TorridJoe checks in with tonight's In-Arena Report from the Moda Center as the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Phoenix Suns 108-87.
The Center's Center--The View from Section 216
Blazers v Suns, February 5, 2015
It's a red-out! Every seat was draped pregame in a red "We are Rip City" T-shirt that I'm sure one of my girlfriend's daughters will love. (Frequent readers will note the recurring "Blazers free stuff I enjoy Killer Burger too much to be able to wear" motif of my recaps.)
The Suns are in town which means the Blazer guards better have their FTD wingtips on to stay with Phoenix's speedsters. Portland will counter with newly restored size advantages. The Suns are currently a playoff team so I hope the boys are closer to playoff mode than they were Tuesday.
The SUV blimp is back like it never crashed embarrassingly into a concourse portal, and dropped down Portland Thorns tickets for the upcoming season. Question; which is the only championship winning top-level US pro sports team in Portland in the last 38 years? If you said our women's soccer side, give yourself a biscuit.
Tiffany Dempsey handles the anthem tonight and I mean handles. No disrespect to previous performers (beyond getting their name wrong which I did last time) but you can tell when a pro is in the house. Powerful, even and dynamic.
The Suns are in the away whites tonight as the Blazers join fans in all red....but while the teams were sartorially natty and neat, their play was distressed and undressed. Balls flying everywhere, badly missed wide open shots, sideline steps, you name it. Six minutes in, each team had...two field goals. How hard can you cheer for a 6-5 lead at the break?
The Thorns are getting the heavy promo tonight; the Lucky Row winners took home PTFC mersh.
A spiffy Batum sequence of assist/steal/dunk/partial block/foul draw/2 FT gets the crowd going for the first time at 14-7. Early on its Portland who has the fleeter feet and the stickier hands--but no one can shoot a lick unless it's a layup.
Judie Tarlow, Rip City Resident since 1972, gets the '77 slice from none other than the Schonz. Not sure which is the bigger honor.
Blake to Meyers on the secondary fast break thundering down the lane for the jam! ERRYbody likes an Ohhhh Meyyyyers dunk! The vibes continue with a Wes three, the only make of the quarter for the Blazers. I've noticed during this general slump in three point effectiveness, that not only the team but the crowd relies on threes for energy during the game. Not having them feels very stifling for enthusiasm, even if everything else is going well and the team leads. I think it's the repetitiveness of that "ohh--AWWWW" thing we do when someone hoists a trey and misses. It breeds what I'll call somewhat dubiously, "orange balls." We're beginning to expect the BANG-KAPOW!, and if we don't get it we just kinda sit there sometimes and sulk.
"Julio" and "Kevin" toe the line for the free throw contest and poor Julio can't get one to fall in 30 seconds. Yeah he was playing with freebies for entire levels of the arena on the line, but did we have to boo him for bageling? Put yourself on the court with 19,000 people looking at you and imagine that feeling. Be classy Portland!
Quietest arena break ever, in a scenario with your home team up 15. Maybe it's because it was 19 about 10 seconds prior. The Blazer Dancers come out wearing men's shirts over their outfits, dancing to Sharp Dressed Man. HAHAHA! Get it? I'm sure that's never been done, not once.
The Rip City Rows are occupied tonight by an org called Research Into Action. How long do you think they mapped out their strategy for coming to the game? But you knew they'd make it here.
The "Syprecs" and the "Kellers" raced it out in the pepperoni placement game. It's neck and neck halfway through! It stays tight until a late stall at the pie rug by one team hands the victory to the Syprecs. No lie, one of the biggest cheers of the night. At least we didn't boo the kid who fumbled it.
I tell you what, it's somewhat harder to get hyped for defense over big threes and dunks, but Portland is currently playing lights out D almost every trip. Blocks, lane closures, three closeouts and hands, hands, hands. Two of 18 shooting from deep by the Blazers--how long is this slump going to last?--is why they're up 12 instead of 25.
Joel Freeland gets the early birthday shoutout and jumbotron look-in, to hearty applause.
Guess who the first Blazer to double figures was! If you said CJ McCollum...I don't believe you, liar.
