Milsap exits for the bench with five fouls, and that's a big one. Boozer's back into the game, but Fesenko doesn't look ready for extended minutes. The Jazz are really feeling Mehmet Okur's absence tonight. And he's a Blazer killer.

8:38 - Both teams are really struggling to hit anything this quarter. Batum's missed two in a row, Miller can't buy a basket, Fesenko is lumbering around the court like the Ukrainian Marc Gasol. The Blazers still lead 75-63, but are now shooting 40 percent for the game and the Jazz are down to an ugly 36 percent.

7:46 - Kyle Korver hits a wide open three, and the Blazers lead is into single digits. Meanwhile Rudy is still prancing around the three point line, checking his hair, and getting ready for the after party.

6:57 - Kyrylo Fesenko, I sorry I ever doubted you. You might be ugly, and your head is bigger than Steve Blake, but your a solid space filler inside and he's made some key offensive rebounds in the quarter. The Blazer lead is down to 6, the crowd is getting scared, and B Roy is still injured. Every time he hits the deck the crowd is ready to cry.

5:59 - Remember in the first half when the Blazers were flying around the court, making threes, and looking like a playoff team? That's disappeared during the last 18 minutes, but the Jazz can't buy a shot, either, so we've got ourselves a nice little slugfest. I'm a bit surprised—okay, shocked—that McMillan is playing Rudy over Batum, especially after Batum had such an incredible first half and Rudy continues to struggle outside a few hustle plays.

5:45 - CJ Miles rims in a long three, cutting the lead to just four points. Batum is immediately up off the bench. I'm a genius.

4:53 - 3:45 Andre Miller, we love your old man game, especially when it's all pump fakes and gorgeous little up-and-under moves. He can't hit a jumper tonight, but Brandon Roy and his one hamstring can. Blazers up 80-74 in a total dog fight.

2:43 - Well, the Blazers have just 30 points in the half but are still clinging onto a four point lead. Marcus Camby has a lot to do with that. When's the last time a Blazer center had over 10 boards? (You don't have to look it up, just see when Przybilla went out). Camby's got 14 boards, at least three blocks, and is setting the tone defensively.

2:20 - Kyle Korver for three, again. Maybe Batum should be guarding him? That's a tough one, because you either stick him on Williams and have him hound the ball or you have him chase Korver off a million screens.

2:00 - THE BLOCKNESS MONSTER HAS RISEN! Huge block by Camby, and then he grabs the offense board. The Blazers just won that trade.

1:04 - The Blazers can't buy a basket, but are scraping for this win. After Cabmy's offense board LaMarcus grabs one, giving the duo a combined 25 boards on the night. The Blazers also have 10 (!) blocked shots. No way they are in this game without those numbers.

0:38 - Roy's turnaround jumper just rims out, like everything the Blazers have shot tonight. Camby's tip in also doesn't go in, and Deron Williams gets two FTs at the other end. 83-81 Blazers.

0:08 - Roy dribbles around the key, has nowhere to go, draws the double and kicks it out to Batum for the corner three....and it rims out. Again. Man, they can't buy a bucket this quarter, and have just ten points. 5 seconds left Utah has the ball with a chance to win or tie it up.

0:05 - We have to stand up on press row to see, this is crazy. Williams has it, dribble drive to the left, puts up a shot and misses but Boozer grabs the board and puts it in at the buzzer and it's good. Well, shit. The officials are going to review it but it looks good to me. Overtime. Bigtime comeback by the Jazz in that quarter.

OVERTIME:

Ouch, the Blazers shot 2-17 in the fourth quarter. Just one of those makes—or a few missed FTs—and the game is over. Two things the Blazers have going for them: 1) Homecourt. It's as loud as I've heard it all year in the Rose Garden and 2) Milsap is out with six fouls.

4:34 - B Roy for three! Man, has he been gutsy tonight. He's got 23 points and is leading the game in scoring despite, ya know, logging a ton of minutes on that sore hammy.

3:49 - LaMarcus, who was so great in the first half, is long with every shot now. Fesenko got an easy dunk and Miller misses again.

3:05 - Jazz grab the lead on a Boozer layin. That guy is killing the Blazers tonight. He's got 21 points, 22 REBOUNDS, 4 assists, and a ton of clutch plays. The Jazz now have their first lead since early in the first quarter and their first advantage in field goal percentage since the tip.

2:57 - Ugly fourth quarter numbers as we wait on a timeout: 10 points, 11.8 percent shooting, four missed FTs, 2 turnovers. Rudy's in for Andre Miller, who's really struggled in the second half.

2:40 - Roy with the missed shot, Boozer grabs another board. He's a beast.

2:27 - Fesenko is winning this game for the Jazz. Never thought I'd type that, but he's got two buckets in the overtime, both off passes from Boozer inside, who keeps on getting double teamed. Utah up 89-86.

2:06 - The Blazers realllllyyyyy need this game. The Jazz have owned them this year, and every losss puts them closer to dropping out of the playoffs.

1:56 - Deron Williams with the long jumper. This one might be over soon if the Blazers can't get a good shot.

1:30 - Rudy is aimlessly dribbling around the lane, barely looking to drive, and everyone in the building knows he wants the three. Finally, after a few seconds he takes it to the rim and Fesenko blocks it. Man, that guy is making a name for himself.

0:58 - Roy misses a tough leaning three pointer but Rudy tips it out to LaMarcus. McMillan calls a timeout, and hopefully will draw up some play that works. This game is ugly, and kinda a microcasm of the whole season. Really poor execution of the half court offense, especially at the end of the game. You can't win shooting 35 percent.

0:51 - With Roy still not close to full strength the Blazers really don't have a lot of guys who can create their own shot. Miller usually can, but he's 5-18 tonight. Rudy is another guy who can make a play, but he just doesn't have it in him tonight. That said, you gotta give a guy a call when he's going to the rim like that at the end of the game. He missed the layup, but it looks like he was fouled, or at least it was a great flop. Blazers down five.

0:23 - Rudy for THREE! Okay this is still a game. The Jazz almost turn it over—seriously, Rudy was a finger nail away from stealing that ball—but the Jazz still have it. LaMarcus fouls out and now Boozer's at the line with 12 seconds left and a chance to seal the win.

0:12 - The first shot is good. Here's the big one, and he misses, Camby with the board. Wow, what a game. Blazers have a chance to send this into double OT with a miracle shot.

0:11- Roy gets it in an iso, dribbles left, launches a good look at a three and it rims off. Miles misses the first free throw but hits the second and that's the game, barring a four point play. Rudy misses at the other end and there are a few scattered boos. Dang, this is a huge loss for the Blazers. Lots of time left this season, but this has to be the toughest loss of the year. 13 point lead in the fourth and the Blazers blow it. Actually, it was 25 points at one point. Brian Wheeler just knocked his TV off the stand onto the floor in press row. Tough, tough loss, but the season is far from over. One game after shooting a season low 33 percent against the Celtics, the Blazers shoot 35 percent. And remember, they were at 50 in the first half. Too many jump shots, not enough movement on offense. Same old story. Well, thanks for following along tonight, and we'll be back after the Blazers go on another East Coast trip.
 
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