The Portland Trail Blazers forgot there was a game today, but made it to the court to stand around, threw the ball away, and got dunked on for 48 minutes as they fell 124-94 to the Charlotte Bobcats.
While the rest of the Western Conference is gearing up for the playoffs, the Blazers are on a precipitous decline, losing 7 of their last 11. Literally every other team in the conference except the Kings, Lakers, and Jazz have at least split their last 10 games.
It’s easy to make excuses by pointing out both Portland’s best player and their best big man off the bench are injured, but injuries are a part of the game.
Besides, it wasn’t a lack of talent that turned this from a game into a playground beatdown sometime early in the second quarter: it was a lack of effort, plain and simple. I have never seen so many Blazers refuse to follow their defensive assignment through a pick, literally standing on the perimeter like Robin Lopez is thirteen feet tall and can block shots just by looking at the ball. How many times did the Bobcats do what Portland USED to be known for doing and swing the ball around and around like a roulette marble until they found an open man? How many rebounds did the Bobcats chase down as the Blazers found themselves both woefully out of position AND unwilling to box out?
Let’s take a trip through the numbers, shall we? The Blazers were outrebounded 50-36. The Blazers lost the assist battle 28-17, had 9 turnovers to Charlotte’s 5, had just 3 blocks to Charlotte’s 8, took 8 more threes but only hit one more, and took 10 fewer shots overall and made 15 fewer.
That is a recipe for a good old-fashioned ass-kicking, which is exactly what the Blazers deserved, and exactly what they got.
Before the game started, I stupidly predicted that this would be the game that Dame would crack 50, thinking that they would want to start their road trip off with a bang and re-calibrate themselves into a legit first-round threat, if nothing else. With the Blazers down 20 and having allowed nearly 50 points with 8 minutes to go in the 2nd quarter, it was clear just how wrong I was.
There’s really not a whole lot to gain from watching the tape. If the Blazers were wise, they’d go in the locker room, call their video lackeys, ask for a flash drive with the game video loaded on it, then take that flash drive and chant incantations of exorcism as they drop it into one of the toilets in the arena and flush it out to sea.
Damian Lillard did pretty well in the first half because he had to. That’s the wrong reason for him to do well, as you’d much rather see him getting his as a function of the offense than as a function of desperation. He had just 5 second-half points as the starters were yanked, and 20 overall on poor 7-19 shooting.
Wesley Matthews played pretty well when he got mad, but he didn’t stay mad very long before slipping into frustration and seething like every other Blazers player. He ended with 15 points on 6-12 shooting.
Robin Lopez didn’t look like himself. He had 8 and 5.
Dorell Wright probably had the best game of any Blazers proportionate to what you’ve come to expect out of him. He had 17 and 6 (with none of those points coming from deep, amazingly), and has looked more or less like he wants to be out there.
Nicolas Batum was embarrassing. He took 5 shots. 5. All game. When the Blazers DESPERATELY needed offensive playmaking, Batum said “non, merci,” instead opting to float around the court like piece of fish food that even your betas won’t touch. He had 6-6-6. Fitting.
CJ McCollum had 12 points, but needed 9 shots to get there.
Thomas Robinson had 6 and 5.
Victor Claver looked pretty okay, but it didn’t show up in the stats.
All of the bench guys’ stats were somewhat inflated because Stotts pulled out the white flag early. Nobody will blame him for that.
The only thing to do is to forget this one. The Blazers play the Miami Heat on Sunday in Miami at 4:30pm PDT.