I’m 24-years-old and I’ve watched hundreds of Portland Trail Blazers (36-18) games in my brief lifetime on earth, and tonight was one of the weirdest games I’ve ever witnessed. It featured everything on the emotional scale: sadness, defeat, anger, confusion, joy, excitement and love. A second night without LaMarcus Aldridge, Terry Stotts really has to dig deep into the depth chart against the Utah Jazz (19-34), a bottom-dwelling squad who took an eventual nine-point lead when all hope seemed lost. Robin Lopez and Damian Lillard go on the attack in the fourth quarter and come out victorious 102-94 to a very happy Moda Center.
Here’s how tonight went down in the form of GIFs; you’ll get the feeling you were there!
After the first 12 minutes, the Blazers were ahead 16-15. Stotts is giving playing time to Will Barton, Victor Claver and Nicolas Batum heads to the locker room fighting the flu. Nothing offensively is clicking, everyone is standing around, shots are short, bad passes are made and Portland is shooting barely 30 percent. It’s going to be a long night…
Time to quit joking around, let’s stomp on Utah’s throat, right? Wrong. So wrong. Everything was so bad, the red on the court wasn’t the pinwheel logo but blood spewing from eye sockets everywhere. The Jazz took advantage and hung around happily, going into the locker room down 43-39 while Portland fought for every bucket and couldn’t make sense of what was happening around them. Portland had yet to even set foot on the free throw line. It could be any worse?
Lopez picks up his third personal foul and before Stotts could do anything to get him off the court; he’s handed his fourth and the Moda Center groans. This was where viewers changed the channel and made drinks heavy in alcohol to help ease the pain. The Jazz got up to a nine-point lead, Gordon Hayward dunks, Richard Jefferson is hitting corner threes and Utah outscored Portland 34-21 in the third quarter.
The final push for the Blazers to redeem themselves, possibly getting inspiration from Stotts’ tribute outfit to Jack Ramsay’s birthday to not simply give up and die. Once Lopez came back, he swated Enes Kanter under the rim and on the following Blazers possession, Lillard walks up and leans in for a three-pointer. Portland got a better handle on keeping their turnovers low, the hussle energy high and the Jazz broke out of their shell and got back to being a bad team we all know and love. Batum had returned to the floor in the third quarter and makes his own three-point shot and Portland climbs back into the driver’s seat and take the lead! As to which hundreds of Blazers fan turn the game back on with this exact expression:
Trey Burke kept things interesting as the Jazz flirt being down four and a few points to take charge at any time, but key defensive stops by Lopez, followed by foul shots from Mo Williams late seal the deal and fans are awarded free egg McMuffins for enduring that showcase. This is how we all probably look to Jazz fans right now knowing that Utah let this one get away:
Who Was Hot
- Robin Lopez was the rock, a new career high 18 rebounds to go along with 12 points and four blocks. Being the only true big man left on this team, he’s been bruised up down low and keeps fighting along. The exclamation point came in the last few seconds when he got an open lane down the court by himself and absolutely threw it down!
- Damian Lillard with the team-high 28 points and seven assists to make up for a really tough first half when nothing was going on. Opting to drive inside and get to the foul line instead of settling for outside shots, Lillard wasn’t getting the calls early. The fourth quarter really opened him up, and once a few outside baskets found their way in the hoop, he found his rhythm again.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
Will Barton’s #YOLO attitude took to new heights as he completed a 360 degree dunk in transition, when Portland wasn’t even up by that much. Had he missed it, we probably would never see him suit up for the rest of the season. Asked in the locker room about it, all he had to say was “It’s what I do.” Damn straight Will!
As well as Batum found Lillard for a sick alley-oop pass out of a timeout.
Take a sigh of relief and go enjoy yourselves tonight. Blazers will still be undermanned when Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves come back to Portland on Sunday.