Andrew Bynum is good. He's real good. He's big, he's quick (considering the bigness) and he plays aggressive basketball. He's especially good at flattening out Puerto Rican point guards who play with a little too much gusto. So that's my word of the day: Bynum. I'm not sure how the Blazers intend to defend the young man, but neither of the team's aging centers are going to be able to keep up with him all night, and they may want to pick up a few fouls sending him to the free-throw line, where he is terrible.
Next thing's next: These Laker/Blazer games are known for being mighty contentious, and judging from the legions of early arrival Laker fans here at the Garden, I don't expect tonight will be any kind of exception. Lotta yellow. Where do they come from? Los Angeles, perhaps. I will keep my ears open for some good taunts.
Lets get it started. In here. These TNT nights are always late.
LAKER FAN WATCH: Dude yells "Go Kobe!" in the middle of Storm Large's national anthem. I can't escape that Storm Large. I also cannot escape Kobe Bryant. One is too Large and one is too fast.
The Zers are about to start their big, weird intro. And it's gonna be loud despite all the away fans in the building. It's going to feel like a baptist church filled about 30% with athiests.
Say, it's a new video intro! The Zers as giants, sneaking around the city slowly and not acting very well. It's really unintentionally funny. Wait, two of them just had to dodge the aerial tram, I guess maybe it was intentional after all. I don't buy a gigantic Luke Babbitt, in any case. He needed to roar more.
The Miami/Atlanta game might just go into overtime, in which case fans watching at home will miss the Blazer tip-off. In fact they might do that anyway. Or TNT might just take a disgusting number of "TV timeouts." See, THIS is why you go see games live.
Big Bynum wins the tip. Lots of cheering. Ball knocked to Kobe. These Laker fans are going to stand up every time he gets the ball.
And Matt Barnes scores the first Blazer basket. Yup, you heard that right. Credit will go to LaMarcus.
Bynum moment number one: The Lakers' center pushes Marcus Camby towards the hoop and forces a rather inexplicable foul. Bynum moment number two: Andrew Bynum pushes his way towards the rim again and gets a nice little hook out of it. Bynum moment number three: The big man starts at the free-throw line and does a little circular wiggle towards the hoop. The wiggle is a very clear travel.
While Bynum and Camby battle it out in the post, Aldridge and Gasol get to roam around freely on offense and see where they can find themselves some jumpers.
The lakers are shooting 87 percent.
Make it 88. Really, that shot only bumped them up by one percentage? Blazers shooting 66. Great defense, everybody.
Lakers shooting 90 percent. Blazers are catching up, now at 70. This is not quite what I expected. LaMarcus at the line.
Still 90 percent? I don't understand math. Blazers now shooting—wait for it—72 percent.
Kobe misses a mid-range jumper and I'm relieved that I can finally stop playing the percentage game for the evening. Still, pretty nutty. I'm sure Nate is pissed.
Andrew Bynum, meanwhile, is literally getting everything he wants. He hasn't missed, and he kinda looks like he never will. You knew he'd be good this season, but in his first few games he's been scarily good. Shaq good. And the Lakers' last game proved that Kobe can occasionally still be Kobe good. As we've seen before, that's a dangerous combination.
No one in Laker jerseys cheered the Blazers' goodwill endeavors. Come on, Blue! Come on!
There it is, in all its sparkling glory: The Metta World Peace jersey. I know people think Ron Artest is crazy—I mean, Ron Artest is crazy—but "OH SNAP, THREE ROWS OF RICH PEOPLE JUST GOT A LAP FULL OF WORLD PEACE." Oh, I was saying, the fact that he's committed enough to the cause to put World Peace up on his jersey was very, very impressive to me. I kinda want to ask him out to drinks. You think he'd go get drinks with me? That dude is awesome.
I was focusing enough on Mr. World Peace that I barely noticed little Stevie Blake entering the game. He looked better in white (it made him look less pale), but I expect we'll see a few big shots from Paperboy tonight.
