Bryan Renzi is here with the In-Arena Report from the Portland Trail Blazers' 108-87 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. If you haven't read our full recap, you can find it here.
Dallas has been in a great flow, in case you didn't know. Offensively, their crisp ball movement has led to scoring at historic rates through the first four games of the year. They've also shown some flow in the hip hop sense, having recently released a rap video called ‘Can't Be Stopped' under the name - Run DMC (Dirk, Monta, Chandler):
It's pretty cute. But like many rappers, their boasts turned out to be fictitious...at least tonight.
The question of the night that I posed to Blazers fans: which 3 Blazers would you want to see make a rap video? The answer from both the fans and from the court spoke loud and clear - why single out just a few when you can roll as super deep as the Wu-Tang Clan. 11 players scored, and everyone got in on the act on the way to a dominating showing.
Here's a blow-by-blow of tonight's epic rap battle, along with Blazer experts playing judge:
With everyone in the Association watching in a nationally televised games, both teams seemed to come out with a bit of stage-fright.
But the first MC to step up for the Blazers was a no brainer pick for many fans - "You got to have LA! He's the star of the show! He's the one who sells tickets." "LaMarcus is super chill, laid back, so he'd bring it smooth."
That's exactly what he did, coming out smoking hot in the 1st quarter, scoring half of the Blazers' points and half of his game high 20:
If you writin' my check, when it comes payday
It's last name Aldridge, first name "All Day"
Down low, step back, It's the ol 1-2
When I line it up, nothin you can do!
For the rest of the crew, it was a sluggish start, with some sloppy freestyling and rushed sets. Passes missed beats, and got tipped repeatedly. On D, they let M(onta) get to the C(up) and drop knowledge on heads.
The crowd was subdued throughout the 1st quarter along with the scoring pace. During the break before the 2nd period, the fans even sat on their hands as Blaze brought some live beats on a drum in the upper deck, leaving him hanging as a chant of "We are...RIP CITY" died on the vine out in section 314. If TLC was around they would definitely inquire "What about your friends?"
Knowing that he had to change the vibe, Stotts tapped Will the Thrill to take the stage, another popular choice - "He and T-Rob would bring the hardcore energy, and get everybody pumped up, just like in games." "You just know that he could bring it."
That he did:
I'm Will the Thrill, and that's the aim of my game
Gimme the rock, clear out, and watch me drive the lane
Slim limbs, a street handle and a bounce to my step
Everybody hold their breath watch and see what comes next
What came next was a fancy pass of the mic to Kaman for a sweet lay-in early in the second, to rousing approval from the crowd, one of 3 assists for Barton on the evening.
Kaman was perfect on the floor (6-6 for 12 pts), so we can overlook the fact that his verse didn't even rhyme:
Ladies and Gentleman, I'm just a Kaman. Your world frightens and confuses me. Sometimes people ask me to pass rock, and I wonder, why? I am using rock now. Isn't that why I took off my pelt-lined warmups? But there's one thing there's one thing I do know: If you can put rock where it belongs with either hand, you should do that.
The crowd was definitely feeling Kaman laying down truth bombs. Then Rolo then turnt up, throwing a block party with 3 swats in the second quarter, which helped things get HYPED and set the tone for defensive intensity with his verse:
Keepin' it weird in the center of the starters
Both Comic Book Guy and also an artist
I own the blocks with a mind elite
Best. Teammate. Ever. --Ain't no fantasy
Then we heard from someone who seems to have been given up on by many already - no one chose this guy for studio time, and some fans even went out of their way to say he shouldn't be involved. Don't call it a comeback, people:
They call me 3J cuz I'm good with triples
Don't sleep on me, my potential ain't hit full
If you leave me on the wing, you gonna feel a sting
Slow start - whatever. That ain't a thing.
2nd Year man McCollum crushed it, definitely winning over any doubters among those who witnessed him popping off for a
career season high in points.
When LaMarcus tipped home a one-handed volleyball set from several feet away, we were reminded that we were in the presence of something special. You don't get to see something like that every day on the street. At that point, we knew that it was on like Donkey Kong - big applause for the hometown crew even though the Mavs went to the locker room with a lead.
Dallas has shown a habit of starting out the second half slow - tonight was no exception, and Portland swiped the mic and ran away with it and made some sweet, sweet music. A Lillard swoop to the hoop, a dunk by Lopez, an Oop to LA, and the crowd was rocking, and the blowout was on.
