The Portland Trail Blazers kept it close, but poor shooting, missteps at both ends, and a lack of an inside presence led to their first loss of the season in Oklahoma City. The game was much closer than the final score indicated.
The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard (21 points, 7 assists), LaMarcus Aldridge (22 points, 15 rebounds), Wesley Matthews (17 points), and an energized JJ Hickson (14 points, 12 rebounds). Meanwhile, Nicolas Batum's maddening inconsistency reappeared (3 points on 1-11 shooting), and Luke Babbitt flaunted a nice shooting touch in spot minutes.
Hickson picked up his first foul 12 seconds into the game, and the second shortly after. Despite this, the Blazers kept it close early, leading by 1 at the first timeout. Portland maintained a lead until 3 minutes left, when OKC ran off 11 straight points, to go along with some confused Blazer expressions after foul calls. However, poor Blazer shot selection hurt their cause, forced by some improved Oklahoma City defense. Portland trailed by 5 after the First.
Just got out of the hospital where they had Comcast. All I have at home is DirecTV.
WHY DID THEY HAVE TO RELEASE ME TODAY?!
by TheGreatMon (Comcast Sportsnet Northwest is unavailable on DirecTV)
Lillard immediately swished a three to start the second quarter, as part of an 8-0 run to regain the lead. It didn't last long, as their questionable defense gave OKC enough openings to take control. Repeated missteps at both ends left the Blazers in the mode of catch-up, as OKC's lead grew to 7 with 4:30 left. Portland pushed back, finally hitting some shots to cut the lead to 2 in two minutes. But the missteps returned, especially transition defense. The lead was back to 7 within a minute. That was also the lead at halftime. Portland was out-shot, 50% to 33%, and may have felt lucky to be within single digits. Their 64% three-point shooting kept the game close.
Looks like we're trying to establish the paint with JJ instead of LMA. That’s not something I want to see against anything more than horrible teams.
OKC tried to open a double-digit lead to open the third, but it only reached 9, as Aldridge, Lillard and Hickson helped keep Portland close. The game was a classic back and forth for most of the quarter. However, with 4 minutes left, Portland brought in their secret weapon: Luke Babbitt. He immediately swished a three to cut the deficit to one. However, the same ghosts came back to haunt Portland: Poor transition defense. Missed shots (and questionable selection). No inside presence (Hasheem Thabeet was outsmarting them). That left the Blazers down 8 after three.
Hanging right with the defending Western champs on the road? Seems decent to me.
by Roy Wonder
OKC held their lead as the fourth quarter began. But just as importantly, LaMarcus Aldridge was called for consecutive offensive fouls and was forced to the bench. The Blazers continued to fight, but Kevin Martin nailed a three to give OKC at 10 point lead with 6 minutes left. That was the Blazers' last gasp, as they watched the game float out of reach. The buzzer eventually sounded, and the now-.500 Blazers prepared for the next game on the trip.
The Blazers are right back in action tomorrow, at 5pm again against the suddenly-hot Houston Rockets. Don't forget to check out Dave's analysis of tonight's game. -- Tim