In a closely-fought matinee game, the Brooklyn Nets held on late to defeat the LaMarcus Aldridge-less Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers, starting a 7 game road trip, ran out of steam down the stretch, making the score look unrepresentative of the overall game.
The Blazers ended with fairly balanced scoring across their starters. Wesley Matthews (20 points), JJ Hickson (19 points, 10 rebounds), Damian Lillard (13 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks while in constant foul trouble), Nicolas Batum (12 points, 5 rebounds), and Meyers Leonard (12 points) led the team, while the bench scored 4 points before garbage time. Aldridge sat tonight after suffering from back spasms.
First quarter: The absence of Aldridge was noticed immediately, as the Nets took advantage of the rooks for early fouls. On offense, the Blazers looked confused and unfamiliar with their lineup. That led to 12 straight Nets points and a 9 point lead. However, with some interesting lineups, the Blazers fought back, with Matthews tying the game with a jumper. Four late points from Leonard gave the Blazers an unexpected two-point lead after the first.
I did not expect a 2 point lead at the end of 1Q.
Second quarter: Leonard and Matthews helped the Blazers expand their lead to 7, but the Nets starters came in and closed the gap quickly. Most of the quarter was your classic back-and-forth fare with no team gaining a significant advantage. The Blazers held a four-point lead at halftime.
Hey guys! I'm here at Barclays center. This place is so quiet, we are the loudest fans here.
Third quarter: Every shot that swished in the first half rimmed-out to start the second, as the Nets took the lead after four minutes. The Blazers kept things close, and two miracle three's (from Batum and Matthews) gave them back the lead with 4 minutes left. As the lead reached 5, Deron Williams targeted Lillard on every drive, eventually getting enough calls to force the dominating Lillard to the bench. Within seconds, the Nets tied the game, which is how the quarter ended.
Where's the foul? Williams superstar call. Just yell and you get the whistle.
Fourth quarter: Both teams started slow, unable to score early in the quarter. Joel Freeland continued his run of missed shots and poor luck, as he continued to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Despite this, the Blazers kept the game close while the starters rested. They returned, trailing by three, but promptly turned over the inbound pass. Then Lillard couldn't buy a call on a drive. Nor could any other Blazer, as the physical play continued with no calls. Before long, the Nets bumped the lead to 9 and started running away with the game. When former Blazer Crash Wallace hit a layup, the lead was 11 with four minutes left. The Blazers called timeout, but it was too late. It was time to make plans for tomorrow.
The next game is tomorrow afternoon, a 4:30pm game in Detroit. Stay tuned later for Dave's analysis! -- Tim