Live from the Moda Center as the Portland Trail Blazers host the Brooklyn Nets.
Look out now! The Blazers, sans LaMarcus Aldridge, are on a three-game winning streak! Sure, their wins came against teams with records under .500—including last night’s victory against the free falling Nuggets—but three wins is three wins. Period. The fact that Aldridge is on the shelf just makes them that much sweeter.
In a shocking twist that no one saw coming, another Portland big man has been bitten by the injury bug. A few days after his breakout performance against the Wolves, Thomas Robinson is dealing with a sore knee and is officially out for tonight's game. With Aldridge, Meyers Leonard, and Joel Freeland all being sidelined as well, Victor Claver will play backup center. The Blazers need a healthy player over 6’9” in the worst way possible.
Portland is the home team, the favorite, the reason the fans paid money to enter the arena tonight, but all eyes are going to be on Jason Collins of the Nets. The veteran big man just became the first openly gay man in any of the four major professional sports after signing a ten day contract with Brooklyn, and tonight he’s debuting his new jersey: #98, in honor of Matthew Shepard. His jersey is already in high demand, and for a brief minute all is right with the world.
Brooklyn’s in the house, but they are far from Brooklyn’s finest. The Nets are below average offensively, below average defensively, and are older than hell. Crazy stat of the day? Kevin Garnett was in the NBA when The Notorious BIG was murdered.
The Blazers are hanging on without Aldridge because Damian Lillard is in video game mode. Since the All-Star break (which according to many pundits was supposed to wear him down), Dame is averaging 30.5 points and nearly 7 assists, all while shooting 50% from the floor and 44% from deep. The crazy part is his game hasn’t been flashy. He’s just going about his business as usual, carrying a slightly larger load than normal.
Tonight is a whole different story, though. Once Robinson exited last night's contest the Nuggets destroyed the Blazers on the glass, and Portland's lack of size will once again be an issue. Expect Coach Stotts to urge his team to push the ball in transition, using their young legs to try and gain an advantage. A five guard lineup? Sure, why not?
The Nets have one of the worst mascots in the NBA, but since he is vaguely superhero themed, do you think he’s the only mascot Robin Lopez likes? My guess is yes. Robin probably had his brother grab ten copies of the Brooklyn Knight comic book, one for reading and nine for safe keeping.
He's been playing for the Nets all year, but it is still so jarring to see Paul Pierce in a color other than green. Are we certain he didn't retire after last season?
11:47 - There is a guy directly in front of me in a giant taco outfit, and I did not eat dinner tonight. This may not end well. Meanwhile, Nicolas Batum puts Portland on the board with two free throws. 2-0 Blazers.
9:36 - Kevin Garnett just got called for an illegal screen for the first time in his 18 year career. There's a first time for everything. It has not been pretty basketball thus far, both teams grinding it out with no cohesion on offense. 2-2 Tie.
8:05 - Lillard is doing Lillard things already. He just grabbed a loose ball in traffic and got a put back over Garnett, then followed that up with a three-pointer. That was about as quick a 5-0 run as you'll see. 9-6 Blazers.
6:09 - Deron Williams got a superstar call, picking up a foul on a three-point shot. Don't these refs know he's not a superstar anymore? 13-10 Blazers.
5:29 - Uh oh. Wesley Matthews is humped over on the floor, writhing in pain. The Blazers had to call time to get him off the court. He's going directly back to the locker room. 13-12 Blazers.
4:42 - Matthews is back on the bench, and he appears to be okay. Maybe just a little shaken up. On replay, he got tangled up with Paul Pierce running up the court and fell to the deck hard. Must have just been a stinger. 15-14 Blazers.
2:54 - Brooklyn's size is causing a problem already, but it's more with the Portland point guards trying to guard bigger guys on the perimeter. The Nets are using their size to post everyone up, especially Joe Johnson. The best counter punch is to shoot as many threes as possible, and good thing Nicolas Batum just knocked one down. 18-16 Blazers.
1:57 - Matthews is back in. Crisis averted. 20-16 Blazers.
1:09 - First look at Victor Claver at center, and so far it's paying off. The Blazers are on a 10-0 run, capped by a CJ McCollum three. Keep shooting from distance! 25-16 Blazers.
0:00 - Leave it to Lillard to hit a hanging jumper in the lane as the quarter expired. His finishing around the rim has improved so much over the last few weeks. 29-20 Blazers.
