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Live from the Rose Garden as the Portland Trail Blazers host the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers come in having won six of their last seven contests, mostly due to Blake "Ginger Dynamite" Griffin. In the time it took me to write that last sentence, Griffin dunked on four people—his own teammate, two kids, and what appeared to be an old woman—and the game hasn't even started yet.
Despite their losing record, the Clippers have pushed themselves towards near-relevancy, and it mostly can be attributed to Griffin's meteoric rise. Only a rookie, he's averaging over 22 points and 13 rebounds a game, and has turned himself into a one-man highlight reel of awesome. Griffin has also inspired his team to at least try to win basketball games—more specifically, chubby Baron Davis appears to actually care about the sport of basketball more than food and beard grooming techniques, which is no small feat.
With Marcus Camby expected to miss around three weeks after undergoing successful knee surgery today, Joel Przybilla (and perhaps Sean Marks) will attempt to replace his presence in the middle. No surprise here, but don't be alarmed if both Griffin and DeAndre Jordan wreak havoc on Portland's slow (read: white) centers.
Tonight's game is on TNT, which means it's a good chance for the national audience to see Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge battle it out for the last coach's pick for Western Conference All-Star. While the battle is mostly media-fueled (hint: Griffin is in, Aldridge is not), LaMarcus has a nice chance to prove his worth tonight as he'll be matched up directly against the rookie. He may not be playing for an All-Star spot (sorry, he isn't), but at least he has a nice chance to gain some bragging rights.
And, hey, look at that! For the first time since injuring his knee on 12/22/09, Joel Przybilla is starting an NBA game! Just in time to get dunked on by Blake Griffin.
The last time these two teams met, Andre Miller earned himself a one-game suspension for bulldozing Blake Griffin. That suspension ended Miller's streak of consecutive games played, and hurt Blake "Delicate Flower" Griffin's feelings. Both of them are likely to come out looking to go after each other, which means tempers could flare pretty easily.
10:30 - After missed shots by both Griffin and Aldridge, Baron Davis drives the lane for a quick jumper. He would like to be considered for the All-Star game too. 2-0 Clippers.
8:55 - No, really, Baron Davis demands your attention people. Apparently he likes showing up for national TV games, as he has seven of Los Angeles' ten points. The Blazers have two. Ugh. 10-2 Clippers.
8:16 - First of approximately twenty-seven Blake Griffin dunks tonight. That was followed by a quick two from Eric Gordon, and the energy-less Blazers are losing big early. 14-2 Clippers.
6:43 - Dante Cunningham entered the game for Joel Przybilla. Dante Cunningham picked up a foul on Griffin in ten seconds. On the plus side, the Blazers have upped their point total threefold! 16-6 Clippers.
5:04 - Nicolas Batum hit Wesley Matthews with the pretty pass in transition, which Matthews then layed up high off the glass over the outstretched arm of DeAndre Jordan. Maybe this will be a game after all? 16-9 Clippers.
3:38 - Eric Gordon, Baron Davis, and Blake Griffin are the only Clippers who have scored, but they're doing a fine job of that. Gordon knocked down his second three-pointer of the game, and the Blazers are looking a little tired/slow/panicked/scared of getting dunked on. 23-13 Clippers.
2:23 - Wesley Matthews with a three on one end, and a steal on the other. That steal lead to a Rudy dunk in transition, and finally the crowd has something to cheer about. 23-18 Clippers.
0:40 - Matthews with his second three! At least someone on the Blazers is able to get the leather orb into the peach basket tonight. 23-23 Tie.
0:00 - Well, that was a quick tie. Eric Gordon just out-jumped Joel Przybilla for an offensive rebound tip-in. I'm not sure that even with non-injured knees Joel could have stopped Gordon in the air, but still—he looked like my dad trying to jump out there. There's nothing quite like a two-inch vertical leap. 27-23 Clippers.
10:29 - Przybilla just got out-jumped again for another offensive rebound tip-in. Sigh. 31-26 Clippers.
9:27 - The Blazers are trying to double-team Griffin, which hasn't been working thus far as the help defender has been Przybilla. Ginger Dynamite almost has a double-double already, with 10 points and 7 rebounds. 33-31 Clippers.
7:50 - Apparently Rudy's knees are feeling okay tonight—he has seven quick points and a few hustle plays to boot. Too bad the Blazers can't keep the Clippers from scoring, as Randy Foye (otherwise known as the guy Portland traded on draft night for Brandon Roy) knocked down the wide-open three. Maybe the Blazers can trade Roy's knees for his now, too? 40-35 Clippers.
6:16 - Joel Przybilla just gave the Clippers a taste of their own medicine, out-jumping everyone for the easy tip-in off of an offensive rebound. Did the entire Clippers team not jump? That has to be the only explanation. 42-39 Clippers.
5:06 - After a missed alley-oop between Matthews and Aldridge on one end, Andre Miller wisely fouls Baron Davis in transition. The reason it was wise? Blake Griffin was flying down the court, ready to throw down an alley-oop of his own. That would have been a momentum killer. 43-41 Clippers.
3:02 - Sean Marks and DeAndre Jordan got tied up on a rebound, and there for a split second it looked Marks was about to start talking smack to Jordan. I think he stopped because he realized he was Sean Marks. Wesley Matthews followed that up with a three on the other end (his third), and he leads all scores with 15 points. Even better, the Blazers have their first lead of the game! 47-45 Blazers.
