The Portland Trail Blazers laid an egg in the third, were deserted by their bench, and coughed up the ball 16 times during the game that led to 17 opponent points and a whole lot of embarrassing, momentum-changing plays. They predictably lost to the Washington Wizards 100-90.
LaMarcus Aldridge did his usual thing (20 points and 10 rebounds) and then some (6 assists and a block), but was largely forgotten by the offense during a crucial fourth-quarter stretch where they were getting stops, but were unable to capitalize on the other end. He’s getting the numbers, but that x-factor swagger that we saw so much of early on has been painfully absent.
Damian Lillard waded through a ho-hum shooting night (8-19 from the field and 2-7 from three) to create a nice game (25, 6, and 8), but he would have traded it for a win. One positive note: he was able to push when he needed to push, and create shots when shots desperately needed to be created in the fourth quarter. It would probably do him good to play pissed off a little more often.
Nicolas Batum benefited more from resting over the last week than any other Blazer, and he showed it tonight. He was aggressive on offense, shooting 6-12 for 18 points, but gets knocked for not contributing in his usual ways (just 3 assists and 4 boards).
Wesley Matthews’ scowl, on a scale of 1-10, was at about 11 for most of the night. The lone Blazers starter failing to crack double-digits (9 points, with 4 rebounds and 3 assists), he didn’t play terribly, but wasn’t happy with his play.
Robin Lopez nearly got another double-double, and was seemingly everywhere under the basket in the fourth, keeping balls alive and tipping missed shots, if not for points, then for what should have been points. He had 9 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 (!) blocks.
Mo Williams… did not look good. To be fair, neither did anyone else on the Blazers bench (which provided a combined 6 points). Williams himself was 2-8 with 4 points and 2 turnovers.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair, with both teams shooting well. The second quarter in particular was a see-saw; the Blazers down by 7, then going on a 12-0 run and getting up by as much as 8 before giving it all back and finding themselves down by one at the half, 56-55.
Remember when the Blazers used to be really, really good in the third quarter? This game: not so much. Portland managed just 14 points to Washington’s 26, buried under a blizzard of Trevor Ariza threes, and twos, and free throws before handing the torch off to Kevin Seraphin.
The Wizards were up 82-69 entering the fourth, and Seraphin kept it going, scoring two more baskets before Lillard stopped the bleeding with 4 points of his own. The Blazers, suddenly able to string a few stops together, were unable to score, and it’s pretty hard to win a basketball without scoring points.
Then the Blazers’ guards decided to take it to the bucket to see what would happen. The result were consecutive buckets and fouls for Lillard and Mo Williams, though only Lillard hit the free throw.
The Blazers were able to cut it to single digits with about 4 minutes to go, and they did get some more stops, but as has happened so much lately, their three-point shooting abandoned them. The Blazers were left frustrated and wondering what they could do to get back to what worked so well for them early in the season.
The Blazers slumped their shoulders and shuffled off the courts losers, 100-90. They have a day to rest before facing the Knicks in New York on Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. for the 2nd game of their 4-game road swing.
- Aldridge’s 6 assists were a career-high, which is weird considering he averages 3 a game.
- The Blazers had more turnovers (7) than made field goals (6) in the dreaded third quarter.
- Lillard got a technical foul early in fourth quarter after being called for a questionable foul as Martell Webster was posting him up.
- With 5 minutes to go in the fourth, John Wall dribbled the ball off his back heel… but the refs inexplicably called it off Batum, who was nowhere near the ball or Wall’s heel.