10:36 - Just when it looked like both teams might not score all quarter, Will Barton came flying in for a big put back dunk. This is Will Barton's game. It's coming. 31-20 Blazers.
9:40 - The lineup on the court for Portland is Mo Williams, CJ McCollum, Will Barton, Wesley Matthews, and Victor Claver. Wesley Matthews is playing power forward! This is incredible! 31-22 Blazers.
9:15 - Will Barton alley-oop! Don't say I didn't warn you. 33-22 Blazers.
6:57 - This game got real ugly real quick. Both teams can't hit a thing. When a Kevin Garnett seventeen footer has been the best shot of the last two minutes, you know there's a problem. 35-24 Blazers.
5:23 - Lillard has been beaten badly twice in a row by Deron Williams, but he's at least making the offense move again. Dame just hit another three, his second of the night, and he's pacing the Blazers with ten points. He's no Will Barton, but he'll do. 39-28 Blazers.
3:55 - Will Barton missed a corner three short, followed his own shot, got the rebound, and put it back for an easy two. If at first you don't succeed, pad, pad your stats. 45-30 Blazers.
3:03 - Will Barton turnaround fadeaway? When you're feeling it, you're feeling it. 47-33 Blazers.
1:49 - I just wrote Will Barton's name, surrounded by a bunch of hearts, in my Trapper Keeper. We're best friends, and that last play where he shook off Damian Lillard, drove, and kicked a pretty assist to Nicolas Batum sealed it. 53-34 Blazers.
0:00 - The sixth best team in the East is getting demoralized by Will Barton. Is this real life? Barton has twelve points, six rebounds, and two assists. All while playing way out of position. I don't care how ugly this game is, I love it. 58-34 Blazers.
11:00 - I would just like to reiterate that the Blazers, without a single big man other than Robin Lopez, are beating the sixth best team in the East by 26 points. That is all. 60-34 Blazers.
8:22 - Guys, I'm trying to write about this game, but every time I look at the Nets playing I start violently crying. It's that bad. 63-40 Blazers.
6:17 - The Nets have given up. It's a mountain of sadness on their bench. Maybe Jason Collins can come in now to give this crowd something to cheer about? 69-40 Blazers.
4:10 - Brooklyn has gone on a little 10-2 run to cut the lead all the way down to...21. Almost there, guys! 71-50 Blazers.
2:42 - Nicolas Batum triple double watch. He's got 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists. And Will Barton is checking back in, so now we'll at least have some excitement. 73-50 Blazers.
0:59 - This game could benefit from some Yakety Sax. 80-56 Blazers.
0:00 - Both teams are straight up in cruise control. Just like this live blog. 82-59 Blazers.
12:00 - Alright, Jason Collins! He's in the game for the first time tonight, but it was done at the quarter break so the PA didn't mention it. I was expecting a standing ovation, but we'll have to settle for some really well set screens. 82-59 Blazers.
9:29 - Another Will Barton alley-oop! It was pretty okay, but they way this game has been going I'm going to use an exclamation point to make it seem much more exciting than it actually way. So go Will Barton! 93-68 Blazers.
7:57 - This is just like an All-Star game, but with out the stars and the offense. Both teams are just walking the ball up the court and jacking jumpers as soon as possible. Nets basketball, catch the fever! 101-70 Blazers.
7:09 - Mo Williams has a season high 21 points, and he's also now on triple double watch with 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Triple double watch, catch the fever! 104-70 Blazers.
6:39 - Earl Watson and Allen Crabbe are in the game. Earliest victory lap of the season? 104-70 Blazers.
4:22 - CJ McCollum out here shooting threes like this game is still in jeopardy. The only thing is jeopardy is whether or not Portland will in by 40. 109-73 Blazers.
2:11 - Well, after that last Victor Claver three-pointer (yes, Portland is still jacking up threes with wild abandon), the Blazers have their forty point lead. 115-75 Blazers.
1:07 - Will Barton has 20 points and 10 rebounds. This Nets team is the worst. 121-79 Blazers.
0:06 - A foul with six seconds left?! Come on, Blazers. Stop the insanity. Just let Brooklyn score there so everyone can get out of here and get their Robin Lopez glasses. 124-80 Blazers.
FINAL: 124-80 Blazers. No big men, no problem. Portland just demolished the Nets, and it wasn't even close. The Nets scored their fewest points of the year, and Portland finished with their first forty point victory this season. Will Barton for MVP of life.
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