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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Toronto Raptors In-Arena Report

Steven Armstead gives us the view from inside the Moda Center as the Blazers win a tight overtime contest against the Raptors.

Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Armstead gives us the Moda Center view of one of the most thrilling, tense, and wonderful games of the year.


Before tonight's game I had been thinking about the geography of the two cities of Portland and Toronto and which was farther north. My brain went back to middle school and I had a feeling that Portland was close to the same latitude as Toronto. I never looked into it but then I saw this tweet from the Blazers:

Awesome. Especially after the Toronto crowd had supposedly talked about taking over the Moda Center tonight with louder chants.

Chris Kaman got to pick the music tonight and went in a different direction with it. "Machinehead" by BUSH.

It's always a little weird when the Toronto Raptors come to town. Normally the warm up clock goes off and the players go to the free throw line extended and wait for the national anthem. Tonight with about nine minutes left the Rose City Trombones performed the Canadian national anthem before quickly moving onto the Star Spangled Banner. Then the players went back to warming up.

I had hoped for a playoff atmosphere from the crowd tonight and they did not disappoint. From the tip off the crowd was more involved than any other game this year.

During the first quarter the Blazers were shooting well everywhere except from deep. Since tonight was Portland Winterhawks night, the first game played at the end of the first quarter was a hockey dress up race. Two contestants had to race across the court putting on tight fitting hockey pants, a hockey jersey and hockey gloves. They then had to grab a basketball and dribble it down to the opposite hoop and make a lay up. After it was over they threw their gloves down and...hugged it out.

The Blazers had a terrible second quarter and the crowd was restless. Numerous "Lets Go Blazers" and "Defense" chants were heard but only scoring 15 in the quarter and shooting 25% from the field will quiet the crowd.

Blazers went into halftime down 7. It felt like it should have been a lot more even though both teams shot less than 43%.

Halftime entertainment was the Portland Winterhawks Rosebud Dancers. They had a very quick dance number that ended in about a minute or two. The rest of halftime was spent watching the crew sweep the floor.

The Blazers came out with a purpose after halftime and ended up with seven more shots than the Raptors but still ended up with the same amount of points and still down 7.

Guess what time it is? If you guessed Lillard Time, I am sorry. You are incorrect.

The correct answer was it was time for the Trail Blazers to make some shots. The Blazers shot 48% for the quarter while the Raptors shot 24%. With a two point lead it looked like the Blazers were going to steal a game but Amir Johnson just had to tie the game. Oh well, off to over time.

The crowd was pumped in the fourth quarter and into every shot, foul, turnover and rebound. It reminded me how great of a season the Blazers have had. I don't remember many games this year that have had the same atmosphere as this one. There are obviously the differences in strength of the opponent but the last home game that was this close was against the Charlotte Hornets on November 11th. The Blazers won but I don't remember it getting this loud and the crowd didn't get into the game until late in the fourth. Most of the Blazer home games are blow outs (relatively speaking) and the crowd does not seem as into it.

Over time starts and I am standing. I have been standing for the last three minutes of game time. It has been said many time but the Blazers do not quit. Until the buzzer sounds there is always a chance to win.

I swear my family and I needed something to relax our stomachs because the Blazers could not hold onto the ball down the stretch. For some reason they felt like every inch of open space was an open passing lane. The good thing was they shot better from the field, made two more threes and three more free throws and won the game.

Blazers win. Blazers win.

Random game notes:

  • Seriously though, #WeTheNorthToo? It should be #WeAreTheNorth. They may be slightly North of us, but we have a better record, just beat them and have better grammar.

  • Beast Mode was in the building.

  • Ehren McGhehey, from Jackass, was also in the building.

  • In the second quarter the big screen showed a bunch of the Blazers and asked them a question: Would you rather be on the cover a magazine or a video game?

    • LaMaracus Aldridge: Magazine - ESPN

    • Steve Blake: Video game

    • Victor Claver: Video game

    • Allen Crabbe: Video game

    • Nicolas Batum: Video game

    • Will Barton: Magazine - GQ

    • Robin Lopez: Magazine - Vanity Fair

    • Wesley Matthews: Magazine - GQ

    • Joel Freeland: Video game

    • Chris Kaman: Video game - Call of Duty

    • Meyers Leonard: Video game

    • Damian Lillard: Video game (of course, image of his NBA Live 15 on the screen)

    • Thomas Robinson: Magazine - Rolling Stone

    • Coach Terry Stotts: Magazine - Time

    • Dorell Wright: Magazine - Slam

    • C.J. McCollum: Magazine - Sports Illustrated: The Body Issue, Vogue, Maxim

  • A lot of signs were shown tonight and there were a couple of good ones:

    • Declaw the Raptors

    • West Coast is the best coast

    • Don't forget to stop and smell Derozen (my personal favorite of the night)

    • Lay the Raptors back to rest

    • T-Robbed my heart

    • D Lilly make them silly

It was awesome to see and feel the crowd into the game tonight. Granted there haven't been a lot of close games but tonight was definitely the loudest so far.


Thanks to Steven for his tour of duty at the arena! We've loved his contributions. Now he can relax and enjoy the games as a new correspondent steps to the plate. Offer your thanks to Steven in the comments and stay tuned for more!