I'd say the atmosphere here qualifies as "hyped." Especially for a Monday night.
At every Thunder game, you get a handful of fans in Sonics jerseys—this time many of them are right behind the Thunder bench. Seattle has a rich history of protest (I was tear-gassed at the WTO protests, so I know, see), and it's pretty admirable for these folks to keep showing up despite the fact that the Thunder are NEVER moving back to Seattle. The Kings? That's another story.
FIRST QUARTER LET'S GO!
Camby throws one to Aldridge for the first basket of the game. It's not an alley-oop (it usually IS an alley-oop, so I feel this is a worthwhile statement), but it's hard to watch those two guys and not be struck by just how special their chemistry is. Aldridge is an all-star in the wings and Camby is a potential hall of famer, and even though one's on the downslope and the other is just getting his start, they play just beautifully together. And hell, maybe Camby isn't on the downslope. He hits his first two shots for the Zers before his third rattles out off the back of the rim.
Gerald Wallace has some trouble finishing at the rim, and unfortunately that's been the case quite a few times this season. Doesn't seem like a skill thing, just a lot of bad bounces for Gerald. You can usually see him cursing himself going upcourt.
Weird to see Crawford starting and getting the ball upcourt every possession, but with Felton out, that's just the way it is. Similarly weird not to see the injured Sefalosha playing for the Thunder. In both cases, these are players that fans have questioned a lot. In OKC's case, Day-quan Cook (I have no cheat sheet in front of me and I'm not even going to try) is playing some really explosive ball—it might be tricky going back to Sef, but Thabo is perhaps the team's best defender, and if you hadn't noticed, OKC's coaching staff really believes in consistency.
Looked like LA was doing a little shit-talking on Kendrick Perkins a moment ago. If you've ever watched Portland play Boston, you know that LaMarc really, really hates Kevin Garnett—so maybe he's still mad at Perk for being teammates with the guy last year.
Alright, now none of Marcus Camby's close-in shots are falling. And the Thunder has smartly switched Ibaka on to LaMarcus, who was getting anything he wanted against Perk. If they're smart they'll stick with that matchup. Ibaka is a real tall dude; he can actually block some of LaMarcus' unblockable jumpers, I reckon.
"Out-number the thunder," "Storm the Thunder," "L-Train will Squash Durant," Rip the Thunder's City." These are mostly signs made by children, as you can imagine.
The story for the Blazers so much is silly turnovers and easy missed shots. I bet the Mike's are saying "Golly gosh, these Blazers could be up by 15 right now!" If they are saying this, they have a point. The Thunder look flat and Portland just looks unlucky. Self-inflicted wounds. The Blazers are cutters.
Thus far, the two-headed beast (THE ONE THEY CALL DUR-BROOK!) hath only 10 points.
Nic Batum checks in to a rowdy applause. I would have loved that three-point barrage, but dude was on my opponent's fantasy team last week. I lost by nine three-pointers. It was really confusing at first.
Nic doesn't hesitate in hoisting one from the corner, as he shouldn't. It rattles out.
Yowch, Durant is the recipient of some all-star treatment there as he slams into Gerald Wallace and the ref's whistle remains silent.
Thunder call a timeout and it's a good start for the Zers despite the problems (not sure how they have only one turnover, as I have personally witnessed at least two and I've been typing a lot and probably missed another). The Thunder has five turnovers, so no matter how you cut it, things are looking alright on that front.
Dang, Blazers got a new Stunt Team dude and he's Refrigerator Perry-style big. Big isn't a big enough word for him. He's humungous.
Gerald Wallace is trying to figure out what he can get away with against Kevin Durant. Not a ton, it turns out, but it's good to see him not shying away from shooting and taking it to the hoop.
On the last play, Nic Batum exerted a lot of energy jetting up the floor like a wide receiver after a loose ball, only to watch it roll out of bounds to a big crowd "awhhhhhhh." But he gets a similarly football-looking interception on the next play and gets fouled by Russell Westbrook, who won't give Nic enough room to hit the floor running. That puts the Thunder in the penalty and changes the game, even if Nic only hits one of two rebounds. Could be a slow end to the quarter.
