Phizbin already has an eyewitness account of the game (and the dancers) up. Since he’s done such a good job, I thought that I would take my review in a slightly different direction. This is my first live game since 1996, and my wife’s first game ever. And so I wanted to share a little bit of the atmosphere that being at the game live has.
We got there early (before they opened the doors to us people with regular tickets) and so we got to wait outside with everyone else. I’m standing there in my Blazers polo while my wife is wearing her Oregon sweatshirt. The fans at the door were friendly and nice. Not at all what I was fearing for wearing the enemy’s colors to the game. A lot of kids there. They were excited about the bobble-heads that they were giving out. As well they should be, Dandridge was a heckuva player, and the parents had raised the kids knowing team tradition.
Actually, the fans in general knew their team and history well. They loved their team, no matter the outcome of the game. With a minute to go, team down by 10, some fans went for the exits, but a lot more than I expected stayed until the final horn sounded. New fans to any team would do well to learn from their example.
We found our seats in the upper bowl an hour before the game started. Three or four Bucks were out working on their shots, and one Blazer – Sergio Rodriguez. I think it was Bobby Medina who was out there feeding Sergio for spot-up threes. And it soon became apparent why they were practicing. Unguarded in the corner, Sergio’s shot was not falling at all. But working on it is exactly the right thing to do, and I was glad to see him out there putting in the effort.
By the time the game started, the arena looked about two-thirds full. Not great, but better than a lot of arenas I’ve seen on TV. And the fans that were there made noise. They gave it all they had in defense chants and cheering for their team. I was once again very impressed. The drum corp was pretty cool too, but other than that, very little of the noise was manufactured. It was natural fandom letting itself loose. From what I hear, the Rose Garden could learn from this.
Fortunately, we were close enough that we could still make out the player’s faces out on the court. My wife recognized each Blazer when they came in. Which in itself is pretty amazing. She grew up as a self-proclaimed sports-loather. She hated all things sports. But learning about the lives of the players, getting to know them as more than basketball players, she started liking them. And this year, with the team playing well, she has joined me on occasion in watching the team. Tonight, she was looking forward to the game, thinking that she would get up to buy a couple of those $7.00 beers if we got thirsty during the game. She didn’t get up. She was having too much fun.
As far as the game itself, it is so much different not having the live boxscore to tell you what is going on, or the announcers. And I think I like it better that way. I looked up at the end of the game and was surprised by the 30 points from Brandon Roy. He scores his points quietly. I didn’t expect Steve blake to have 21 either. I saw him hit a few threes, especially when Milwaukee was making their runs, but 21 was more than I thought. Lamarcus Aldridge didn’t look quite right out there tonight. He looked reluctant to shoot unless the shot clock was almost out, and when that happened, it wasn’t the cleanest look anyway. He passed up a lot of shots that I’m used to him taking. Oden looked real rusty out there. But this is what he needs to get back into the swing of things. My wife loves Rudy. She thinks he looks hot. She cheered pretty loudly anytime he hit a shot. And fortunately, it looks like his shooting is getting better again. Of course the Bucks left him wide open a few times.
The Bucks played well to open the game. But the two players that Portland fans were interested in at the trade deadline, Richard Jefferson and Ramon Sessions had utterly forgettable games when it was all said and done. Sessions got the hook pretty early from Skiles because of bad mistakes. Ridnour doesn’t have Sessions’ ability, but also doesn’t have his headaches. Jefferson was invisible out there, not contributing much of anything. Charlie Villanueva had a good night, throwing up Outlaw-like shots. Shots that look bad, yet go in anyway. Keith Bogans did well off the bench, keeping the score from getting to out of control for the Bucks.
In the end, it was a victory for Portland. And my wife and I had a great time. When we’re back in Portland next Christmas, we might have to get to a game or two at the Rose Garden. If, when I get done with school, I get back out to the Portland area, I might even have her convinced to get half-season tickets. She said that last night may have been the best date we ever went on. I sure hope that’s saying something….