Please welcome Andy P., tonight's special in-arena correspondent for the Portland Trail Blazers' 97-87 win over the Brooklyn Nets. One of the things we wanted to achieve with these reports was giving you a fresh, first-hand view of the atmosphere surrounding Blazers games. In order to achieve that we're going to rotate correspondents every half-dozen games or so throughout the season. Our instructions to Andy as he takes up his pen are the same we gave to Bryan before him: write from the heart, put us in your seat, let us know how you see the game and the arena, and don't worry about how anyone else does it, up to and including our full-time staff.
We invite Blazer's Edge readers to enjoy Andy's voice and observations for the next couple weeks. Here's what he saw in the Moda Center tonight.
Hi I'm Andy and I'll be your in-arena correspondent for the next 6 games. I've been a Blazers fan ever since I was a fetus. No joke! My mom and dad went to a game while she was pregnant with me and they have been my team ever since. I have been a season ticket holder for 5 years now and I sit up in the 300 level. Shout out to Dan two seats over from me. We've sat next to each other for two seasons now and just found out tonight we are both big-time readers of BlazersEdge.
Up tonight was the Brooklyn Nets! The crowd seemed fired up from the get-go for the epic showdown of the Lopez twins. Brook was booed heartily during his introduction and RoLo seemed to get more cheers than normal during his. Surprisingly, Bojan Bogdanovich got a nice round of cheers during his introduction. Is Portland a Bojan town or do we have decent Croatian representation? Maybe a little bit of both. More on that later.
Portland's team intro featured a cool "retro/old school" animation with funky music. I liked it more than the usual bombastic intro with background music that sounds like it came from a Michael Bay movie. Coach Stotts picked Meyers Leonard to start in place of LaMarcus Aldridge, which got a few questions and comments from my section. Someone a few rows back shouted, "Play it cool, Meyers!"
The battle of the Lopez twins started off favoring the Nets as Brook captured the opening tip. At this point I noticed that there wasn't a strong contingent of Nets fans in the building. Either that or Nets fans are very quiet. In fact the whole crowd seemed a little subdued until Dame hit a 3, followed by "Defense!" chants during the next Nets possession.
Shortly after that Kevin Garnett was subbed out of the game and didn't look very pleased with it at all.
The Blazers seemed to be hustling around and it showed in the game with an early lead.
During the nightly presentation of a piece of the 1977 championship floor to a long time season ticket it holder the cameras landed on a section of the crowd which was cheering for Bojan! They even had professional looking signs which said things like "Bojan Obitelj! and "Idemo Bojan!" Its too bad for his fans that he missed all his field goal attempts, but it was cool that they got a chance to see him play. Overall, besides a couple instances (such as when Chris Kaman subbed in) the crowd was pretty quiet during the first quarter.
The arena got livelier when CJ McCollum got fouled on a 3 point shot. During the following timeout the Blazers Stunt Team handed out the foul shot clappers and the arena music pumped some Notorious B.I.G. I feel like this got the crowd more excited. Well, that and Will Barton entering the game. The People's Champ always seems to get the crowd going.
In the 2nd quarter the lineup of Steve Blake, CJ, Will, Joel Freeland and Kaman was really hustling, getting steals and running the floor. It's nice to see our 2nd team really coming together. Steve Blake hit a 3 and the crowd responded well but overall it still felt like the atmosphere was a little subdued. I looked up at the scoreboard and saw the Blazers were shooting 21% and the Nets were shooting 31% and that started to make sense. Around this time someone behind me shouted "Brick night?!"
The crowd in my general area was at their loudest in the first half when a timeout contest winner got the entire 300 level free haircuts at Great Clips.
During halftime I always wander the halls and look for cool or interesting jerseys. There wasn't many Nets jerseys but I did see a few: a Coleman jersey, a couple Williams jerseys (including a Jazz jersey) and one guy in a Brook Lopez jersey with a New Jersey Devils hat. Nice. I was kind of disappointed I didn't see any Petrovic jerseys. For the home team I saw the obvious mixture of current players along with a few Drexlers. One guy in a Kersey jersey had a buddy in a Porter jersey with him. Very nice. Also seen: Sabonis CCCP jersey, Roy West All Star jersey, a ‘Sheed jersey and a cool Star Wars scarf. There seemed to be more than usual Oregon Ducks gear in the crowd.. possibly a nod to Alabama beating Mississippi State earlier in the day which might help the Ducks playoff hopes?
The crowd was slow to come back from halftime and wasn't very loud in the first couple minutes of the 3rd quarter. Then they seemed to come to life to boo the refs for a RoLo foul on Deron Williams. At 3 minutes left in the 3rd I noticed that the Nets hadn't hit a 3 pointer in the game. Bojan going 0-fer probably didn't help that.
In the 4th quarter Will Barton got the crowd going with some good play and some bad. Say what you will about him, Barton definitely gets reactions. The Nets made a run in the middle of the 4th but the crowd really didn't get into it because the Blazers lead seemed safe. Nod to Meyers and Allen Crabbe for playing well in place of the usual starters. At 5 minutes left in the quarter the Nets still hadn't hit a 3 pointer. Huge bummer! Then a RoLo block on Kevin Garnett got some people in my section up on their feet.
The Nets tried to make good on their run but thankfully the Blazers held them off. Finally, Deron Williams hit the first 3 for the Nets with 18.3 seconds left in the game. It was too little too late as the Blazers walked away with the victory.
There were a few cool signs in the crowd: "Go Team Curly!", "RoLo > BroLo", "King Kong Kaman", "Sorry BroLo we like RoLo!", "Basketball.. so easy a Kaman can do it!", "RoLo vs. Bropez."
All in all I felt that the crowd was fairly subdued tonight, possibly because of the starters being out, the Nets not really being a rival, all the bricked shots early or just because. The Moda Center better get ready to bring it for the Pelicans on Monday!
Note: The picture thing didn't work out tonight. They will return in subsequent In-Arena Reports.