Wednesday, December 28, 2005

There is a God

The Trail Blazers are on a 3 game win streak, beating assistant coach Mo Cheeks and the 76ers 91-95 at the Rose Garden. If you're a church-goer, put a little something extra in the collection plate this Sunday, my treat.

Smile When You're Winning

Happy holidays from Blazers Basketball HQ. Personally, my heads been swimming the last few days with back-to-back road wins against Minnesota and Sacramemento, in which they actually broke the 100 point mark! Huzzah!. Blazer wins are the greatest gift of all. It's hard to tell if this team is actually improving, or just getting slumping teams on bad nights. Whatever the reason though, it still feels nice to root for a winner now and then (thanks a lot Ducks basketball 2005. Losing to Portland and PSU? Like I didn't have enough to hang my head about). If this team can string together a few more wins, who knows what could happen in the weak Northwest Division. Playoffs? No, but sinking another teams playoff chances? Possible.

Things are certainly going to get interesting if this group continues to win, or at least lose close games. Sebastian Telfair is set to return from the inactive list any day now (though supposedly not tomorrow) which brings up a dilemma for Mac-10: Insert Telfair back into the starting lineup even though Stevie Blake and Jarrett Jack have been getting the job done? My guess is that Nate uses Telfair sparingly under the guise of protecting his injury, but that won't fly for longer than a week. After that, Jack probably ends up playing more off-guard, with Blake and Telfair sharing the minutes at the point. I think at this point though, Telfair should have to earn his way back into the rotation. My guess is that, if John Nash were fired last year, Telfair would be spending the better part of the season on the bench, but that's just a guess.

Next up, the Blazers get Iverson and assistant coach Mo Cheeks at the Garden. AI and a rejuvenated Chris Webber each played over 40 minutes last night in a win at Denver, so hopefully they'll be a little winded. The line is Sixers -4. Now that's what I call respect!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Shameless Plug

If you've got the time, vote for Blazers Basketball as best newcomer blog here. Or don't, if you're a jerk. You're not a jerk, are you?

We Was Robbed

What a kick in the teeth. The Blazers played their hearts out last night, losing to the vastly favored Detroit Pistons 89-93 in Auburn Hills. If the Blazers could have kept from making a few late game mistakes, this would have been their best win of the season and really something to build on, but alas, it wasn't meant to be. Of course, the referee crew of Leon Wood, Sean Corbin, and Sean Wright didn't help much either, calling two truly horrible fouls on Jarrett Jack in the final minutes of the game, both of which were flops while shooting three pointers by Chauncey "God Damn Am I Ugly" Billups. If it weren't for Sam Cassell, Chauncey would easily be the ugliest point guard in the league, so I guess it's only fair that the ref's take some pity on a guy so physically repugnant.

While I hate to sound like a broken record, I must mention that the game after I penned the carol "Z-Bo the Dough Man", Zach blows up for a career high 37 points. If you've read this little blog lately, you'd know that every time I poke fun at a player, he turns around and has a great game. So that means that Nate uses this site as billboard material, or that I have supernatural powers. Neither would surprise me.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

House of Not-As-Much Pain

As mentioned over at Truehoop, I've been contemplating some kind of campaign to get the Blazers to play at least one game at Memorial Coliseum this year. Nate is an old-school coach, trying to instill old-school values in his players. Where better to instill those values than in the old-school venue? I think this would be a valuable marketing ploy on many levels, as many fans long for the glory days that took place at Memorial. Any team can have a throw-back jersey night, but how many teams can have a throw-back venue night? The young folks love that retro stuff.

As far as I know, Memorial sits empty for the most part, so availability wouldn't be a problem. It's right next to the Rose Garden, so it wouldn't seem too challenging from a logistical standpoint. The Garden isn't even coming close to capacity on game nights, so overcrowding wouldn't seem to be an issue. Of course, those that own luxury boxes at the Garden would probably be against it, but screw them. Between drinking Champaign and eating escargot, they don't watch but a quarter of the game anyway. God forbid they have to sit with the beer swigging proletariat at Memorial for one night.