Blazer timeout, 28-21 with L.A. on top. Don't freak out just yet.
Kenjon Barner is "in the house." He throws his O up and gets quite a response. Maybe the Blazers are doing some backdoor recruiting, huh? That guy can run, I've seen it. Put a jersey on it.
Great idea: Use the word "Zersey" when referring to Blazer jerseys. No need to use two words that way!
Blazers on a nice little run, and I mean that literally, but Nic Batum misses a big three-pointer that would have given them the lead. The roar cuts down to a hum in short order.
The Blazers bring in Craig Smith, but surprisingly it's not to defend Andrew Bynum, who is being covered by Kurt Thomas. Bynum gets the rock and puts his mind to scoring. He pushes through Thomas like a knife through warm butter. Or a warm knife through room temperature butter. Or hot butter being poured on cold butter, maybe.
So, the game plan when the clock is running out is to get the ball to Jamal Crawford. Good plan. He misses this particular turnaround jumpshot.
My fucking God, what a well behaved lot of Laker fans. I would never have guessed they could be this good. Perhaps losing Lamar Odom was a humbling experience for them. Perhaps.
The ball goes back to Bynum, who has played more minutes than anyone but Gerald Wallace and is about to beat him. This time Craig Smith is on Bynum and Andrew seems hesitant to push too hard against Smith. Next time up the matchup switches and Kurt Thomas goes back on Bynum. The ol' bait and switch! Perhaps the Blazers have confused Mr. Bynum.
So they aren't showing this game on TBS like they used to do when the first game went over? God, I feel bad for those of you watching the star-less Heat play the underachieving Hawks. I mean, personally I like to see young bucks get playing time, but maybe not THIS much playing time and certainly not while two Western Conference superpowers are battling it out halfway across the country.
Blazers can't seem to knot it up. They do put some pretty nice defense on Bynum, though. It's a double-team featuring both of the aforementioned Zers defenders.
A nice give-and-go with Jamal Crawford and he sinks the mid-range jumper and gets hit. Blazers tie it up! I'm telling you, home audience, when you finally do get to see this game, it's gonna be awesome.
Whoa, they're playing the Blackhearts version of Gary Glitter's "Do You Wanna Touch Me (There? Where? There? Yeah?)," which is not but should be the official title of the song. When Glitter does it, it's about kiddie porn. But I guess when the Blackhearts do it it's just about rock and roll shit. Pretty rad. Can you tell this has been a long timeout?
Jamal's free-throw gives the BLazers the lead. The Lakers come back and let Bynum do a surprising amount of ball handling at the top of the arc. He does the right thing, though, and works his way towards the hoop before handing the ball off to Derek Fisher. Fisher hits a long two. These Lakers look very poised, and they're still shooting an impressive 64 percent. So how are the Blazers ahead? I actually have no idea. But I'm just gonna call it hustle. And rebounding helps.
LaMarcus Aldridge knows he can take Troy Murphy any old time, but I wish he'd go real raw on him instead of getting all European.
Wow, it appears that the refs missed a mighty big one, stripping the Blazers of two points on a LaMarcus putback that was ruled an offensive goaltend. I guess that's not reviewable? Eek, pretty rough. Next time up, Gerald Wallace evens the score. These refs certainly aren't watching any replays, even now that it's a timeout, so I guess it is indeed not reviewable.
The big screen question of the day is "If you could change your name like Ron Artest what would you change it to." Most answers are pretty lame, with the notable exception of Marcus Camby saying he'd change it to a symbol, and LaMarcus Aldridge, who says he'd be Metta World Peace 2. I'm not sure it's a good idea to heckle the artist formerly known as Artest when he's sitting so close to the teevee.
Hawks might go into triple OT! And they might as well, because you folks at home are barely going to see any action in the first half at this point. How scary is it that the Hawks (who were a pretty good team a year ago) are evenly matched with the Heat...when the Heat is missing its two best players. Those fellas are going to be hard to beat, man.
