Wes Matthews is the Blazers' sole All-Star representative. There's something really off about that. And we're live.



It's all LaMarcus here early. The "L-Train" nickname seems more and more fitting these days.


Those are my least favorite kinds of fouls. Those "Dude fell out of bounds, so we either had to call it a turnover or a foul on the other guy" fouls. Those fouls are based purely on the acting ability of the flopper in question, and I lose a little slice of my basketball enthusiasm each time I see one of them. If it's a foul—and I'm clearly not the first guy to say this—call it a foul when there's contact, not when the affected party does a cartwheel and grabs his knee in anguish, or when he stumbles like a punchdrunk fighter over the out-of-bounds line. Nah'mean? It's gross. 


You may be wondering whether I drew the awful cartoon at the top of this post. I did not. And I apologize. Things have been a little nutty in Caseyville. As Nick Lowe might say it, "Lately, I've Let Things Slide."


Not to interrupt my own stupid rant that you were enjoying so well, but it feels like the playoffs in here. The organization distributed "LA12" signs to fans, and people seem generally pumped-up. So it's an arena packed with jerseys, boomsticks, foam fingers and slacked jaws. And it just got loud.


Before I was so rudely interrupted by myself, I was saying that there was a slight mix-up tonight. I miscommunicated to the folks at Blazer HQ that Portland MC Josh Martinez would be here tonight guest-blogging. He's going to blog a game soon, but tonight, this is all you get.


Okay, this is where you see a picture of Josh's media card. But nothing is working, so you see nothing. Back to the game.


The Hornets are getting their hands on a lot of balls, mostly because the Blazers are off their rebound game. Let's hope Marcus Camby's return fixes things in that department without watering down the Zers' current hot streak. But right this moment, three-point shooting and LaMarcus's muscles are keeping the Blazers up. They're 35-26 to end the quarter.


Look out for that Marcus Thornton: He is the Hornet most befitting of his team's namesake. Small, obnoxious, persistent and really, really into fruit.

I'm not sure about the fruit thing, actually.


Couldn't help noticing that Trevor Ariza is operating as a fine facilitator tnight. He doesn't have a ton of points (only two, in fact) but he has four assists and a handful of hockey assists—maybe the injury that kept him out a couple weeks put things into perspective. He's looking like a grade-A teammate on offense and defense tonight.


Trevor Ariza for three.


Staying on this Ariza train, he just did something that called my "great teammate" analysis into question. He stood out at the edge of the three point arc with his hands outstretched towards Chris Paul, who was holding towards the top of the key and surveying the landscape. Ariza, defended by Joel Przybilla, who was giving him an awful lot of space to work with. Ariza started flailing his arms a bit, hoping for the pass. When Paul kicked it elsewhere, Ariza crumpled down into himself, visibly shrugging at being passed up. When the ball came back to Paul, Ariza was in that same spot, just as insistent on getting the ball. This time Paul trusts him. Ariza pump-fakes, then drives the baseline right around Joel Przybilla. But instead of going for contact, Ariza lays it up, and his weak-sauce move is swatted by Przybilla and Dante Cunningham at the same time. This time there's no shrug—and, amazingly in this league, no arguing with officials—and everyone just goes up on D. But the next time down, there's Ariza, standing in the opposite corner, begging for the ball once again. Trouble is, the guy shoots 39 percent. So is he really your first, second, third offensive option? Nope.


This thing has tightened up some. It's 40-38 Portland. You didn't think it was gonna be easy, didja? This is the playoffs!

Wait, no, it's not.


Boomshakalaka First Look