The memorable playoff run by the Portland Trail Blazers came to a difficult end Monday night at Moda Center, a 119-117 overtime loss in Game Four to the Golden State Warriors who advance to their fifth straight NBA Finals.
The home arena was thumping.
Nobody was sitting.
The Blazers were still very much alive, lined up, trying to get the ball to All-Star guard Damian Lillard for that potential game-winning three-point shot in overtime. All this happened at 8:46 p.m. on May the 20th in a city that hasn’t seen basketball played this late in the season in two decades.
Terry Stotts later said, “They find ways to win.”
He was talking about the Warriors and sounded envious. They’ve now made five straight NBA Finals. That hasn’t been done in more than 50 years. Until someone knocks them out, that’s how it goes. But Portland doesn’t head to its summer empty-handed.
The Blazers inched a little closer to something, didn’t they?
You decide what exactly.
National validation? A breakthrough? The Warriors dominance? Maybe all three.
Canzano points to the Blazers playoff run being motivated by an authentic love for the fans of Rip City and the market’s reciprocal love for their Blazers.
I picked Portland to upset Golden State in six games. I look dumb today. I was wronger than wrong. But I made that pick because this team made me believe. Maybe they did that to you, too, somewhere along the way. And that’s sort of the point of sports, isn’t it?
It felt like the Blazers played this season for Allen. They talked about him often. Also, they played for each other. You could tell by the manner in which the Blazers pulled together and overcame adversity. But also, they played for a city.
And amidst the disappointment of a season-ending defeat came the incredible performance from Meyers Leonard, making his second straight start in the Western Conference Finals and making the most of it with his 30-point, 12-rebound effort.
Game 4 with the Warriors was Meyers Leonard’s party. He scored a career-high 30 points — because, of course he did. It was his turn. Leonard was so effective on Monday night that Stotts said he was the No. 2 option on what ended up being that last-second overtime shot for Lillard.
That three-point shot, admit it, you thought it was good, didn’t you?
“I thought it was going to be — kind of meant to be,” Stotts said. “When he shot it, it had good arc. Yeah, I thought it had a chance.”
Given what we’ve all seen, why not?
The Blazers were a thrill this postseason.
They exchanged haymakers with the defending champions.
They made a city proud.
Proud indeed. Very, very proud.
Read the entire column here, and catch John Canzano on The Bald Faced Truth on 1029/750 The Game and 1029TheGame.com weekdays Noon to 3pm as he gives more of his reaction to the Trail Blazers magical run.