Our Dan Fogelberg-Free Rundown of the Best New Year's Eves in Town!
Live from the Moda Center as the Portland Trail Blazers host the Sacramento Kings.
The Blazers have clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2011. Could there be somewhat of a mental and emotional letdown after that accomplishment? You bet! Hello, trap game!
On paper it’s a no-brainer: Portland at home, coming off a few night’s rest, against a terrible Kings team on the second night of a back to back. I mean, have you seen the Kings play basketball? This team hasn’t been relevant since Vlade Divac was manning the paint.
But give a bad team confidence—remember the Lakers game last month?—and anything can happen. Without sufficient focus this could very well end up a surprising loss.
Wait, the Kings are going to be without Isaiah Thomas and Rudy Gay? And this is how loose the Blazers are? Never mind. Tonight is going to be a forty-point Portland victory. Not even Boogie Cousins can save us now.
In good news for the Blazers, Joel Freeland is amping up his practice drills with an eye towards returning during the playoffs. That means another large body in front of Meyers Leonard on the depth chart, which means less chance the Blazers will have to rely on the walking foul machine.
In bad news for my mental well being, tonight is a Portlandia-themed tie-in of some sort. This aggression will not stand.
Boooooogie! If there is any silver lining to the second and third best players on this Kings squad being out, it's that DeMarcus Cousins will get to touch the ball every single time down the court. We could be in for the greatest or worst game of Boogie's career, and either way it will be spectacular.
Mo Williams will be sitting tonight. Allen Crabbe, who turned 22 today, will be taking his place on the active roster. Time to get some guys some rest for the playoffs, and tonight is as good a place as any. Travis Outlaw is starting for the Kings. They have already waved the white flag.
11:22 - The Kings don't go to Boogie on their first possession and find themselves down 2-0. This is not a coincidence. 2-0 Blazers.
9:33 - Boogie has missed his first two shots, and he was just killed trying to defend a pick and roll, letting Robin Lopez roll to the rim without so much as getting touched. It's going to be a long night. 7-2 Blazers.
7:46 - Jason Thompson was called for a 24 second shot clock violation, and Robin Lopez tried to get the ball back from Thompson's death grip. The two looked to get into it for a hot second, but then Lopez stepped away and gave Thompson a slow clap for his antics. The next possession, Lopez drained a baseline jumper. Kings timeout. 12-4 Blazers.
6:04 - Here comes Reggie Evans. Hold on to your nuts! 15-11 Blazers.
3:58 - The Blazers are shooting 90% from the floor, which, against this Kings defense, is absolutely sustainable. 21-17 Blazers.
2:00 - Earl Watson is running the show like a grizzled old sea captain. He may not be able to move, but boy, could he tell you a story. 25-17 Blazers.
0:00 - It's...it's going to be a long night. The Kings are just going through the motions. 27-20 Blazers.
10:07 - The Blazers could run a pick and roll with the Kool-Aid Man and a toddler and still be successful against this defense, so why is this game this close? 29-27 Blazers.
7:48 - Portland is playing down to their competition, but when Will Barton throws down back to back dunks what does it really matter? Let Will be Will. This games needs excitement, and it certainly isn't going to come from the defensive end of the floor. 35-31 Blazers.
5:47 - Wait, Lillard has eight assists already?! What the? With seven points and four rebounds as well, as long as this doesn't turn into a massive blowout he could be looking at a triple double. 40-33 Blazers.
4:16 - Boogie is on the floor (I think?), but he's been completely non-existent. This should have been his night. Boogie for president! 44-33 Blazers.
2:50 - The Kings are shooting 35% from the floor, a perfect percentage because the Blazers are playing at about 65% intensity. Add it all up, and we've got ourselves a full game! 46-35 Blazers.
2:03 - Portland triple-teamed Boogie in the post! A legit triple-team, not just a guy accidentally floating towards the big man. That's how much respect they have the rest of the Sacramento roster. 50-37 Blazers.
0:30 - Jason Thomspon dunked and reacted like he just won the championship. His team is currently down 13. A true celebration hero. 54-41 Blazers.
