I had been looking forward to Monday night for the past few weeks. I had found out that my roommate managed to get four tickets to the Blazers/Sonics game. But this was a bit more special than most other tickets. A lot of it had to do with the fact that this could be the last game in Seattle between the two teams (which I will get into more in a moment). Part of it is the fact that my favorite team is in Seattle.
But mainly… It was the fact that it was free. And in the eighth row. Center court. The thought of being in your rival team’s arena that close and personal cheering on your hometown team…
After getting some dinner at Dick’s, we walked over to KeyArena. We discussed the overall look and feel of it. It looked pretty good. The facilities themselves aren’t too shabby, which made us wonder why on Earth it is in need of a renovation. We started working our way towards the seats and we were pretty amazed. It was probably one of the best seats in the house. I was pretty excited. Seeing Brandon, LaMarcus, and the rest of the Blazers warming up, taking shots, goofing off, and so forth. It didn’t take long to start getting into the game.
The game started out pretty well. Both teams were trading buckets early on. However, it was Martell Webster that was starting to light up the scoreboard, knocking down three pointers, giving the Blazers a pretty early lead. From the looks of how things were going, it was going to be an easy victory for the Blazers. LaMarcus was causing a lot of problems for the Sonics with his size and ability to distribute the ball. They couldn’t find anyone to match up to him and his abilities. I recall one moment where he was in the paint and Pryzbilla was calling for the ball since he was wide open and LA was being double-teamed. He found Joel and Joel finished it up with a powerful dunk. It was good to see LaMarcus being part of the future front-court for the Blazers.
Sonics weren’t going to give up though. They started making their own shots and had some pretty impressive plays. Durant got a few “dunks” in there. Damien Wilkins was making shots as well, including the buzzer beater at the end of the first quarter. Although, while they were making shots from outside, they had problems from the foul line. Collision had a few issues trying to score from there and even Ridnour missed one. But Blazers were willing to take whatever gifts were given to them, whether it be turnovers or missed free throws.
As the third quarter came around, things started falling apart. I noticed that LaMarcus was nowhere to be seen. Brandon was still off on his shooting game in the second half. No one was getting down low to pick up the offensive boards. Shots weren’t going down. It didn’t help either that the Sonics were making shots regardless of how much pressure was on them. They were just hitting it from everywhere. Green from beyond the arc… Petro with a baby hook… Ridnour with a midranged shot… Durant from long-range. It was pretty much unbelievable. It makes you wonder how they were on an eleven game losing streak with this kind of shooting.
In any case, Sonics built up their lead quickly and just left the Blazers in a huge hole. Given how their shooting woes continued in the fourth quarter, there was little chance of a comeback. Jarrett Jack’s four-point play gave me a bit of hope of a comeback, but trading baskets with an eight point deficit wasn’t going to do it. No urgency to win boards on the offensive end did not help the cause.
In the end, the scoreboard said it all… Blazers 84, Sonics 97.
Things that I would say that worked out for the Blazers… LaMarcus was definitely key in this game. His presence was really needed in there. When he left the game, the Blazers started to collapse a bit, since the physical game down low wasn’t around. They could have used his hands to get rebounds and shoot in the low block too. Pryzbilla had some great defensive stops, especially the one where he stuffed Jeff Green’s block. Martell in the first quarter was quite amazing still…
Things that could have been worked on… The tenacity on the offensive boards dropped a lot in the second half. Maybe it was Aldridge gone. Maybe it was fatigue, but it didn’t seem to be there. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. Too many turnovers that game kept the Sonics in the game in the first half. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so close had they held onto the ball better. Shots going in the second half would have been nice, but you can’t always expect to make every shot.
It was a fun game though. It left me with a sad feeling knowing that this could have been the last Portland/Seattle game ever. The KeyArena facilities seemed to be perfectly fine. It just left me questioning why they wouldn’t bother renewing the contract. Is it the issues with maintenance and upkeep costs for the arena? Or is it just the fact that Bennett wants a team in Oklahoma City more than anything else? I don’t know. But I do know is that KeyArena seemed to be perfectly fine. It seemed like a great place for fans to enjoy a game and watch their Sonics play. Just no one is willing to show the money and buy it from the greedy one named Clay Bennett. Granted that I am a Blazers fan, I think that it’s important to show support against the move to Oklahoma. I saw a huge crowd of fans standing and chanting “Save our Sonics!” throughout the game. They got everyone into the spirit of desiring to keep them in town by chanting along with them.
This game was the 192nd game between the two cities. Let’s just hope there is another 192 more after this season.
I took more pictures than just the scoreboard. I’ll upload them onto Flickr sometime soon.