Tonight's In-Arena recap comes from long time Bedger Torridjoe, who has seen the return of Robin Lopez and LaMarcus Aldridge in consecutive home games. Lucky guy. -- Tim
Ed. Note: The National Anthem was sung by Sheryl Wood, not Sharon Wood. Apologies to Sheryl, we'll chalk this one up to the PA acoustics at Moda Center.
Center's Center -- The View from Section 216
Blazers vs. Jazz, February 3, 2015
It feels like a page-turning night. The calendar has struck(?) February, the 0-3 road trip is a fuzzy "did that actually happen?" memory, and the gaping void in the center of the Portland defense for the last seven weeks looks to be once again filled by that mountain of hair and mascot-pummeling attitude, Robin Lopez.
A leisurely crowd ambled along the club walkways and in the food atria tonight. I stopped by Bunk Sandwiches, a Portland food cart pioneer now safely brick-and-mortared in the Quarter, to grab their special Cubano sammy and a Red Bull (your correspondent being an old but curiously adolescent soul, dude). The pork belly, deliciously melted mozz, pickles and mustard create a warm gooey comfort food perfect for pregame.
Blazers Legend Bobby Gross strolled by me a moment ago with companion, stopping to turn when he heard his name from a couple demographic contemporaries. Gross is a frequent team ambassador, assisting on in-game presentations like the slice of '77 court for longtime season ticket holders, and just walking the suite level for visibility effect. Jerome Kersey is another former player you're likely to see, and if he's feeling spry the Schonz himself trips the club carpet every few feet to acknowledge admirers before finding his view of the game.
Anthem by Sheryl Wood of Portland, a soprano with some of the same pretty operatic tone the game's singer had from the last home game. Hey, if you can hit the high notes like that, it works for me. I just don't know what part you squeeze on a woman to get those notes.
It's not quite as climactic as LaMarcus coming back since he is announced last, but we were still pretty juiced to welcome Robin Lopez back:
Good interior D and a LaMarcus long jumper to start the scoring? Sounds good to the crowd! They liked it even better when they saw their first pick-and-Rolo jam in almost two months.
Nervous applause at the first break, a lot of Portland good things still only leading to a 14-12 lead. Kaman and Blake came in and all seemed right with the world again, starters with starters and bench with bench. Everybody seems to know where to be at the moment. It's pretty.
A great passing sequence of high-low-high-three gets everyone to suck in their breath for the big Dame three -- which clangs off to audible disappointment. Don't think the fans don't know how badly Lillard's deep stroke is suffering lately -- we wanted SO badly for it to go down. Blake's make after four missed treys in the quarter was only partially satisfying in that respect.
Again, some fairly tepid applause at the end of a 27-23 quarter. LaMarcus was dollars, and Rolo looked his old self. And the Blazers weren't down 10! What's not to love?
The "Linders" and "Ayalas" raced for Papa Murphys pizza but there was some controversy as one team attempted to unnecessarily size-match the "pepperoni" to the colored spots on the "pizza." Not since Sunday has the sports world seen such questionable play calling.
[Takei] Ohhh Meyyyyers [/Takei] ... he's like the puppy who keeps wetting the couch, but we keep trying to let him in the living room with company anyway. Meyers earns a biscuit with a nice jumper to try and ignite a somnolent bench unit, but craps the rug on an up-and-down violation in his very next trip.
Blindfold free throw! "Aaron" nails it on the fourth try for a cool $250.
The "Hometown Hero" is almost always a member of the military or a cop which is fine, but tonight the honor was bestowed on a young woman who leapt into action while at the coast, upon seeing a fellow horse rider pinned underneath her steed. The fallen girl recovered and now both will compete in an upcoming equestrian event. Awwww.
93rd birthday for a Pearl Harbor survivor! He still had the gumption to wave triumphantly. Now THAT is a Hometown Hero.
An easy open three by the Jazz near the close of the half has the crowd uneasy, and two missed LA free throws at the other end has them utterly shocked. Confusion reigned as fans filed for the concourse -- who are these guys? What happened to the threes and the tough D? he cohesive play and clutch execution? Maybe it's out at the Salt and Straw stand, better go check.