Damn, rare to see the fouls swing so decidedly in the Blazers' favor. Usually people say that's because they are "being the aggressor," but I think it's more that they are being the actors. Nic Batum, in particular, is playing with a European flair for the dramatic. Ooh! Ooh! New nickname (Nicname?): Nic Flair!
The refs, noticing the huge foul discrepancy, have started to back off their sympathetic whistles. Gerald Wallace feels this the most, as he's called for a questionable offensive foul and then his flop goes unnoticed when Durant throws an elbow.
31-29 Blazers. Home fans should feel real shaky.
Yeah, that one was a foul on Rhino. I had to watch the replay because I was drinking this awful graveyard I made. See, I've all but quit drinking soda, but I needed something fizzy and there's no soda water up in the RG press room. So I took a third-cup of Sprite and combined it with what I thought would be some orange juice. But the OJ tap was all out, it just kinda leaked out as slightly yellow water, and it took me a minute to catch it before I added some Fanta instead. So now I'm drinking this Sprite/Weirdwater/Fanta combo that doesn't feel right and is pretty flat. I guess I could have dumped it but that's not my style.
Holy shit there's a basketball game down there.
I never noticed that "CHARGES TAKEN" was up on the big stat board. Is that a new thing? Man, that's really helpful.
Every call now going the Thunder's way (that's how the NBA works almost every time; no ref wants the fouls to be real lopsided at the end of the game, because somehow even-ness has come to mean fairness. This is, of course, total bullshit. Sometimes one team just does a lot more fouling, and I think that has been pretty clearly the case with the Thunder tonight. It's kind of like watching U.S. politics sometimes. I'll expand on that if you really want me to.).
OKC has the lead. When did that happen? Was it during my ramble?
Pretty sure Blazer fans were just exposed to about 15 seconds of Reel Big Fish for no discernable reason.
If I told you that Nick Collison was one of my favorite players, would you laugh? Would you cry? Just really always impressed by his workmanlike game and his patience on offense. Few players rely more on the pump fake. And his is really predictable, but he tricks people with it. Watching him go up for baskets in the paint is like watching an animated gif that somehow snaps out of form after a few seconds. And on defense he's all elbows. He doesn't look like much of a basketball player, but he's a bruiser.
The cavalcade of Blazer fouls continue. The count is now 6-to-7, so basically they called everything on the Thunder in the first quarter and now calling everything on the Thunder. Basketball DOES often play out in spurts, but this is kind of ridiculous. That said, the Zers are playing with finesse on the offensive end, and thus picking up less contact there.
Super smart play by Wes Matthews. He knew that Westbrook was in foul trouble and wasn't going to foul him, so he went up big for the dunk.
There's a big white guy on the Thunder bench who keeps doing the Jason Terry JET every time a Thunder player finishes a shot. Dude looks like a cross between Birdman and Dolph Lundgren. I honestly don't know who he is. Ryan Reid?
Blazers tie it up, and the last few minutes have been an awful lot of fun: Up and down, lotsa quick threes and cuts to the hoop. Good shit.
I don't know why these Get to Know the Blazers segments are so fascinating, but people eat it up. Again this game I noticed that hundreds, perhaps thousands in the crowd are shouting out the answers to the questions (like "Star Trek or Star Wars?" and "Cake or Ice Cream?"). For the record, Craig Smith does not enjoy bacon OR sausage. Maybe he doesn't eat pork.
LaMarcus connects again. Problem is that both teams are shooting a whopping 52 percent, so something in the defense (especially the post defense) is just not working out.
I watched a smidge of Super Bowl yesterday, and I'm sure you did, too, so somehow it seems appropriate to say that this game is taking place between the 40 yard lines. Right? Right? I could so be a football announcer. I also know that the football is made out of pig, which Craig Smith does not enjoy for breakfast.
Funny string of events there: Gerald Wallace WORKS IT to get around Durant and to the hoop, then misses the reasonably easy layup; Marcus Camby WORKS IT for a rebound, then his outlet pass is tipped out-of-bounds by the Blazers. Now the Zers are getting frustrated and things are getting chippy.
