So, I haven't been drawing cartoons for the blog lately. And I look back on those fancy-free days and I think, "What the fuck? How did I have time to do those?" I guess when you put your mind to something, nothing can get in your way. Until something does. And then that something is all you can see. I hope to make two very elaborate cartoons for the season's last two home games. For now, you get this picture of past promise in the bay area.
I like that photo. I know it's a silly promotional shot for some throwback jerseys, but I like the innocence in that shot. I remember these days in Golden State, and they were such a fun team to watch back then. Baron Davis was a genius. Maybe he still is and the body just won't keep up with the mind. Seems to be doing good things in Cleveland at the moment, which is good news for that beleaguered city. Maybe Baron has a better understanding of what it is to be perceived as a has-been than most players would.
The mood on the court is cordial: Joey Crawford is joking with players as they're stretching (from the looks of it he's telling them epic fishing stories); Stephen Curry was joking and high-fiving the Blazers' Darnell Valentine. I'm feeling pretty damn good, myself. Let's see how long that spirit holds up.
Bench Blazers are back in their off-white recycled t-shirts. I guess NBA Green Day comes more than once a year. It's the usual batch in the starting lineup ("Marcus in the Middle," as the announcer put it, alongside Andre, Wes, Gerald and LaMarcus). No Brandon Roy re-insertion. I have a hunch that the next major Blazer collapse, be it in the regular season or the playoffs, will be followed by that move. But it's just a hunch. I like the squad that starts now, since you asked.
Blazers win the tip-off and it's Andre Miller making moves right of the bat. The rest of the team is stagnant, though Marcus Camby finds a way to get involved, heaving a slightly early alley-oop to LaMarcus, who's fouled as he misses the layup. Wes Matthews is first to score on another pass from Marcus Camby at the top of the key. Gotta like the big guy's early involvement!
Another three-point play in a season full of them for LaMarcus Aldridge, but Stephen Curry drains one the long-distance way to trump his taller colleague. That Stephen Curry, he can play. He also, like Reggie Miller, looks to be about 15 and I'm guessing he's always gonna look that way.
Golf claps all around as the Warriors take a timeout up with the Zers two points. In the huddle, it's a bird—it's a plane—nope, it's Greg Oden looking snazzy in gray. If his bones were as strong as his fashion sense he'd be a 20-and-10 guy every night.
Snow cone guy is singing along to an in-arena jingle. Maybe the secret to happiness is serving snow cones at sporting events. Not a care in the world, that guy. I suppose he has some worries, like, "What if these snow cones melt?" or "Do I have enough ones to make change with in section 206, or should I go get some small bills first?" Not that my problems are any bigger. "Should I refer to this band as post-rock or post-punk!?"
Blazers down two points in a very unspectacular six-and-a-half minutes.
Wes Matthews takes it to the hole as if to say "Enough of this three-point nonsense. It's time for ACTION!"
The Rockets are losing. A Rockets loss, we're pretty sure, means the Blazers are guaranteed a playoff spot. And while that wasn't so much of a question emotionally, it's certainly a technical question. And really, making the playoffs in the West is no easy task, especially with two of the team's best players riddled with injuries. Some historically great teams are not making it to the big dance (big show? big tent? prolonged mixed social?) this year, and the Blazers are. And Meadowlark Lemon from the Globetrotters is in the crowd, which is also a big deal. He was in the cartoons!
He hasn't scored, but Marcus Camby is making a lot happen here with eight points and two assists. And of course, the moment I type his name he's involved in a pretty serious-looking collision with David Lee, who appears to have dropped onto Camby's face with his knee. He's down for a couple of minutes before the crowd starts cheering his name. He's helped up and escorted off the court. Slowly.
When your name is Chris Johnson, you're bound to do big things. The recent acquisition comes in to cover for Camby, who likely has a real bitch of a headache right now.
Nic Batum tips in a missed shot. 19-15 Blazers.
I just can't say enough about the way Gerald Wallace has fit into this team. He's laughing, smiling...not to mention scoring and rebounding. Just seems like he's enjoying it in Portland. I don't remember the guy smiling this much back in Charlotte.
19-19 going into the second.
Sorry, they played it and it stuck...
Still all tied up at 19. Brandon Roy's contribution thus far is a fistful of rebounds, but you can see in his eyes he's ready do some shit. Misses a long jumper as I type. Still, dude is ready to GO. He averaged like 32 points a game against these guys last year. I'm guessing he wants to prove he's still got a spark of that.
Nic misses the Blazers' eight three. They are zero for eight. Hope that skid ends before the playoffs (which are about 45 seconds away from being certainty, by the way).