The Heroes for Hope Auction raised over $50,000 from area banking employees for Doernbecher Hospital! Almost as nice a thing to do for kids as contributing to Blazers Edge Night! Hint, hint. Wish Bedge could present someone a big fake check of tickets for kids. (That don't make no sense!)
Baseball season already? The City of Minor League Champions commemorated the latest Junior Circuit victor, the Northwest League Hillsboro Hops, with a "14" jersey. It's the night for Rolo love, but if he takes on the Hops mascot I'm choosing the cannabis cousin over the ComiCon center.
"Meet Him in the Air" by Hyper Static Union is your halftime music from a local band. Ponder something that is both hyper and static for a second. Owwwback to sports, hurry!
Dame gets the and-one on the first Blazers trip of the second half, but no one is here to see it! Scattered huzzahs from the broke and/or strongly bladdered folks who never moved at halftime.
Nico's block of Hayward from behind is so nasty it melts the Velcro off the "ball" the Block Party guys use to keep count. It took three tries to make it stick to the tally board, much to the embarrassment of the guy trying to fasten it, suddenly finding himself on Jumbo TV.
First "De-Fense" call comes with 6 minutes left in the third. It doesn't help.
Your local DORF retailer--what? Oh, I read the cards wrong; your local FORD dealer sponsored tonight's around the world contest. "McCaulay" buried the first three shots easily but couldn't find the mojo for the corner three -- an uncanny metaphor for the current 213 trey production by the Blazers.
Just not a good night for crowd continuity every time Portland builds to 5-8 point margins, Utah finds a way back to even. Cheers yield to head scratching.
The Blazers made up 5 points on the Jazz between halftime and the fourth quarter, but finishing the third only two points ahead after stretching it to as much as 11 made it seem much less satisfying.
"Tracy" rushes his one shot at the $5,000 barrel try with six seconds left on the clock and walks away the latest in a season-long line of last-barrel missers.
The fourth begins with a big...nothing. It takes PA announcer Mark Mason to revive the crowd. That works for a while, but another 8point collapse featuring a whole lot of Enes Kanter abuse on Meyers Leonard leaves the Jazz ahead 2, Terry Stotts walking onto the court in frustration with a time out, and blazers fans in their seats asking "What the?"
On the concourse a little free throw tourney was staged and your two finalists were "Josh" with 84 and "Mark" with a whopping 118. But Josh wins on the big stage nailing 8 in 30 seconds, becoming quite literally Free Throw Guy.
Back and forth we go until Lillard starts Dame Time (maybe?) with a ferocious dunk that forces a Utah timeout and the first on-your-feet moment of the night. This is what December felt like!
Rolo receives a big hand upon returning (and stops the madness for young Meyers) but comes in with an obviously puffy eye. Puffy is for shirts, not the orbits of your freshly recuperated Blazer Tree.
FINALLY! Blazer fans get to stretch out their vocal cords after a pair of long awaited rhythm threes from Wes. All it takes is a couple makes and those feelings come flooding back. Can they hang on?
Damian is your Chalupa Man...er, Fry Guy as he scoops one into the hole and gives the Blazers the 101-96 lead. That's pretty much the Potato Dagger, though Utah's Gordon Hayward keeps the butts in the seats with two comeback threes. Another one makes it interesting but Portland closes it out with an intentionally missed FT to run out the last bit of Jazz breath, and hangs on for the much needed W. Not so much jubilation as relief from Section 216, but we'll lace em up one more time for Thursday against the Suns. See you then!
Welcome Back Rolo
I Am Rip City
Let's Go Blazin' (a kid sign so don't even)
A Dream Come True (w "Philippines," likely referring to the distance traveled -- wow!)
BRAAAAINS (w Kaman Head)
We Love Some Rolo
Rolo is Back
Game Time = Dame Time
Damian is an All-Star
Meyers Leonard will you attend prom with my daughter? (Her idea but I approve)
Blazers Give Jazz the Blues.
I Choose LIllard (mocked up as a Pokemon) to use his Fan Base Attack