0:00 - Blake Griffin fell down (on his own), and knocked Aldridge's legs out from under him. Aldridge fell, and then got called for the foul. This crowd didn't take too kindly to that, and let Blake know with some loud booing. LOUD. On the other end after Griffin makes one of his two free-throws, Andre Miller drove the lane, looked off Griffin and made him turn his head with a fake pass, and went to the hoop for the easy lay-in. Rookie, meet veteran. 55-50 Blazers.
So far, the battle of the All-Star is leaning slightly in favor of Ginger Dynamite. He has 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Aldridge has 12 points and 7 rebounds. Plus, Aldridge had that foul called for getting his legs knocked out from under him, which was clearly a point in the battle for Griffin.
10:02 - Blazers strike first, picking up four quick points to start the third. The Clippers got them right back, however, as Eric Gordon knocked down his third three pointer of the game. 59-53 Blazers.
9:02 - And another three for Gordon. Somebody should probably guard that guy. Good thing LaMarcus has six points this quarter as well. 63-56 Blazers.
7:51 - Joel Przybilla just got saved out of being on a poster, as Matthews knocked the ball out of DeAndre Jordan's hand as he went up for the power dunk. Foul on Matthews, but at least Joel saved a little face. 65-60 Blazers.
6:00 - LaMarcus just told Blake Griffin he would like that All-Star spot now. LA received the ball in the post, backed Griffin all the way down into the paint, and went with a power move towards the middle. Basket, and the foul. Aldridge missed the free throw, but that was still a statement—so much so that LA gave a big fist-pump after hitting the basket. 71-65 Blazers.
4:24 - Every time Baron Davis shoots a three, a little piece of Vinny Del Negro's heart breaks. Every time Eric Gordon shoots a three, a horse turns into a unicorn. I'll let you guess who just hit a three after the other one missed. 76-68 Blazers.
2:42 - Nicolas Batum came up with a monster block, and then soared to contest a follow-up shot and got the monster...goal tend. Dang. That was almost the best play of the night. Also, Aldridge has 12 points in the quarter while Griffin has a big fat 0. 78-70 Blazers.
1:34 - Batum with the huge three to give the Blazers a double-digit lead. On the other end, LaMarcus stripped Griffin as he made his move and knocked the ball out of bounds. There wasn't enough time to get a shot up, which lead to a 24 second shot clock violation after a Griffin desperation three-pointer. 81-70 Blazers.
0:00 - After another three by Batum, Cunningham came up with a block on the other end and knocked the ball out of bounds with 1.0 second left. On the inbounds pass, Cunningham knocked the ball to himself and stole the inbounds pass. No shot. Portland ends the quarter with solid defense—something they haven't been doing so well as of late. It should be noted that when LaMarcus checked out with a minute left in the third, he almost received a standing ovation. His play was that good over the quarter. 84-71 Blazers.
11:00 - Five quick points for the Clippers. Griffin did his patented move The Flyin' Lion, where he just over-powered Cunningham and got the basket and the foul. 84-76 Blazers.
10:20 - Rudy threw up the most acrobatic/ugly hook shot you're likely to see, all because the shot clock was about to expire. Somehow he made it, and somewhere Kareem Abdul-Jabbar silently wept. 86-77 Blazers.
9:23 - Rudy to Miller alley-oop, which is about the third one of those they've pulled off in the last couple of games. I thought you had to jump for alley-oops, but Miller—who has a vertical leap similar to Przybilla's—finished the lay-up in style. 90-79 Blazers.
7:28 - Eric Gordon just hit his sixth three-pointer of the night. Let me reiterate: someone should really guard that guy. 90-82 Blazers.
6:07 - And there's Gordon's seventh three. He now has 33 points on the night. The Blazers have gone cold, and the Clippers are on an 8-0 run. Timeout, Portland. 90-87 Blazers.
5:02 - Blake Griffin missed two free-throws, but on the other end the Blazers coughed the ball up. This led to more points for Eric Gordon, who has been getting a lot of those tonight. 94-89 Blazers.
3:13 - Aldridge just put another power move on Griffin—he backed him down into the paint with ease and spun his way to an easy lay-in. Griffin looked absolutely helpless on defense, and in turn LaMarcus looked like the bigger, better, and stronger player. Dare I say he appeared All-Starish? 96-89 Blazers.
2:38 - Gordon finally missed a three! (Technically he's missed a few, but it doesn't feel that way.) Matthews with five points (a three and two free-throws), and that is Chalupa time. 101-91 Blazers.
1:34 - Batum pulled the chair out from Griffin on the defensive end, who fell and passed the ball right to Rudy. Fernandez drove to the other end of the court, but wisely backed out to set the offense up and run the clock out. Unfortunately, he ran into his own man and the ball went flying. The Clippers had it, and then passed it again to Rudy, who was wide-open underneath the basket. 103-91 Blazers.
0:00 - And that's going to do it. A wild finish, but the better team (Portland) was able to pull away and put the game away when it mattered. Batum, Miller, Fernandez, Matthews, and Aldridge all finished with double-digit scoring, led by LA and Wesley who had 28 a piece. Aldridge may not get the All-Star nod, but he definitely bested Griffin tonight, and more importantly the Blazers picked up the win. We'll do this again on Saturday as the Pacers come for their first visit to the Rose Garden this year.
FINAL: 108-93 Blazers.