The Portland Trail Blazers took the Brooklyn Nets, crumpled them into a ball, steamrolled them, doused them in water, and shredded them into little bits en route to a 44-point win, 124-80. Portland may also get LaMarcus Aldridge back in time for their next game, which isn’t until Saturday at 7:00 p.m. against the Denver Nuggets.
The first quarter started with Brooklyn taking away the Blazers’ perimeter shots, which normally would have stymied the Blazers’ offense, but luckily Nicolas Batum was ultra-aggressive, and Portland took a 9 point lead in to the second quarter.
Seeing Batum get his fill, Will Barton said, “I want some of that!” and went off for 12 points in the quarter with an array shots, including some dunks and one monster lob that got Robin Lopez so excited that he bicycle-kicked the air while lying flat in his back. Brooklyn’s offense looked about as smooth as sandpaper. Meanwhile the Blazers were pushing hard and not allowing the Nets to get into their set defense, scoring bucket after bucket and looking up to a 24-point halftime lead.
The third saw the Blazers push the lead out to 29, only to have it get reined back in somewhat when Nets coach Jason Kidd realized the Blazers had a severe lack of height and stuck Mason Plumlee on the floor. It’s rare when you characterize a 23-point fourth quarter lead as “only” being 23 points, but that’s the kind of game it was.
The fourth quarter was a bit of a blur. When the Nets stopped going inside to Plumlee and taking advantage of the Blazers only having one person over 6’9” at their disposal, it got really ugly, really quick. The bench, which scored an astounding 66 points, got extended run, and pushed the lead to comical proportions. Truly, this game was over much earlier, but the Blazers needed a big blowout win… and they got it.
Assuming LaMarcus does, indeed, come back on Saturday, the Blazers managed to go 4-1 without him. Not too shabby.
Will Barton had a sick second quarter: Lobs, dunks, blocks, steals, you name it, he did it. He also got extended playing time once the game was out of hand, and finished with a double-double with 20 points and 11 boards (also adding 4 assist and a block). Watching Barton play is like watching lemmings fall off a cliff: they don’t care what the result is, because they’re going to do something, and they’re gonna do it all-out. Fortunately for Blazers fans, there are no cliffs adjacent to the Moda Center so far as we can tell.
Damian Lillard was the rock upon which the rest of the Blazers offense rested early on, if only because Brooklyn was so insistent on doubling Lillard on the perimeter that it created opportunities for others. He had 14 points on 11 shots, happy to defer to his teammates in a game where his production wasn’t needed… like, at all.
Nicolas Batum was looking for his shot. He had 19-6-6 in just 29 minutes. Here’s hoping this carries over into tougher games.
Robin Lopez ambled his way to 11 and 8 with 2 blocks.
Wes Matthews had a scary moment when he got tripped up with Paul Pierce, and was on the ground for a few moments as play stopped holding his knee. He went out of the game, but came back looking about as good as ever. He had 8 points off 7 shots as he, too, was not needed.
Mo Williams had probably his best outing in white and red, exploding for 21, 6, and 7. With about as many minutes as the Blazers starters, Mo took full advantage of an aging and unwilling Brooklyn defense.
Victor Claver also had his best game of the season with 13 points and 5 rebounds. He is starting to look a little more like a viable option off the bench, and when he was asked to play center, he did so as best he could. He’s a good sport.
CJ McCollum had a quiet 11 points, with two three-pointers in garbage time’s garbage time.
Earl Watson hit a 3 at the end of the game to give a dispersing crowd one last thing to cheer about.
The Blazers’ 44-point margin of victory was their largest of the season, and the 80 points they allowed was the fewest they’ve given up all season, too. And this without 4 players!
Brooklyn looked really bad. Sure, they’ve been doing better lately, but yikes…