For 36 minutes we suffered through some hideous hucking. For the last 12: we were treated to history.
The Portland Trail Blazers launched a monumental fourth quarter comeback at the Rose Garden on Saturday, defeating the Dallas Mavericks 84-82 after digging themselves out of a 23-point third quarter hole. The win evened the first round playoff series between the teams at 2 games apiece.
"Ugly start but good finish," Blazers forward Nicolas Batum deadpanned.
Through three quarters, the Blazers shot 28.6% from the field, 15.4% from deep and had scored just 49 points, being held to 11 first quarter points and 14 third quarter points.
And then Blazers guard Brandon Roy put together one of the greatest quarters in franchise history.
Roy outscored the Mavericks 18-15 in the final quarter, abusing Shawn Marion with his step-back arsenal, hitting 8 of his 10 fourth-quarter shots, converting an improbable four-point play to tie the game and then nailing a mid-range jumper to give Portland its winning margin.
After the game, Blazers GM Rich Cho emerged from Portland's locker room with a giddy smile. Cho is the definition of level-headed, impossible to pin down on anything. Just watch this interview with Forbes.com. He is so reluctant to reveal personal details that he will barely commit to naming his favorite restaurants.
"You can't say enough about Brandon," Cho said, shaking his head in disbelief before delivering a declaration shared by an entire city. "That was the best comeback I've ever seen."
It was also the largest fourth-quarter comeback in postseason franchise history and just the third time in the shot clock era that a team has come back to win a playoff game while trailing by 18+ points entering the fourth quarter.
"Tonight was the Brandon Roy of old," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "He took the game on his shoulders and just carried the team, willed the team to a win. There were possessions where I thought he was doing a good job of setting guys up and kicking it out. In the fourth quarter I saw the Brandon of old in the sense that he wasn't passing the ball. He was going to take the shot and he was going to live with the result, whether he made it or missed it."
After attempting to manage expectations following a difference-making Game 3 performance, Roy went and trumped any stretch of play he's ever produced as a professional. He left the press corps looking more slack-jawed than Macauley Culkin in Home Alone. Mouths were literally open. Awe. Wonder. Disbelief. Pick any synonym. No, every synonym. The list goes on.
"What he lacks in meniscus, he makes up for in nuts," one writer quipped hours later, the performance still sinking in.
It was the loudest I've ever heard the Rose Garden, the noise carrying out of the building as fans continued to chant for nearly an hour after the game. I don't know much about politics but Saturday had a "key to the city" feel to it.
"Our fans were unbelievable again for us," McMillan said, before offering a typically-understated quip. "We did things to get them out of their seats."
"He'll be back," Batum said matter-of-factly, when asked what Roy's game might look like next year or two years down the road. "He's going to be Brandon Roy."
The same Roy that he has always been?
"Yeah," Batum said again, without a doubt or hesitation.
"I feel it," Batum said touching his chest. "I know him. I've played with this guy for three years now. I know he was going through a tough time. Guys like Patty, Rudy, Wesley, everybody. We believe in him. We believe in B. Roy."
He then gave me a taste of his interior monologue down the stretch. "B. Roy, you're an All-Star, a three-time All-Star. Take the ball. They can't stop you. You just have to believe in yourself."
The turning point was an around-and-in three-pointer that Roy hit just before the end of the third quarter.
"I knew B. Roy was going to be ready when he scored his three at the end of the third quarter," Batum said. "And before the fourth quarter he said, 'Hey, now play. We're going to win this game.' He started to be more vocal. I was like, 'OK, follow him.'"
"We just had to try to chip away at the lead," Cho said. "We weren't making shots, eventually we were going to make shots and we just had to chip away. Make plays on both ends of the floor."
- Here's my Game 4 column for CBSSports.com.
- All the late-game videos you need.
- There was so much Twitter activity on the BE account following the post-game quotes that it crashed my entire laptop. First time that's ever happened.
- Right as the game ended, the auto-generated Twitter feed belonging to ESPNDallas.com's Jeff Caplan spit out his third quarter blog recap. The headline: "Mavs blow out Blazers, silence Rose Garden." Which, given the huge comeback and insane pandemonium when it spit out, couldn't have been funnier or more inaccurate. My long-time writing buddy Ezra Caraeff compared it to Dewey Defeats Truman.
- Caplan later wrote: "Oh great, I'm now trending in Portland...No disrespect meant, Blazers fans, it was a third-quarter report only. But, fire away. Ah, now I realize the fate of that 3rd qtr blog. Blogs automatically post on twitter, but well after they are actually written. Oh, brother. I can't wait to return to Portland for Game 6."