If the Trail Blazers truly want to reconnect with a working-class fan base, they need to play some games in a working-class venue. And let’s face it; this team needs all the help they can get. Maybe some of the tradition of winning that was established in the Memorial Coliseum would rub off on this young squad. Moreover, we are at war. Memorial Coliseum was build to honor "our veterans of all wars who made the supreme sacrifice." Too many soldiers from Oregon have paid that sacrifice in Afghanistan and Iraq. They deserve a better memorial than an empty, lifeless building. Honor the troops, honor the home of the only professional sports championship in Portland history, and honor the working-class roots of Portland. Bring Memorial Coliseum back to life!

Contact the Trail Blazers here, or call (503) 234-9291. If anyone knows any pertinent e-mail addresses, post them in the comments and I'll post them. The longest journey starts with a single step!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Tis the Season

In honor of the Holiday season (happy b-day Jesus!) and Zach Randolph's current slump, I submit the following Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanza Carol.

Z-Bo the Dough Man (set to the tune of "Frosty the Snowman")

Z-Bo the Dough Man

Was a solid, happy pro

With a quick put back and a hustle flow

And a soft torso of dough.

Z-Bo the Dough Man

Has a lot of upside they say

He was made of dough

But the management knows

His game will come to life one day.

There must have been some magic

In that thick headband he found

For when he placed in on his head

20 and 10 could be marked down.

Z-Bo the Dough Man

Was efficient as he could be

And the scouts would say

He could kind of play

Like a rounder, short KG.

Z-Bo the Dough Man

Knew his game was hot some days

So he said “Give me the rock”

“My shot’s impossible to block”

“Coach knows that I make plays.”

Down to the Garden

With a contract in his hand

Scoring here and there without getting air

Saying “Nash, you know I’m the man!”

He led the team in points and boards

His game was at the top

But our hopes were dashed the moment when

Z-Bo’s knee decided to pop.

Z-Bo the Dough Man

Went the micro-fracture way

His post game is bye-bye

And Z-Bo’s reply

Is “They pay me a lot to play.”

Clankity, clank, clank

Clankity, clank, clank

Z-Bo’s game now blows

Clankity, clank, clank

Clankity, clank, clank

6 guaranteed years to go!

Weekend Update

As if you didn't know, the Blazers got waxed by the Sonics 111-99 on Friday in the game that wasn't ever in doubt. In the moral victory of the day, 99 is really, really close to 100. Could cracking the century mark be far of for this young Trail Blazer team? By the way, you KNOW a game was a blow out when the losing team shoots 59.1%. That means there were a whole lot of uncontested lay-ups against the Sonics junior varsity squad. Once again, I feel as though my words of derision have sparked at least one Trail Blazers to play well. A few days ago, I suggested that Charles Smith be waived in order to open up a roster spot for rebounding PF. So what happened next? Charles came out and scored 15 points in 19 minutes on 6 of 8 shooting. Proof once again that Nate is using this site as billboard material.
Last night, a starting line-up of Steve Blake, Juan Dixon, Viktor Khryapa, Zach Randolph, and Theo Ratliff lead the Blazers to a 92-97 win over the Wizards in front of a storm depleted crowd of 2,923. It just goes to show what can happen when you let everyone move to closer seats when it becomes obvious that they aren't going to be filled. Maryland Terrapins, turned Washington Wizards, turned Portland Trail Blazers Steve and Juan both had great games in their new starting roles, scoring 14 and 20 respectively. Z-Dough continued to stink up the Garden, scoring 9 points on 3 of 13 shooting and only grabbing 5 boards. Luckily for the Blazers, Vik (12 points, 8 rebounds), Theo (7 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks), Jarrett (11 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, and a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line), Rube (10 points, 5 rebounds) and Charlie Brown (9 points, 3 rebounds) all had solid games. I hate to say it, but I think this team is better without Sebastian Telfair. Nice win Blazers.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Battlefield I-5

Mr. Slate vs. Mac-10. The Snowflake vs. Frodo. Danny Fortson vs. Whatever NBA referee crew shows up. There's obviously no lack of storylines in this one. The rivalries between Portland and Seattle, be it the Trail Blazers vs. the Super Sonics or the Winter Hawks vs. The Thunderbirds, always have the bitterness and vitriol of an Australian beach party. Tonight is sure to be no different, with each team having added incentive to win. A win tonight for the Blazers would draw Nate and this fledgling team closer during what has been a tough stretch, what with The O fanning non-existent flames while doing their part in keeping alive a rich tradition of journalistic integrity that we as Portland fans have come to cherish. A win for the Sonics is a big F-you to Nate for leaving the team when many thought Seattle were right on the cusp of a championship run. The question is, will Jesus Shuttleworth, Rashard "Too Drunk" Lewis, and the rest of the Sonics show up sporting headbands? Tonight's also "free pair of shorts" night, if you can convince the attendant that you’re under 14. What more could you want in a basketball game? The line is Seattle -4. Make of that what you will.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Over the Board-erline

