I left last night's game with about 8 minutes to play. Usually I stay to the end, but as a fan of the game of basketball I was disgusted by the mailed-in, heartless effort by the New York Knicks and just didn't want to watch it anymore. I would be poking my eyeballs with skewers right now if I had the misfortune of being a Knick fan.
It was around the 4th or so alley-oop -- the second to Martell Webster within a couple of minutes' time -- that I realized that although it was great to see the Blazers taking care of business against an inferior foe, the casual, careless attitude of the Knicks made the Blazers' dominance not all that enjoyable, but rather something we should have rightly expected. They laid down from the opening tip, and for their sieve-like defense and wanton lack of attention to detail on the offensive end, the Knicks top the list of the 5 worst performances by a Blazers' opponent at the Rose Garden in 2009-10, performances that one suspects had as much to do with the opponents' crappiness as the Blazers' dominance.
(Note: the Mavericks, Thunder and Warriors complete this season's RG docket, but I doubt Dallas and OKC would make this list. It is possible, however, that the Warriors final-game effort might not be much of an effort.)
The top (bottom?) 5 are:
1. New York Knicks, March 31. Blazers 118, Knicks 90. I'll add this to my Knicks comments: Tracy McGrady is being paid in the neighborhood of $560,000 PER GAME this season. Jeff Pendergraph and Dante Cunningham's yearly salaries are less than what McGrady makes in one game. T-Mac should have been cuffed and arraigned last night, because against the Blazers he was flat-out stealing money. Awful, just awful.
2. Orlando Magic, January 15. Blazers 102, Magic 87. Watching this game, I was having a hard time believing that the opponent was an NBA Finalist just a few months earlier. This wasn't the biggest blowout win the Blazers enjoyed this year, but they dominated this game in no small part to the Magic's indifferent performance and mindboggling refusal to pound the ball inside to Dwight Howard, instead settling for bad-looking hoists from downtown. The Magic took THIRTY three-pointers and made 7. That's 23 percent. Howard attempted SEVEN shots. That's just ridiculous. Orlando has since regained their elite form, but on January 15 I was ready to write them off.
3. Indiana Pacers, March 3. Blazers 102, Pacers 79. Ugh. The Pacers are pretty bad in general, but they were turrrrrible against the Blazers. This game set this season's record for most silly, unforced errors by an opponent. They had 18 turnovers, and I swear 10 were of the Jarrett-Jack-on-the-baseline variety. The Pacers stumbled and bumbled through the game like Mr. Magoo after a 2-liter bottle of Mountain Dew. T.J. Ford in particular was just out of it, and Mike Dunleavy Jr. looked very much like a player working his way out of the league. Only star Danny Granger, who really would be a great second banana on a contender, had it going that night. At the time he was pulled because of the hopelessness of the situation, he had scored half of his team's meager output.
4. Chicago Bulls, November 23. Blazers 122, Bulls 98. The Bulls are a team that must drive their fans completely crazy, because for all their talent and ability to rise up and beat good teams on any given night, they also deliver numerous rank stinkers. For the second year in a row the Bulls gave an atrocious defensive effort at the Rose Garden, leaving the interior wide open for the Blazers to make themselves at home. It's not a coincidence that Greg Oden, a few games before his injury, had his season-high scoring output (24) in this game.
5 and 5a. Minnesota Timberwolves, November 8 and November 21. Blazers 116, T-Wolves 93; Blazers 106, T-Wolves 78. The Wolves are horrible, and so I actually didn't intend to put them on the list because, let's face it, you expect the Blazers to wipe the floor with these chumps. But looking back at the results, I was impressed that Minny could get the crap kicked out of them in Portland, then 3 days later let the Blazers kick the crap out of them again in Minneapolis -- and THEN, 10 days later, let the Blazers kick the crap out of them yet AGAIN at the RG! One would expect that pride or at least just a basic ability to learn and adjust would've made the Wolves competitive in the later matchups. But no. And so, they make the list of infamy.
Please comment with your opinions about the lousiest efforts by Blazers' opponents at the Rose Garden this season. I'll be following up before the playoffs with a best list. Thanks for reading!