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Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Game report: Blazers 99, Lakers 93

The law of supply and demand being what it is, this is my year to score the best seats I've ever had for Portland Trail Blazers games. Tonight a good friend laid some incredible ducats on me, and so off my daughter and I went to sit in the second row -- just a row back and three seats down from where team owner Paul Allen sits, when he's there -- to see the Blazers take on the Lakers.

If you don't think that Oregon has been Californicated forever, just drop in on a Laker game at the Rose Garden. The cheers for the purple-and-gold-clad villains from L.A., coached by Phil Jackson (left) and starring Kobe Bryant, are just as loud as those for the Trail Blazers. Both teams are pretty crummy this year, and so it was an interesting game. It was nip-and-tuck for the first 20 minutes or so; then the Blazers pulled ahead; then they almost gave the game back to the Lakers at the end, but held on. The celebratory streamers fell, and Portland's six-game losing streak ended.

Having the prime view that we did, we noticed a number of things that we hadn't before. First and foremost, the Blazers are a much better team when Darius Miles is not in the game. Not only that, but when he's not in the game, Darius doesn't sit on the bench with the rest of the team. No, I kid you not, he's up in the stands, bopping his head around as if he's listening to some sort of hip-hop music. He's not wearing headphones or anything, though -- just jamming away to his own personal soundtrack. Here he is, well into the third quarter, before he returned to the hardwood and the Blazers almost squandered the lead:

Very strange. So much for conferring with teammates and coaches. The Darius has occasional moments of brilliance out on the floor, but especially on the offensive end, he's more trouble than he's worth. A typical Paul Allen personal pick -- a poor choice. And from what I could see, just a bit, shall we say, eccentric.*

Another new NBA "thang" we observed was that Kobe Bryant is now producing a collection of rubbery faces when the Lakers have the ball and are setting up a play. Sometimes he's giving cues to his teammates about what to do next, but other times he looks like he's just channeling Jimmie "J.J." "Dy-No-Mite" Walker (right). Anyway, the Kobester pouted quite a bit when the referees' calls didn't go his way toward the end. To see him and the Colonel struggle to keep the team above a .500 winning percentage does a Portland soul good. Too bad it hardly matters any more.

Zach Randolph is a mess. He can't seem to keep his uniform on. He spends more time pulling his shirt out of his pants than he does thinking. He's now taking lazy three-point shots, pretty much at random. When they go in, it's funny. When they don't, that's how you get one of the worst records in the league.

We brought the world's most ancient digital camera with us, once again trying to capture great moments but mostly just annoying people seated around us as they rattled their jewelry and smiled through their plastic surgery. At halftime, I caught Luke Walton talking to Maurice Lucas, and I thought a photo of the Two Lukes would be cool, especially given their long history together. But with my camera, you press the shutter button and wait a half hour for anything to happen. Here's what I got:

Here's Kobe (acquitted on all charges) at his favorite place in the world:

The Lakers are full of somewhat tired journeymen. Here's Lamar Odom, who had a couple of good plays but was handled quite well in the first half by Blazer starter Viktor Khryapa (add vowels until spelling is correct):

Here's an L.A. TV sports guy at work. Make up your own joke:

We've got at least one more up-close-and-personal moment coming up with the Blazers this year, and it may be our last Blazer game ever, who knows? As down as I am on the team's owner, Paul Allen, it sure is fun sitting in the VIP zone on somebody else's dime. Don't take your roundball love to Seattle, Paul!

DOS Boy wasn't there again tonight, but team president Steve Patterson was in the owner's seats. When some kids down the other end held up a big "Trade Allen" sign, he had no visible reaction. Most of the night, he just looked like this:

* UPDATE, 3/2, 11:31 a.m.: What I couldn't see from my vantage point was that Miles was chugging along on a stationary bike -- to keep his surgically repaired knee warm! That's a relief. I thought he had really gone off the deep end.

They're still better without him in there, though. He sleepwalked on offense, and Khryapa was just as good against Odom on defense.