That's some savvy-ass zone defense the Blazers are playing. Either that or the Warriors are hopeless. Maybe it's really just quick-swapping man-to-man, actually, but LaMarcus is floating around in there and it's doing the trick.
Unfortunately, Golden State knows how to screen a Rudy Fernandez and Stephen Curry knows how to hit a three. The Warriors have only hit two thus far, but that's two for four. Blazers are still zero for eight. Ug-lee.
Rudy gets a tech. About time, Joey....
Been awhile since I've seen a colorful display of mass irony. The "lucky row" that just received copies of Little Fockers illustrated the concept quite well, though.
Brandon leaves the game with just two points. Telling you, though, I've got a feeling about this one. He's ready to blow up. Or blow a gasket, maybe--he seems a little frustrated not getting the ball out there.
I've never had my face painted as an adult. I think maybe it's time to change that.
Okay, maybe not.
Monta Ellis is a punk, man. To pull up and drain a shot in LaMarcus' face like that? As a favorite George Lucas CGI creation and two blonde twins once said (a lot), "HOW WUDE!"
Golden State goes to a point-guardless big lineup—as big as the Warriors get without that missing flat-top European dude—and Portland quickly takes advantage, with Gerald Wallace stealing the ball, falling to the ground and spinning the ball to a cutting Wes Matthews. The pass, delivered while Wallace sat calmly at mid-court, looked more like a trick-shot in pool than a basketball dish. But Matthews tried to follow-up with a flashy pass of his own and the Warriors fumbled it out of bounds. It would have been a real bonzer if they'd completed it. Ask Patty—or a waitress at your local Outback Steakhouse—what bonzer means.
Portland leads 41-39. Two minutes left. Rockets lost. Portland is in the playoffs.
Okay, this one looks like something out of Mad Max.
That scares the shit out of me, honestly.
What is this ROOT SPORTS bullshit, can someone explain that to me?
What, there are kids reading? Okay, I'll stop with the cursing.
Blazers look to close out the half with a little D, but then decide to give David Lee a wide-open shot from near the free-throw stripe. He drains. In fact, he's feeling hot and drains again next time up. 45-43 Warriors. No word on Marcus Camby, which is a shame.
With the clock running out, Wes Matthews hits an unbelievable turnaround buzzer-beating jumper. Hot damn, Wes!
Blazer ball. You know, if I knew nothing about basketball, I honestly wouldn't be able to tell you whether Buck Williams or Greg Oden was the older player.
LaMarcus Aldridge hits a big jumpshot—almost as big as Wes Matthews' studly turnaround—to end the half. Lots of nice looks for the Blazers. Still shooting a big fat zero from the three-point line, though, and still playing some suspect defense. Whadda we do? We wait!
So, this looks like one of those video clips from the original NBA Jam (long may it reign), but it's still kind of amazing.
Happy Hall of Fame day, Arvydas.
Nic Batum just hit a three. Maybe it was seeing the reply of his last-second, buzzer-beating touch against San Antonio that got his confidence back. Blazer three shooting goes from zero to 11 percent. They'll take it, methinks.
Ol' "Crash" is living up to his nickname today. Marcus Camby, by the way, has a "strained neck" and is questionable to return. He's not on the bench just yet so if I had to wager a guess it'd be that he's taking a niiiiiiccceeeeee ice-nap for the rest of the game. Then again, NOT playing the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs might just prove powerful encouragement for his early return. Every time the Blazers get a little run going, these Warriors make scoring look absolutely effortless. Even though this game is not up to their usual speed, they're finding ways to score. They're finding WIDE OPEN spots on the court to score from, in fact.
Howabout this old favorite...
No matter how old I get, the sight of the Ultimate Warrior's facepaint or Hulk Hogan's torn yellow t-shirt is going to get me really, really stoked. I can't explain it. Some kids love the circus or army men or whatever—I can't get enough of late-'80s/early-'90s wrestling. It's mezmerizing to me. And I turn on wrestling now and I just couldn't want to watch anything less. I mean I find it horribly offensive and boring and rednecky and stupid. But throw the Big Boss Man or Earthquake on the tube and I am in it to win it. I used to drop DDTs on my friends and try to make veins pop out of my arms ALL DAY, man. It was no joke. And yet it was so clearly a joke. Not sure how I missed that. But still, you show me wrestlers with ribbons wrapped around their upper arms and I'm like "Hot Damn it's Go Time!" Maybe one day I'll feel the same way when I see vintage Baron Davis footage or a Brandon Roy highlight. Hell, maybe I already do. I won't know how attached to basketball I am unless there's a lockout.
Finally, the threes start to fall. This time it's Wes Matthews. Blazers are going to need a lot of 'em, as these Wrriors aren't showing signs of letting up on the ridiculous accuracy front.