Blazer lose 77-82 to the Jazz last night in one of the worst officiated games that I've seen in a while. Touch fouls, bullshit goaltending calls, game changing shot clock violation no-calls, inability to throw a decent jump ball, you name it, this game had it (and it's not just me that think's the referee team of Bennie Adams, Mark Ayotte, and Scott Foster is horrible). It would be easier to commiserate about poor officiating if the Blazers hadn't given up 26 offensive rebounds, which has to be some kind of record. The fact that the Blazer only lost by 5 after getting out-boarded 36-53 is a testament to... well it's a testament to something. On the good news/bad news front, Sebastian is putting himself on the inactive list with a sore paw, which is bad for Telfair, but probably good for the Blazers. Both Jack and (especially) Steve Blake have been outplaying Telfair as of late. If Telfair wasn't injured, Nate would probably have to pull minutes away from him anyway, so at least this way his pride gets to stay intact. This was a tough beat, but I still liked the way the Blazers played for the most part. A few things stuck out:
  • Ha played a pretty solid game last night. In 12 minutes, he had 2 rebounds, a block, 1 point, and 4 fouls. More importantly, he looked pretty comfortable, which is a big plus if Theo is going to continue to decay on the inactive list.
  • Zach has to lead the league in most shots blocked. He might try actually getting off the floor when shooting. Helps with the elevation.
  • In other Z-Dough related news, he had a great quote in The O today, ""Shoot, was is that, seven, eight in a row? Frustrating. I thought we would be a lot better. But guys are playing hard. It's just too many mistakes. We are shooting ourselves in the head." First off, a guy like Zach, who has been involved (although indirectly) with gun violence shouldn't use the word "shoot" so much unless he's taking about his 18 footer. And secondly, I was under the impression that the phrase was "shooting yourself in the foot." I guess things really are that bad at Center One Court.
  • The Blazers actually shot 78.8% from the free-throw line. Not bad. Unfortunately, they shot 37.5% from both the field and from 3.
  • Travis Outlaw needs to get more minutes. Haven't you broken him down enough Nate? I thought it was part of the coach's job to instill confidence in his players.
  • Waive Charles Smith and pick up a big body that can rebound. Is Sam Clancy still available?
  • The backcourt line-up of Jarrett Jack and Steve Blake works.
  • Andrei Kirilenko is an absolute stud. He's probably the best ball handler on the Jazz, as well as the best all-around player. But a little note of advice Andrei, that spiked half-fro look isn't working.
  • Mehmet Okur is a big, dumb, smelly Turk, who I hate. He's only 26? He looks like he's 40! He and Jerry Sloan must be smoking Camel Straights together behind the Delta Center.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Inspirational Korean Proverb of the Day

"A turtle travels only when it sticks its neck out."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Ruben and Ron

With the trade floodgates about to open, there is much scuttlebutt brewing about some of the NBA's finest players getting ready to change the registration on their Maybach's and the addresses on their Omaha steak subscriptions. Troubled amateur boxer Ron Artest wants out of Indiana, and in my opinion, no place fits him better than Portland. A Ron Artest for Ruben Patterson and change seems to work. RealGM says it's a go. With Artest scheduled to make 6.5, 7.1, and 7.8 million over the next 3 years, it would seem to jive with the 6.3 and 6.8 that The Rube is on track to receive in the next two years. The Blazers get the best defender/enforcer in the game, and the Pacers get to sustain a decent level of defense and hustle while possibly acquiring a young talent that is languishing on the bench in Portland, a la Jermaine O'Neal. That would mean saying goodbye to Travis, but it's not like Nate is playing him anyway. It would also piss Artest off to no end, which would please Larry Bird and the rest of Pacer management. Of course, this won't happen due to all of the squares who think character should come before winning, which is a loser mindset if I've ever heard one. Personally, I promise to let Ron-Ron punch me in the face before every game if it will translate to wins. Artest would bring the thuggish-ruggish bone mentality that this soft Blazer teams is so sorely lacking. He's also averaging 19 points a game, which might translate to the Blazers actually scoring 100 points before seasons end. In the Whitsitt era, this would be a done deal, but the question now is: Do Nash, Patterson, and Mr. Big have the stones to go against supposed public opinion and get an impact player with a checkered, not-so-distant past? Hell, no one is showing up anyway, so why not take a chance?

