Last night's caption contest was won by JDSUNTAN. I owe him a high five and a thumbs-up. Apologies to Ben, whom I will still give a thumbs-up as a consolation prize when I see him at work tomorrow.
So, here at the Rose Garden, they're playing "Walking in Memphis" as the Grizzlies take the court. It's almost as awesome and deflating as "Rocky Mountain High" for the Nuggets, but I kind of prefer the latter, still.
This season I haven't really been watching the intro videos, so I'm making it a point tonight. I swear that when I first started watching pro basketball, they didn't do all this light-dimming and lazer-shooting. I thought that only happened in the post-season. But I like it, whenever it started.
Gerald Wallace gets the biggest applause for the Blazers. It's a thing. And he deserves it. Portland should really have two all-stars this year in L-Traintrackz and Crashy McCrash (their original nicknames are totally copyright protected, don't you know?
LaMarcus off to a good start with the Blazers first couple of baskets, and he cleans up some Gerald Wallace slop to give him six points early.
Wow, that was one crazy-looking turnover by Marcus Camby—he just sort of bounce-passed it to the Grizz—but he makes up for it with a block in short order.
The thing that has surprised me the most about Gerald Wallace's game is what a fine passer the man is. His passes are crisp, smart and occasionally quite tricky. He makes a very solid bullet pass into the paint here, where Wes Matthews is waiting.
LaMarcus' two free-throws gives him 8 and puts the Zers up 14-8.
I keep holding out on my "Blazers Need Patty Mills Back" essay. Maybe I'll work on it at halftime. They don't need him for basketball purposes, just for bonding purposes.
LaMarc keeps his streak going. He has 10 points and he's headed to the line. Could we be in the early stages of a career night? Dude looks very confident out there.
Marcus Camby has not had a good shooting season. Not that the man has ever been a real go-to scorer, but his jumpers just look off. Tough to watch when the rest of his game has been so damn on. He's got seven rebounds, a block and an assist early.
Blazers finally take a timeout and the Blazers are putting together a pretty solid first quarter here, up 22-13 despite turning it over five whole times.
IT'S ABOUT DAMN TIME THEY WHIPPED OUT THE KISS CAM!
The Grizzly Bears (isn't that a better name than just the Grizzlies? I think so...) are stealing the ball like it's candy from a Blazer-baby. Seven turnovers for the Zers in the first quarter, and if they can handle the ball a bit better in the second, you'd have to think that this margin (which shrunk to just two while I was typing) would widen.
Quincy Pondexter is the best name in basketball.
Blazers go out 25-25. Not great, considering that 10-point lead earlier. Not great.
Craig Smith is really impressing. I never imagined he'd take the ball to the hoop as often as he has tonight and last night, but he's showing that he has a knack for the same kind of dirty work guys like Zach Randolph and Louis Scola do. I do believe that's called "gettin' it."
Let me modify that last statement by saying Craig Smith doesn't seem to have much knack for actually laying the ball up, but It's not so bad watching him shoot like 25% when he's getting all his own rebounds.
And that fast break dunk looked pretty damn good.
I thought last night we were going to see a delay of game technical. We see one tonight instead. It's the little things that get me excited.
The starters come back in with the Blazers down one point.
Gotta love all those Blazer huddles on the floor. What are they talking about? I don't know. Maybe team captain LaMarcus Aldridge just likes huddles. Whatever they're doing in there, these huddles give the illusion of a tight-knit team.
Aldridge remains scoreless in this second quarter, but man is the offense going through him.
Marreese Speights fumbles his second put-back dunk in a row. Whoooops!
Not often you see a player literally hopping mad in the middle of the play, but Ray Felton was jumping up and down in anger a moment ago. Did he think he forced his man backcourt? That was my understanding, but then I was sorta staring off into the distance, as I've been doing a lot today. I stopped drinking soda around New Year's Eve and my attention span basically contracted to the point where it would take an electron microsope to see it.
Camby Man grabs his 11th rebound, then nails the turnaround jumper in the lane. Big Fella looks like a true Fountain of Truth tonight!
Big Hamed with the putback. Dude needs a nickname and the ones we're coming up with on press row (Sleeper Cell, Big Nuke) seem unfair somehow. Just because he's from Iran doesn't mean he hates our freedoms.
Rudy Gay with two jaw-dropping dunks in a row and the Blazers slip behind the Grizzly Bears on the score board. You know these guys want to keep their win streak going. Did I mention that they've won seven in a row? I thought you knew that already.
Ray Felton runs down the clock and then drives to the hole. Sometimes when he cuts he has this look of sheer terror on his face and I can't quite figure it out. In fact, most times Felton is looking frustrated with himself in that Chris Farley sorta way. He ought to ease up on himself. Sure, he could have let a few more seconds tick off the clock before driving and getting fouled by the Grizz here, but he also successfully got two free-throws out of the deal. Ain't no thing.
