Ball Don't Lie - NBA

I have a large and poorly-organized collection of NBA games on DVD. As the summer moves along, we here at BDL thought it a good idea to perhaps go through a game or 12 as if it were a live blog, throwing out some insight while never passing on a chance to act a right smart aleck.

Today, after a few misfires, I'm taking on Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals, a game between the Jazz and Trail Blazers.

I don't want to give up too much, but the Blazers are up 3-1, Jeff Hornacek plays for the Jazz, and this is the last game of Jeff Hornacek's career. Damn.

It's a TNT game, and Kevin Calabro has the call, alongside Reggie Theus. Hmm. I never want to see anyone lose their job, but Calabro won't have any NBA work next year with the SuperSonics in Oklahoma City, and I wouldn't exactly protest if one Kevin were to take to the reins as TNT's #2 guy next year, and another Kevin were, say, "re-assigned within the organization."

The game has been on for 90 seconds, and Reggie Theus has already contradicted what the TNT graphics department has come up with, claiming that John Stockton had 13 assists in a Utah Game 4 win. TNT says "nine assists," and ...yeah, TNT's right.


"This is the time of year they got Scottie Pippen."

Actually, they traded for him in October. I'm a jerk.

Arvydas Sabonis will jump center for the Blazers, with Rasheed Wallace and Pippen at the forwards. Steve Smith and Damon Stoudamire are at the guards. Utah counters with Olden Polynice in the pivot, Karl Malone and Bryon Russell at the forwards, with Hornacek and Stockton in the backcourt.

1st Quarter

10:31: 89 seconds in, and I'm already reminded why watching the Blazers was so damn frustrating: Scottie Pippen was so much better at point guard than Damon Stoudamire. Damon could play, at times, but he was far gimpier than even the step-slow version we've seen over the last few years, because he had no lift in his bum ankles. The guy kept returning too early from a too-quick ankle rehab, and he had no place running this team.

9:10: Steve Smith may have been a better point guard option, too.

8:30: Bryon Russell eats Rasheed Wallace up defending Sheed in the post. Rasheed didn't want that ball.

8:10: Malone scores on a pick and slip, and Kevin Calabro calls it "a classic pick and slip." I love Kevin Calabro.

7:22: Calabro just knows the game, he knows options, he understands what teams are trying to do, and he calls a good game. I got all of this from an Olden Polynice jump hook.

3:55: Scottie Pippen nails a jumper, he has seven points, and the game is tied at 11. Scottie Pippen, when he was aggressive, was a beautiful thing. It didn't happen often enough, though, as he was too content to play the martyr role from 1999-2004.

3:16: After Bonzi Wells breaks a play, Pippen improvises and nails a jumper, tied at 13. Pretty.

2:58: Pippen with the steal, lopes down court, runs the break, and finds Stoudamire with the bullet feed for the open lay-up. "Mr. Burgundy, you have a massive ..."

2:34: Hornacek curls off a screen, shoots a jump hook off of his right foot, and it goes in. Reggie: "I would hate to have to play him in a game of HORSE."

0:35: Hornacek with a quick release that took mere milliseconds, he nailed the 20-footer, and has six points. And this is a guy who's retiring.

0:01.1: Pippen tries to run a quick play at the end of the quarter, and all his teammates run toward him, asking for the ball. Scottie Pippen hates his teammates. The Jazz lead 21-19.

2nd quarter

9:28: TNT's Dei Lynam details the birth of Greg Anthony's first child, telling us that the Blazer point guard played John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" over and over during the childbirth.

I'm hoping he just played "Acknowledgement," actually, and not the whole album. Because parts of the rest of that album would scare just about every baby I've had the pleasure to have met.

8:58: Theus congratulates Rasheed Wallace for being aggressive offensively in the post. The same gripes from 2000 ... they never went away.

7:30: Two pretty deep teams, at least in terms of name recognition. Detlef Schrempf, Brian Grant, Anthony, Howard Eisley, Quincy Lewis and Armen Gilliam are all seeing time right now. Portland is up 29-25 after Grant throws down the two-hand slam.

7:05: Jerry Sloan's play out of a timeout ends up with Malone having to take an afterthought jumper with one tick left on the shot clock, and it misses. Malone is apparently suffering from a head cold.

6:00: I'll give Theus credit. I lot of ex-jocks turned-color commentators come out with twaddle, and are oblivious as to how Tim McCarver-ish it is. Theus kind of realizes halfway through that he's not telling you anything you don't already know (one team keeps taking bad shots, the other team has a better chance to win), but you can tell that he realizes halfway through, but feels obligated to finish the thought. I dig Rush Street Reg.

4:21: Bryon Russell is starting to throw in jumpers from all over the place, the Jazz are up one.

4:07: Stockton finds Russell in transition for the open trey, Jazz up 33-29.

4:01: Rasheed Wallace disagrees with a call made by Bennett Salvatore.

3:42: Anthony is not having a good game, he's missed all four shots, his last one being rejected by the floor-bound Malone after Greg took one dribble too many in a transition jaunt to the rim.

3:32: Arvydas Sabonis with a rolling hook that, well, I'll let Calabro tell it: "He wound that thing up from his belt-buckle."

3:01: Way to telegraph that pass, Damon. You had us all fooled.

2:51: Way to pass that open 16-footer for a contested 21-footer for Arvydas, there, Damon.

2:21: Calabro: "An airball three with 17 on the shot clock in a 5-on-4, that's how the Blazer offense has gone tonight."

1:58: Rasheed Wallace has ruined two offensive possessions in a row by hiding in the left corner (the first one saw him get the ball in the right low post against Malone, then dribble 18 feet out behind the three-point arc and give the ball to Pippen) and allowing his man to double-team disrupt the play. Had Sheed cut to the front of the rim or moved around Sabonis to the top of the key, he would have had open shots both times. But he didn't move.

On the other end, he knocked John Stockton on his ass with the Blazers in the penalty, essentially handing two free points to Utah, and he's still bitching about ... something. Enough for TNT to have to lower their court mics.

And everyone wonders why I roll my eyes when people talk about what a "great teammate" he is.

1:14: Russell hits again, the Jazz are up 37-31.

1:02: Pippen calms it down with a jumper, Trail Blazers down four.

0:50.0: All game long, the Blazers have sent Arvydas Sabonis out to the perimeter as a help defender, and it took until this long for the Jazz to take advantage of the lumbering giant's inability to show and recover. OP with the jump hook.

0:15.0: Malone with the fadeaway jumper. He's not taking over as you'd like him to, but he's still given the Jazz nine points and six boards in 21 minutes. Jazz up eight.

0:03.0: Scott Padgett and his wispy beard have come in for the final three seconds of the half to provide "Scott Padgett/Wispy Beard Defense" after a jump ball is thrown up between Sabonis and Hornacek.

0:01.2: Padgett gets the loose ball! Jerry Sloan is a genius.

0:00.0: Padgett refuses to give up the ball.

End of the first half, Utah is leading 41-33. The second half comes later this afternoon.

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