Can't recall if I've ever seen pogoing at halftime--the old school kind, not the dancing kind. XPOGO bounced (obviously) up and down on the midcourt carpet, getting as much as 7ft of lift and doing tricks like you might see in BMX. Holy hydraulics, Batman! (No, not you Nic--what are you doing? You can read this later! Go get ready for the 2nd half.)
Toni and Candace are back! The owners of Women and Women First bookstore handled the legal disclaimer much of last year and it still makes me laugh every time. No offense Blazer players and dancers, but Armisen and Brownstein are just funnier.
Wanna hear a funny story, if other people losing small amounts of money through their own absent mindedness amuses you? Technology has made the fat stack of gameday tickets for season ticket holders a paper memory, replaced by groovy little credit cards that this year also can store money. Club ticket holders had the option to get a $30 voucher applied each game, good for anything in the arena including alcohol.
My pork philly from Po' Shines plus Red Bull was $14. (Pretty darn good, although I still wondered about that chicken and waffles.) At halftime I made a purchase that came out to $25. I knew going in that it would exceed my balance and require more payment, like, say from the credit card I handed my server.
So why when she handed me a credit receipt for $9 to sign, did I suddenly think I got a lucky $14 break on my beverages? Whatever, I figured--but it's always courteous to overtip your server in that case, so I doubled the total to $18. Only when I walked away did I realize--no, $14 in vouchers and $9 on my card makes $25. She must have looked at the tip and thought, "did I wink or something?"
"We are the Tide" by Blind Pilot is the local halftime music tonight.
Consecutive easies by Phoenix and bricks by the Blazers to drop the lead under 10 for the first time in quite a while, causes the crowd to anxiously step up the cheering. It doesn't help.
Blaze relaxes during a time out by emptying a can of silly string on an unsuspecting Suns fan, who stands up and takes it like a man for the crowd.
SHEEED in the house!! He gets by FAR the biggest ovation of the night. The crowd actually goes into a Ra-Sheed Wall-ace! chant that brings Sheed back up on the jumbotron to even bigger applause. All this, while the current Blazers were trying to run their offense. (They did score).
The third quarter was harder to watch than a tsunami hitting a bat guano factory. The Blazers gave everything back that they'd worked so hard to achieve--except for one point that they clung to with a red-and-black painted fingernail heading into the fourth.
....and we all know the 4th means Blake Time. No wait, what? A crazy three followed by a sweet court-length baseball pass for the dunk to Meyers, and disruptive D leading to another near assist that did draw a fouls and put the Blazers up six. Time for another break!
"Brady" gives himself a whopping 15 seconds out of 24 to finish his sweet stroking effort and make the $5,000 bucket shot. He eyes it, he sets, he adjusts, he sets again, he launches...short of the can on the bounce. I hunger for a winner. I shall starve another night .
Three minutes to go, up 15 and the crowd seems to have relaxed a bit. As bad as the third was, not even breaking 19 points, the Blazers already have 30 in the 4th and most of it came from sources you don't expect in crunch time. But we'll take it!
$6678 in the 50/50 raffle kitty tonight, pretty decent for a weeknight game. Sure it's a lot less sexy to win $3400 than $400 million or whatever Powerball is this week, but you're competing against only a few hundred people for that $3400--and half your entry fee goes to charity! Help your community next time you're at the game and kick in a ticket or two. Ya never know!
LaMarcus puts the finishing touches on the evening with Penultimate Fry Guy AND Fry Guy honors. In between he snagged his 10th rebound of the night to secure his 220th career double double, passing Sidney Wicks for first all time as a Blazer. There won't be an offensive Blazers record he doesn't own except assists and steals when he retires, mark my words.
What's so sweet about a Victor Claver three? It usually means the Blazers are in cruise mode late. They are, and the 25-point lead that develops is indicative of nothing besides a heck of a late kick. Still, gotta love a decisive win against a pretty decent West team. Thanks for reading my arena report, fans! Feed me back at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @loadedorygun.
Suns Don't Shine in Portland
Lillard Time All the Time
Go Zers [ed-ugh.] for My Birthday
Suns Block (made to look like a sunscreen tube!)
Batum Will You Marry Me?
Do This (with stick figure demonstration on shotmaking)
Ain't no Sun in Rip City
It's My Birthday I Want a Blazers Hug
Jumbotron Pick Me, Choose Me, LOVE Me
Dame's Fire Hotter than Phoenix Suns
Riding with the L-Train