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My drunken game journal: Blazers vs. Jazz
This is the Portland Trail Blazers second night of back to back games against the Jazz. Utah is currently two games up on the Blazers, and this game is a must win for them. I have made my daughter’s bed, and raided the fridge for beer. But I have only found a bottle of wine.
7:42 I heard that Earl Watson won’t be playing for the Jazz tonight. Maybe that can counteract Wesley Matthews being out for the Blazers tonight.
7:44 I looked up Watson’s stats and found out he’s averaging 2 points with 22% from the field. I think the Jazz might be better off.
7:52 They showed a trivia question over which Oregon born player scored the most points for their NBA career: Danny Ainge, AC Green, Damian Lillard, or some dude from the seventies. I think it’s Ainge.
7:57 Desperately trying to get my three year old to bed before they give the answer to the trivia question but she’s thrown herself on the ground and started screaming at the top of her lungs. I’m doomed.
8:04 They just called Al Jefferson “Big Al” for the tenth time. That nickname will not follow him out of Utah.
8:07 Paul Millsap and Big Al were giggling like little girls when asked who they were rooting for in the Super Bowl. The boom operator either passed gas or they're high.
8:10 Terry Stotts looks like he might the black sheep of the Manning family. He’s what I imagine Cooper to look like.
8:12 Victor Claver who rarely plays is starting since Matthews and Ronnie Price are injured. His first possession he gets the ball open for three, then immediately drives the lane into Jefferson and Millsap and loses the ball. It’s going to be a long night.
8:14 JJ Hickson just got three quick offensive rebound and nailed a jump shot in succession. He’s in for a big night.
8:16 Damian Lillard knocks down a three and then finds Hickson on the block the next two times down the court. It seems like Portland’s going to take it to the big men in this game.
8:17 Lillard reminds me that he’s still a rookie as Randy Foye slips past him twice for two three pointers.
8:18 It occurs to me that Victor Claver who’s play the two guard tonight is 6’10, and our center (Hickson) is 6’8. Maybe it’s Freaky Friday on a Saturday at the Rose Garden.
8:19 Big Al had to try a long three as the shot clock expired and hit the lower left corner of the backboard. The only way that the shot could have looked worse was if he granny-shot it.
8:26 Big Al got a whistle for taking one in the face by Nicholas Batum. The crowd booed at the referee like he’d just executed Santa. I love Portland crowds.
8:28 Batum gets motivated by the “bad call” and swishes a clutch three.
8:30 Nolan Smith hits at the buzzer to close out the first period with Portland leading by one point. This might be the first field goal Smith’s hit this season. Hell, it might be the first field goal he’s hit in his NBA career.
8:31 I checked on Smith’s career stats on NBA.com and found out that he’s scored 219 points for his career. This didn’t make me feel better.
8:32 Smith tries to drive between Paul Millsap and Big Al and shows why he only has 219 career points as he turns the ball over.
8:33 Utah gets two free throws and misses the second one. Nolan Smith scooped up the rebound and bolted towards the other end of the court. The Jazz coach looked like he wanted to call a timeout in an effort to cool of Smith, but he didn’t. Apparently he knew from the scouting report that Smith only had 221 career points.
8:36 Smith gets a great alley-oop from Luke Babbit and not only misses the rim by two feet, but lands about half a foot beyond the baseline still clutching on to the ball. Cooper Manning pulls him from the game.
8:41 Utah has a promo for their “Bring the Thunder” package of tickets. Guess which team is in the package?
8:43 I was trying to watch the game as I uncorked a bottle of Chianti. I snapped the cork in two. Then I spilled the bottle over my Blu-Ray remote as I poured a glass. I knew there was a reason I usually drink beer during games.
8:47 Portland called a time out after Millsap poked LaMarcus Aldridge in the eye. I start fantasizing about rugged LA would look like if he wore an eye patch.
8:49 Because this is the second straight Jazz game I’ve watched, I realize that Utah has a graphic where they have a hammy actor dressed as a doctor looking at his clipboard obsessively. To his left they have all the injuries around the NBA printed out. Doesn’t this seem like a morbid thing to track on a game by game basis? I’m not sure about people from Salt Lake.
8:50 Utah puts up this graphic, “Cold Hard Fact of the Night: Al Jefferson is the only player who’s averaged 18 points and 9 rebounds a night every season since 2006-07.” Cold Hard Fact of the Night: that’s pretty specific, isn’t it?
