Last night Rip City got its second taste of it. The Trail Blazers are now 2-0 in their best of seven game series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. In a game where Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 62 points on a combined 22-43 from the floor. Portland won with a final of 114-94. After a first half that OKC led throughout, the Trail Blazers fought to make it a tie game at the mid-way point. Portland went on to score 37 in the third quarter to the Thunder’s 21. In game one Enes Kanter provided everything the Trail Blazers needed while becoming only the third player in franchise history to record 20+ points and 15+ rebounds. It was about midway through the third when Kanter recovered a defensive rebound and appeared to hurt his right hand while being fouled falling to the ground. After two makes at the free throw line Kanter exited the game with 6 points and 5 rebounds. There was 6:48 seconds remaining in the third. Kanter would not return. Later NBC Sports Northwest’s Jamie Hudson would report that Kanter received an x-ray on his right hand and was diagnosed with a “right-hand contusion” and noted he would be “fine” for game three. Head Coach Terry Stotts would turn to Meyers Leonard. After playing only 5 minutes in game one, he would go on to play 14 minutes in the second half alone. His impact doesn’t necessarily show up in the box score aside from one interesting statistic. Stotts said post game, “the team was doing well while [Meyers] was in there. I look at plus-minus on the stat sheet, sometimes it’s valid, sometimes it’s not but good things were happening while he was in there.” His plus-minus would say the same. Leonard finished with the highest plus-minus off the bench for his team of +17. He made a number of important plays down the stretch to help secure this win. Going toe to toe defensively with Russell Westbrook and Paul George on switches. It also included one goal tending call that could have been a great block. Meyers Leonard stole the show. If you believed Kanter couldn’t be played in the playoffs, you could ask any Blazer fan and they’d tell you Meyers Leonard would not be the one they’d turn to to replace him. But Coach of the Year snub Terry Stotts did, and this time around he proved he could be relied on. If you weren’t at Moda Center for tonight’s game, where you should have been was at Spirit of 77. A local Portland bar full of the Rip City die-hards. All tuned into the game and all cheering as the Blazers along as if they were in the arena. As the Blazers exploded in the third, so did the Trail Blazer fans in Moda and the Trail Blazer fans in Spirit of ‘77. Every single one cheered them on. I myself was within Spirit of ‘77 while a massive in tune chant “let’s go Blazers” broke out. You would swear that us being just blocks away, in Moda Center they were chanting the same thing.
Attending tonight’s viewing party was Blazer Gang. Chants, screams, and excitement were all driven by the gang while watching the game. Now we and the Trail Blazers turn our attention to game three. It will take place on Friday night at 6:30 pacific time. The Blazers will look to take a 3-0 lead on an opponent in the playoffs for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. Meanwhile, Oklahoma City will be playing in the comfort of their home arena where they went 27-14 during the regular season. They’ll be looking to get their first win in this best of 7 game series. Blazer Gang will be hosting a viewing party for game three at Alberta Abbey which will include drinks, food from Flamin Hibachi and a chance to win some exclusive Blazer Gang merchandise. Show up to not only show you rep for the gang but show up to show you represent for the Trail Blazers and all of Rip City. We rise above all who don’t believe. Believe that.