- Wesley Matthews, who had a crucial defensive stop when he forced a Jason Kidd turnover late, on the win: "It's huge. We took care of business. We feel like the pressure is off of us right now. They won their two at home, we won our two at home. Our confidence is high. Now we've got to go steal one on the road."
- Cho on whether he saw this postseason explosion coming from Roy: "He's shown flashes. He had a great game against Denver earlier this year. It's great to see the Brandon of old."
- Nicolas Batum on the crowd: "Crowd pushing you on defense, sometimes they're too loud, we can't hear each other on defense. We're like, 'I called a screen.' 'I didn't hear youuuuuu.' It's too loud. This crowd is just unbelievable. That was crazy."
- Nicolas Batum on the stoked locker room afterwards: "These games are crazy. Last game it was relief. But now we've got to stay focused, we've got to win two more games."
Nate McMillan's Post-Game Comments
A great fourth quarter by our guys. I thought we struggled trying to put the ball in the hole tonight and I thought that had an impact on the defensive end of the floor. We dropped our heads. We needed to get our heads up and play the game. Stop thinking and do the things we know we need to do. I felt we did that.
Defensively we got aggressive, we got stops. Offensively we got spacing, we made shots. Brandon just did a great job of being poised. We talk about our three C's all the time -- being calm, being clear about what we want to do, and being consistent with that. We got stops. We got into our offense. We made buckets, we got stops, we made bucks which is what we needed to do in the fourth quarter. And we were able to come back and win this game. Just a great fourth quarter by our guys.
As I said before, there is nobody, including Brandon Roy, that wants to see him on the floor as much as I do. We all here in Portland know what he's capable of doing. Tonight was the Brandon Roy of old. He took the game on his shoulders and just carried the team, willed the team to a win. There were possessions where I thought he was doing a good job of setting guys up and kicking it out. In the fourth quarter I saw the Brandon of old in the sense that he wasn't passing the ball. He was going to take the shot and he was going to live with the result, whether he made it or missed it.
Well, not so much to Brandon but to the team. You never give up, you never quit. They didn't give up and didn't quit. I thought we started to feel sorry for ourselves because we couldn't make shots but they didn't quite. I thought the intensity, the pressure by Rudy, Nicolas, that second group in the fourth quarter. We started to get some stops. We made some buckets and once again we got our crowd into the game. That energy helped us going into the fourth.
We made shots, our fans were unbelievable again for us. We did things to get them out of their seats. That momentum helped us come back. But the one thing: we didn't quit. I thought we started to feel sorry, I saw a lot of our heads dropped at one of the timeouts. We just need to get our heads up and play ball.
Roy say anything on the bench?
He didn't say anything. Brandon doesn't talk much. But you could see in his eyes that he was going to control this game. We hadn't seen that in awhile. As I said before, I thought for three quarters he was playing the game, looking to make the play. In the fourth quarter he was looking to take the shot. I thought, I felt like he felt that he was either going to make his shot or miss his shot but he was going to take the shot.
Managing Roy this season
Well, it's been a process going down the stretch. As far as his role, this is something our doctors, Brandon, the organization basically said we're going to play this way with him down the stretch. Brandon off the bench, slowly working him back, see what we can do this season with Brandon, as far as coming off the bench and limiting his minutes. Trying to fit this role for this year.
After this we will look at next season. It was pretty much a wait and see. We've tried to do that. I felt that in this role and Brandon and I talked about we would have some match-ups that we could get to, and we would want to take advantage of. I think it does put pressure on teams to have to find a way to match-up with him. Tonight they had a number of guys trying to guard him, Stevenson, they ended up with Marion, someone bigger, Terry, Barea. A number of guys were guarding him tonight. But I felt in this role that he would play for the rest of the season, we would have a match-up.
Did you think it was over down 23?
What I saw from my team was I thought we were feeling sorry for ourselves. We had to play the game and get aggressive. Get stops. And at least get a rhythm. Was it over? No. But we had 12 minutes. We knew that it was going to be tough to come back but as you can see anything is possible. The energy was great, our fans were great, we made plays, Dallas I thought started to miss some shots, lose some rhythm. We were able to pull this out.
Challenge for Game 5
Just paint a picture of the situation. Now the pressure is on, really, both of us. Certainly we know that we will come home to play a game. Game 5 is very important. We know we have to win Game 5 so we have an opportunity to get it at home. For us, if we can get Game 5 and have home court advantage in our building.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter