Remember those Pick Your Own Adventure books? The Young Indiana Jones’ and the Zombie Cruise Ships? Well since I, and I’m sure the Blazers themselves, were somewhat flumoxed by tonight’s events, we’re going to play pick your own blog opener:
A.) Wait, we won?
B.) Travis Outlaw has asked you nicely, “Get. Out. Of. My. House.”
C.) The Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon say that I must love Sebastian Telfair if I love Brandon Roy. Or is that the transitive property?
D.) Wait, we won?
E.) SJ texted me four times during that game. Here is what he said: “WTF”…”I can’t belee dis”…”Bizarro land”…”Un-real”…
I think that last one sums this game up nicely. There was no true rhyme nor reason nor rationale for what transpired in Memphis, but the most important thing is Portland matched San Antonio’s win and are still just a game back of third in the Western Conference. If the last two games are any indication (it’s not like the rest of the season has proved this or anything…) is that the Blazers need home court to win a playoff series this year. That goal is still reachable thanks to the Maestro (24 points) and Travis Outlaw’s wonderful bag of tricks.
The first half was instantly forgettable. Nic Batum actually rim checked himself on a baseline dunk attempt, everyone’s legs looked like they were on Japanese time and the Blazers could only muster 14 points in the second quarter. The Grizz took advantage of every Portland turnover and they (O.J. Mayo gets the main mention) were going berserker barrage all half.
LaMarcus Aldridge couldn’t get himself anything resembling a look at the hoop without a hand in his face, and though he made sporadic jumpers, the Grizzlies deserve credit for hounding him all night. He did finish with 8 boards, though, and it’s always nice to see him contribute when the offense isn’t flowing. LaMarcus has convinced me that he’s been in an evolutionary stage of his career over the last two or three weeks, so rather than further analyze his performance tonight I’m just looking forward to what he brings in Texas.
The second half was just a slow, steady burning of the Memphis lead, which dwindled and shrunk under the pressure of Portland’s talent (and bench) until the Blazers went up midway through the fourth. And to think they were down 18 at one point. A tip of the cap to Rudy’s 3 threes and Oden playing reasonably well despite foul trouble.
The thing is, there was nothing exactly “special” about the comeback. The Blazers eventually overwhelmed the shallower and less experienced Grizzlies with some minor flurries (again, Rudy) but mostly just by grinding away with Nate’s system. Does this sound familiar? Basically, what the Grizzlies did at home reminded me of a Blazers performance from the last two years. How many times did we go up early on veteran teams like Phoenix and San Antonio, who didn’t have their A Game, only to look up in the second half and see that the “Old Guys” had chipped away at the lead enough to steal the win? I’ll be Captain Obvious and point out that the Blazers are becoming that veteran team. They aren’t quite there yet — not until they can do it against good teams — but shucks if they don’t just keep finding ways to take steps forward.
And don’t think we forgot Outlaw’s shot. You knew Roy was the decoy. You knew Travis was getting the ball. If there’s anyone on that Grizzlies staff left from last year, they should’ve known it too. Rudy Gay, you got got. Fast forward to the end to see it:
When that shot went in I pounded my coffee table so hard I knocked a glass over from the seismic force (and it’s one of those sturdy IKEA numbers, too). When that shot went in, SJ yelled, “YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME.” When that shot went in, Blazer fans smiled, locked that shot up in the memory bank, erased everything else to do with the game and took the win.