So, the Golden State Warriors generally cream the Blazers. This time, I'd say all bets are off. Both teams' lineups look a lot different than they did a couple of weeks ago, due to both injury and trades. There are at least two Warriors on the floor tonight who I'm just gonna have to look up. And I have watched like a dozen Warriors games this year.
Golden State shows their scoring prowess early, but the Blazers show what they're good at: Getting beat up! Joel Przybilla's charge turns into a game-tying Nic Batum three-pointer.
During the last Blazer win I kept saying to myself, "yeah, but can the Zers actually keep up this three-point shooting pace for the rest of the season?" I still question this, but they've got three of them right off the bat.
Wasn't I just complaining about the lack of alley-oops? That was a MONSTER from Ray Felton to LaMarcus. These Blazers look hungry in a way that we haven't seen much, especially early in games. Are we about to see a team with a fire under it...until they're mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, anyway?
It's kind of strange that Raymond Felton is starting to mesh well with the team, right? Doesn't it feel like an '80s teen soap opera plot? New guy comes to town, he's kind of a rebel, he does things his way, he turns a lot of people off with his brash style and unconventional approach to high school--and then, just when he's been pushed to the fringes of society, he shows his true colors and saves the prom...but it's too late! And he knows he has to move on, but it's bittersweet for everyone involved, and on his last day of school everyone gathers on the front lawn of the school and one by one they all give him cool-looking handshakes and he says something really meaningful to them, like "don't let the man push you around" or "stay real"? Feels kind of like that. Although I'm pretty sure that TV show has never been made.
Well, if nothing else the Blazers appear to be chalupa-bound. And, yowch, JJ Hickson is cameraman-bound! That's a very large man to have fall on your lap!
Phrases you didn't think you'd hear this season #342: "Great pass from Nolan Smith to JJ Hickson on the break!"
Okay, Charles Jenkins, I can no longer ignore you in my liveblog. You are six for six on the filed goal front and have 13 of your team's 27 points. You are also yet another undersized Golden State Warrior. That Steph Curry/Nate Robinson/Charles Jenkins backcourt is going to be a tiny threat next season. I mean, a big threat, but small. Or a small, big threat. Short skirt and a looooooong jacket.
27-26, with the Charles Jenkins State Warriors on top.
Luke Babbitt steps into the game and swishes a three. You know, the only difference between Babbitt and, say, Kyle Korver, is Babbitt's lack of confidence. And I mean the only thing. Babbitt is actually a genetic clone of Kyle Korver. They were raised in a lab to be pale and swift of foot and handsome...but not TOO handsome.
Babbitt misses his second three attempt.
LaMarcus Aldridge is slow getting upcourt because he's laughing at the Warriors' bench. Somebody was talking shit, I'm guessing. My second guess is that the man talking shit was Nate Robinson.
I'm not sure how I feel about having LaMarcus and Hickson out on the court at the same time. It's almost too much--seems like they're invading each others' personal space out there. It's an awful lot of arms and big feet.
It looks a little more appropriate with Joel Przybilla out there.
Guess I shouldn't have been so sure about the chalupas. It seems like every play happening out there is a deflection, a Blazer foul or a bad pass. 10 total turnovers, which isn't crazy, but the last couple minutes have been sorta rough to watch.
Least-thrilled prize winner ever: The dude who just won a Blue Ray player and copy of Wrestlemania 27. Pretty sure he has a PS3 at home and he hates wrestling.
Sadly, the waiving of Chris Johnson means no more "Chris Johnson pretends to eat a cupcake and wishes kids Happy Birthday" video. The Nolan Smith footage finds the young guard excited, but not believably cupcake-hungry. Chris Johnson looked like he was about to eat a dozen cupcakes.
A much-needed Batum dunk is followed by Ray Felton cutting to the hoop and getting to the free-throw line, where he misses two free-throws and is booed by the crowd. I don't see how this is going to help the situation. I guess people just don't like Ray Felton around here, despite his improved play as of late.
This is the first game I can remember where Luke Babbitt (Luke Nukem, as he has been dubbed lately) has done big things in meaningful mintues. Two three-pointers and a couple of steals for Babs, though I'm not sure if he has been properly credited for the latter.
Nic Batum (he's NOT being booed, his name just sounds like booing) mises a few inside shots in a row and gets real frustrated with himself. But when you're a one-man team, you're going to miss a few shots.
Warriors 47, Blazers 40. Your halftime entertainment.
I look up from my laptop and the Warriors are inbounding the ball to one of the NBA's finest three-point specialists, Dorell Wright, who is absolutely wide open in the corner. I mean W-I-D-E open. He coulda counted to three Mississippi out there. And he missed. But how many of those misses have the Blazers relied on this season? It really feels like letting opposing teams gun it from distance is a part of the game plan.