Ray Felton called for the foul on an absolutely beautiful block. These refs are gonna get booed out the building if things keep going this way. Also, Felton's no-they-didn't face is really stellar. Has anyone mad ea YouTube compilation of a lot of players' crazy reaction faces?
Damnit—something big happened in the real-life game and I was watching the TV game. Was it a block? Sounded like a block. Thinking there'll be a replay? Stupid television. Triple overtime for the Hawks and Heat. They should just call that one for the Hawks. Have a heart!
Three Blazers hugging at the free-throw line. I couldn't tell whether it was strategic, emotional, or just plain exhaustion causing the tender moment. Anybody? OH YEAH, YOU CAN'T SEE THIS!!!! That really sucks. You should send angry Tweets to Charles Barkley.
Okay, okay, you missed a pretty slick Kobe drive and a really hot alley-oop from Marcus Camby (out past the free-throw line) to LaMarcus. It was a layup alley-oop, but still.
Everyone having a birthday today has an awesome name. Also, the animated gif-style image of Chris Johnson eating a cupcake is perhaps the finest birthday cupcake-eating footage ever. It's on far too short of a loop, and he keeps pointing at the cupcake like "Damn, this is a great cupcake." And then he says something to the camera that looks like "Do you want me to eat this cupcake? For real?" and then he peels the cupcake in a very delicate manner. This is why you should be here, folks.
Matt Barnes hits his free-throws. Not always, but just now. 50-47 Lakers.
Two clunked free-thows and now a botched wide-open layup for Gerald Wallace. He's still got 14 points and now he's pissed off at himself, so I'd expect a big second half.
Marcus Camby is forced to foul Andrew Bynum in the lane, and it's a good move. Cam does not want to come out—he only has two fouls, after all, and he's telling his teammates that—but coach brings in Thomas to finish out the half anyway. Probably a good move. They'll need those fouls later.
Bynum misses both. Hack-a-Drew!
Kobe hits a very smooth jumper to assure the Lakers a 2-for-one, but on the other end Gerald Wallace nails a three and the place goes crazy. Wallace very nearly blocks a Bynum dunk on the other end, but that dude just keeps pushing the ball right through Wallace's hands. He's gonna be real good. He comes away limping for a minute, but then straightens out. It's halftime and the other game is still going. 56-52 Lakers right now. Not awful, considering the Zers recent second halves. And hey, just think, you might get to watch this part!
WHAT? YOU'VE ALREADY SEEN THAT? YOU WANT RON ARTEST CRAZINESS?
That was too many YouTube videos. Slowing my shit down. Blazers get the ball to start, and LaMarcus opens with a fading jumper from the side that bounces of the near rim. Bynum, on the other end, answers with an easy layup. He is 8-for-8. I told you he was gonna be a problem. Big beefy bastard! Whaddya gonna do with that guy?
Blazers are starting the second half cold. Fans aren't back yet, either.
Whoo, nice trick alley-oop from Wes Matthews to Aldridge, and now L-Train is starting to chug-a-chug into fine form. He gets another close shot on the other end, and then Bynum—who actually looks a bit winded now—misses his first shot on the other end.
There has been a lot of talk from the Blazers about Ray Felton moving North to South and not East to West, but here he proves he's got a nice little swerve game.
Gerald Wallace, you maniac you. Steal at midcourt, and-one finish at the other end. And it really is infectious—the Blazers are now hauling ass from end to end, and the crowd is extremely into this game. Third quarters at the Rose Garden kinda get like this.
First "Free Patty" sign I've seen this season. Word is he's out of his contract. Who has odds on his return.
The "Beat LA" chants intensify, and I catch Raymond Felton looking up at the crowd It's a lot of pressure, this matchup. The fans don't just expect you to BEAT the other team, they expect you to embarrass them—and to hate them as much as they do. So it's a whole lifestyle adjustment for guys like Felton. This is always such a great matchup, especially here at the Garden. Too bad we only get one of 'em this year.
