And so this Portland Trail Blazer era ends, not with a bang but a whimper. Without any season opening starters except Wesley Matthews, the Blazers came up just short, missing a last-second shot against the playoff-bound Utah Jazz. These Blazers head into the Summer preparing for wholesale changes that possibly even we don't see coming.
Let's give the Blazers credit: Even with the season rendered meaningless, they came out tonight and left it on the court, trying to get one more win. They stayed close all night long.
The Blazers were led by the young guys, JJ Hickson (20 points, 9 rebounds), Jonny Flynn (a double-double with 18 points and 11 assists), and Nolan Smith (16 points, 7 assists in the starting PG role).
Update via Blazers PR: By virtue of not playing on Thursday night, Blazers guard Jamal Crawford finished the season 191-for-206, posting a franchise-best 92.7 percent and clinching the NBA's free throw title in the process. He is the first Blazers player in franchise history to lead the NBA in free throw shooting percentage. -- Ben
Let's keep this quick. The Jazz played their starters, but the Blazers actually showed up tonight. They kept it close through the first half, only down 7 at halftime. Every time Utah tried to pull away, the Blazers would pull back into a tie. They stayed within 3 after the third. Early in the fourth, Wesley and Kurt gave the Blazers took the lead. Wesley made it 4. From there, Utah fought back to a tie with 5 minutes left. Shortly after, they regained the lead. The Blazers wouldn't go away, getting a last shot with a few seconds left. But the Jazz barely held on to victory, after which the exhausted Blazers headed home to an uncertain Summer.
First, it's time for a quick aside. Since Dave and Ben are cool at letting me say whatever (within reason of course), let me take a minute to cover something that is never publicly mentioned. After spending a year with some increasing duties here at Blazersedge, I'll let you all in on a secret: Those two guys put in a lot of work here. I mean, more than you probably realize. It's clear with every e-mail and chat exchange I have with them. They're both given freedom to be creative, and while you (and I) won't always agree with them, they put in endless hours making this site interesting and entertaining. So anyway, prepare for more interesting stuff this Summer because these guys are on the ball.
And that's it for 2011-12. Take a deep breath everybody. The "lost season" is over. -- Tim
PS -- Don't go anywhere this Summer. Beyond the extensive draft and team analysis, we'll have more Gameday Threads to come, including the draft lottery, the draft itself, and Summer League. And, if I can make it happen, a couple more GDT's just for fun.
PPS -- The "no pictures" rule is hereby lifted. As this era ends, you're welcome to post your favorite picture from this era (starting in 2007). Please keep the image width under 400 pixels if possible! (by adding "width=400" before the last slash when you add an image)