Ooh hot damn, 7 pm comes real quick. Got to the arena a bit late and I was forced to slam a bento box from the bento cart. Which is a shame, because those media room pork sandwiches looked real good.
THE POINT IS, we're here at the Blazers/Kings game, and they're about ready to tip-off. So let's get down to action. Sweet, sweet Western Conference action.
Marcus Camby, my longtime favorite Blazer, picks up right where he left off last game. He's gets to the line (making only one of two, unfortunately), then blocks a shot and grabs a rebound. Tired? Cambyman doesn't GET tired!
Okay, okay, Camby ain't perfect. A missed long bomb and a charge aren't helping those stats, but no one on the floor is as active as Marcus right now. Kinda funny that he's the centerpiece of the offense to get things started. Hard to tell if that's a ploy to get LaMarcus Aldridge open or just a complication of circumstance.
DeMarcus Cousins is a one-man offense, but he isn't always an effective one-man offense. He's got four quick points in this one and everything seems to be going through him. As I type this, Tyreke runs the ball up the court and gets an easy layup—can't believe it, but I almost forgot Tyreke existed.
Another easy layup for Tyreke. That's not good. Camby may be a shot-blocking stud, but he's certainly not as fast as that dude.
So the will call line was exceptionally long before the game. I thought, "wow, these Kings can really draw a crowd," and then I noticed a big sign telling Groupon customers where to start their line. This is sellout number 161, I believe, and to keep that streak going, the Blazer bras might have to resort to more than a couple Groupon nights. Awful weather + bad weather = Groupon being totally necessary.
People are sure excited about watching Jimmer shoot threes. I'm not. Unless they're from half court. Then I'm super excited. And I know he can hit it from there. What's the point of Jimmer if he doesn't have a coach who encourages him to shoot the looooooonngg ball?
Gerald Wallace is real tough. That is all.
Travis Outlaw gets a nice ovation as he checks in.
Gerald has run out for two nice-n-easy layups. The crowd loves it. I'd like to see a few other Blazers taking that hard-charging initiative against this Kings team, which has plenty of players who double as defensive liabilities.
Weird lineup on the floor for the Blazers. Nolan Smith, Jamal Crawford, Nic Batum, Chris Johnson and Kurt Thomas. None of whom can start the Jimmer. But the scrappy Blazer squad keeps it close. The quarter ends 25-23 with Sacto on top. Nice to start out against Philly and Sacto, huh? The teams are going to get a lot tougher.
Jimmer madness continues. And now J.J. Hickson joins the party. I've gotta say, this Kings team is a real strange collection of outcasts and roustabouts. I call this the Bad News Bears offense that's on the floor right now. Later we might see the Revenge of the Nerds defense.
31-26 with Sacramento on top. If you put a team of five Gerald Wallaces on the floor, this one would be a blowout. Especially if they were Gerald Wallaces of varying heights.
I'm having a hard time explaining why this game is going the way it is. I mean, I'm not doing my job. I think the problem is that no one is playing as hard as Gerald Wallace. He just checked back in and the game changed instantly. Everyone else in white seemed to pick up their games the moment he stepped onto the floor. Nic Batum looks incredibly soft next to this guy, and trading Wallace seems totally unthinkable at this point. Maybe that whole thing was just a rumor.
Kings up eight and strutting around. Seriously, EVERY PLAYER on this team has some weird issue. Anger management problems, confidence problems, height problems, toughness problems, consistency problems. There's not a player you can hang your hat on or predict from game to game, but I guess when you fire a dozen loose canons at once, you're going to hit something.
Blazers need some toughness right now. I'm guessing they're feeling a bit tired because of the back-to-back, but man, this is a team they can beat by running the ball right down their throats on possession after possession. Ray Felton gets the idea and charges back for a layup, but the Blazers are having an awful lot of trouble in the half-court, especially around the rim where they're trying to finesse layups over guys instead of throw themselves at defenders.
Okay, Marcus Camby tried to dunk. He got blocked. AND FOULED, YOWCH!
44-37 Sacto. Halftime can't come soon enough.