LaMarcus Aldridge gets to the line and hits one of two. Blazers are 7-for-14 at the line tonight. For those of you new to the sport: That is an unbelievably shitty percentage. It is also the difference in the scoreâseven points.
Folks have been booing Felton when he misses shots, but plays like this oneâhe cut across the halfcourt line with lightning speed and barreled into the lane, only to dish the ball to a wide-open Nic Batum at the three-point lineâprobably deserve some applause, too. Even if Nic missed the shot.
That Charles Jenkins is still killing it, though he's forced into taking a buzzer-beater shot from deep three-poin-range and misses it here. It's only his third miss. He's nine-for-twelve.
Charles Jenkins. Shit. Is this gonna be Jeremy Lin type situation?
Ray Felton looks active on defense and he's making all the right decisions on the break.
Blazers are being asked what pizza they like the most, and they're all answering cheese! Except Ray Felton, who likes (oh my god) supreme pizzas. He really walked right in to that one. I'm pretty sure Jamal Crawford just referred to Canadian bacon as "breakfast bacon." Did I mishear him? Would it be weird to go down to the locker room after the game ONLY to ask him about his preferred bacon??
And it's Felton putting the Zers up by one. STOP MAKING IT HARD FOR US TO HATE YOU!
Hickson in for LaMarcus. Something about that swap works a lot better for me than having both those dudes in at the same time. I really on't like it.
Ray Felton looking very confident. I think the boos encouraged him a bit. "Everybody Loves Raymond!" the announcer says after the guard scores points 14 and 15. On the next possession, it's Ray scrapping for the loose ball. THAT's how you get them in Portland, Ray. When you're down on the floor, sacrificing your body, you can win these fans over for good. Whether you'll be around next season, of course, is an entirely different question.
Jamal Crawford has been trying real hard to leave his mark on this game, but nothing is going in for the guy. He takes it to the hole and winds up with two free-throws. In usual Jamal form, he sinks both. Blazers up 69-63 and really firing on all cylanders. Sure, they're up against an injury-riddled Golden State team, but they look really together, and that's been a rare site this season.
So the offense looks together, and the scrappy play is there. The perimeter defense, which has been terrible for most of the season, is still terrible. Richard Jefferson, who has basically made a career out of 3-point shooting, gets a practice-style shot from right in front of the frat boy dudes (who seem to be having their own personal Miami Vice theme tonight? Or a sorta '80s theme? I'm a little confused by what's going on there, actually.)
Brandon Rush gets a wide-open look from the exact same spot. I honestly think this must be part o the Blazers' gameplan that coach Nate passed down to coach Kanales: "Don't guard the three-point shooters! They'll psych themselves out!" And maybe there's something to that strategy, because Klay Thompson's well-defended three-pointer just got nothing but net. Warriors down just one point now.
A highlight reel from last month is played, but is scrubbed clean of former Blazers Camby and Wallace. Makes me feel a little dirty. But imagine the complicated feeling sI'd have if they actually SHOWED the ex-Blazers. Maybe best to just ignore the past and look forward.
Charles Jenkins' domination continues. That kid is a goddamn superstar. He gives the Warriors the lead.
Jenkins reaches 27 points on some slipperyâand dare I say, Jeremy Lin-esque?âmoves to the hoop. Keith Smart oughta get a raise for starting this kid. Dude next to me on media row: "Who IS Charles Jenkins!?" I don't know, either.
Ray Felton for three? FELTON-SANITY? No, that doesn't work.
Finally, Jenkins gets his ass handed to him. LaMarcus blocks his shot out-of-bounds. Don't let the kid's head get too big.
And for the first time this season, the Rose Garden is totally ecstatic about the play of Raymond Felton. It only took 49 games. He is truly balling this evening. He is FELTON-CONSCIOUS.
This game has moved real fast. Now it's down to the wire and the Zers are down two points, still giving the Warriors everything they want from the three-point line. Wes Matthews knows Brandon Rush is sinking this one, and instead of extending his arms, he sulks and refuses to look at the basket. Blazers down 5 points. Idiots leaving.
If the team pulls this off, a chant of "Ray-mond Fel-ton" would be entirely appropriate and probably quite appreciated.
Ooooh this should be a fun finish. Felton has 24 points now, including four threes. Start the chants.
Aldridge does what Aldridge does: That sweet little turnaround jumper. He knows it's good as soon as it leaves his hand, which he keeps up in the air for punctuation.
God I hate this song. Deeply and profoundly.
It is so loud in here. Blazers successfully blitz the Warrior shooters and David Lee is forced to foul LaMarcus Aldridge and foul himself out the game. Funny that he called the foul, which he really didn't need to do. Why take credit for something that kicks you out the game?
First it's knocked out of bounds, then it's almost lost, then it's Jenkins for the three--and it's no good. Blazers win. That's a feel-good one if ever I've seen it. Howabout that Felton chant? Sheesh, I'd start it if I wasn't on press row!