Here's special correspondent Steven Armstead with the Moda Center report from last night's Trail Blazers-76'ers game!
The circumstances of the game after Christmas could have made it a very interesting game. The Trail Blazers were playing against a frustrated and beaten down Eastern Conference team in the 76er's and it was the first home after a four game in five night road trip. A team who had just won two games in a row on the road.
LaMaracus Aldridge still dealing with the upper respiratory illness was at home. Robin Lopez's third and fourth metacarpals are still healing and was sidelined. Chris Kaman became a father for the first time and was at the hospital with his wife. This had the makings of a trap game.
Wesley Matthews chose tonight's music. It was "We Own It" by 2 Chainz and Wiz Khalifia.
Every home game there is a game ball delivery in an upper section that trickles down to the lower sections. Tonight it happened to be in the section next to ours in 310. The ball moved fairly quickly tonight but on some nights there are people who stop and shake the ball above their head or try and take a selfie. Don't do this. Just grab the ball and try and move it forward.
The Ford Blimp is still out of commision.
James Wilcox from Portland, OR provided the national anthem tonight.
Tonight marked Portland's eighth different starting lineup. From what I can tell this lineup hasn't even spent a minute on the floor together.
The Moda Center was pretty full despite it being the day after Christmas (and despite the opponent). The crowd, the Blazers and the 76er's seemed to have the holiday hangover tonight, at least from the beginning. The crowd was fairly quiet. The Blazers had two tipped passes in the first two possessions. The 76er's gave up two wide open baskets right at the rim in the first two possessions.
The first on floor competition tonight involved a fan playing around the world. The fan had to make a basket in four different spots on the floor in 42 seconds. He quickly made the layup, free throw and shot from the elbow in 22 seconds. Next was a shot just inside the corner three. After four shots that ended up short he swished the shot and won $250.
Victor Claver got into the game in the second quarter and the crowd livened up a little bit. It seemed they were genuinely excited to see him in the game. He didn't disappoint with hitting a three shortly after entering. Crowd cheered the loudest so far. Along with the Nicloas Batum put back dunk, the crowd did not get any louder in the first half.
The Blazers led 61-51 at halftime and Cristin Sandu was the entertainment. For those who watch America's Got Talent, he competed on the show a couple of different times and lost. Basically he had some cylinders that he stacked and tried to balance. The crowd feigned interest.
Portland continued to take care of business in the third quarter and the crowd continued to nod and cheer with approval.
At the end of the third quarter the Rip City Slammers attempted to warm up the crowd. The guys that do this have to be decent athletes because some of the flips and acrobatics they do are incredible. Even Blaze gets involved. Honestly, for him to be able to do any of the stunts that he does is amazing.
The fourth quarter begins and ends with the Trail Blazers taking care of business and winning by 21. Not a very eventful game but with the incoming circumstances, could have been much closer.
Blazers win. Blazers win.
Trail Blazer Stats:
Not a lot going on in the arena tonight and there weren't a lot of signs So we will go with some Trail Blazer stats.
Blazers shot 18 of 43 from three tonight for 41.9%. The only Blazers to attempt a three without making one were Meyers Leonard and Will Barton.
Through 31 games the Blazers have 27 with over 20 assists.
The Trail Blazers are the first team to reach 24 wins.
They sit just behind the Golden State Warriors for the best record in the league. The Warriors have played three less games than the Blazers.
The Blazers have the exact same start as last year at 24-7, but last year they lost this game.
We like to listen to Wheels and Tone on 620 AM on the way home. They throw out interesting stats and recap of the game. They also talk to Coach Stotts. Tonight Coach Stotts said that if the Blazers were going to shoot 42% from three, he would have liked to see 60 attempts.
Wesley Matthews apparently has a new three point celebration.