The Trail Blazers and Clippers set an NBA record with 40 lead changes, but you can guess who got the last of those as the Blazers went down 122-117.
What can you say about this team going into the All-Star break? They’re good. But how good? And haven’t they deserved to win ONE of these close games against other good teams? Probably. But it’s been a frustrating stretch, made even more so by raised expectations.
The narrative in this game can be illustrated with any number of analogies: the tide coming in and going out, the sun rising and setting, or a teeter-totter going back and forth. Unfortunately for the Blazers, the Clippers played the role of the meteor hitting the ocean, the permanent, sunny noontime of the North Pole, and the fat kid jumping on the see-saw to get the last laugh.
I know it’s easy to blame your team for the loss rather than give credit to the opponents for the win… but the Blazers’ shot selection was nothing short of atrocious. Down just 1 with under 2 minutes to play, Wesley Matthews hucked an off-balance jumper trying to draw the foul… nothing. Now down three, Lillard takes an off-balance, moving long jumper… nothing. Then Batum takes a three from about 3 steps back… nope. The Blazers won possession off an out-of-bounds, and… Batum heaved up another disgusting three trying to draw contact. Nope.
It was like watching an amazing TV show and being enthralled and captivated season after season, before being forced to sit through the final 10 or 20 episodes that ruin the rest of it for you. Just pure, deflating disappointment.
LaMarcus Aldridge started out hot, hitting 6 of his first 7 and looking much, much better than he did the night before. Unfortunately, his hero started wearing off around halftime, and while he finished 10-18 with 25 points, he had but 3 rebounds in a game when the Blazers desperately needed them.
Damian Lillard was hot, and had some amazing, acrobatic finishes, but got into foul trouble and was forced to sit much of the third and more of the 4th than he usually does. His 31 minutes, in a game like this (especially when he’s shooting 8-12 and 3-5 from deep) should have been closer to 40. He had 21 points and 5 assists.
Mattthews, Batum, and Lopez had 15, 13, and 12 respectively. Batum also had 7 boards and 7 assists, while Lopez and Matthews had 6 rebounds apiece.
CJ McCollum continued to solidify his place in the lineup (he was the first call off the bench) going 4-7 and 3-4 from deep for his 11 points.
By contrast, Mo Williams loves himself and wants to score. That’s fine. But honestly, I’m beginning to think it neither fits with the Blazers’ system, nor has he been producing enough to justify being the one guy who absolutely has to be dribbling, or shooting, or passing whenever he’s on the floor without Dame. Williams had 7 points and 4 assists.
Meyers Leonard looked about as competent as he’s ever looked, shooting 4-5 for 8 points, 4 rebounds, and a block. He also had a team-leading +9. Look out, world… here comes Meyers.
The Blazers get plenty of time off before their next game. In the meantime, let’s take a deep breath and enjoy the TWO (count ‘em, TWO) Blazers who will be playing in the All-Star game.