The Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in the Rose Garden on Thursday night 107-96, pushing their record to a Western Conference best 5-1 on the young season.
Sadly the world did not get to see the first half of this contest because TNT, as has been their habit for years now despite repeated complaints, failed to show it.
Now let me state this clearly: I am not just talking about the triple-overtime finish to the East Coast game. The knee-jerk reaction of television executives and casually-paying-attention fans will be, "What were they supposed to do? It's 3OT!" I understand that. Triple-overtime games happen and they're rare. That wasn't the only issue, though. Even had the Miami-Atlanta game ended in regulation that was still 30 minutes after the scheduled start of the Western Conference game broadcast. Even without the overtimes the country would have missed a significant portion of the Blazers-Lakers game. With the overtimes it was a disaster.
And let's be clear about this too: there's no external recourse here. TNT has a contractual lock on these Thursday night games. They cannot be broadcast locally by the vast majority of franchises. There's no other avenue than TNT to view them and yet TNT is saying, "We WILL NOT SHOW YOU THIS GAME." Intentionally or not, this is the effect. They have the power to negatively affect every person in the country, including all the people in the local areas of the teams in question, and they are making the choice to have that negative effect. They are showing yet again that they do not care about the sport or its fans as much as their own convenience and their perceived ratings. That's an ironic statement from a network that's choosing to broadcast said sport and depending on fans to watch it.
The solution to this is painfully obvious. If you cannot delay the West Coast game's start and you cannot space the games farther apart in the first place, then show the second game on a sister network. It probably doesn't matter to NBA fans whether the game is shown there in its entirety or we have to switch over when the East Coast game is through. Either one works and fans are smart enough to follow wherever their sport goes if given the chance. Since NBA fans chronically miss the start of every Thursday night West Coast game my suggestion is that this policy be implemented immediately...that at minimum the 7:30-8:00 Pacific block on TBS (for example) be reserved for alternate NBA broadcasts. If it's more convenient, keep the whole second game there.
Also a message to the NBA: If you care about more than just dollars and cents, if your passion for your fans isn't just lip service, then your next contract with TNT (should you make the decision to renew with them) needs to include a clause that they actually broadcast your games in their entirety. Right now you are a party to depriving the world of your own sport.
Until then, let me highly recommend ESPN who does not seem to have the same problem. They broadcast a full slate of Friday night games and missing any part of the second one is exceedingly rare. Whatever you think of the four-letter network, they are clearly superior in this regard.
My personal ethics have always been that I do not review games I have missed significant parts of. Five minutes? Fine. But I don't guess, I don't advance opinions on things I haven't seen, and I don't do this to prove personal theories apart from the game. I give you the best possible analysis I can on things I have actually witnessed. Having not seen half of this game I am not comfortable giving a regular review. Fortunately Blazersedge has a fine representative at the Rose Garden for every home game, allowing us to get around TNT's lack of consideration. For the complete game story I will refer you to Ben Golliver's Media Row Report which will be up later tonight. Ben is aware of the television situation and will give you the most complete story on this game he can.
As for what I saw in the second half, it was classic 2011-12 homecourt Blazers (if anything can be classic after 6 games of the season) plus a Lakers team that isn't quite ready for prime time. The Blazers dominated in turnovers, rebounded hard, and ran. The combination of LaMarcus Aldridge attempts at the hoop off of passes and the guards hitting their outside jumpers sealed the deal, preventing the Lakers from any sort of comeback. Much like the Kevin Durant in Portland's last game, Kobe Byrant seemed content to loft stupid shots in isolation, letting Portland's defense tell the tale. Full marks to the Blazers for being intimidating enough to force that and shutting off easy opportunities. Full marks too for their swarming of Andrew Bynum in the process. Fingers wagging at L.A. for their lack of cohesion and some very small violins playing that their supporting cast this year isn't near enough to compensate for opposing teams keying on the stars.
Gerald Wallace and LaMarcus Aldridge looked brilliant in this game from what I saw. Their attack opened up those jumpers for the smaller players.
The stat of the night was probably 4 turnovers for Portland. The Blazers have proved they can force turnovers but those picks and stops don't do much good when given right back. Nice job in keeping the tempo brisk too. The Blazers were ready to haul down the court after every rebound. They look sweet when they do that. A close second for stat of the night would be 4 fast break points for the Lakers. 46 points in the paint is a huge number for the Blazers, probably indicative of a passing motion offense and the Lakers' lack of interior "D" on the night.
SilverScreenandRoll should give you the L.A. perspective.
If you attended this game, please fill in your own game recap below until Ben's goes up.