Every now and again sports fans bear witness to transcendent moments that sear themselves electrically into permanent memory, plays and victories that change lifetimes and give birth to a new generation of fans.
Then there are nights like tonight.
In a city known for historical preservation the Portland Trail Blazers erected a monument to awfulness, getting blown off the floor by the Philadelphia 76'ers 114-89. It might have been Portland's worst effort since a 102-64 drubbing at the hands of the Utah Jazz in Game 5 of the first round of the 1996 NBA playoffs.
To recreate the experience of watching a game like this you'd need to perforate both your eyeballs with the pointy end of a hairbrush then spritz them liberally with lemon juice. And that was just the first quarter.
The English language does not hold terms strong enough to describe Portland's deplorable defensive effort in Philly. The French have an expression: je ne sais what the hell you are doing. It wasn't just a matter of the Blazers not helping each other. It's like they forgot their teammates existed.
"Hey, little help?"
"Excuse me, sir! I was rehearsing ballads from 'Frozen' in my head! How dare you interrupt my reverie?"
Nonchalance and complete disregard for teammates carried over to the offensive end. Apparently the Blazers were trying out a new offensive system wherein every play is code-named, "Me! Me! My turn to shoot it! Awww...I turned it over again."
In the face of Portland's defensive incompetence, Jahlil Okafor started out the game looking like the second coming of Hakeem Olajuwon. Then Isaiah Canaan and Ish Smith got into the act. Having made a mockery of Portland's lane defense with guards and big men alike, the Sixers began tossing it around the perimeter for completely uncontested threes. When those started falling, Philly's lead surged to 30 and higher. The Blazers' high-scoring guards tried to keep up, lofting wheelbarrows full of attempts. Not a one of them shot over 33%.
How riotous was the lunacy? During the second period Blazers Coach Terry Stotts tried to shake things up by playing a small lineup usually reserved for fourth quarter break-away minutes, full of quick-footed scorers plus lithe big man Ed Davis. That the diminutive quintet got outrebounded was expected. That they also got beat down the floor for easy conversions shows exactly how this game went.
You really, really don't want to see stats from this game, but here's a sampling for the masochists out there.
- Philadelphia normally shoots 42.8% from the field and 32.4% from three-point range. Tonight they shot 55.3% and 43.5% respectively.
- The Sixers rank a distant 30th in the league in scoring, averaging 93.3 points per game. They had 90 points at the end of the third quarter and scored 114 total. It's as if they got a free 5th period worth of points.
- Philly's 11.7 fast break points per game ranks them 16th in the league. Tonight they scored 22.
I'll stop now. Suffice it to say that if Justin Bieber mated with a Kardashian to produce a limited-IQ, visually-impaired tree sloth, their child would still play better basketball than the Trail Blazers just did. And the Sixers made them pay big time.
Hopefully this was a single-night occurrence. We'll find out Monday morning at 11:00 a.m. Pacific as the Blazers take on the Washington Wizards.
Liberty Ballers will be celebrating the best of Philadelphia's 5 wins this season.
Wouldn't you feel good about sending 2000 underprivileged kids to see Damian Lillard and the Blazers play? We're doing exactly that when the Sacramento Kings come to Portland on March 28th! Your help makes a huge difference and it's easy. You can donate tickets to the cause through this link:
Promo Code: BLAZERSEDGE
Ticket Costs range from $7-13 (There is a $5 processing fee per order.)
You can also call our ticket rep, Lisa Swan, directly at 503-963-3966. You will need to indicate to her that you are donating the tickets you order to Blazer's Edge Night.
PLEASE consider sending a child or two! Donations have been strong but we've had a LOT of requests and we're not to 2000 yet. Help if you can.