Who's ready for an exciting Saturday night game against the Toronto Raptors! The Rose Garden's already shady wireless is down before the game starts, so I guess I have to keep this brief. The Raptors—and their beastly rebounding machine Reggie Evans—come in at 1-4. The Blazers should be 5-1, but Nate McMillan's continued persistance that giving the ball to Brandon Roy at the top of the key and having him take a 22-foot jump shot is the best way to win close games.
Things I'm looking forward to:
1). The Debut of Sean Marks
It's really hard to say goodbye to the short lived Francisco Oberto era, huh? Oh, Oberto, and your greasy hair and intimidating screens. I'm convince that every veteran foreign big man looking for a roster spot will play more minutes this season that Greg Oden.
2). The Return of Jarret Jack
Though he's really not much better than Armon Johnson, I'l always have a soft spot for Jack and his angry face. Which is the same as his happy face. And his pooping face.
3). The Breakout of Wesley Matthews
You know it's coming soon. He's pissed about his recent play, even though 13 points in 19 minutes the other night looks pretty damn good to me. I'm predicting a big game tonight for Matthews off the bench, as Rudy is questionable with a strained ego, I mean, sore back.
Random pregame tangent:
Did everyone see the music feature Casey wrote this week about potential new "jock jams" for the Blazers
? I helped him out on this, and no one ever comments on this thing, so I'll let the debate reside elsewhere. I'm actually more interested in what the Blazers—particularly fiery new fan favorite Armon Johnson—listen to before the game. One of these days I'm going to get to the game early enough to talk to the Blazers about their warmup music, but since I think about these things all the time, I present to you a playlist of Michael Mannheimer's current pump up jams:
Waka Flock Flame - "Hard in Da Paint"
Like DMX, only with more yelling and less dog barks! When I listen to this at the gym I feel really, really white and also like I could leg press 500 pounds.
The Walkmen - "The Rat"
Back before I tore my ACL, I used to have this as the last song on my running mix, only I would get so pumped up that I would yell out "Can't you see me?/ I'm pounding on your door!" as I sprinted the final few blocks to my old house on Stark St. I also permanently scarred my roommates by bursting into the house and screaming in their faces. This song makes we want to break shit, and also play solid post D.
Young Jeezy - "Go Crazy"
I feel the same way about playing basketball as Jeezy does about reppin' his hood. Chhhyeahhhhh!
The Blazers come out to Kanye's "Power," which isn't a bad choice. My other pregame prediction: Evans will grab twice as many rebounds as LaMarcus Aldridge. Or maybe Casey's cartoon just made my like him twice as much as I should.
9:56 - Two minutes into the game, and we have no score and a lot of jump shots. Just so you kknow, I'm going to focus on blogging less and trying to actually, y'know, watch the game this time. I really want to see how the offense looks—is it all just isolation or will the great ball movement that sparked the team to a few early wins return?
8:40 - The one play that might not work anymore is the Marcus Camby lob pass to LaMarc. Camby's got great vision for a big man, but teams are starting to figure out the Blazers' high-low game. One guy who does throw a great lob pass every time? Andre Miller. Score is tied at 6 early on.
6:44 - Matthews and Dante Cunningham just checked in a little earlier than usual. Camby was almost a game time scratch with a bad migraine, but Roy checking out less than half way through the firs quarter is surprising.
4:39 - My breakout candidate Matthews misses an open three, but Batum is there for what is becoming a signature play—flying in from the wing unblocked for the tip in. He's actually missed a few of those this year, but it's a great play, especially when Camby is in the game and every big body on the other team spends all their energy trying to keep him off the glass. There's been a bit of an Internet huff this week about Batum and his lack of free throw attempts, which led to people questioning if he's really suited for McMillan's methodical offense. I actually think Batum has played really well this year, and any projection for him to become a star is off base when he's only the third or fourth option on offense.
