Yes, the Portland Trail Blazers dropped their final game of the regular season, at home, to a 26-win, gone fishing, lottery-bound, already-booked-their-flights-home Golden State Warriors team. And I’m perfectly ok with it. You can close your mouth now. Normally this would be cause for an uproar. Are you kidding me? Losing at the Rose Garden to a team that before tonight had won 7 games on the road? Blasphemy, right? Incorrect. You see tonight, despite the loss, was still a fun night. The game had its moments (which I will get too later) but it was about so much more. With so much on the line on the last night of the season, it was exciting all the way around. I don’t know about you but from 5 o’clock on I was juiced. Tonight was a rare night of cheering and observing, fist-pumping and channel changing and overall being excited like a 14 year old girl watching Glee.
To be honest with you, as soon as I found out LaMarcus Aldridge would be out…I did not care so much about the outcome of the game. I was more concerned about….*Jim Mora voice*…the playoffs. I went over all the playoff scenarios in my head until it hurt like I was doing advanced algebra. As soon as the San Antonio Spurs dropped their final game at Dallas and it became clear facing the Mavericks (my preference) would be impossible, I was all in with the Suns. Not that I needed an excuse to root against the Jazz, but I have to say there is something refreshing/weird about openly rooting for another team. If you saw our twitter feed…I did get a little excited but it was all in good fun. I even found an old Planet Orange shirt I acquired while at ASU and threw it on. I was beating my chest like a gorilla as the Suns trounced the Jazz and thus gave us hope. Yes folks, I just like you should be ecstatic that the Portland Trail Blazers will not be facing the Utah Jazz in the playoffs. It’s like in high school when you hear that not-so-cute girl wants to ask you to the Sadie Hawkins dance but somehow you avoid her and someone else asks you. Fist pumps indeed.
(Sidenote: Alanis Morrisette irony to be cheering for the same team we now face in the playoffs?)
Onto tonight’s actual game, which was an admirable effort considering Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge AND Marcus Camby were out. Andre Miller played 9 minutes which let you know just how much you should have cared about winning this one. I do love the effort of the guys who played. I mean for pete’s sake they held Golden State scoreless for about 3 minutes there in the fourth….not an easy feat. Speaking of which, Portland was right there late in the fourth until Stephen Curry said “Man, you know what…I kind of want to win this game…and by kind of I mean really” and took over. 16 of their 37 points in the 4th quarter….that boy good. Don’t be surprised if he sneaks up and gets that ROY, yeah I said it! So yes it was a loss but that does not mean this was not a fun game to watch. Being able to see Travis Diener and Patty Mills play actual minutes gets two thumbs up, especially considering Mills dropped 11. Watching Dante Cunningham and Jeff Pendergraph cap off their surprising rookie campaigns with a bang was fun to watch. Cunningham’s double-double was nice, but who saw Mr. Lil Bit dropping 24 points coming? Pendergraph’s personal dunk-fest in the first half had the RG rocking. We’ve talked a lot about having pride in your team, but how about pride in this rookie class. You remember when people (Blazer fans + national analysts) called the draft a ‘disappointment’ for Portland? I’d have to disagree as Dante and Jeff did a great job all year, doing more than expected and helping this team through this rollercoaster season. If anything, they may have benefitted from the injuries the most as they got thrown into the fire and did not get burned. Tonight they showed they are the future.
Other positives… Having more responsibility offensively can only do good for Martell Webster and Jerryd Bayless’ confidence. Also, it was nice to see Portland put up some points against a fast-paced opponent when you consider we are facing the Suns. We could nitpick about this one but I’ll pass. I’m going to ignore allowing GS to shoot 50% and all that jazz, because truthfully it is not going to be on anyone’s minds tomorrow or in 2 days. Let’s be honest…Devean George dropped 16 points which means the Warriors were just meant to win this game from the get go.
So now the stage is set for a playoff showdown with the Phoenix Suns. We will have much more in the days to come so stick around. This is where the real fun begins, people. Come on Blazer fans, all we gotta do is focus….