Peter Sampson delivers our In-Arena Report from the Moda Center during the Blazers' 115-109 Game 3 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Well, it was fun before it wasn't. I hadn't been to a Blazer's playoff game in a few years and I was HYPED. I know that they were down 2-0 in the series, and that the Grizzlies swept the regular season series as well. But this is the PLAYOFFS, where anything can, and does happen! I just had a good feeling about tonight.
I got to the Rose Quarter about 60 minutes before tip-off and it was already hopping with optimistic Blazer fans:
The Blazers organization did their part to make it entertaining for those of us who showed up early to support our team. Here's the band:
Here are the Blazer cheerleaders helping us get our voices warmed up:
Getting into the arena, you could instantly feel the energy was ratcheted up a few notches, even 45 minutes before the opening tip. As the fans filed in to their seats, chants of "Let's go Blazers" faded in and out of various parts of the building. Then, about 7 minutes before introductions, this happened:
That video in no way conveys how loud that ovation was. It was as thunderous as I've heard the Moda Center this season. Shortly afterward, we broke into this:
Finally, we were ready to get underway, but first we had to meet the players:
And with that, we were underway!
The first quarter was typical of so many big games, where everyone is hyped up and the team plays just a bit tight. The Blazers seemed to be active, if not highly effective, on defense and were downright awful on the offensive end, going 1 for their first 11. To the crowd's credit, they kept up the noise throughout the dry spell, constantly urging the team on.
The second quarter was the beginning of Scott Foster time. The Grizzlies picked up 4 team fouls in the first minute and a half of the quarter and every time the Blazers so much as looked at an opponent, the whistle blew. In between foul calls, Damian Lillard got going offensively a little bit. A lot has been said about his struggles for the first two games of the series (and before), and you could feel the relief in the air as he scored from inside and out.
Unfortunately, while Dame was getting things figured out, LaMarcus Aldridge was missing everything short. Way short. In the first half alone, he had two air balls and two shots that just grazed the front of the rim.
After halftime, we were ready for the Blazers to make their push, but instead momentum kept getting stalled out. Aldridge found his jump shot in the locker room at half time and went 5-6 in the third to try and keep us in it, but every time we would make an 8-2 run, Memphis would counter with a 6-0 run of their own. I've never seen a team answer as consistently as this Grizzlies team has done against us all year. The officiating continued to create a drag on the game, finally prompting an arena-wide chant to get our point across. 35 fouls after 3 quarters. I thought this was the playoffs!
In the fourth quarter, the Blazers finally got on a bit of a roll, combined with some stops on the defensive end. They trimmed the lead to 3 points, but couldn't quite get over the hump.
While the crowd was fantastic tonight, this was some pretty unwatchable basketball for long stretches. Scott Foster stuffed the stat sheet tonight with 52 fouls being called in this game. That seems a tad high for a playoff game, especially one where they had been letting them get physical for the two games before that. I don't know, maybe it's just me.
I know Blazer fans are feeling defeated tonight (I am), but I really hope that they bring it for game 4 on Monday night. I don't want to see them get eliminated on their home court and I don't want to see them get swept. After such a magical 2/3 of a season, I can't believe this is how it's all turning out.
At least this guy is happy tonight:
Thanks to Peter for the excellent work!