8:52 JJ Hickson just smacked his elbow into Millsap’s face. The whistle blew, and Aldridge got two free throws. For a little guy, Hickson’s doing a great job as an enforcer.
8:54 Aldridge was talking some smack to Millsap on the defensive end, and then LA and him started pushing each other around pretty hard on the block. I haven’t seen Aldridge this pissed off in a while.
8:56 Lillard cans two straight threes immediately after two Millsap misses. Big Al hits a quick two and gives Millsap a look to let him know he’s not running the game anymore.
9:00 Utah’s commentator ( a guy named Booner) notices that the overhead view of the Rose Garden looks like a space ship. Then he says, “But who knows what a spaceship looks like.” There’s a stunned silence from his partner. He then asks him if he means a UFO. Before Booner can answer the game restarts.
9:01 Batum rolls in a shot which is swatted out of the rim. The ref makes an obvious goal tending call with 1.4 seconds left. Booner immediately protests the call. Another stunned silence from his partner. Utah leads 46-43.
9:19 As Jefferson misses a jump shot out of the paint, Booner comments that the Jazz need to keep feeding Big Al. I wonder how this comment would go over if Jefferson was morbidly obese.
9:21 Big Al can’t seem to get open, and I smile at myself for realizing that the key to this game was to double team him, Millsap and Favors every chance you get. Make them work for the outside shot.
9:28 The commentators mention that for rookies, Damian Lillard’s numbers are only comparable to Michael Jordan. I didn’t expect that from a rival’s commentator. Then I realize that Lillard went to school at Weber State in Utah. Then I also realize that all bets are off when it comes to Booner.
9:30 Big Al and Millsap have been double teamed nearly every time they get the ball, but Booner points out that Randy Foye just hit his fifth three. This is why I’m not an NBA coach.
9:31 Millsap knocks the ball out of Lillard’s hand and then knocks him down with his body. I hold my breath as I wait for Hickson to come back and demand his lunch money back.
9:40 Lillard found Aldridge under the basket as he cut across the baseline, and LA made a three point play as Big Al fouled him with some force. Lillard stole the ball on the other end and found Aldridge who took one dribble and then landed a two handed slam right over Big Al. Big Al looks like he’d rather be anywhere but on a basketball court as the third quarter ended. Portland 72, Utah 67.
9:51 As I finished my fourth glass of wine I started picturing Aldridge with an eye patch and started chanting to myself, “Oh-we-oh. Yo-ho.” I then snapped out of it when I realized that the Jazz went from being down six to being tied.
9:57 Hickson finds Smith on the baseline for points 222 and 223.
10:07 Smith has twelve points! It’s got to be his career high.
10:09 Utah is down by four with two and a half minutes left in the game. Millsap kicks it to the point guard who redirects the pass to their wing in the corner with no one around—and he clanks it. Hard to win when you can’t hit a wide open corner three.
10:10 Aldridge gets the ball in the high posts and hits a turnaround jumper. Before this season he used to look terrible at the end of games, but he’s really developing into a go to guy.
10:12 Hickson passes the ball to the invisible man, but its deflected right back towards him. He shoots and gets fouled, hitting one of two. JJ Hickson, clearly one of the worst passers in the league. But he's still having a great game tonight. The Blazers are up by seven and have essentially sealed the game with a minute left.
10:14 Millsap misses a shot which is rebounded by LA. Millsap immediately cracks him in the back. Aldridge misses both free throws.
10:17 Mike Newman(?) was the answer to the trivia question. I really thought it was Ainge. I consider looking it up to be sure, but then realized I'm a very lazy man. And I have no idea who Mike Newman(?) is.
10:18 Smith misses to free throws and Randy Foye runs straight to the other end of the court to drill a three. Utah is now down by a three pointer. And I thought it was over. I pour a fifth glass of wine.
10:19 Again with the “Bring the Thunder” pack. Enough already.
10:22 Hickson gets a bogus behind the back call and nails both shots. I'm glad that the referee’s got a picture of himself in Trail Blazer jersey on Face Book.
10:23 Lillard has to foul Foye as he drives into the paint, and he hits one of two. Then Hickson gets the ball, is fouled and makes both shots, sealing the game. Someone on the Jazz hits another shot as pour one last glass and Batum closes it out with two more free throw makes. Portland 105, Utah 99. I start transcribing my notes and finishing the bottle.