The LaMarcus/Perk matchup continues despite LA's early success, and now Perk is playing angry and getting stops. Meanwhile, the Thunder are rarely missing and Ibaka is just brutalizing Marcus Camby in the post and grabbing rebounds over his head on those rare occasions where the Thunder are off-target. Pretty brutal couple of minutes here.
Thunder up 60-52. I'm calling this halftime cuz I need a snack. Sorry.
Where were we? Oh yeah, things not going great. Thunder up 12 in their quest to become the second team to beat Portland on its home court this season.
FINALLY, Marcus Camby beats Serge and Perk to a rebound after a long stretch of getting beat. Better yet, Uncle Cam puts a sorta dunky layup in. And it's part of a Blazer run. The team is back within six thanks to rigid D and tough play in the paint.
The Blazers bungle two fast breaks in a row, and both of them end up with blocks from the Thunder bigs. Crowd wants a foul but they both looked reasonably clean to me—one huge block from Perk and one from Ibaka.
Oh, that does it, this is going to be a lot of fun for a while. Wes Matthews hits the corner three and everybody here is high-fiving and dancing to awful Eurotrash music. Long way to go, but both teams are playing with a lot more urgency. These two jokers in front of me are doing some real sexy dancing, oh man.
"L.A. Foreva," "Camby Man Can," "N.B.A.T.V. (the acronym spelling out something like "Now Blazers Allow Thunder Vacation," but slightly more clever)," and plenty of LaMarcus for MVP signs.
Camby is really mixing it up with the young guns and grabbing huge rebounds, and LaMarcus continues to take this Perkins matchup personally. The Blazers continue a nice run that gets the crowd roaring, and it seems all but entirely based on muscle and hustle. These aren't great plays, they are great individual feats of athleticism.
But then, dang, Kevin Durant shoots and the crowd goes silent before the ball even leaves his hands. It's good, of course, as is his next shot.
Two-headed beast scoring stands at 31 points. They've been breaking 50 most games (hence the jersey number in my cartoon).
That Gerald Wallace wrap-up tie would make a great animated gif. Between the hug and the butt pat, there just might be a meme there somewhere. Blazers down seven, But Wes Matthews takes a bold little free-throw-line jumper and gets it to five.
Lots of effort on the Blazer side where loose balls and hustle plays are concerned, but a good number of them just aren't coming together—guys falling down and balls rolling of their knees, etc. The Blazers are still down on the scoreboard because of bad luck. Bad luck and Kevin Durant, who has 20 points and looks pretty good (even though Aldridge looks better). Every little thing is going the wrong way.
Wes Matthews loses the dribble on the fast break. Sheesh, it's kinda weird how many small mistakes are adding up here. Maybe that's what happens when you play without a point guard.
Wes Matthew has a point, that was a kick ball that the refs didn't whistle—it couldn't have been anything else—and it cost the Blazers two points. That said, Wes was attempting a pretty unlikely pass. The whole team looks frustrated right now, and you've gotta think it's with themselves more than with the Thunder, who they could easily be beating.
Nick Collison might be playing better D on LaMarcus than anyone else, and the Thunder still refuses to double-team the Blazer big guy.
Camby goes out. I hate it. He was playing very big in this quarter.
How many times have we seen Russell Westbrook leading the fast-break charge tonight. Big dunks from Westy. He's kind of a good player. As is Durant. Let's stop thinking about Durant, though.
Yikes, the Blazers' zone defense fails miserably and it leads to a wide-open James Harden three. Ugly quarter, and it feels like the Blazers' energy level is a school bus hanging off a cliff. Where's Superman when you need him? Oh yeah, he's on the other team.
Wes Matthews continues to be a big ball of hustle plays and mental errors in this quarter.
Jamal Crawford walks it up the floor and the crowd is chanting pretty good. 8, 7 , 6: He kicks to Kurt Thomas for that beautiful mid-range jumper that almost never misses. It swishes. Blazers down six, and Reggie Jackson's desperation half-court-shot is blocked easily (risky to attempt the block there, really).