Yeah, Gerald Wallace is the only guy doing anything. The Chuck Hayes curse continues for LaMarcus, who can't seem to have a good game against the Kings forward, and most of the other Blazers are ineffective on offense at the moment. But again, Wallace's energy looks to be catching.
Ray Felton is cutting like a champ these last couple possessions, and he's kicking to Aldridge, who's finally starting to get on track. Blazers pull within one.
LaMarcus Aldridge gets fouled just before the buzzer, and he's going to the line to potentially give the Blazers a lead. It wasn't the most thrilling turn of events, but fans are getting mighty worked up over it. Gerald Wallace takes a seat next to some fans on the sidelines and has a little chat. It goes up on the big screen and he gets an ovation of his own. Gerald is the fan favorite right now, and it's a reputation he's earning on the floor. LaMarcus goes one-for-two and ties up the game. I can't tell you how confused I am, when the Kings get the ball with 0.4 seconds, they don't have Jimmer on the floor. THE HALFCOURT SHOT IS HIS BREAD AND BUTTER. WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?!?
I forgot your halftime entertainment. The Tintin movie is real good.
Wes Matthews leaves the court holding his back. That's not great. The Blazers go big with Nic Batum at the two, though, and that might just be an effective lineup. Right now it's Ray Felton creating his own shot by cutting to the hoop. Hey, when there's nothing there, make something. When life gives you lemons, FUCKING EAT SOME LEMONS.
The Marcus Camby poke-steal leads to the Blazer fastbreak, and if I give you a blank to fill, I'd imagine you could correctly finish this sentence: It's ____________, the bad-assest Blazer, finishing the play at the rim. Blazers lead 50-46. Are they ready to blow this thing open? And how's Wessy Wes holding up?
Marcus Camby fakes out his man (!) and winds up with a wide-open lane to the hoop. Yeah, he's as surprised as you are. So surprised, in fact, that he takes an awkward extra half-step and winds up taking off from Tony Parker's floater range. He puts the floater up, alright, but it's a disastrous-looking layup that floats wide left, hitting the broadside of the rim. Lucky for Camby, Aldridge is there to grab the putback dunk and give the crowd a little something to freak out about. Not freak out too hard, mind you.
I'm pretty sure that referees are not NBA fans. If you had to deal with shitty, overpaid athletes constantly jawing at you and telling you that you're doing everything wrong, would you still be able to watch a game on your day off without just despising everyone on the court? I am pretty sure I'd hate the whole sport if I were a ref. Worst job ever.
The Blazers have developed a very sweet full-court passing game. A questionable defender like Jimmer really has his work cut out for him in a game like this, because his man is likely to burst upcourt the moment his team gets a rebound. Ol Jimmer is trying to get ready for a rebound, or spot up for a shot after an offensive board, and Nic Batum is gunning it towards the hoop. When you've got great outlet passers like Camby and Wallace, taht is bad news for the other team indeed.
Well, you knew LaMarcus would find his rhythm at some point, right? Looking pretty good now. Blazers up 9 after a few explosive runs and some smashmouth defense.
Another great three from Jimmer. He's pretty unbelievable with those three-point leaners. Not a lot of guys can make that shot, let alone make it around their defender.
Blazers' passing game looks fantastic right now, even if the actual scoring-round-the-rim-game is lacking. As in last night's contest, this team is having an incredibly hard time with what should be some pretty routine putbacks. Yes, the Kings have big bodies around the rim that can make things difficult, but considering all the offensive rebounds (Blazers have 12 through three quarters), the putback misses are again pretty disappointing. A lot of them should have been smooth sailing. Craig Smith finally gets one to go, and Nic Batum finishes a breakaway dunk. The Blazers will go into the fourth up nine points.
I guess Wes Matthews' back is okay. And Craig Smith is helping the Blazers finish around the rim. Every time the team picks up a rebound right now, they seem ready to dash off towards the basket. That has been the difference for them as they've built the current 13-point lead: Explosiveness off the rebound. Now we're seeing Jamal Crawford out there. He hasn't played much in this game and I expect he'll play most of the fourth quarter, unless he really fucks some shit up.
