Updated: tried to fix the crummy formatting.
Here are the qualifying remarks up front:
- I was drinking steadily over the course of this game. Detail may have wandered by the fourth quarter.
- You guys can read the box-score on your own. I tried to relay stuff in the mold of Ben’s Media Row reports.
- Finally, a shoutout to my sister who, for my Christmas present, got me seats for this game that were in the third row behind the Blazers bench, which gave me a great view of everything happening and gives rise to the notes below. Especially those notes regarding Rebecca Harlow.
Milwaukee is a beautiful city. Broad avenues, tons of open park space near the water front, relatively clean, and while unemployment was listed at 8.8% on the day of our arrival, it seems in relatively good spirits.
The first thing we did was try to enter the US Cellular arena with our Bucks tickets. It turns out the game is actually played in the Bradley center. Whoops.
In the Bradley Center, things were a lot more happening. There was a live band playing Cold Play covers. It was spacious and cool. We got a bobble head for some guy named Bobby Dandridge. Weird thing about the stadium: no microbrews! What’s up with that?! That afternoon, we had a great tour at the Lakefront Brewery that makes all kinds of great beer but you can’t get any of it at the stadium. That’s very poor. Especially since they charged me $7.00 for the Miller Lite. Also, I recall some controversy over the Rose Garden selling Kobe jerseys. Well, I checked the Bradley Center for Brandon Roy jerseys and there were none to be found. Apparently, Roy hasn’t arrived yet.
So, I’m kind of a closet Rebecca Harlow fan… here are all the RH notes. First, she was rocking a black silk blouse and mini-skirt tonight and looking great! She had these heels… they must have been four inches easy. That must be to assist her in interviewing taller Blazer players. Two funny notes about RH: first, she has impeccable footwork when interview in front of the camera with one foot hooked around the other foot (I happen to learn this is the proper female stance from my wedding photos); second, before sitting on the padded bench for press row, she examined it for cleanliness and actually avoided one spot because it wasn’t clean enough. Rebecca: always the professional! (My friend, who was with me, didn’t know who Rebecca was. I explained her by saying, “Well, she’s kind of like Melissa Stark for the Trail Blazers” and that resonated.)
There were a smattering of Blazer fans all over the arena and almost all of them were wearing #7 jerseys. Near us, there was a son and mother combo where the mother must’ve been 70 but rocking a Blazers jersey. Very cool. There was even one Sonics jersey in the crowd sporting a Ridnour jersey. Way to never say die, Sonics Fan!
Batum was in street clothes as everyone knows. I yelled at him once in warmups shouting, “Nicholas! Nicholas! Get healthy man!” He looked but was nonplussed. Hey, at least I tried. I was trying to imply mentally that this was on behalf of all Blazers Edge but I don’t think my telepathy got through. He certainly wasn’t in a chatty mood.
Blake chatted up Richard Jefferson for quite a while during warmups. Bayless actually talked up some guy on the Bucks who never entered the game and I never figured out who it was. So there is a streak of humanity in Bayless (which will be a disappointment to mahy Bayless fans).
Also during warmups, Joel is out there getting stretched by a trainer. The trainer basically has him in a position that looks like “the buck” position, which is a position familiar to any rap enthusiasts out there. So while Joel is on his back in “the buck” with another guy, this TV camera guy puts the camera right in Joel’s face and starts filming a close-up. Tough to be in the NBA… if I were Joel, I’d’ve punched the guy.
During the national anthem it was interesting to see that Nate was ramrod straight and still. Channing Rye and Ruffin both listened to it with reverently bowed heads. Everyone else took it all very casually.
During the intros to the Bucks, it’s dark with spotlights intermittently flashing and this drum corps making a racket and, during it all, Nate is drawing up plays by himself on his little whiteboard. That’s dedication. The man never stops.
All the starters fist-bumped the Mikes during their intros. Love for the TV crew.
Another interesting note, I saw that the Bucks press corps—and for all I know, the whole NBA—is running Microsoft Windows 2000. Are you kidding me? It appeared to be jammed and showing an error message for the first part of the game.
So the game:
At 7-0 (Bucks leading—I will list their score first from here on out) Nate calls a timeout. I was expecting him to cuss out the players. But he didn’t. He didn’t—not one single time in this game—lose his temper in front of the players. He was a marvel of calm. I did notice, weirdly, that Brandon Roy did not pay the slightest bit of attention to Nate while he was drawing up a play and coaching. Weird.
At 9-0, Nate stands up for the first time and I don’t think sat for the rest of the game. Right after he stood, Roy got fouled and made two free throws.
11-4, Blazers look really tired and, despite Dave’s pre-game notes that they need to drive the lane, no one seems to have the energy to do that. Rudy comes in the game. You can’t believe how skinny that guy is in person. I don’t think he’s ever lifted a weight in his life.
22-16, there’s a timeout is called after Rudy gets fouled pretty hard. He’s cracked across the jaw and he spends the whole timeout wincing and working his injured mandible. Once again, Roy doesn’t give Nate the time of day during the timeout but instead watches the Bucks dancers. Who have to say are pretty dang awesome.
1st Qtr close, Sergio is mad (and Bayless doesn’t enter the game!! Dang, I know I’m not supposed to mention this because of Dave’s moratorium but can we stop with the flip-flopping of back-up PGs???) and slaps the chair. He actually set up some open shots and I thought he finished the quarter well. But he wasn’t pleased with his play. Rudy is still working over his jaw the whole break between quarters.