Blazers are smart and foul O.J. Mayo—now the Grizz will try to convert. They don't. 47-43 Blazers going into half time.
HALF TIME ENTERTAINMENT!
LaMarcus has not been able to stay at the center of the Blazers' offensive plans after that stellar first quarter, and he opens up shooting here in the third but it's a bit of a stretch—literally—when he shoots from just inside the three-point line.
I am saying "Ray Felton can't hit threes this year," as the ball careens to him on the three-point line and he lets one fly. Swish. I should doubt him more often, I guess.
LaMarcus to the line for two more.
Now that's the Ray Felton I know. And he's angry—so angry at himself for missing.
Wow. Nobody takes a charge with as much gusto as Gerald Wallace. He stays down an awful long time after Marc Gasol plows through him. You would, too. In fact, mere mortals like us would probably never get up at all.
The Rose Garden feels strange tonight. The usual low-level chatter seems amplified somehow. But when Gerald Wallace gets the ball, the talking stops and the clapping starts. Wallace with a quick steal and dunk here, and that gets the crowd into it. But they seem a bit distracted. Basketball burnout, maybe? I know this season is kinda testing my patience.
Blazers up 14. Whenever the announcer says Jamal Crawford, it sounds like he' saying "Jump Ball" Crawford.
And I stick to my guns on this crowd being strange. They answered every one of the questions posed to Jamal Crawford on the big screen ("Star Trek or Star Wars") loudly and mathematically. Maybe I've just never noticed that before, but it sounded like an outtake from The Wall where I'm sitting.
Wow. Marcus Camby is pretty much the king of the world. He grabs two of Portland's three offensive boards on an excruciatingly long possession. No three-pointers want to fall, but Camby just keeps grabbing the boards and kicking them out, much to the chagrin of Memphis' squad. Finally J-Crawf hits the three and the Grizzly Bears look like they're ready to take a long hibernation. At the next stoppage, they insert Big Nuke aka Rawmed aka the guy from Iran. Trying to keep the Blazers off the boards, looks like. Though Camby steps out (to a standing ovation) after a foul, anyhow.
After a hot stretch, Memphis has now scored six points this quarter. Can't hold these boys to two points for a whole quarter.
Someone with a twisted sense of humor in the playback booth replays Craig Smith running down O.J. Mayo four times. It seems a touch excessive, and makes it look like perhaps the call should have been a charge. Smith lowered his shoulder and just put the pedal to the metal, tossing O.J. onto the hardwood looking all dead fish-like. Funny, but ouch. Mayo's okay, folks. Worry not.
The Grizz are going for a small lineup with a gigantic, Iranian anchor. Actually, I don't even think the team out there is small—they're just dwarfed by Haddadi.
That effortless, around-the-horn passing is pretty much the reason I watch basketball. Just beautiful. And it's all the nicer when Nic Batum makes his shot like that. So sweet. Gonna go home and watch the replay of that one.
Marcus Camby checks in and grabs his 20th rebound of the night. Blazers looking a touch slow on offense now, though. But Jamal Crawford is an awfully nice bailout plan. He uses some fancy footwork to get to the hoop and finish.
Well, it's not the Grizz's point guards scoring on the Blazers tonight, and that represents something of an improvement. Rudy Gay is going to get his 20 or 25 points, but that's just sorta what Rudy Gay does. The Blazers have been getting beat by little fellas all season. It just doesn't seem right.
The Grizz are already in the penalty. This is a bad night for them. They foul Marcus Camby after his 22nd rebound, and he nearly airballs the first free-throw...to the left. The whole arena hears his "OOoooohwaaaa!" of frustration as it clunks against the side of the rim.
LaMarcus battles his way to the hoop for a real aggressive banked layup. I'd like to see more of that fight from L-Trapeezey. It's a good look for him.
Memphis, down 18, waves the white flag and replaces all of its starters with bench dudes. Guess what Portland does. That's right, nothing. Nate leaves his crew in, because a lead never seems safe to this team. Nor should it. After that bonkers road trip, Portland really shouldn't take anything for granted.
Nate pulls his starters out one-by-one, with Camby going to the bench last and prompting another standing ovation. The ovations just won't end in the Rose Garden this year. Among those who check in are Nolan Smith and Elliot Williams, who I'd like to see a lot more of, really. There's no room for the kid at present, but boy can he throw it down when he's on the court.
Guess I zoned out a bit there. Man, the Blazers REALLY wanted to shoot the three for chalupa-time at the end, you could see it. In any case, they win this one 97-84. Good night!