FOURTH QUARTER (85-79 OKC)
Blazer fans break into disappointed-sounding boos, but what they just witnessed was some straight-up Globetrotter play from the Thunder. Also, Reggie Jackson is playing thoroughly awful basketball and the refs are letting him off easy. I've seen him travel—like, off-to-Spain type traveling—twice now with no whistle. Fans saw it, too. This is not a happy arena. Blazers only down six, and it really could come down to a couple of sympathetic whistles. Really random group of players out there in white right now, though—if they can keep things pretty even between now and the starters checking back in, it should give the Blazer starters a lift.
Good thing the Thunder missed that last shot. This crowd is ready to start throwing stuff.
A great steal out of the timeout for Nic Flair, and Frenchy was hoping for a half-court alley-oop out of it. He didn't get that, but the Zers get him the ball back and he makes a sweet three-point play happen. He's limping a bit afterwards.
Durant over Aldridge. Yikes. It's no Blake Griffin dunk but it's big. And Thomas is called for the offensive foul on the other end. So much drama!
Rusell Westbrook is angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry. All tonight's starters check in except Marcus Camby. You wonder how much longer Cam can sit. Three point game. Very tense.
Now would be a great time for Nic to break his three-point dry spell, and he does. And the crowd gets deafening. And the Thunder fuck up on the other end. And LaMarcus Aldridge comes back to hit a three-pointer. And it gets incredibly loud again. And it feels like the playoffs. Could I have turned all this into one long run-on sentence? Yes, and I should have.
Thunder timeout. You can barely hear the buzzer that's supposed to pull everyone out of it. This two-buzz rule is being consistently ignored in every NBA arena. I don't know why I care about that.
Aldridge and Durant share a laugh and a quick chat. "I'll see you at the All-Star game," maybe?
Durant hits a jumper to shut everyone up. LaMarcus gives him one right back on the other end.
Kendrick Perkins sets a very rough moving screen against Gerald Wallace, and it all goes CRASH.
97-95 Blazers. Aldridge is the evening's high-scorer with 33. The two-headed beast has 47.
I've gotta say, I wouldn't wear a Mike & Mike shirt in 2012, but think about how rad those are going to be in 2025! Totally amazing. Who's stockpiling gear?
Blazers are still getting bad breaks, but so are the Thunder. An Ibaka Dunk springboards out off the back of the rim and a K-Durr dunk shoots out of his hands and onto the shot clock to make it Blazer ball. Nothing is going in for either team right now—until LaMarcus goes big for the floater. Yow! He is HOT.
Thunder down four and taking stupid, well-defended threes to try and get back in it. But the Zers keep on bumbling. It's not so much who's going to win as who's going to lose it for themselves.
"Oregon, My Oregon" is cool and all, but shouldn't Oregon's anthem be the Wipers' "Doom Town"? I mean, really.
More three-poiners from the Thunder, and on the other end they are draping themselves all over Nic Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge. Blazers still winning the fouls-n-turnovers here. LaMarcus gets fouled and goes to the line, hitting both and making it a six-point game. Camby checks back in for the final stretch.
As if to remind LaMarcus that tonight's game is a showdown between them, he steps into the corner and drains a huge three.
Oh, wow, this one is gonna get referee'd to a finish. Blazer fans are right to be screaming right now.
I hate the slow-play down the stretch. The Blazers are bringing the ball up real slow, playing sleepy, halfcourt basketball and then not getting any good looks. So instead of risking big, bold play and maybe turning the ball over, they are handing the Thunder the game two free-throws at a time.
Jamal gets bold again and lets loose a jumper. It sorta abuses the net for a second and puts the Blazers up two. This is going to be a heart attack game.
It has been awhile since everyone was standing up at the end of a game.
WOW. HEEEEEUUUUUUUGGGGGEEEE call. Offensive foul on Ibaka for the moving screen. That's the kind of thing that often goes ignored late in games, but it was clearly the right call. Blazers cant' finish on the otehr end, though, and play continues. Wowowowowowow, this is a great one. Portland up two and OKC has the ball with 15.9 left to play. Nutty stuff.