0:00 - The Blazers had the ball with two seconds left, and went for a full court pass to try and set up a shot closer to the basket. Nicolas Batum pushed off to get to the pass and was called for an offensive foul. The Kings got the ball back at half court. Ray McCallum drained a three as time expired. Whoops! 56-54 Blazers.
10:35 - The Blazers start the quarter with a few long balls. Guys, the rim is wide open. Go to it. 58-52 Blazers.
9:39 - And, of course, Wesley Matthews nails a three right on cue. 61-52 Blazers.
8:14 - Robin Lopez picked up a technical foul for arguing that his face got hammered on a dunk attempt. Upon closer review, yeah, dude had a legit gripe there. That should have been a foul. 63-59 Blazers.
5:38 - Boogie smash! He has ten points for the quarter, and all is right with the world. 68-63 Blazers.
4:17 - Booooooooogie! A one man wrecking crew, a shining beacon of light in the Sacramento darkness. He's carrying this team right now, and somehow he still hasn't shot it enough. 70-67 Blazers.
2:59 - Dorell Wright picked off a pass and threw a between the legs dump off on a fast break. Is this real life? 74-67 Blazers.
1:08 - When you're giving up jumpers to Thomas Robinson, you know there's a problem. Sacramento needs time to try and figure this whole defense thing out. 79-67 Blazers.
0:00 - I don't have the season numbers in front of me, but I'm pretty sure Ray McCallum is shooting 1000% at the end of quarters. He hit another shot to end the third, and is responsible for five points tonight with time expiring. 79-71 Blazers.
10:45 - Uh oh. Portland needs time. The Kings have rattled off a quick 6-0 to start the quarter, every basket coming right at the rim. Time for the Blazers to up that intensity from 65% to 67%. That should be enough to win this one. 79-77 Blazers.
10:06 - Out of the timeout, the Blazers went to Will Barton for a three. Probably not the best look. On the next possession, Portland went to Dame for a three. Probably the best look. He knocked it down with ease. 82-77 Blazers.
9:13 - So, uh, Ray McCallum. That's four points in a row, and seventeen points for the game. Ball. He looks legit. 82-81 Blazers.
7:37 - After Ray McCallum tied it with a three (!!!), Dame took it right to the rack and drew the foul. Portland needs to stop settling for jumpers and go to the hole. It's there, take it. 86-84 Blazers.
6:38 - Yep, right to the rim. Batum just had the easiest dunk of his career on a pick and roll, and the Kings are standing around pointing fingers at each other for missed assignments. 88-84 Blazers.
5:30 - A Batum block on one end, a Lillard three on the other, and the Kings need time. The Kings went from a team with a little confidence to a team hanging their heads in frustration in about thirty seconds flat. 91-86 Blazers.
3:00 - The Kings have put together a 7-2 run of their own, and now have that underdog swagger back. Reggie Evans took a charge on Damian Lillard, and it's Sacramento's ball. They have a chance to take the lead for the first time tonight out of this timeout. 93-93 Tie.
2:28 - A three in the key call on Boogie, a put back slam from Aldridge. So much for trying to get that first lead of the night. 95-93 Blazers.
1:31 - Booooooogie. His jumper gives the Kings their first lead of the game. 97-95 Kings.
0:42 - Both Aldridge and Lillard have missed shots late, Aldridge having trouble in the post against Reggie Evans and Lillard having a three rattle out. On that last missed three, Lopez was able to pick up a foul going for the rebound. Two free throws, two makes. 97-97 Tie.
0:14 - Boogie is headed to the line for the lead. Ray McCallum picked Lillard's pocket on his attempt to give Portland the lead, and the Kings were able to leak out in transition where Cousins was fouled on a dunk attempt. He hit them both. 99-97 Kings.
0:08 - Lillard drives, Lillard kicks to the corner, Dorell Wright hits nothing but the bottom of the net. Now all the home team needs is a stop. 100-99 Blazers.
0:00 - McCallum, with the step back for the win...and it's off! Portland escapes the trap game.
FINAL: 100-99 Blazers. Last second heroics shouldn't have been necessary against the lowly Kings, but hey, a win is a win.
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!