The boys are back in town. (What's left of 'em, anyway).
We're live from the Rose Garden, as your Trail Blazers welcome the Milwaukee Bucks for Rip City's first look at its revamped roster since parting ways with its head coach and two of its most easily chant-able stars (GER-ALD WALL-ACE and MAR-CUS CAM-BY). Ousted skipper Nate McMillan's likeness still appears above section 213, but it's former video coordinator/assistant Kaleb Canales who will man the sidelines tonight for a Blazers squad hoping to keep its head above water after a disastrous 2-5 road trip.
The 1971 World Champion Milwaukee Bucks, meanwhile, enter the arena on a five-game winning streak, and feature the potent backcourt combination of Brandon Jennings and newly acquired Monta Ellis.
So slip on your Greg Oden jersey (too soon?), click past the jump and follow along as I deftly describe all the action, on and off the
Hasheem Thebeet and Jonny Flynn are both in the house, but Canales told The O neither would likely see action tonight.
This is the first meeting of the year between these teams, but the Blazers have beaten the Bucks five straight times in the Rose Garden and have swept them three of the last four years.
Your starting lineups:
Milwaukee: Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings at guard. Carlos Delfino and Ersan Ilyasova at forward. Drew Gooden at center.
Portland: Wesley Matthews and Raymond Felton at guard. Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge at forward. Joel Pryzbilla at center.
It's Jamal Crawford's birthday! And while many Blazer fans would've loved to buy J-Cross a ticket out of town as an early gift, Crawford will celebrate his 32nd in his home for at least the next few months.
A nice ovation for Canales during pre-game intros. Also a big ovation/horrific-train-sound-effect for Aldridge.
And away we go! Blazers going inside early, with Aldridge and Pryzbilla scoring Portland's first six points.
8:46 - Felton drains a 3-pointer and Portland leads 9-8. Milwaukee looking rather spry out of the gate, and they should: They've had three full days off before this one.
6:47 - Jennings with a pull-up jumper to give the Bucks a 13-9 lead. Gooden is playing like his Kansas days so far. The reigning Eastern Conference player of the week has six points and has taken a charge.
5:39 - After Felton goes full-court for a lay-up to tie it at 13, Matthews drains a 3 from the right wing.
4:17 - Gooden is the first player to double-figures. He dunks it home for his 10th point of the night.
3:22 - Crawford checks in to a pretty nice ovation. Or was it for former Jesuit star Mike Dunleavy? Either way, Matthews hits his second 3 of the night and Portland leads 23-19.
2:16 - Timeout on the floor and the Blazers lead 23-22 after Gooden busts a 3. Yes, you read that right: Drew Gooden is the best player on the floor right now. He leads all scorers with 13 points. Luke Babbitt checks in for Portland, and he's sporting a fresh haircut. Let's just say it's an improvement.
End of the 1st: Bucks 25, Blazers 23 after Dunleavy hits a 3 inside of a minute left. Bucks are 11 of 23 from the field so far, the Blazers are right behind them at 10 for 23. Bucks have hit 2 of 4 from deep, and Gooden leads all scorers with 13 points. Five lead changes in a tight first quarter.
11:40 - Blazers turn it over on their first possession and Beno Udrih scores to put Milwaukee up 27-23.
11:24 - Brandon Roy just walked into the arena, sitting courtside across from the Blazers bench. A huge ovation from the fans (most noise they've made on the night), matched only by a big smile on Roy's face. Even Paul Allen is standing and clapping as Roy is shown on the video board. It's the first time Roy's been spotted in the RG since retiring, and I'm pretty sure he's here to see Drew Gooden.
10:31 - Warm and fuzzy moment, over. Delfino drains a 3, and after another Portland turnover, Ilyasova lays one in to put the Bucks up 32-23.
8:53 - Pryzbilla picks up his third foul, this one on the offensive end. Kurt Thomas checks in and the Rose Garden is pretty quiet.
7:35 - Blazers have missed 13 straight shots and Milwaukee leads 34-24 after Crawford hits one of two from the line.
6:30 - Drew Gooden is out of his mind right now. He comes off the bench and drains his first shot from the top of the key for his 15th point. But Matthews answers from beyond the arch, hitting Portland's first field goal since late in the first quarter.
5:23 - Delfino with his second straight 3-pointer, and the Bucks lead 42-29. Bucks are 5 of 8 from deep tonight.
4:55 - Crawford called for an offensive foul. That's nine turnovers for Portland so far. Down on the other end, DREW GOODEN MISSES A SHOT.
3:53 - Blazers with their 11th turnover and we have a few boos from the 300 level. And speaking of the number 11, Delfino has that many points this quarter. Bucks up 48-32.
2:34 - Matthews scrambles for the ball near the free-throw line and throws a lovely little no-look pass to Batum, who lays it in and picks up the crowd a bit.
1:19 - Ellis runs over Felton, and he goes to the floor like someone playing the sport I usually cover. Read: Floppage. Doesn't work, though, and Felton's called for the blocking foul away from the basket.
0:13.6 - Bucks take a timeout after Aldridge puts back a Batum miss to pull Portland within 11 points. Milwaukee will have it with 12 seconds left on the shot clock.
HALFTIME: Bucks lead 54-43. Blazers are shooting 37% from the field after a rough patch where they missed 15 straight. They're also 5 of 16 from deep, perhaps a sign of tired legs after a rough roadie. Matthews leads Portland with 12 points, while LA has 10.
The plucky Bucks, meanwhile, have led by as many as 16 points and are 22 of 42 from the field (52%) and 5 of 10 from 3-point land. Drew "Balling Out of Control" Gooden leads all scorers with 17 points, and Delfino scored all 11 of his points in the second quarter. Milwaukee is more than halfway to Chalupas, and that's no surprise: They've scored 100+ in their last six games.