The folks who wanna get to their cars are leaving the building. I have never understood that.
It hurts my ears in here!
Blazers call a timeout to follow-up OKC's. Inpspirational speech time!
Oh man oh man oh man. Kevin Durant misses a layup that he took surprisingly early in the shot clock, and the ball goes out of bounds. They're reviewing it, but on our replay it looks like Marcus Camby was the last to touch it.
Weird to me that the crowd would boo a call made with instant replay, but whateva.
Oh, shit, there's going to be a riot in this place. The call on the floor is a goaltend, and everyone in the building is fucking furious. I don't think it's reviewable, but these refs are going to need extra security tonight. What a terrible call at a huge moment of the game. Blazer fans are louder in their booing than I've ever seen them, and the funny thing is that these refs keep looking up to the jumbotron to try and see a replay, but the folks in the arena aren't showing it. Not that it would change things, but WOW. What a horrible way to have things go down at the end of a huge game.
Blazers need to seal this now, because they are just going to be too deflated to beat the Thunder in overtime. The refs miss what looks like a pretty clear foul against Nic Batum at the end of regulation, and a Thunder full-court shot very nearly goes in (at which point I'm pretty sure the dude in the section behind us's head would have exploded). Calling the big, wrong goaltend and then not having the presence to call the late foul? They're going to be talking about this one for awhile.
I would imagine the insane screams from behind the radio guys is showing up on-air. You might want to check that out.
Blazers missing shots in overtime, and this really has the feel of a fizzle. Crowd, though, starting slowly to get into it. Russell Westbrook hits the first shot of overtime. Blazers need LaMarcus, but he won't take them and they're not finding him in good position. Looks bad somehow.
What a goddamn boondoggle. It's silent in here after James Harden's dunk.
Aldridge is going to the line with the Zers down four. He has 38 points now, but I'm sure he'd rather not be adding to that total. He shook his head all the way back out to the court when overtime started, and he looks tired now. Luckily, Durant does, too. But two points feels like 10 right now.
I honestly think double overtime is the best you can hope for right now.
Crowd has been dragged kicking and screaming back into this game. Nate's subbing offense for defense now, problem being that the offense might be a bit cold. Rough game for Gerald Wallace, though, anyway. And Nic Batum has a great opportunity to hit a possible game-winner, but it goes long. And it's silent again with 37 seconds left and OKC in possession. Five seconds left on their shotclock, they take a timeout. I am reduced to giving you recaps, because I can't think of anything clever to say.
Suffice to say, a win here would be real big. And a second overtime might just work out. Perkins has five fouls, Durant has four. Let's see what happens in these real big five seconds. Ugh.
Portland shouldn't have called a timeout there. The refs were ready to give it to them, and there's some question about who touched the ball last. Now the refs are taking this opportunity to review the play. One gets a bad feeling. LaMarcus seems to think it was out on Perkins, and the replay looks that way on our little monitor up in 113.
Portland ball. They're down two points. Let's see how hard an all-star can flail around after his tired arms and legs miss a shot!
What an unbelievably shitty ending to a really intense game. Blazers skip on the two-for-one, take an awful shot that is blocked, then Nic Batum fails to foul the Thunder big man with the ball (not sure if it was Perk or Serge, but either way...). Durant winds up with an easy dunk. A plastic water bottle lands on the court. The boos start up, but most folks are too bummed out to bother breaking the rules. The announcer comes over the speakers and says "fans, please do not throw items onto the court, it is unsportsmanlike and can hurt the players, including the Blazers."
The refs are surrounded by angry fans as they exit the building, and then the booing stops and it's just a sort of empty feeling. That was a weird one. The Blazers fought through a lot of unfortunate bounces and missed opportunities, put in all the work that should have been necessary to win, then had the win taken from them by a really awful late-game call. Of course, bad calls are bad calls. Gotta build up a bad call buffer, I guess.