I am going to be real with you guys right now. I am sitting here, trying to pound out some words, any words, about the ahead-by-10ish-points-for-nearly-the-entire-fourth-quarter beatdown the Portland Trail Blazers dutifully put on the Golden State Warriors at the Rose Garden tonight.
But I just can't. The words aren't there. There's a wall in my mind. Because, somewhere on the other side of the damn world, some miraculous shit was happening in baseball and I just can't filter anything about that game through my head without relating it to the majesty I've witnessed on this day:
There he is, Bartolo Colon, the Strikeout King of Altamaria, the greatest thrower of perfectly placed 91 mph fastballs in human history—so gifted, in fact, that he throws almost nothing else—the God of Fat Ballplayers, an inspiration to all children big and small, socking a fat, wet dinger right into the outer deck. The power. The glory. To watch Damian Lillard lay down 40 points worth of pipe against the Warriors tonight, on a barrage of drives, insane three point pull-ups, even a straight-up flop on Andre Iguodala, to be in the building for that electric performance—well, all I could think about was how much it reminded me of Bartolo flexing his shoulders and laying that good wood down. What majesty! Baseball is truly the greatest of all games!
And Al-Farouq Aminu: What can you possibly say? To come out and give your team, from the bottom of your heart, 23 points, 8 of 9 from the field, 4 of 5 from three and 10 of the greeziest, grizzliest, rebounds available. There's only one word, people: It was Bartolo-esque. Hell, he was so possessed by the spirit of Bartolo that he managed multiple successful drives to the basket. He even dunked on notable Australian Conservative Political Commentator Andrew Bogut!
Tonight, the Blazers utilized the faster, switchier Ed Davis at center in lieu of slower, passier Mason Plumlee, so the team can employ extensive switching to keep up with all that god-dang Oakland ball movement. Slow and steady beats the Clippers—Chris Paul just loves chillin' in that halfcourt, man—but you need speed to keep a level eyeball on Oakland. This paranoid approach to covering Golden State shooters takes him out of his natural inclination, being a hub in transition and a playmaker for Steph or Klay Thompson or whomever else is running around the three-point line in the half court and into his unnatural state of need to haul in his own offense.
Our good friend Bartolo Colon also found himself in this position tonight. You see, he is usually a pitcher, but occasionally he has to bat, and he just looks all silly trying to bat usually. But tonight, he slung a dinger into Deep-Fifty and made everyone weep by dint of its enormous beauty. Draymond Green, on the other hand, just kind of ended up building a giant line while his team at large drifted away from its tactical raison d'etre. Will it work again? Maybe!
Probably not, though.
- Big minutes for Lillard, CJ, and Aminu—40-plus a piece.
- The team gave these kooky light-up bracelets to everyone in the crowd. The lights moved to synched-up music, changed colors, did fun things during time-out games. As a fan of novelty and gimmickry alike, I was taken away by these magic wrist-shirts, enveloped in their world. When those lights went out…man, I gotta tell you, it was like I was back in my mother’s womb, a place we customarily celebrate on this day.
- A lotta GSW heat in the crowd. I get it. If the Blazers were that close to being THE GREATEST NBA TEAM OF ALL TIME, I would probably go to an opposing arena to see them and cheer them on. When the game broke bad for their squad, I noticed pretty much every person wearing gold in my field of vision (I sit in 207) leaning over into their hands, resting their elbows on their thighs. What a terrible love they must be going through right now!
- The Warriors didn’t get their last shot off in time. They were down by 12 so it really didn’t matter, but I just want people to know that I saw a very un-clutch moment out there tonight from a supposedly elite team.
- Per ESPN, this was the best offensive performance against the Warriors all year by points per possession. The Blazers also handed them their largest raw-margin loss of the regular season. This probably doesn’t indicate a future Blazer victory (they also took some terrible beatings), but if you need that hope in your life, I invite you to integrate these narrow facts into your office arguments and personal fantasy-making about this series.
- Steph practiced a little today. Try not to think too much about it.