Judging simply by the final margin of victory – 43 points – the Portland Trail Blazers’ 134-91 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder last night (Nov. 19) was, to say the least, embarrassing. Rip City took a 2-0 lead, lost it, went down 11-2 after a Lu Dort layup, and the rest is history. Literally, in some aspects.
More worrisome than any historically humiliating statistic, though, was the way one of the Blazers’ most obvious and offensive deficiencies this season reared its head. It’s a weakness that’s going to contribute to a lot of losses this year, which was to be expected anyway, but it’s also one that will need dramatic improvement if Portland is going to contend again.
The Trail Blazers’ 3-point shooting has been atrocious this season
Atrocious might not be a powerful enough word for it. The Blazers are last in the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage, and it’s not even close. Despite being near the middle of the pack in attempts, Portland is shooting a league-worst 30.5 percent from deep.
The Orlando Magic, the second-worst team in the league in that stat, are a full 2.5 percentage points better.
At no time this season has that discrepancy been clearer than it was in the loss to the Thunder. Not just because Portland shot 9-for-34 (26.5 percent) from deep in the loss, but because the Thunder are atop the NBA leaderboard in 3-point shooting at 41.0 percent.
That gap between the two teams was painfully obvious and led to some historic accomplishments by the Thunder:
The Blazers’ leading scorer in the game was Jerami Grant, who had 14 points. Eleven OKC players made a three.
There’s really no ready-made solution to the Blazers’ offensive woes, either. Scoot Henderson’s return from injury could help, but he’s not going to score in bunches, nor is he a threat from deep at this point in his career.
Malcolm Brogdon’s return should boost the offense, but one player isn’t going to unlock some magical scheme that opens up Portland’s offense. Anfernee Simons’ return will be the best elixir, but that’s not coming for another month.
The Blazers have played with legitimate effort this season, which is commendable. But all the effort in the world isn’t going to help the ball go through the basket. It’s going to be painful to watch Portland’s offense slog its way through the year.
Oh and by the way, Portland is last in the league in scoring overall, also by a wide margin. Its 102.9 points per game average is 4.3 fewer than the 29th-place Chicago Bulls. So there’s that, too.