Jamal Crawford with the Blazers' second offensive foul in a row.
This feels almost exactly like the last game, doesn't it? Except for the presence of Craig Smith, anyway? Man, Craig Smith just landed on a dude. It looked real ouch. I would not wanna be the dude that Craig Smith lands on. He looks like Robert Traylor out there sometimes. Wow, I was just asking myself "Where is that Robert Traylor," and this was the second Google result. I either never heard about that or forgot. Either way, RIP Tractor. Sheesh.
Seems like the Kings made a run since last time I dropped the score, but the Blazers are still up 13.
Block party! Wow, DeMarcus Cousins makes some horrible decisions, and his fadeaway 10-foot jumper against Kurt Thomas was one of them. Now Cuz is on the other end of the court throwing a little fit to his coach and whoever else will listen. Yikes. It's just basketball! Haha.
Well, the curse would appear to be broken. LaMarcus is taking more long jumpers and he's making them, too. That seems to strip Chucky Hayes of his defensive powers. Meanwhile, Nate is figuring out his rotations. Nic Batum and Jamal Crawford are coming in and out of the game revolving-door-style. It does put Nate in a tough spot when Gerald Wallace is the most active player on the court. You can't really take the guy out for long, because the Blazers seem to lose their edge as soon as he's on the bench.
Great charge, man. That was a great charge taken by DeMarcus. Can't get mad at that one.
Scattered yells for Jimmer around the arena. The Blazers insert Uncle Cam back in the ballgame despite his advanced age and Craig Smith's fine play earlier. I guess that's the lesson of Philly: You can't trust a lead, even against a team that's inferior on paper. Zers up 12 but it's the Kings' ball. Jimmer may have a bit more run in him, let's see....
Still no sign of Jimmer, but the DeMarcus Cousins frustrat-o-meter is about to blow through the roof. And when the Blazers get out and run they are one hell of a team to watch. Maybe the new strategy is to play a calm, collected first half and then run like crazy in the second? That would be pretty awesome and novel. I figure you could freak out every team you played against until the All-Star break if you played that way for the first half of the season.
Okay people, 4:38 left with a 15-point lead, keep your eye on that DeMarcus Cousins. This is when he's at his craziest!
God damn, Gerald Wallace just got hit so hard in a mid-air collision that we could hear the smack (and what I thought sounded like a pop) from up in 207. He went down and I thought he might stay down. If I took a hit like that I'd probably never walk again. Gerald just gets up and shakes it off. Next time up the court, he drives hard to the hoop. The man is fearless! Absolutely fearless!
The Kings are about to bring in the B-team. They have to be embarrassed about this fourth quarter. Everything is going in for the Blazers and nothing is working out for the Kings. The frustrate-o-meter might have gone back down into the green, because this one is just so far long gone. Paul Westphal stops Cousins on his way to the bench to give him a talking to, but it looks more like a pat on the back than a scolding. The Blazers put their reserves in, too, but—whoops—there are six of them. We haven't seen that since Greg Oden was the sixth man...on the court. Jimmer gets a free-throw and the Blazers cut it down to five. They keep Gerald on the court, presumably so that they can take him out later and get him a standing ovation. But Wallace hits a three from the corner and this crowd is just going to give him his ovation now. He follows it up with a blocked shot, and upon leaving, he gets the biggest applause thus far this season. This man should be untouchable on the trade market, man. The whole crowd is cheering "Gerald Wallace" now. And it's officially a blowout win.
Nolan Smith hits a three-pointer to get the crowd chalupas, and upon hearing the Portland crowd cheer for him, he does an awkward sort of rubber-man dance walking backwards up the court. He looks as if he single-handedly won the ballgame. But it was Gerald Wallace what done that.
Great second half for all the Blazers (not just Wallace), and the Zers start the season 2-0. I wish I had a stat guy. I wanna know when the last time the Blazers started 2-0 and the Lakers started 0-2 was.
FINAL SCORE: 101-79. See you next home game on Thursday, against the Nugs. Wow. We can chat about this below if you want. But for now I'm headed home.