Another holiday game against a pitiful Eastern Conference opponent could have resulted in a very quiet crowd for the Trail Blazers, but thankfully the team provided enough excitement and the crowd was on their toes tonight.
The Ford Blimp, sadly, still out of commission.
Steve Blake got to pick the music tonight and he chose Andy Mineo - In My City. Never heard of this Christian hip-hop artist from Syracuse, New York, but it sounded perfect for a warm up song with a good beat and a catchy chorus.
A cool introduction video before the national anthem tonight that showed a few different clips of NBA analysts giving the Blazers praise. Mark Jackson and Charles Barkley picked them to come out of the West Conference. (At 2:25 in the video Kenny Smith asks Charles Barkley who his contenders are. Charles picks the Chicago Bulls in the East and after a few seconds Chuck picks the Trail Blazers as the best in the West. Even with Shaq and everyone trying to talk him out of it, Chuck sticks to his guns.) The video also showed a few quotes from some local and national sports writers saying the Blazers are the real deal.
Aubrey Cleland from West Linn, OR sang the national anthem. She apparently finished 11th place on season 12 of American Idol. Anyways, she killed it. Very, very good rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
The Blazers came out shooting hot, especially on the three and the crowd seemed to erupt with each made basket. This didn't transfer over to the defensive end but made baskets and hustle plays were definitely cheered for. At the end of the quarter Blazers led by 9.
Midway through the second quarter after Nicolas Batum made a three, he got into the Wesley-Matthews-inspired bow and arrow celebration towards the bench. Although, his was with much less enthusiasm and a much bigger smile.
Trail Blazers continued their hot shooting and led at halftime 55 to 41. For our halftime entertainment...a bunch of kids doing Zumba to Taylor Swift!
After a New York Knicks foul in the fourth, the big screen showed Robin Lopez and the crowd started to cheer. His spidey senses must have been tingling because he looked up and saw himself. He put his hands up and performed a half spirit fingers, half royal wave to the crowd for what seemed like 10 seconds. He looked to be genuinely loving the attention.
Coach Stotts decided to take out the starters with a little less than four minutes left in the game, Joel Freeland got a nice deserved ovation from the crowd. He worked hard and battled all night and the crowd enjoyed it.
Blazers win. Blazers win.
Random Game Notes:
During the second half they had a Ask A Blazer question and answer segment. Tonight they asked them what their favorite Portland restaurant was. Here are some of their answers:
Joel Freeland liked Ox.
C.J. McCollum liked Portland City Grill.
Coach Stotts said he couldn't choose because there was so many.
Will Barton liked...The Cheesecake Factory. Someone in Portland needs to get him out to some of the other restaurants because there has to be something better than a national chain. Come on Thrill! [ed. Plus...calories.]
Nicolas Batum said a few different places but one that stuck out to me was Saint Honoré Bakery.
The brand new father Chris Kaman's favorite restaurant was...Chipotle. Come on man!
From 4pm to 5pm tomorrow at the Beaverton Fred Meyer, Wesley Matthews will be signing autographs.
The Trail Blazers are the first team in NBA history to make 16 threes in three straight games. At the Oklahoma City Thunder they shot 17 of 31 for 54.8% which is absolutely incredible. Against the Philadelphia 76ers they 18 of 43 for 41.9%. And tonight the Blazers shot 16 of 36 for 44.4%. Apparently the rest of the league hasn't figured out that the Blazers are really good at shooting them.
I saw some comments on my last report talking about how long the bow and arrow celebration takes, but honestly it is half a second. It seems like every NBA team needs to have some sort of celebration for hitting a three and Wes has liked to come up with a new one each year. If they start getting any more elaborate than this,I am sure Coach Stotts would consider putting an end to it.
The Trail Blazers are the first to 25 wins. As I said last game, the Golden State Warriors may own the "best" record in the association, they have played three less games than the Blazers and two less than the Raptors.
Thanks to Steven for the report. I think we're all looking forward to Tuesday night against the Raptors!