What's it like to get "sent down" to Portland?
I don't know. But I spent the weekend there to get a taste of what guys like Marcus Landry see and feel playing in the D League.
Portland isn't the biggest city in the world… but it's got a decent little night life scene. So these guys have something to do. I'm willing to bet there's at least as much to do in Portland as there is in, say, Oklahoma City.
So maybe someone like Landry who came from New York… then to Boston… and then to Portland will have some reason to be disappointed with "the scene," but it's not bad once you get used to it. Problem is, no player wants to get used to it.
Which brings me to the game, and what I perceived as a visibly unhappy Marcus Landry. He played 13 minutes and scored 8 points on an elbow jumper, a fast break dunk, a three, and a free throw. He committed 4 fouls… and at least 2, maybe 3, were questionable. And those just added to his frustration.
Landry looked to be going half speed most of the game. I don't know him as a player, so the scowl on his face might have just been his regular look. But he definitely didn't look interested in being there. That feeling was hammered home in my post game interview (after the jump) where I caught him at the tail end of signing interviews. When we were done, he tossed the sharpie down and walked off in a "glad this is over" kinda way.
To his credit, he answered the questions the right way, and he signed all the autographs he was asked to sign. I'm sure the adjustment is difficult… so I'm not going to bash the guy for not being thrilled that he was sent down to the minors.
As for the game itself, the Red Claws built an 18 point second half lead behind Maurice Ager's 23 points. Ager was going nuts and he could not be stopped when he wanted to get to the hole in the 3rd quarter. Morris Almond, the D-League's leading scorer, had a bad game. 14 points on 4-12 shooting. He never got into any offensive flow… especially since it was Ager's show in the 3rd quarter.
But Sioux Falls slowly chipped away, taking advantage of some sloppy play by Maine. Maine had a 3 point lead with 4.5 left to play and did the "foul to put them on the line" move. Sioux Falls hit both free throws… then fouled Almond with 2.5 on the clock… but he made 1 of 2… which is the downfall of the strategy. Gotta make your free throws.
Sioux Falls hit a 3 with .5 on the clock to take the 1 point lead. Almond actually got a decent look on the catch and shoot… but he missed, and Maine lost.
The atmosphere was what you would expect in a minor league sports game. 3,000 fans totally into the game… wild promotions where they give out things like free pizza and let people dance on the court in between quarters. It looked like a lot of fun for the fans. The quality of basketball is about what you'd expect from almost-NBA quality players. It's almost-NBA quality hoops. It's better than a lot of basketbal you'll see, but sloppier than what you'll see in the Garden (…well… most of the time). But it's a good show. Well worth the trip for a family looking to enjoy a night at a sporting event.
And I got a little taste of what its like to be a beat-writer. Flying through an unfamiliar city… sitting on press row in uncomfortably close quarters… waiting on the coach and the team to let you in for post-game. And eating whatever is available when you're hungry. How any sports writer stays in any kind of shape is beyond me. There's a lot of sitting and eating crap involved.
But it was a great experience all around. I hope you guys enjoyed following along with me on Twitter. We don't do a lot of DLeague stuff but this IS the Celtics affiliate… so we thought it would be great to give you guys at least one inside look at it. I've posted a bunch of stuff on my TwitVid page so you could get the experience of the game. I'm also posting some of the post game interviews (which I broadcasted live, by the way, via Qik.com on my T-Mobile myTouch 3G) and… by request… video of the Red Claws dance team.
Post game with Coach Austin Ainge:
Post game with Morris Almond
Postgame with Marcus Landry
And…. the Dancers… part 1:
And part 2: