Hello, and welcome to a very special Marcus Camby edition of Almost Live. I am pretty amped about tonight. I mean, this is about the most exciting game since Greg Oden got to Portland, in a lot of ways. CROWD. GOES. WILD.
If you're wondering, I selected this picture of Marcus Camby over the more obvious ones because it depicts something he'll be doing an awful lot while in Portland: Hanging out with white people. Get used to it, Marcus, because we're everywhere.
Camby wins the biggest tip in Blazer history, and clears some space for LaMarcus Aldridge to operate on the Blazers' first possession. Oh man oh man oh man.
After an easy-looking Camby layup, Aldridge gets out on the break and finishes with a dunk. Is this the beginning of a beautiful friendship? Methinks, methinks.
LaMarcus kinda looks like he thinks he's still the only big man on the floor, gathering his own rebounds and hanging out by the basket. The good news is that these new-look Blazers are getting aggressive from the very start, but the bad news is that it kinda feels like everyone on the team has something to prove. Not a ton of passing here in the early going. One assist on eight Portland points. But they're up, and individually they all look quite strong. Camby is aggressive in the early going, making one of his first three thus far. Celts swing it four points to take a two-point lead.
1. Camby's downside is that he gets back pretty slow (very big + pretty old = jogging not sprinting)
2. Brandon Roy is, right now, acting primarily as a decoy. And his legs look like rubber. He scores an easy layup as I type, but I'd honestly rather see a full-strength Rudy or Nic out there over a hobbling Brandon Roy—especially considering the ugly injury streak the Blazers are on.
Garnett is on tonight. Hitting some nice mid-long range jumpers to start things out.
"Number 8 Juwan Howard coming in for Marcus Camby!" Not words I thought I'd ever hear as a Blazer fan.
Brandon Roy slides over to point guard as Nic Batum enters the game for Andre Miller. Immediately there's more movement, with the offense going around the horn.
And Brandon Roy gets all the way to the rim, gets slammed in the air. No call, two points. Brandon may not be as useless as I thought he was. This team looks smarter with him running the point right now.
*Glen Davis, if you don't want to be called Big Baby then get a grown man's haircut and stop crying.
*Doc Rivers is remarkably calm. His team is up eight. Let's see if he gets weird when the Blazers go on a run.
*Guy with the bright orange hoodie (sitting just behind Paul Pierce): You are blinding me and I want to die.
*We haven't seen Rondo's quickness on display yet.
*Rudy Fernandez would make a poor Harlem Globetrotter.
*Brandon Roy just hit a miracle three, throwing himself on the ground in a failed attempt to gather a foul as well. His apologists are freaking out. In fact, Portland fans are freaking out in general. Doc's not freaking out yet.
I hope Nic Batum's poor shooting isn't a Travis Outlaw curse.
Marquis Daniels' hair is majestic. It's the kind of hair the musical Hair was written to salute.
Lots of questions, right? Don't panic yet. Give it til halftime. Subs are coming.
I'm starting to think that the Blazers need three more international players to fill in the B-team with Nic and Rudy. And they should all have snappy names like Nic and Rudy. And they can hold hands and sing a song of peace and understanding before the games while the rest of the team is saluting the flag and whatnot. Nic, Rudy, Brett, Ted and Scott. Scott's last name is Oleshiavicicnicdic and you cannot pronounce it, I assure you.
All that rampant individualism from earlier in the game is sorely missed now. These guys look like they're all waiting for eachother to do something. Is that a good thing? Will that balance between the hopelessly independent and the completely co-dependent balance out into something fluid? Because right now the Zers are down 45 - 32. Sure, Boston's a great team, but they'd struggled quite a bit before last night's win.
LaMarcus just dunked over and stared down Kevin Garnett. Garnett didn't seem to have an answer for this swag, but then he knocked down a three over LaMarc (it occurs to me that I can't just call him "Marc" anymore), and recieved an alley-oop from Rondo on the next trip. Garnett seems to be talking markedly less shit than usual (perhaps because Aldridge always makes a concerted effort to intimidate him early on), but his play is really speaking for itself. He's got 13 thus far.
Wheels behind us: The Celtics have blown 10 double-digit ballgames this year.
Hopefully Portland can make it 11.
Blaze just stood at center court and proceeded to miss about eight backwards three-point attempts in a row. What was the point of this? That the Blazers should trade Blaze for the Golden State Warriors' super-guy. I'm pretty sure that if the Zers throw in a case of whiskey for Don Nelson they could land Stephen Curry as well.
Andre Miller makes a fatastic save by grabbing a pass and bouncing it out-of-bounds off of Ray Allen. Some bobbling later, Andre Miller dishes a nice alley-oop to LaMarc. All of which would be very pretty if the Celtics twin jellybeans, Big Baby and Big Chin Hair, weren't getting to the basket so easily on the other end.
Camby watch: 2 points, 3 boards, 1 block, 3 turnovers as he leaves for the half. 1 of 5 shooting. This isn't what the Blazers had hoped for tonight, but it's better (so far) than Antawn Jamison's Cleveland debut.