2:46 - And we have our first Sean Marks sighting! Not sure if this is McMillan trying to rest the starters for tomorrow's nights game in Los Angeles or if the bench is really that thin.
Since you're probably unfamiliar with him, here's a quick run down of my top 3 Sean Marks facts:
3). Marks played his college ball at California, where he majored in political science.
2). Though Marks is a 10-year veteran, no NBA player in the last three decades has played as few minutes in his first 10 seasons. So he's an end of the bench guy, for sure.
1). Marks is the first New Zealand native to play in the NBA. He was also an extra in The Return of the King
. OK, I made that last fact up. But he really is from New Zealand!
10:17 - So we've got a really sluggish game on hand. The Raptors lead 23-19 but it seems like both teams just want to get the game over with. I've always wondered about what a player thinks in a game like this. The Blazers clearly should win, and have a huge game tomorrow against the Lakers, so it's go to be hard to take a team like the Raptors seriously. But again this is the NBA, and I believe that any player in the league (OK, besides Adam Morrison) would play well when given enough minutes and a consistant role.
9:18 - One thing this current Blazer team really lacks is a knock down three point shooter. Scanning the bench, the only guy I can see doing that is....rookie Luke Babbitt! He's getting some early burn tonight and looks good, sticking an open three and blocking a shot on the other end. Way to earn those minutes, rook.
8:36 - Does Babbitt have a nickname yet? Former WW
editorial designer Christie Wright is suggesting "Babbitt the Rabbitt" and I really can't think of anything better.
6:29 - Roy hits an uncontested jumper and the 'zers are up 35-24. Just for fun, let's take a look at the starting shooting guards.
Brandon Roy - 11 points on 5-8 shooting
DeMar DeRozan - 0 points on 0-3 shooting.
Can you spot the difference?
3:59 - Sean Marks is wearing low top shoes! Doesn't he know the fate of every Blazer center? If he sprains an ankle or something I quit at this whole blogging thing.
3:30 - One of the things (don't make me count the ways!) that I love about watching a NBA game in person is picking up little ticks and random things the players do when they're not in the game. Did you know that Patty Mills is the first person off the bench for every Blazer timeout? Seriously, every single time. He's earning his salary by being the best cheerleader in the NBA, which I love. Also Toronto's Andrea Bargnani hits himself on the head after every missed shot.
1:20 - Oh yeah, there's a game going on. The Blazers lead 39-34 but they have more turnovers (8) than assists (6) and are shooting under 40 percent from the field. Ugly ball going on right now. The Raptors have only two assists, which makes me happy I didn't pick Jack on my fantasy team.
0:35 - Batum is deadly on the fast break. I don't think I've seen a finger roll that pretty since Clyde the Glide retired. He's lethal on the fast break in the few opportunities he gets. Let's hope the Blazers run more tonight, because the half court offense isn't clicking.
0:01 - Roy hits a fade away just before the buzzer, so I can't complain about that isolation play! I still wish they would do something, anything else at the end of games/quarters, but there's a reason I'm writing about the game and not coaching. Blazers up 45-34 at the half.
10:28 - Roy is just abusing the young DeRozan on offense. Right now DeRozan has a better name than a game, but he's showed promise in the past and is still young (he entered the draft after just one year at USC). He's got all the athleticism in the world, but sometimes in basketball it's the crafty, smart players that win.
8:13 - Toronto shot an abysmal 27.8 percent in the first half, and the numbers are flat out awful if you take out their two Euros, Bargnani and Jose Calderon, who shot a combined 7-12. The rest of the team was 3-24. Wow. I sense a blowout coming soon.
5:53 - The Raptors spend most of their halfcourt offense pounding the ball. It doesn't matter who's at point, Jack or Calderon or even Bargnani as a point forward, but they just keep on dribbling and forcing one-on-one action. On a night like tonight when they can't buy a bucket, you'd think they would try to get some motion on offense. Though I still like the Jarret Jack pull-up three in transition.