Monday, December 12, 2005

Sky Rockets In Flight

First, the good news: The Blazers broke their 6 game losing streak with a 95-98 overtime home win over the homeless New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. Once again, the Blazers failed to score 100 points, in an overtime game no less, but a win is a win. And boy did this team need a win. It was a game in which a lineup of rag-tag basketball misfits consisting of Martell Webster, "A Million To" Juan Dixon, Steve 'The Snowflake" Blake, Viktor Khyrapa, and Joel Pryzbilla played extended minutes in the 4th and overtime quarters, and subsequently stopped the proverbial bleeding of this young, often perplexing squad, if only for about 48 hours.

Which brings us to the bad news: The Blazers were unable to start a winning streak last night, losing to Tracy (which is a girl's name) McGrady and the Houston Rockets 100-86 last night at the Garden. Once again, the Blazers were close at half time, only trailing by 5 going into the locker room. Unfortunately, whatever words of inspiration and motivation Nate conjured up must have fallen on deaf ears, as Houston went on to outscore the Blazers in the second half 53-44, many of those 44 coming in garbage time in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. Zach continued to struggle, going 6 for 22 in route to a 15 point, 13 rebound effort that could be considered pedestrian at best. I think it's safe to say that Z-Dough is broken right now, and with no legit option at back-up PF, things are only going to get worse. The Blazers also continued their tear of horrible free throw shooting, going 58.9% from the not-so-charitable stripe. Seriously, you could pick out guys in a decent city league that would shoot at least 70% from the line. Help me Rick Barry!

In the moral victory of the night, Pryzbilla and Ha "The Seoul Man" Seung-Jin held Yao to 9 points and 5 rebounds. Ha also made 100% of his free-throws! Someone's angling for team captain.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A Friend In Need...

Darius might not show up every night for the Blazers, but at least he's showing up for his friends. Nice move Darius. Violence is stupid.

Every Which Way to Lose

The Blazers kicked ass for 3 quarters last night, beating the Northwest Division leading Timberwolves 51-61, before going on a fourth quarter meltdown, resulting in an 84-74 loss. That's six straight losses for the Red and Black Attack, which has prompted me to consider tallying winning quarters rather than winning games. Baby steps. It also marks yet another game that the Blazers failed to score 100, making them the only team in the league to hold that dubious distinction (and no, I'm not counting the 104 points they scored against the Raptors in pre-season. I've got my pride). If the team has a healthy Darius Miles, this is probably a win, but with the DMZ (short for the "Darius Miles Zone" as in, you don't go there) going under the knife, or rather, the small scalpel with a tiny camera attached to it, the Blazer are going to have to live without head-bonks and corn rows, at least for 3 weeks. Zach's bionic knee seems to be acting up as well, so you couple that with Theo's foot and ankle injuries that even his energy drinks can't cure, Martell's infected finger, which also seems to be affecting his blogging (no new entry since November 22? Come on rook!), and you have one broke-ass team going no where. The way I see it, the Blazers weren't going to make the playoffs this year, so we might as well snag another decent draft pick, at least for one more season. Come 2008 though, this team is going to be sick! Back to the future!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Sun Day Morning Coming Down

I don't really have anything to say about the 85-13o thrashing that the Blazers endured last night at the hands of the Suns. No one played well, Z-Dough faked an injury so that he wouldn't have to continue getting humiliated, Sebastian didn't have a single assist, the team as a whole shot 37%, the Suns shot 50% from 3, seven of nine Suns that played any significant minutes scored in double figures, and even my boy Vik didn't play well. Rather than try and rationalize any of it, I'll leave my few readers with a little song by the late, great Johnny Cash (actually it was written by Kris Kristopherson, but Johnny made it famous). I think it pretty much sums up the Blazers experiance last night. Ladies and gentelman, Johnny Cash:

Well, I woke up Sunday morning
With no way to hold my head that didn't hurt.
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad,
So I had one more for dessert.
Then I fumbled in my closet through my clothes
And found my cleanest dirty shirt.
Then I washed my face and combed my hair
And stumbled down the stairs to meet the day.