26-20, another timeout and I notice that Blake, even though he’s no even in the game and Nate’s not addressing anyone not in the game, is intently watching the play he’s drawing up. Unlike Roy, who is still more interested in dancer festivities. At this timeout, the Bradley Center holds a baby race. This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. Four moms come out with their infants, they put them on a straight race track of four lanes, and try to encourage them to crawl to the finish line. One stopped and cried the whole time. One went halfway there and turned around and crawled back to the start. But the winner chased his teddy bear all the way to the finish line and advanced to the next round, which is apparently going to be in the next game.
29-23, Trout gets the most undeserved assist in the history of the NBA when he fires a pass at Rudy’s nose on his drive. Rudy somehow manages to catch the ball (a miracle in itself) and make the 3 pointer. Nate looks heavenward in exasperation even though the ball went in. Many times during this game, Nate looked more angry at made shots than missed ones.
32-28, another timeout, and Nate tells the whole team very distinctly, “You’ve gotta slow down, alright? You’ve gotta slow down.” Well, so much for pushing the pace.
35-31, Joel fouls Sessions pretty and hard and comes to Nate for advice in game without Nate even beckoning him. That’s pretty cool. He seemed satisfied with whatever Nate told him because I saw him say, “Ok.” I like to see that.
Halftime. Ok, don’t know what happened because I really had to recycle some beer. In the bathroom, some Milwaukee guy says, “Hey, at least we don’t have to pee in troughs like a bunch of Savages. Thanks Wrigley field for a 100 years of failure.” Why did he have to hate on Chicago? As it turned out, Milwaukee’s bathroom, while not having troughs, also lacked soap at the sink and paper towels. So much for hygiene. They must rely on whatever chemicals Miller is pumping into the Milwaukee river for cleansing.
Coming out of halftime, Nate is drawing up plays and NOW Roy is paying pretty close attention. I was kinda watching the dancers. I have to report that the Bradley center was about three-quarters full and the fans were pretty cool. Even the ones that weren’t Blazer fans.
43-40, while Joel is shooting free throws after getting fouled, Sessions is calling some kind of play to his team. Blake looks right at him and says, “What’s that?” Sessions is a rookie and didn’t know better, I guess, because he actually answered Blake and Blake immediately relayed that information to Roy. Weird.
43-46, Blazers are in the lead and Trout makes a long, typical Travis shot. Nate is unmoved. He reacts to a lot of things but he has learned to not be emotionally involved in Travis’ shot selection.
46-48, OMG, Trout scores and then he taketh away with that turnover. Wow. Even the Bucks fans were laughing.
51-57, timeout… Roy is really paying attention now. I guess he waits for the second half to listen to Nate.
51-59, out of timeout, Blake makes this crazy turnover and Nate immediately turns to Oden. Weird, but it seems like the rookie is the equivalent of Nate’s calming medication. Oden the soporific.
56-65, Refs hate Sergio just like the Sergio conspiracy theorists claim everybody hates Sergio. He gets absolutely mauled out on the court and the refs look the other way.
58-67, Sergio tries to pass to Rudy and Rudy is in a different place on the court. There was kind of a tense moment between the two when Surge is kind of pissed at Rudy. The Spanish Connection is not always transmitting data at 100mbs.
58-67, holy cow! Sergio gets mutilated like the bull in “Apocalypse Now, Director’s Cut” and sill no foul. The refs really hate Sergio!! Oden has to come out after the subsequent foul. I know that Ben takes some heat for criticizing Oden’s attitude, but check it out: as Oden comes out every player offers a high five (or some version thereof) to Oden and he basically ignores all of them. He kind of walks by and allows his hand to accidently brush them but doesn’t make any effort despite their efforts to cheer him up. This is contrary to every other player coming out. I think his reputation may be a little deserving.
65-73, LMA is coming back into the game. Sergio is looking over his should expecting to get pulled but doesn’t. Poor kid… always looking over his shoulder.
74-82, I’m trying like hell to get the attention of this brunette Bucks dancer and get a T-shirt… but I can’t get any love from her. Darn it!
79-84, another timeout. I don’t know what Roy is watching but I’M watching the dancers.
86-91, Roy makes this sick, sick shot that had no right to go in but does because he’s so incredibly awesome. But Nate doesn’t care. He calls timeout anyway because he’s mad.
It’s 1:10 to go now and the crowd has given up. I’m standing and cheering from my awesome third row seat. Check it out: security tells me to sit down. Mind you, I’m being very polite and it turns out no one is allowed to stand while the game is in session in the front rows!! Wow. Can you imagine that happening in the RG? Maybe it does… if so, I don’t want to know about it. I felt like The Man was cramping my style.
All in all, the Bucks fans I talked to love Sessions, love Jefferson, and hate Ridnour. They’re in awe of Roy. There is a lot of booing for Oden, which is weird. His injury reputation is pervasive in the NBA because the fans that were heckling were heckling Oden for his injury. Gotta be grating on the kid.
At the end of the game, I couldn’t get any autographs from the players. But check it out:
I GOT AN AUTOGRAPH FROM REBECCA HARLOW!!!!! She was so sweet. She wrote, “Thanks for being a fan, Neil. Love, Rebecca Harlow.”
Dude, Rebecca Harlow LOVES ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I’m going to take that one to the Bank!!!
Hope you guys enjoyed my recap. Sorry if it’s a little nonsensical and less detailed at the end. As it is, I regard this as a workmanlike victory. The Blazers did just enough to win: not an ounce of more effort than was required and not an ounce less. A good win in this kind of setting at the end of a road trip.