The "boo-birds" are in full-effect. They have good reason. Nic Batum just got bitch-slapped on his way to the hoop, and Gerald Wallace has been thrown down a number of times tonight with no whistle. The Warriors, meanwhile, tend to avoid contact altogether on the offensive end. They're also up seven.
Brandon era starts...now? He's still stuck at two points but on the line for...OUCH. Missed the first. Patty Mills checks in, another rousing applause. Brandon hits the second to make it six. Patty is chasing the hell out of Stephen Curry right now. He's such a nuisance! Here's hoping the Spanish-Australian connection comes through...if not for the team, for the little kid who keeps hollering "Let's Go Patty!" behind me. He sounds excited.
Monta and Stephen are 7-for-7 on their three-pointers. It's unbelievable. And Stephen hit his last one over Patty. That might not be good for the kid (though he had nothing to do with the other six). Blazers could use Marcus Camby right now. He's still in the wings. Breakdancers are out. Tepid cheering.
Brandon Roy is trying, desperately, to turn it on here. But it's like a broken faucet. He just got monster-blocked by David Lee and even his nice passes aren't resulting in assists. The Blazers should probably stop shooting threes altogether at this point. They are 2 for 14. I know there's that whole "shoot through it" mentality in the NBA but that ain't working. One quarter left and the Blazers are down...make it 14. Goo.
Two for 15 now. This is not irregular. When they're hot from long range, the Blazers are good. When they're missing them, they suck. What's a team to do? Get James Jones or Ime Udoka back?
The ugly list:
Brandon Roy is one for nine.
Rudy has two points, two assists.
Camby is out.
The Blazers are shooting 42 percent. The Warriors are shooting 53.
The defensive stats more or less even out, or even fall in the Blazers' favor. It's the shooting that's messing them up. And it has been all season. It just ain't right.
So, Brandon Roy is officially hurting the team right now. It's worse because he's gung -ho about making things happen, and he just doesn't have the ability to do it. I'm not aying he's washed-up or he's no-good, just that he hasn't done anything this game and the Blazers would be well served to get Wes Matthews back in there right away.
Sarcastic applause as Gerald Wallace finally draws a foul. But how much of this 18-point deficit can be chalked up to refereeing?
Okay, so they've given up on the threes and it seems clearer than ever that the Blazers aren't particularly good at the hole, either. And now there's a chippiness between Gerald Wallace and Lou Amundson. God, at least a fight would make this thing interesting for, like, a minute.
Takes some real rank manure to grow the prettiest flowers. The Blazers just pulled off a gorgeous, artful fast break that got the crowd back into the game. Deficit is still 16. Brandon Roy is out of the game. LaMarcus is the centerpiece of the offense right now but the Blazers still aren't playing the inside-out basketball that had them winning earlier in the season. And furthermore LaMarcus looks helpless on defense against those palest of twin towers, Ponytail Lou and David Lee.
Everyone leaving the arena is saying something to the effect of "tough night" to the ushers and the radio guys. It's as if that little off-the-cuf statement absolves them from their guilt and jetting early. And here goes Joey Harrington. I'm sorry to pick on Joey Harrington, he's just easy to spot. He's leaving. I don't think Nate will pull his starters, though. He's a firm believer in the five-minute, 18-point comeback. And why shouldn't he be? His tenure as Blazer head coach has seen the team climb out of some very sticky situations.
This is almost a mirror image of the Dallas game the other night. And Dallas' B-team pulled it within eight. Oops, no, the Warriors are up to 21. Did I mention how much I like these jerseys? Brilliant, they are. The Golden Gate bridge, all right angles and pretty swoops? The navy lue and gold? Who could hate on that? Fashion-wise, they worked very hard for this win.
So, if my hunch holds up, Brandon Roy will start the next game in Utah. Again, I don't have any insider info, I just wonder if it has been on Nate's mind: "Maybe if he starts, he'll get his confidence back." Who knows. But a 23-point loss against the Warriors, a team the Blazers have to play again before the season is done, is not an acceptable loss.
Woah, Armon Johnson just scored. Or was that a flashback...
Widespread boos in the rose garden, and I'm not sure if they're aimed at the refs, Ponytail Lou or—duhm duhm DUHHHHHMMMMM—the Blazers themselves. What is this, New York? I'm honestly just kind of excited to see Jeremy Lin play. Though he has proven thrilling in his limited time. Can we play a game called "how many nationalities are represented on the floor"? Just six?
Looking at this Blazer bench, maybe they just needed a rest. They look bummed out and sleepy as hell. I guess losing big against a lottery-bound club will do that to you, too.
108 - 87 Golden State. Ouch!
Seeya next time.