A reader-favorite, Peter Sampson, returns with our In-Arena Report from tonight's 98-92 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Greeting BEdgers, I'm happy to be back for another tour of duty, bringing you your in-arena reports for the next few weeks.
They say (whoever they are) that sorrow and joy are inseparable, and that we must experience one to fully feel the other. Tonight, this was especially true for Blazer fans.
As you surely know, the Blazers lost one of their own recently, with Jerome Kersey passing unexpectedly at the age of 52. He was a wonderful ambassador for the organization, and his presence was felt throughout the arena tonight.
Upon walking in...
The sign left at each fan's seat...
Before the game, there was a 25 second moment of silence, in honor of Kersey's jersey number. Out of respect, I didn't record it. I took that time and thought of all the joy that he brought me throughout my childhood. And I thought of his family. Especially his daughters. Sorrow.
After the moment of silence, it was time for the National Anthem. On the big screen was video of Kersey co-singing the National Anthem before a game in 1989. Quite a touching moment. Fans were cheering in all the appropriate spots as though he were right on the floor singing for all of us. Rest easy, big fella.
The team broke a new intro, featuring the team in a sort of mellow black and white "look awesome while doing awesome things and awesome music plays" featurette. It makes sense that they needed redo those with the trade. Meyers Leonard got the start for Aldridge tonight and got a nice round of applause.
And then we were underway!
Meyers didn't let the crowd down early as he hit a couple of quick 3 pointers. It was clear that Memphis was going to sag off of him and force everyone else to beat them and he got up 4 shots from deep in the first 6 minutes of the game.
The Blazers took a timeout at the 5:31 mark of the first quarter, during which they showed a video tribute to Kersey's eleven years with the Blazers.
Then...checking in out of the timeout, your newest Blazer, Arron Afflalo!
This seemed to give the crowd a little spark. Everyone wanted to see what the new guy could do. Honestly, even though he only put up decent stats tonight, it's clear the guy knows his way around the post and the 3 point line. There was a lot of conversation in my section about whether or not he is the missing piece (the verdict is: maybe).
The most exciting play of the first quarter was when Wesley Matthews grabbed a rebound with 6 seconds left and took it coast to coast, dropping a pass off to Chris Kaman at the last possible moment, letting the big guy lay it in with 0.2 seconds left to give the blazers a 21-19 lead.
Seemingly nearly as exciting for the crowd was Sheldon from Vancouver hitting three free throws to win everyone in the arena a free Jamba Juice. My man Sheldon knew how to build the drama and took about 10 seconds to dribble and bend his knees before hitting his first FT (winning the 300 level a beverage). He hit is third and final shot with only two seconds left on the clock.
The second quarter started strong, with the Blazers opening a double digit lead, but Memphis was able to rally and pull ahead. Portland went ice cold from the field, a problem that would rear its ugly head again in the fourth. At halftime, it was tied at 38, which meant that the Blazers were playing exactly the kind of game that Memphis wanted to play.
At halftime, there were about 150 cheerleaders wearing various colored uniforms down on the court, but to be honest I had no clue what was happening. Coming out of the halftime break, local band Moon by You had their track "Too Late Baby" played over the loud speakers. Dig it.
The crowd was still quiet in 3rd until Damian Lillard decided to get it going, starting with a 4 point play at the 8:21 mark. As so often seems to be the case, the team fires up the crowd, who then fires up the team, and so on. As Portland went on their 3rd quarter 3 point barrage, the crowd got louder with each shot going down. By the time Blake hit his third straight 3, a falling away buzzer beater, we were rocking and rolling. 39 point quarter. Up by 13 on the Grizzlies. Life was sweet.
Jordan from The Dalles took the Prudential Challenge, needing to hit one free throw in 30 seconds in order to win $200. Oh, and he had to wear a blindfold. So here's the thing; this is not a super difficult shot, it's just muscle memory (eyes closed free throws are sort of my go to move in H.O.R.S.E.). Jordan clearly didn't get lined up properly, because he missed everything wide right by about 3 feet.
We didn't have much to cheer about after that. Memphis got on a roll and the Blazers went ice cold. When it was all tied up at just under 5 minutes remaining, the entire arena got loud, practically begging the Blazers to put them away. But it just wasn't to be. There weren't any boo-birds tonight, but there was serious disappointment with the way that the team seemingly rolled over. Hopefully they can right the ship against the defending world champs on Wednesday. We'll have your in-arena recap right here.
Leupold Hero of the Game - CSM Robert C. Foesch.
The "Don't act like a buffoon or you'll be kicked out" spiel on the big screen was redone to feature Chris McGowan, Mike Barrett, Mike Rice, Michael Holton, and Adam Bjaranson.
During the Ford 43 Seconds to Cash game, Matty tore it up and then shot a 3pt arrow, Wes Matthews style, up toward section 314. That's how you do it, kid.
Sign of the Night: "Mercy Mercy"
Thanks again to Peter for keeping us in touch with the Moda Center atmosphere!