We are honored to have the illustrious torridjoe joining us for In-Arena Report duties over the next couple weeks. He's a great writer. Enjoy the show!
From the Center's Center--The Section 216 Scoop
Blazers v Celtics, 1/22/15
It was Coasters Night at the Moda Center, a night without much Yakety Yak from the home crowd, and plenty of talking back from the visitors. Anyone under 40 who doesn't get the joke, consult your nearest 1950s music expert or ask your parents. Nicolas Batum was the coaster boy for tonight's "Blazers Coaster" giveaway (to match last year's pint glasses?), and fittingly both versions of Nic were two-dimensional and gone fairly quickly.
I had an extra ticket for tonight and my politico buddy Carl met me for a pregame drink at Jack's Place around 5:15. Initially the joint seemed blissfully less crowded than the other two times I'd tried to Trailgate--but that didn't mean there were any seats. Carl and I enjoyed a couple of $7 crafts--cheaper and arrayed in front of you rather than dispersed around the arena, but also in smaller glasses it appeared.
The arena was still mostly quiet at 6pm, and though that's pretty early you knew it wasn't likely going to be a sellout (it wasn't; just 14,000+ fannies graced the seats). Usually Thursday Night games start at 7:30 but this one was scheduled for tip at 7:10 and was pretty close to schedule. One nice thing about Thursdays are the many TVs on the Club level that let you watch the first TNT game while you eat (Bulls waxed the Spurs in Chicago tonight).
Speaking of eating, if your love of Killer Burger pregame meals often coincides with the similar desire of a few hundred others and leads to rushed dinners or missed tipoffs, go to a midweek game against a poor non-conference opponent with one of your All-Stars missing. My Peanut Butter Pickle Bacon burger and a Pyramid "Schonz" Red came in less time than it took to say Peanut Butter Pickle Bacon. It sounds iffy, but it's terriffy. Give it a whirl next time you're there.
6:35pm--just got a text from the Blazers social media arm, saying LaMarcus Aldridge has a torn ligament and will be out 6-8 weeks. Ugh. That set me right off my PBPB, and I grasped at my Schonz for comfort. Even though Aldridge was never plausible for this game, the news cast a muted gloom over the audience-to-be. The goal for the rest of the regular season will be to try and hang on to the division lead as best they can, but it's gonna be a rough couple of months trying. Stiil, every tipoff holds hope, so once more into the bowl we went, dear friends.
The evening was sponsored by Legacy Health (which had to make the Moda execs itch a touch) and was NBA Fit night. The teams had the signature red warmups, and the Fit theme continued all evening. A children's dance team was out before warmings, showing surprisingly tight moves and fairly good togetherness. Honorable mention to the little (6-year-old?) MC Hammer busting his move and getting the attention of the camera. That guy was more composed and in control of his body and purpose than the vast majority of Trail Blazers.
The anthem singer was a Portlandically bearded male with something of an opera tinge, not amazing but competent and sonorous. A lot of organized singing groups and well trained vocalists perform the anthem, but the team holds open auditions and some of them are just regular folk who can sing and this gentleman seemed like one of that group.
TRob got the start over Dorrell tonight; Kaman still at center despite disappearing in 2nd half of both of he last two games. The pattern would hold; Kaman had his shot working in the first half but did not see much of the court in crunch time. The crowd tends to expect moments of dazzle from the likes of Dame and Wes, but a Truck in high gear seems to disproportionately delight the attendees. And given both the opportunity and the need, for the most part the crowd was glad to be in Mr. Robinson's neighborhood.
How come I never noticed the Blazer Dancer skirt belts have a big pinwheel buckle?
Celtics win tip. Has Kaman won any opening tips? He doesn't seem to have the timing down.
What is WITH the recent trend of the Blazers stripping the ball away, only to have the other team scramble and get it back, usually to hit the open shot in the resulting disarray? The trend continued as the very first basket for Boston came that way. It set the tone. Portland's first basket (after a couple early Kaman misses) came on the pick and roll between Lillard and Robinson, who then missed the and-one. We may--hopefully--see a fair bit more of that the next two months.
New this year: peripheral stats on jumbotron. They just showed effective fg%, which gives a bonus for threes made. I also have seen them track free throw percent (possessions with a FT) and turnover percent. Nice nod to sabermetrics!
Schonz took over for the usual Mercy Kersey to present the piece of the ‘77 court to another ‘70-'71 season ticket veteran. How many dudes are out there and still making it to games? It seems like every other one is a founding season ticket holder. I hope in 25 years a middle aged Lillard can present my crotchety 70+ year old self with a hologram from the 2016 championship.
Tonight featured a pedaling challenge for Fit night, from 1:49 left in the first to the first timeout of the 2nd quarter. Two women competed, including one who was fed a pep-chip offscreen before starting. "Amanda" won the challenge with over 4000 meters pedaled, a good kilometer ahead of her adversary.
Mike Holton fed a gentleman named "Robert" to take jumpers for $50 each. He made 5, then got a chance at a three for $500. Beautiful take, the man is a winner!
Solid sequence: a sadly headbanded Kelly Olynyk gets denied at the rack by a trio of Blazers including a still-playing Batum with the block, and a quick outlet to a streaking Will Barton--who missed the lay-in but got followup help from Robinson for the putback. We do also get a Bad TRob, as he misses an easy layin and then spends several seconds complaining to the ref about it, while his man can be seen streaking down the opposite lane for two points.
*Free throw guy accompanied not by "The Cuddler" tonight, but by a man in a tiger warmup suit.
*Halftime featured a few dozen kids doing fitness exercises on the court. Important yes. Entertaining? Uhhhh...
*Magic Sword's "Battlefield" is the locally grown haltime music this evening.
*A generally stifled crowd did try to rouse a "let's go blazers" on their own early in 3rd.
*Batum headed to the locker room with 7:35 left and did not return. Time to step up!
*A fellow Blazers fan named Anthony was featured on the speed shot challenge. Juuust missed the 3rd bucket for $5k. Haven't seen one made yet.
*The crowd just LOVES a Meyers Leonard three. You can hear the anticipation and the cheer is lusty when he makes it. It still comes from being almost entirely unsuspective
*Name that tune is back! Almost no one figured out "Call Me Maybe," which I'm going to treat as a good thing.
*This sounds absurd, but Without TRob the middle is helpless. Can't believe I'm saying that.
*Damian took the monster jam down the lane to close the third, getting the crowd finally into things for the home stretch. But first...
...hobby horse racing! A photo finish occurs but the hipster in the blue silks is determined the winner. The third guy has trouble with his foam steed and is never a factor. . Guy in 3rd crashes and burns on his horse twice.
*50/50 raffle: $5621, pretty good for midweek vs poor opp from east
There was a point in the fourth where it looked and felt like the Blazers had the game in hand, but before you knew it the Celtics were back within striking distance--and this time there was no joy to be had anywhere in RoseVille. The Evan Turner three was about as (cough) deflating in person as it must have looked on TV, and the Blazers used both remaining timeouts on a single inbounds and still missed a wide open Wes Matthews for the potential winning shot. Blake went to Damian who double clutched and never got the shot off, and the Losers Shuffle was on in Section 216. Sigh. It's gonna be a rough time in Rip City for a while.
Signs--several as you can see, but no real zingers...
Batum's room (Moda)
No quit in us
Kid with Let's Blaze! :) as Wes threes to open half
boston doesn't have much luck tonight
Paul allen's checklist
surrender Now or be blazed
Blazer power Ka-Pow
Allez Nico/Je Suis Charlie
Rip city Al Dame day
Thanks to torridjoe for the report!