Special correspondent Andy P. gives us the view from the Moda Center during the Portland Trail Blazers' 107-93 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
After the last couple games--a marquee type matchup against the Chicago Bulls as well as last Friday's grindfest against the Memphis Grizzlies--getting fired up for the rebuilding, injury-riddled Minnesota Timberwolves seemed like too much work for the Moda Center crowd tonight. During the Minnesota introductions I noticed a fairly large percentage of fans in my section looking at their phones. There was still a fair amount of boos for the villainous Corey Brewer. Most people remember the apocalyptic block that Thomas Robinson inflicted on one of Brewer's shots last season. Other people remember the little skirmish that preceded it as Brewer wrapped up Damian Lillard's legs and some choice words passed between the two.
The Blazers went with the more intense intro video tonight. I would have gone with the more chilled-out funky intro for this matchup. I hope that one hasn't been retired for the season! After the introductions ended Wesley Matthews, LaMarcus Aldridge and Chris Kaman looked to be chatting under the basket for an extra moment, probably talking about how to best take advantage of Minnesota's lack of size and experience.
A spotty and quiet crowd never really got going in the 1st quarter. Andrew Wiggins got a little cheer for his first made 3. Steve Blake sunk a 3 after checking in near the end of the quarter which inspired some "DEFENSE!" chants but overall the crowd seemed a bit confused by the fight that the Timberwolves were putting up. Shouldn't we be crushing these guys?
In the second the mostly subdued crowd watched Minnesota push out to a lead and started to get annoyed. Joel Freeland was called for a double tech with Shabazz Muhammad, and then immediately called for a touchy foul right after. The crowd let the refs know they disagreed with that call.
As the Blazers fought to close the Timberwolves' lead the home fans were slow to get fired up. An early Portland run caused Flip Saunders to call a timeout and the crowd didn't know what to think. At the next timeout it felt like "Ok, yeah!" Then Allen Crabbe knocked down a wide open 3 and it felt like "OK, YEAH!" Then LaMarcus hit a buzzer beater to close the half and crowd finally remembered they were at a basketball game.
When I made it back to my seat after halftime the arena seemed very empty. A few minutes into the 3rd quarter the crowd energy was still low. In general it just felt like the crowd was confused that the score wasn't more lopsided. After a hard Corey Brewer foul on Wesley Matthews I heard a guy behind me shout "Brewer is a punk!" But Wes came back a minute later and splashed a 3. Trading baskets kept the crowd in a perpetual state of confusion. "Should we get excited? Should we be worried? Should we even care at all?"
The Blazers finally stretched out a lead in the 4th quarter. When Mo Williams was called for a reach-in foul the guy in front of me said, "When did YOU start playing defense?" Ha ha! Even so, the loudest cheers of the night were basically for the free McDonalds fries at 100 points.
We saw a ton of Seahawks gear in the crowd because it was Seahawks night and fans that arrived early could get a photo with the Vince Lombardi trophy.
Another great Brian Grant jersey. This guy remarked that we could use Grant's toughness.
Pretty fitting that this guy was wearing a tie-dye shirt under a Bill Walton jersey.
Literally the only Timberwolves jersey I could find. He wanted to make sure I mentioned that it was a Donyell Marshall 42, NOT Kevin Love.
There wasn't much unique swag in the crowd tonight. Maybe Sunday is laundry day.