Sometimes LaMarcus starts looking like Dirk with that pretty little turnaround fadeaway jumper. And then he doesn't.
Gerald Wallace is a beast. Doing everything out there at the moment.
And at 5:03, he caps it with a windmill jam. That was pretty good, but it was all the better because it came just after an absolute clunker of a three-pointer from Black Mamba himself, Kobe Bryant. Bryant is having a nice game, but Gerald is having what could turn out to be a career night. Blazers lead 70-66. Crowd has more to do with it than they thnk they do. And the Lakers just can't finish at the hoop. You think this momentum holds up?
It's all Blazer rebounds, steals, blocks and fast breaks right now. And Gerald is the guy at the heart of it. God, I feel like somebody told me about this guy recently. Sorry, that was really shitty. I'm certainly not the first person to write about Gerald Wallace and the tone he sets on the court.
Mike Brown better call a timeout. But he's a-not doing it. And Kobe gets one of his Kobe-fouls to make Brown glad he didn't stop play. The thing about those Kobe-fouls—the fouls that usually aren't fouls—is that they very quickly turn into Kobe free-throws and then Kobe-makes. Kobe is pretty good. I wonder if he's got it in him tonight. He's had a good game thus far. But will he go into Hulk mode?
The Regurgi-cam (which, if you've been living in a cave that's not a sporting arena for the past few years, is a camera that plays people eating food in reverse, so that it looks like they are barfing very neatly) is really funny until they turn the camera on obese people. Somehow the fun just stops at that point for me. Is that weird?
LaMarcus with the nice open jumper. Lakers go back to Bynum on the other end and it's a good idea. If that guy can provide some beast-mode minutes while grampa Kobe catches his breath, this team will get real dangerous again.
Lakers go to Bynum again, but this time the Blazers throw a double-team at him and it proves succesfull. The big guy isn't so savvy yet that he can always make the right pass, and this time he tries to score instead. He misses, but the Lakers get the ball back and go to him again. This time it's single coverage, and Kurt Thomas ghost fouls him.
Blazers are missing their free-throws. Bonk.
Lakers go to Blake in the corner and he flops to the ground. In fact, all the Lakers are flopping to the ground, and when Devin Ebanks throws himself to the ground in traffic—he probably did get hit, too—it's a bit more convincing than the Paperboy. The free throw attempts are pretty damn close, but the Lakers are making theirs.
But Jamal Crawford hits a huge three from the tip-top of the horn and swishes it. It's a ten-point game for the Blazers, and a very big challenge.
I'd hate to be Mike Brown right now.
"Tonight I'm Against World Peace"
"Tough Night Tonight (TNT) Lakers"
Strangely I am not seeing any Laker signs.
Man, I am regretting that I requested this bag of popcorn from one of my compadres. Feeling real gross. I thought everyone would help eat it. Nope.
Man, Bynum is playing man-minutes tonight. Also, he's a pretty solid paser when he's not under pressure. And he just blocked Ray Felton's shot without leaving his feet, I think. He's also getting mighty pissed off about his late-game offensive struggles. That could result in a monster jam or two. I mean, he's no Blake Griffin, but he can jam. Also, just saw the replay: He did leave his feet on the block, it was just nice-n-smooth. Blazers up 11.
I'm just now realizing how much firepower there is on this Blazer team. Crawford has had off-nights and on-nights, but tonight he's on. And so is Wes Matthews, and then there's LaMarcus and Nic Batum. When all these guys are warm, holy cow.
So, here's what to watch for down the stretch: LaMarcus' poise; the Laker role-players' three-point shooting, which they will need; Kobe's ego; Gerald Wallace's remaining juice; and Kurt Thomas/Marcus Camby in general. The guard play should really intensify defensively right about now, so I don't think you'll see a shooting free-for-all. I think you'll see a lot of fouls and poise will make the difference.
Kobe has poise.
Okay, LaMarcus does, too.
