Sunday, May 4, 2014
Still excited, all these hours later. Can't wait for Tuesday night. Don't know where the game will be because the opponent has not yet been revealed. Those two teams are playing later on today, San Antonio and Dallas.
As I looked through the viewfinder at Nicolas Batum out of bounds, about the throw the ball into play, I calmly said to myself, "It is our turn." As you saw on yesterday's post, Damian Lillard, wearing the letter O, caught the pass beyond the three-point line, turned and let it fly. In a moment in time that none of us who know that We Are Rip City will ever forget, the ball passed through the net, causing it to fly sideways, sort of like all of us Blazers' fans felt, flying every which way with joy. There on the court, the players' motion of joy began with Wesley Matthews, No. 2 in the white uniform. You can't tell it in this version of the photo that I took from the opposite end of the court that LaMarcus Aldridge has turned his head to the left and is looking at Damian Lillard, a great big smile already on his face. (If you click on the photo, you'll go to my Flickr account and can then click on the photo to enlarge it and maybe see that great big ol' smile!) LaMarcus knew that buzzer beater had just sent the Portland Trail Blazers into the second round of the NBA playoffs for the first time in 14 years. He's been with the team since 2006-07. The motion of dejection started with everyone in a red uniform, stuck on the court, standing at the bench, a fan in the crowd wearing a team jersey stands behind the Rockets' bench, his hands dejectedly atop his head.
The motion of joy. All over the photo from the court to the stands--look at Damian, Wesley and LaMarcus! I love that it looks like the ball has stopped right in front of James Harden, No. 13 in the red uniform. I hope that he has dreamed about this shot repeatedly since Friday night. Not a nightmare, just a continuous, looping, hyper-slow-motion dream that starts when his teammate, No. 25, arrived too late to impact that shot. No. 25 who has disappeared from the area so that he's not in the photo. Seconds earlier, yes, seconds, that same No. 25 had made a basket that put the Rockets ahead by two, a big deal, An even bigger deal, No. 25 made a gigantic mistake leaving point nine seconds on the clock. I want that dream to end with the ball going through the basket and the Rockets frozen in dejection, right before it starts again with Batum inbounding the ball. You may think I'm going overboard here, but know that I'm not. This is a great big deal. How it will go in the second round? No one knows. But, right now, I plan to enjoy this point nine seconds in time over and over and over. And I fully realize that I may have to own the dejection of a different outcome at some point in the future. I will, but right now, I don't care.
Motion of joy, speeding up.
LaMarcus runs in high gear as Wesley skirts the frozen Patrick Beverley. I'm about to miss the action because I appear to have forgotten to turn the camera to the left. My mind, blown.
I'm still concentrating on Wesley and LaMarcus, so that is wasn't until I uploaded the photos that I did noticed No. 12 Dwight Howard begin to walk towards the corner. Later that night, I heard one of the Talkin' Ball local sports guys say on their TV show that not too long before this moment when Dwight had made a basket, he yelled at the crowd as he turned to run down court, "I'm the best player on the floor!" I saw him yelling from where I sit, but of course I'm way up high above the court, so hearing that guy repeat what the now vanquished Rocket had to say thrills me! Oh, look. The ball has bounced from the floor up into the air again, and James Harden still stands, dejected. I like that word. Makes me wonder what jected might mean--happy, joyous? So that when you're dejected, you are far from happy, joyous. See, I wasn't kidding about enjoying this second over and over.
The ball's about to settle there on the floor as the two refs begin to walk to the table to review the shot, to make certain what we Blazermanics already knew, that Damian got the shot off in time, that the Blazers had won the series 4-2. Oh, and see the guy on the Rockets' bench wearing No. 30, his hands cupped around his mouth? He's their rookie who made a last second shot to defeat the Blazers in game three, right here in our building exactly one week before. We lost that game, the first home game in this round one series, in overtime after winning games one and two in Houston. No. 30 was only in the game because the Rockets' No. 25 had fouled out, the same guy who had had no impact on Damian's game-winning three. I remember thinking when the crowd roared at this development, "What if this guy who takes his place does something?" I didn't have a clue who he was, didn't know that he was coming into his sixth-ever NBA game, I just knew that we shouldn't get too excited until the time was out on the clock and that the Blazers had won. So, I owned the dejection on Friday night, a week before I owned the joy.
By the way, No. 6 in the Rockets' uniform is from Portland. Terrance Jones, a Jefferson High School graduate whose team won three straight Oregon class 5A state championships between his sophomore and senior years. He played two years at the University of Kentucky before leaving early for the NBA Draft in 2012. He's been on the Rockets two seasons now. When he was sophomore at Kentucky, the Wildcats won the NCAA Final Four. He's going to be at least a "junior" on the Rockets before that team gets another chance to win the NBA championship.
Finally I moved the camera a bit and managed to get Nicolas Batum hugging Damian around the neck, and the impending arrival of Wesley and LaMarcus.
In the middle of this exuberant group, sort of buried by his joyous teammates, stands Damian Lillard.
There he is, Nicolas still holding on. Wesley holding on. LaMarcus, who said in an after-game interview that he held onto him for at least three minutes. Other Trail Blazers holding on, Earl in the white, Joel in the black and white stripes, Dorell in the gray, and CJ on the left in the same black and white stripes.
Then I quickly moved the camera to get a shot of the confetti. I love to see that stuff come flying out of the ceiling 'cause it means one thing, victory!
An exciting time for everyone, except the Rockets.
Once the refs reviewed the shot, Mark Mason announced that it stands: Blazers win! Blazers win!
This Merriam-Webster definition applies only to the Rockets at this time:
de·ject·ed adjective - sad because of failure, loss, etc. / cast down in spirits / depressed
I will admit it, if and when I become dejected because a game doesn't go our way. However, not even the unknowingness of the upcoming series shall weaken my joy at being a season ticket holder and a fan of the Portland Trail Blazers.