Yeah, well, mingling with many scores of people at the official Blazersedge Get-Together at The Agency (see Ben's post below and the sidebar post by RP and my next post) kind of cut into my game-watching time, like completely. I cannot in good faith give you a fair recap of this game, as it was a "corner of my eye" experience. (Much like TominHawaii covertly eyeing my Truffle Fries with lust in his eyes without trying to be obvious.) However I can give you some general observations/themes.
--The Blazers came out hitting their shots and played well for the first 3-4 minutes. I know it's not much, but at least their hearts were in the right places. This wasn't a slack-fest.
--The Blazers also came back three or four times, including cutting the lead to two at least once that I remember. That's no mean feat after getting down early to the Nuggets in their own building. Again, there was heart there.
--Denver smacked us back down before we threatened for real, however. This was possible because the Nuggets, as stated multiple times today, are a really bad matchup for us. And because they are veterans. And because 'Melo was motivated. And most of all because, honestly, this game meant more to them than it did to us. I know, I know...division lead and young confidence and all of that, but those things pale beside the expectations that Denver faces and the ultra-disaster that would have befallen them had they lost this game. I can almost guarantee you Denver would have gone into a flat tailspin had they lost tonight. Portland, meanwhile, would have been ecstatic just to win this game. There's a motivational difference there that our execution just wasn't enough to overcome.
--The Blazers also got tired because of the back-to-back. I don't think that had to happen. I suspect had the Blazers hung within 4 or 5 in the fourth quarter you would have seen the adrenaline pumping and those young legs looking springy. But getting down by double-digits after being so close just sapped whatever will was left. That's not unusual. Nor is it optimal. It's just human.
--Oh, and Chris "Birdman" Anderson made me really uncomfortable with that running his fingers through his hair thing after the block of Rudy's layup attempt. In fact I'm thinking of suing him for creating a hostile working environment. Unless he can conclusively prove that he is a major fan of "Bowser" of "Sha-Na-Na" fame he's probably going to lose.
I'll tell you the truth...Portland almost certainly couldn't have held the division lead it would have possessed with a win tonight anyway. Odds are the Blazers will fall behind both Denver and Utah as things stand. That's not the worst thing in the world. The important thing is not finishing 9th in an eight-team race. Tonight's game was important as far as divisional standings but it's just another game in terms of those Western Conference standings. We lost it. So be it. Just don't turn it into two losses Saturday night.
Those who watched the game (or went) can feel free to give more detailed obsverations in the comment section. Having now been up 19+ hours doing nothing but Blazer talk on radio, podcast, over meals, on breaks, and at the gathering I'm going to write a little about Blazersedge Night and then call it a night myself.
Pleasant dreams, all...hopefully about a redeeming win on Saturday.
Check out an undoubtedly better recap at PIckAxeandRoll.