Nice. Another Wallace steal (this one from Kobe) gets the Blazers downcourt and gunning. From there Jamal Crawford decides to go all B-Roy on us and just isolate and shoot. When you're hot you're hot. Blazers up 11.
Well, that's the game in a nutshell, where it has gone in the Blazers' favor. A halfcourt lob from Felton to Wallace, and while Wallace doesn't grab and dunk, he does manage to get the ball, come down with it and force in an ugly layup. That puts him at 29 points, five rebounds and two steals. Feels like more somehow.
"I named my cat Gerald" (with a picture of a cat, cornrows drawn on it)
"Where's Da Beef Kobe?" (not so good)
"I'm With Stupid" (a girl holding it next to her boyfriend, in a Laker jersey, clearly embarrassed)
It is quite loud in here again. Hulk Hogan helped with that. Not every day you get a personalized message from Hulk Hogan, calling you "Blazermaniacs." I like that a lot more than the George Forman spot, I've gotta say.
Bynum headed to the free-throw line. Pau is giving him advice on what to do when he gets the ball under the basket. He tells him to do a mini-pump-fake and then go up with it. What he should be saying is "flop like crazy and scream at the top of your lungs." Bynum hits one of two.
Lakers are going everything wrong. I actually kind of miss the old Kobe right now.
Phil Jackson would let the Blazers get ahead by about two more points, then he would pull his starting lineup. I miss that, too. So embarrassing.
Gerald Wallace is hounding Bryant, and maybe that's why w'ere not seeing Black Mamba. First he gets a foul from Wallace, then he goes one-on-one with him and this time gets the turnaround jumper to go. It's Kobe-time. And things are getting a little chippy now. That's not good for the Blazers. If the Blazers had five Gerald Wallaces, it'd be a good thing, but with only one of them, it's not.
I don't like these refs. They're being prima donnas.
Fans very angry, and this time it's with good reason. Kung Pau got away with a pretty good shove against Nic Batum, and it was Batum who got called for the foul. Pau connects on the line and the Zers' lead goes down to nine. Nine is nine, but it's certainly close enough for the Lakers to smell blood. Let's check the poise-o-meter.
Everyone in the arena should probably be standing up at this point. Just for shits and giggles. Just for intimidation factor.
Dang, they just replayed the Wallace windmill. That was pretty impressive.
Okay, Blazer ball, Gerald isolates on the side, decides to cut baseline. He misses the reverse but gets hit. He's had trouble from the line tonight but he hits the first...
...and the second. As if he hadn't endeared himself to the crowd enough already, Gerald Wallace just got the Rose Garden chalupas. And these people will do just about anything for chalupas. ehhh-neeee-thiiiiiiing.
God, the things Kobe's teammates must say behind his back.
Uh-oh, Kobe hits the first and Pau tips the second. Gerald takes a dumb shot (I wouldn't say that to his face) and the Lakers get it back, down only 10. But Kobers throws a wild pass in Derek Fisher's general direction and no way, Koh-bay.
Almost home there, boys. Still a 10-point lead and the Blazers think about slowing it down, but they have pretty itchy trigger fingers. Cant' really hate on Jamal Crawford taking an impulsive shot when he's been killing them, but it might have been better to wait a couple more seconds. Oh, well. This one comes all the way back to the Blazers and Kurt Thomas winds up on the line, making just one of two. This SHOULD be over, but Kobe works in inspired, mysterious ways. And that's why you can't quit on the Lakers.
Kobe for two.
This time up, Kobers three-magic fails. But so does the Blazers on the other end. The Zers are really wishing shots that bounced off the clock counted these days. That's two baskets that have bounced off the top and through the hoop.
Somebody tell me what Shaq says when it's Shaq time. Actually, Shaq hasn't been quite as funny as I had hoped he would be. I kinda think he's pulling the ultimate fuck you to viewers: He's going on a humor strike.
(Dear reader: My last updates didn't save. The Blazers won, though. Thanks for reading.)