11:03 - Aldridge called for an offensive foul on a pretty blatant flop by Ilyasova. And in case you're wondering, it doesn't look like Roy has made his way back to his seat.
8:56 - Pryzbilla picks up his fourth foul, but that's the least of his concerns as Gooden's shoulder hit him directly in Pryz's vanilla gorilla. Ouch. Pryzbilla walks off the floor and directly to the locker room. Get that man some ice.
7:56 - Delfino with his fourth 3-pointer on the night and Milwaukee leads 64-49.
6:09 - Is this the Rose Garden or Madison Square Garden? Ellis hits a 3 and Matthews is called for a tech after missing a lay-up and jawing with the ref, and it's 71-49 Bucks.
4:05 - Ellis with a baseline lay-up to put the Bucks up 76-53. A smattering of boos get a bit more company as Portland immediately turns it over. That's 14 TOs for Portland on the night.
3:34 - Bucks take a timeout and it's the perfect chance for a Jumbotron gimmick! A couple gets engaged! The kiss cam! Oh, and the Blazers are still down by 23.
2:25 - Aldridge jams it home, but Blazer fans' cheers are drowned out by what I can only assume is an actual train racing through the arena.
1:23 - Mbah a Moute dunks it with authority (and one) after Matthews turns it over following a steal. Bucks lead 80-59.
0:04.2 - Nolan Smith is way short on a 3-point attempt from the corner, but Matthews fights for the board and draws a foul. It'll be two free throws for Matthews, who's still battling despite a frustrating night for everyone in white.
End of the third, and the Bucks are ahead 82-64 after leading by as many as 23. Portland shooting 35% from the field (22 of 63), while Milwaukee is firing at a 54% clip (33 of 61).
11:35 - If the Blazers are to bring this back to respectability, it'll be Matthews leading the charge. He gets a block on the Bucks' first possession, but Portland can't take advantage. The Portland bench is still without a field goal.
9:57 - Udrih goes to the rim for a reverse layup, and Milwaukee takes an 88-64 lead. Canales calls a timeout, and whatever I said about bringing this one back to respectability is, yeah, probably not going to happen.
9:00 - Dunleavy with a 3-pointer from the corner—the Bucks' NINTH on the night—and Milwaukee leads 93-66. This one's getting out of hand, and plenty of fans are getting out of here.
7:08 - Matthews misses a wide-open 3 from the right corner and there are four players around to rebound it, none of whom are wearing white jerseys. Just sayin'.
6:30 - Dunleavy dunks uncontested on a backdoor cut, which has been highly effective—along with just about everything else—for Milwaukee tonight. He hangs onto the rim for effect, and Portland takes a timeout. Bucks lead 97-72. And hey! Brandon Roy is back courtside. Plenty have fans have made their way to the exits, but Roy's going to see this one through.
5:46 - Blazers on a 4-0 run, and that's unacceptable for Bucks coach Scott Skiles, who calls a timeout. Milwaukee leads 97-76. Don't call it a comeback!
4:00 - No matter the score, Felton knows how to get to the hoop. He drives the lane and scores to bring the Blazers within 20.
3:40 - And then Mike Dunleavy drains another 3-pointer for Milwaukee. Bucks are 10 of 20 (50% for my fellow liberal arts majors out there) from deep tonight, and they lead 104-81. Jonny Flynn and Hasheem Thabeet enter for Portland, making their Blazers debut.
1:46 - Flynn with his first shot, a floater in the lane, but a foul is called away from the ball. His fellow noob Thabeet, all 7-foot-3 of him, goes to the line and drains two free throws. Bucks lead, 110-86.
1:10 - Flynn attempts a lob to Thabeet, but much like everything else for Portland tonight, it doesn't quite work out. Flynn rebounds and is fouled. He misses his first free throw, but hits his second to open his account (to borrow a footy term).
FINAL: Milwaukee 116, Portland 87. A dominating performance from the Bucks, who've won seven straight.
Some final stats: The Bucks shot 58% (48 of 83) from the floor and had an eye-popping 35 assists on the night to get their first win at the Rose Garden since March 20, 2006. They were 11 of 21 (54%) from beyond the arch and despite getting out-rebounded 44-35, pretty much took it to the Blazers. Portland shot 35% (29 of 82) from the field and had 20 turnovers. Yikes.
Aldridge and Matthews each had 21 points to lead all scorers, but Milwaukee's balanced attack was, well, balanced: They had six players in double-figures, including Gooden (19 points), Delfino (16), Jennings (15), Dunleavy (15), Udrih (15) and Ellis (14). Felton had 18 points and nine assists for Portland, while Batum added 12.
Back from the locker room and Canales' first post-game presser, which lasted all of 90 seconds.
"Too many crooked numbers up here on the stat sheet," Canales said as he stepped up to the lectern in front of a jam-packed media room. "We didn't do a good job defensively tonight. We've got to give them credit—they're a hot team and they played like they've been playing. And we didn't take them out of the game."
When asked whether there's a "talent gap" on the bench after Portland's reserves struggled mightily, Canales was quick to answer, and he answered as confidently as a coach could after his team is blown out by nearly 30 points in his home debut: "We believe in each one of our guys. And it's not only the bench tonight, you know we've got play together as a team, and we just didn't get it done tonight."
Aldridge and Crawford said they were surprised by Roy's courtside cameo, and both said they had no idea their former teammate would be in the house.
"[Roy is] someone who's loved here for sure," Crawford said. "And I think it's even more meaningful for the fans, being able to see him for the first time."
In the end, Roy's "return" turned out to be the highlight of an otherwise dismal night for the Blazers, who need to regroup and refocus before hosting Memphis on Thursday.