I'd smoked my mind the night before
With cigarettes and songs I'd been picking.
But I lit my first and watched a small kid
Playing with a can that he was kicking.
Then I walked across the street
And caught the Sunday smell of someone frying chicken.
And Lord, it took me back to something that I'd lost
Somewhere, somehow along the way.

On a Sunday morning sidewalk,
I'm wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
'Cause there's something in a Sunday
That makes a body feel alone.
And there's nothing short a' dying
That's half as lonesome as the sound
Of the sleeping city sidewalk
And Sunday morning coming down.

In the park I saw a daddy
With a laughing little girl that he was swinging.
And I stopped beside a Sunday school
And listened to the songs they were singing.
Then I headed down the street,
And somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringing,
And it echoed through the canyon
Like the disappearing dreams of yesterday.

On a Sunday morning sidewalk,
I'm wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
'Cause there's something in a Sunday
That makes a body feel alone.
And there's nothing short a' dying
That's half as lonesome as the sound
Of the sleeping city sidewalk
And Sunday morning coming down.

I'll be curled up in a ball crying if anyone needs me. Blazers play the Timberwolves tonight. The spread is T-Wolves -7.5. Bet the farm on Minnesota.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Leaders of the New School

In honor of the newest Trail Blazer fan, lil' Vladimir Khryapa, I submit the first in what is sure to be an infrequent and problem-ridden feature here at Blazers Basketball: The Online Poll! Vote soon before the html crashes the site.

<a href="">View MicroPoll</a><br /><a href="">Online Survey</a><br />
My vote goes to Joel's unborn child Anthony. When your dad is over 7 foot, you've got the best shot of making a squad in the NBA. Hell, Shawn Bradley and Greg Ostertaghave both been in the league for years and they're about as worthless as you can get. Samaya is my dark horse, even though there haven't been any women in the NBA, who knows what will happen in 18 years? If she's got even half of the quicks and handles that papa has, she'll make a roster. As far as Vlad goes, I think his game is going to suffer from not being hardened by communist oppression. If Vlad can keep from getting soft off the milk of the capitalist pig, then I'd give him a 50/50 shot. Congratulations to all of the proud new fathers (and soon to be fathers in Joel's case). And in the next poll: Who is the most likely to be the overbearing father who punches out his kid's coach?
<a href="">View MicroPoll</a><br /><a href="">Online Survey</a><br />

Jagged Little Patterson

It seems as though the Blazers used up all of their juice in the first home games of the season, as they are now in a four game losing streak, the last two losses coming at home. A Darius Miles-less squad lost to the Jazz last night 98-93. Wins this year are going to be few and far between, so its games against average competition that the Blazers really need to grab. Last night was one of those games, but alas, it wasn't to be. Aside from Darius being unavailable, there were a few other story lines, one being Martell Webster's first start on his 19th birthday, and the return of Ruben Patterson. Ruben played well, scoring 19, and promised to keep his yap shut. With Darius' knee swelling like a rotting corpse, Ruben is probably going to get his wish of at least 25 minutes a night. What puzzles me is that you would expect Travis Outlaw to get more minutes with Miles out, but Trav only had 5 minutes last night. I guess the trade off is that proud new father (and The Cut's favorite Blazer by the way) Viktor Khryapa logged 18 minutes, scored 9 points on 4-4 shooting, grabbed 3 rebounds and had an assist. Long live Vladimir Khryapa, long live Glasnost! A few things:

  • The Blazers continued their horrible free-throw shooting, going 23-33. That's 69.7% for all of you statisticians out there. If they had shot 87%, they would have won by a point.
  • Both teams had 14 turnovers. The difference: Utah scored 22 points off those turnovers, compared to 14 points for the Blazers.
  • According to the Behind the Blazer Beat blog, Mac-10 had a technical foul, but according to the box score, no technicals were assessed. Could another Jason Quick controversy be in the works?
  • Everybody hates Turks.