Juwan Howard and Kendrick Perkins go face-to-face. That's a fight we'd all like to see, right? Double tech. Perkins at the line. Stupid call. Stupid turn of events. Confused Sonics fans in the crowd are waving their flag.
Boston goes up 56-38 on a buzzer beater from Rondo.
I don't like it.
Also, why would they import bucket players from Chicago when we've got a handful of perfectly good bucket players that work before and after Rose Garden games?
Well, that's the loudest applause I've heard for a halftime show for a long time, so I apologize for doubting the Bucket Boys.
Rondo gets hit by a hard screen, falls down, then throws his mouth guard to pick up a tech. The sound guy plays a "grown man crying" sound effect that pretty clearly crosses the line from being funny to just plain rude.
The Celtics, not a team that takes kindly to being bullied, tosses to Paul Pierce and he puts them up by two more, making it a 21-point contest. Blazers aren't just missing shots, they're missing free-throws. They're at 63%. It's no excuse: The Celtics are shooting 58% from the line. Blazers need a big run and they need it now.
Blazer fans really grasping at straws for something to cheer about here. Roy makes a sweet move to the post, but loses the handle and the ball. Fans almost go wild, then eat some more nachos.
I'ma ask the fellas a question. Where's Rudy Fernandez? I mean, I saw him in the game for nine minutes, but where IS he? Did the Blazers trade the wrong small forward?
To clarify: Gay men and straight ladies are not allowed to answer that question, because you are all too overcome by Rudy's animal attraction to answer objectively. But what the hell, I'll just ask everybody: WHERE IS RUDY!?
Rudy sighting! He's about to check in. But this quarter has looked pretty bad, aside from a couple of random defensive stands. Jerryd Bayless is in the game now, along with Rudy and Camby, and J-Bay gets to the line on a foul from Rasheed Wallace, making both. It's a 16-point contest. Prime time to make a stand.
I catch shards of Tone's radio commentary from my seat in section 113, and it's almost always golden. "Bayless went straight to the chest of Kendrick Perkins and then he stared him down. He said "I'll get you back big fella, I'll get you back." The repetition made it classic.
Rudy makes his first play of the entire game, and it's a block on Big Baby. I could have called that.
It wouldn't be a 'Sheed homecoming without a nice, shiny technical foul. Look Who's Talking!
It also wouldn't be a 'Sheed homecoming without 'Sheed making a big shot after getting called for a tech. Blazers still down 16. Rudy makes it 14 with a couple of free throws.
Camby threw the ball too far upcourt for an outlet pass, then made up for it on D with a nice big block on Big Baby.
Bayless steals and lays it up. 12-point game. That quarter didn't wind up as miserable as we thought it would! Sheed takes a half-court hookshot to beat the buzzer. No dice. Obviously.
So many signs up in the 300 level. Which proves once and for all that poor people are more creative than rich people. Having money sucks the creativity right out of you: Too much time spent on the big-screen TV and yachting and such.
Nice no-call from the officials to make up for Tony Allen butt-ramming Jeryd Bayless to pick up a foul. Rudy just stole it and shuffled the ball like a juggler. Sheed was on top of the call, the refs were not. He completed a three-point play.
I was just going to go off on how Rudy was saving this game, when he was called for an ill-timed offensive foul. Crowd hates it, as they should. Next time up he's called for another offensive foul. It makes a lot more sense than the last one, as Glen Davis had a spot here (last time he was on one leg. Two coulda-been three-point-plays. Ouch. Rudy flops his way to a foul of his own on a pretty nice Glen Davis screen. So still, no excuses here. Ray Allen's three-pointer makes it a twelve-point game again.
That was an awful lot of action to follow.
Jesus Shuttlesworth hits again, flinging his wrist to signify the three. Boston is up 15. The last four minutes have showcase lots of hustle and lots of bad decisionmaking from the 'Zers. Rudy was trying to do it all, turning steals into opportunites in the paint. Bayless was pushing the ball and driving the baseline (where he stepped out or lost the ball more than once). Nic Batum overplayed Ray Allen near the baseline and wound up exerting too much energy to get up in his grill from three-point land. All heart and no smarts right about now. Dante Cunningham checks in to add some more inexperience to the mix.
And Ray Allen really, really doesn't appreciate Nic Batum's hounding. He's getting in a good shove here and there to make up for it. And every play, right now, seems to be for Ray.
This is when most coaches would take out their injured all-star. Just saying.
No, really, you're not winning this game. It's the Celtics, not the Warriors. Blazers down 21. It should be Patty Mills/Jeff Pendegraph time.
Growing pains, let's hope. Camby didn't look quite at home, and the young Blazers looked younger than ever (though I'm pretty sure they're all the oldest they've ever been).
Arena emptying out. 20 point lead for the Celts. Big loss. Not because it was a loss, so much, but because it was big. And the Blazers play a lot of very good teams down the stretch. The playoffs are certainly not a done deal.
I'll have the Teenie-Weenie Brian Scalabrine Linguini Panini please.