All over the stage was Nicholas Batum, who silenced an all-timer in Dirk after he had gone off before the break. He brought the swagger to the other end of the court too, rewarding those who chose him on their dream team: "He's super cute, he could totally front a boy band. Gotta have a guy like that." "I don't know if I'd understand what he'd say, because I don't speak French, but it would be entertaining because he seems a little shy and it would be good to push him out there like that. Do French people rap?"
Yes. Yes they do.
Qui est le meilleur? Voilà qui je vais marquer.
Mes bras sont longs, je vais le bouleverser
Je peux tout faire, avec ou sans le ballon
Mes statistiques définissent l'élévation !
Who's your best man? That's who I'll D
Come right at them like a spidermonkey
I can do it all, with or without the ball
My looks gonna flirt with that triple double!
If the game was closer, he might have gotten there - going for 8/9/9 in under 29 minutes. That kind of numerical balance seemed to spread around to the whole team, shots distributed nicely and evenly among the squad throughout the quarter.
But the guy who straight tore up the 3rd, was the man who fans described as "straight gangsta", "hard", "tough", having "that LL Cool J thing going on". That's Wessy Wes, folks, and he hung 10 in the frame:
I play like I'm armored, call me Iron Man
Shoot deadly lasers right from my hand
Suave but gritty, fly around on D
If you talkin best SG, you best be talkin me
We also got a mini-breakout from a guy who stays on his grind and gets mad respect for it:
Yes, that's Steve Blake, bringing some full court pressure with 10 minutes to go in the 2nd quarter. Believe it or not, he was the second most popular choice to headline the rap group - "He's old school", "Who knows, he might be the next Eminem - he kinda looks like him", "He's got that stare; gotta have that stage presence".
Third Tour Vet by the name of Blake
Bring the guts and the hustle that you can't fake
D's my fingers in your ribs, stickin you up
When I'm in my 3 pt zone, I stay filling that cup
There was still a minute left in the third when the crowd busted out their best dance moves. Why not? Get it while it's good. And a 12 point lead against a team many picked to finish ahead of us felt real good.
That lead just done got swolled bigger and bigger in the fourth. T-Rob reminded everyone of what he could do in the fourth:
Ain't hard to tell I been physically blessed
I wreak havoc on a court like a man possessed
Let me out my cage when either team's in a funk
You know I'm coming hard with a steal and a dunk!
Robinson actually scaled it back a bit and just went with the lay-in at the beginning of the fourth, but that was just him messing with you. And Dallas had been thoroughly messed with by the Blazers and the crowd by that point.
Then in the end, we got some shine in the homecourt limelight for our neophyte giant, who some in the crowd have belief in what he can do: "Meyers is kinda loose and goofy, I think he'd make [a rap] fun", "yeah, he'd step into that and have no problem", "just on height alone, you gotta let him in the crew".
The name is Meyers but you can call me ‘Freddy'
Cuz everyone in Portland should be liking me
Seven footer with 3s, an athletic freak
You wanna hold onto me, future's gonna be sweet
Of course the near unanimous choice closed down the show. With a slow flow in the beginning, Dame started tightening his game until the crowd was waving their arms - "it's over" the judges declared when he scored 10 straight Blazer points. He reminded us once again why it's ok to hope:
End of the game, y'all lookin for Dame
Any other MC just ain't the same
At the free throw line, U know I'm automatic
Don't touch that dial, I got a flair for the dramatic
So this was a clear KO in this rap battle. 'DMC' got run off because three may be company, but is positively puny next to the crowd the Blazers rolled with. Next crew that comes through better bring backup. (And the Denver Nuggets might do just that - they have nothing but backups.)
Back to the crowd poll for the close:
The best actual sounding trio for a rap group chosen was Dame, Wes, and Will, with T-Rob as an alternate. "They're the 'smooth guys'. You know with them it would sound good." True. And I think Will would look pretty good with a giant clock around his neck.
The most entertaining-sounding group (for other reasons?) was: RoLo ("I saw what he wrote on the NBA questionaire, that guy is a trip"), Meyers, and Kaman ("You just don't know what that guy will say. Gotta have him.")
Oddly enough, no one picked Dorell Wright. Lillard has previously acknowledged him as the best rapper on the team, other than himself, of course. There's still time to hear something from Dorell Wright - we know what he is capable of.
Other Pics of the Entourage:
After taking off his warmups at halftime, FreeThrow Guy didn't come close to breaking a sweat.
Angry Lady leads the charge...
And people follow her into the maelstrom.
Now that's some passion for some Blazin' hits!
The starters dropping the mic before they leave the stage...