Comments (20)

I'd say the two Lukes had a long history together, considering Luke Walton is named after Maurice.
I enjoyed seeing a former client get some blog props: Yes, folks, at one time I sold a few jokes to J.J. Walker.
I also like the Maryland tandem(Blake-Dixon). They're promising some nights. Vegas is going to love them.
But I'm really shocked at Phil Jackson. Frankly he looks like hell.

He's let himself go, there's no question.

Did Kobe have a Jazzercise class right after the game? Nice spandex leggings. Hopefully they hold a chastity belt in place.

I was at the game on Friday against Boston and I got the opposite impression about Miles. I thought their energy level picked up when he was on the floor and he made the team better. But he's laid an egg in the three games since. Hence the "potential" tag. Miles is the Blazers star of the future, and always will be.

With all due respect, Jack, I don't think you can point to cheers for the Lakers at a Blazers game as being emblematic of the "Californification" of Oregon--the Lakers get cheers everywhere they go because they are a marquee team, much like the Yankees. I bet a lot of people show up in Yankee jerseys when they're up in Seattle, and nobody claims this is the NewYorkification of Washington. Also, the Blazers pretty much suck right now, so there are fewer die-hard Blazer fans there to drown out the cheers of Laker fans. Good game report, btw.

the Lakers get cheers everywhere they go because they are a marquee team, much like the Yankees.

They were always booed here, back when Portland was Portland -- even when they were world champs.

Speaking of Californication, have you been to the remodeled Bridgeport Brewery? I've been resisting the "Portland isn't Portland anymore" theme, but found myself complaining like an old geezer (I'm 36) about its cold New Pearl decor. I should've carried a cane or walker with me I sounded so old. At least they haven't screwed up the beer-yet.

As long as it continues to rain all summer in Portland, no one will ever confuse this soggy city with Southern California. Vancouver, BC maybe? Socal. Never.

Oh, no! They built a fancy building! Portland isn't Portland any more!

It's a lot more than just "a fancy building," son. Now could you hurry up with my latte? I'm late for work.

Too funny! I guess if you didn't know that Miles was actually riding a stationary bike to keep his legs and (recently surgically repaired) knee warm, you might think his actions were very strange. I'd say Miles played very good defense last night.

I'd agree with Canzano at the O (for once)... the Blazers are bigger than Paul Allen. He owns them, but this city 'owns' them. So... they've gotten rid of the malcontents and, honestly, they're often fun to watch despite the losing record. McMillan has done wonders with these guys.

Isn't it time we forgive and forget? Won't it be easier to pull out of this hole with fan support? I understand the ticket prices are ridiculous, but it doesn't cost anything to watch them on TV occasionally. Many folks don't go to a game because they're running off of old assumptions... becoming more familiar with the 'product' on TV may convince some to buy tix if they're so inclined. The town should be more emotionally tied to the team, through thick and thin. Every team waxes and wanes... it's just our time.

I'm actually pretty happy with this team, although I could probably do without Miles. But now the owner is proving to be a real problem, starting with his silly "hardball" pose on the arena debt. If this team were owned by a sane person, I'd buy some tickets.

"It's a lot more than just "a fancy building," son. Now could you hurry up with my latte? I'm late for work."

Whoops. Didn't mean to stray from the party line.

That's o.k.

L.A. Sports Guy quote in parallel universe:

"This is Jack Bogdanski, KCAL9 Sports, thanking god I get paid twice as much to do this as reading the internal revenue code and dealing with petty political anxieties up here in California's Canada. Plus, I actually get more people to watch me make fun of Paul Allen and his awful team. See you at the beach."

I get paid twice as much to do this as reading the internal revenue code and dealing with petty political anxieties up here in California's Canada.

I doubt that, but if he does, more power to him.

Oh, and I guess that was an ad hominem post about me. Bye.

Was just talking to a girl who works at Bridgeport - apparently the kitchen is smaller than a dorm kitchen's. So get used to 2-hour wait times for food - on a Tuesday afternoon.

Also, Porltand Brewing already screwed THEIR beer up after being bought by Pyramid.

So all you guys who wanted to trad Ruben Patterson, have you seen what he's doing in Denver? First game, 26 points and the Nugs win. Now tonight, he scores 16 and he is guarding Pau Gasol (giving up about seven inches) and holds Gasol to 10 points.

Why couldn't Nate coach him?

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