4:38 - Roy talked a big game about practicing at moving without the ball this summer, and he's sure showing it tonight. When Miller is controlling the clock he's running through screens and cutting to the basket, and it's resulting in a lot of easy buckets. This it the type of offense I love! Blazers up 66-46 and looking at 4th quarter dominated by the likes of Patty Mills and Sean Marks.
4:06 - Buck Williams is wearing a bow tie! Is this a thing? I think it should be mandatory for every NBA assistant coach to wear bow ties to every game. Way to class up the joint.
2:48 - My big breakout candidate Matthews hasn't had the best night—just 2 points on 1-5 shooting—but he also didn't get very much burn in the first half. I don't think McMillan has a spot for him just yet. Is he a shooting guard? A big point who can play along Roy? A three point shooter or a hustle guy who gets his points on the fast break and offensive glass? His minutes are all over the place in the first six games, but I still like what I see: he's always working hard, and even if his shot isn't going down he's a bundle of energy on the court. Actually now that I think about it he plays a little bit like Ruben Patterson, only with a jump shot and no rap sheet.
1:43 - Is every hard foul called a flagrant these days? It looked to me like Camby was going for the ball. Gotta love David Stern's NBA!
11:36 - I was all about to start a PATTY MILLS WATCH, and then the Raptors cut the lead down to 12. This is actually a game, and Portland's 15 turnovers—including five by rookie Armon Johnson, who looks overmatched tonight—are keeping the Raps in the game.
10:53 - Another Blazer turnover. McMillan looks pissed, and the starters look tired. This is one of those games where it would be really nice to have, say, Jerryd Bayless on the bench instead of a future first round pick.
10:44 - Fire, flames, lasers, and smoke! It's not the new Kanye video, it's the Trans-Siberian Orchestra! November 15. Rose Garden. I think I'ma make Casey come with me.
7:57 - Welcome to the Brandon Roy show, folks. He still doesn't have an assist but his 26 points are more than twice as much as any Raptor has scored. And DeRozan still has a goose egg. But the Blazers can't beat the Lakers with just Roy and a bunch of Marcus Camby rebounds.
6:49 - PATTY WATCH! The lead is back up to 14, so maybe this could happen. Odds of Patty getting some run: 5/2.
You know what this game needs? One of those crazy Bayless dunks where he jumps over the state of New Jersey. I miss J-Bay.
5:53 - DeRozan finally scores, and the Blazers' public address announcer doesn't even call out his name. I feel bad for the guy. Stick him on the Magic or Heat or Jazz and he's a great glue guy, but he just looks lost trying to create offense for these guys.
4:46 - Batum for three, the crowd goes wild, and the Blazers are up by 21 again. OK now I'm calling it. PATTY WATCH is officially on. I think he gets two minutes.
3:09 - PATTTYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!
I think this is the biggest reception I've ever heard for someone who's scored like 12 points total in the NBA. But hey, he's funny, and Australian, so you gotta love him.
2:34 - I'm totally asking Patty Mills and Sean Marks to pick their favorite New Zealand and Australian bands in the locker room. The Clean vs. the Go-Betweens? So hard to pick!
1:22 - Blazers up 95-76, Patty Mills is at the line, the crowd is going wild. In my mind Patty doesn't need to play as long as he stays on the team to tweet, dress up in funny costumes, and give Greg Oden a high-five every time he comes off the court. Bench MVP.
1:06 - If Patty Mills gets the Chalupa points the Internet is going to blow up.
0:19 - Sean Marks' stat line: 0 points, 0 rebounds, 3 fouls. Hey, it's just nice to have an extra big guy on the bench.
0:00 - The crowd is booing Patty because he held the ball on the last possession instead of shooting the 3 for a potential chalupa. You could tell he wanted to hit it so bad! Next time, Patty Cakes. Blazers win 97-84, and the starters carried this one. Thanks for reading along and I'll see you sometime in the next few weeks.